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Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein’s decision to extend Huon Valley Council Commissioner Adriana Taylor’s appointment for 12 months was a correct call and in the best interests of valley ratepayers, said the council’s former Mayor, Peter Coad, today.

Mr Coad said Minister Gutwein should now order research into the options for local government reform between Kingborough and Huon Valley councils.

In April this year, said Mr Coad, Kingborough Council asked the Minister to allow Commissioner Taylor to hold discussions with it on local government reform, including the possibility of amalgamation.

In June 2015, he said, when he was Mayor of HVC, he had asked Minister Gutwein to fund Kingborough Council to assess the benefits of amalgamation of the two councils.

At the time, he said, Mr Gutwein had refused this request, claiming that, as Mayor, he did not have the support of his council.

Mr Coad said the Minister’s response in 2015 had ignored the fact that Huon Valley Council had earlier passed resolutions (in April 2015) “to consider all options” for local government reform.

“The Minister should have been well aware of these resolutions, yet he still refused to support the idea of the two councils communicating with each other. I believe his decision then not to allow discussions that could affect the interests of Huon Valley and Kingborough ratepayers was nothing short of a political statement.”

Mr Coad said the question to be asked today is, why is the Minister still refusing to allow these two councils to cooperate and work together considering that the Liberal Government, early in its term, so strongly supported voluntary mergers to enable a reduction in the number of councils in Tasmania?

“At least the Minister has made a sensible decision in extending the time of the Huon Valley Council Commissioner. Now he should make another by asking Commissioner Taylor to talk to the Kingborough Council about the benefits that local-government reform could bring to the two councils.”

Peter Coad said: “The findings of, and recommendations from, this research would give ratepayers what the Liberal Government originally promised: a real say in what they believe would best represent their interests come the next round of council elections in October 2018”.

“The promises made by the Liberal Government on Local Government Reform in 2014 must be delivered before the next State election, otherwise this will mean yet another bad report card on top of the current TasWater conflict”.

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