The New South Wales parliament passed laws on Thursday allowing the state’s local councils to form voluntary ‘Joint Organisations’.
Each Joint Organisation will comprise of a minimum of three councils and be established within an existing NSW planning region.
Trialled in a five-region pilot involving 43 councils throughout 2015-16, the model excited mayors as an alternative to forced amalgamations. However, mayors remained concerned about the state government’s proposed boundaries at the announcement of the new laws earlier this month.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro touted the model as a way for councils to improve their ability to deliver projects for their local communities.
“We listened to the feedback from that trial, and we’re confident this new legislation is exactly what local councils and local people want,” Barilaro said in a statement on Thursday.
“Essentially Joint Organisations lead to better collaboration, greater clarity on local priorities, improved economic strength, and in turn better service delivery for local people,” he said.
The state government is providing $3.3 million in seed funding to roll out Joint Organisations, and the Office of Local Government will be providing facilitation support to councils as they begin negotiations over new partnerships.
The deadline for nominations of proposed Joint Organisations is February 28, 2018, with the new bodies operation from July 1.