Northern Midlands Rejects Launceston Cost-Shift and Asset-Grab Bid
Posted on May 02, 2022
Northern Midlands Council has reacted angrily to Launceston’s bid to grab control of key business, industrial and residential precincts and shift its own rates costs onto neighbouring councils.
NMC Mayor Mary Knowles OAM today said Launceston wanted to create a bigger metropolitan municipality by usurping parts of Northern Midlands, including Perth, Launceston Airport and the adjacent business and industrial precincts.
“This is an audacious power play by Launceston to take over some of Northern Midland’s most valuable and important assets while pushing some of its own costs onto ratepayers in our municipality.
Launceston’s plan is detailed in its submission to the State Government’s Local Government Board review of the roles and functions of local government in Tasmania.
“If the city of Launceston bid was successful it would severely reduce our asset and rates base and lead inevitably to an increase in rates for Northern Midlands residents,” Mayor Knowles said.
Mayor Knowles also rejected as simplistic claims that Launceston city paid for many services used by other residents of other municipalities.
“The submission includes a list of assets and services that the city provides but no analysis of the revenue and other benefits that those assets attract and no clear evidence of who actually uses them. For example, what of revenue from patrons to those venues, the city’s businesses and shops and additional revenue to that council from car parking fees and other service charges paid by commuters from adjoining municipalities?
Mayor Knowles said Launceston was obviously envious of Northern Midlands’ strong fiscal position and asset base due to its responsible financial management strategies over recent years as recognised by a recent report by the Auditor-General that found it had substantially improved its position on previous years and had a net surplus of $6.8 million and net assets of $409.27 million.
She said Council also rejected a suggestion in the submission that Launceston’s adjoining municipalities had failed to adequately cooperate on regional transport, residential and industrial development planning and lacked the ability to plan strategically for their own council areas.
“We have worked cooperatively with all joint municipality planning initiatives. If the Board recommended ways to better improve the operation of regional planning bodies then obviously Northern Midlands would look at that.
“But to suggest we are unable to plan for our own areas is demonstrably untrue. The election commitments announced just last week to progress the proposed TRANSLink intermodal facility adjacent to Launceston Airport was entirely due to our Council’s development of a master plan.
“Council had already completed the cost-benefit and environmental studies, project and risk management plans and business case for the stormwater and road infrastructure which made it possible to attract funding commitments from other levels of government,” Mayor Knowles said.
Mayor Knowles said Northern Midlands would be making its own submission to the Local Government Board Review but would do so in a cooperative and less regionally divisive manner than Launceston.
“I am proud of the Northern Midlands Council and everything that has been achieved. I believe it is counter-productive to debate this in the media ahead of the Board’s report and urge Launceston to work with other councils to achieve better outcomes for the whole region,” she said.
For further information, please contact Mayor Mary Knowles OAM on 0408 766 625.