Title

An evaluation of amalgamation and financial viability in Australian local government

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Dollery, B, Grant, B & Kortt, MA 2013, 'An evaluation of amalgamation and financial viability in Australian local government', Public Finance and Management, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 215-238.

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Like numerous other local government systems in developed countries, Australian local government confronts daunting financial problems, perhaps most acutely evident in the emer-gence of a severe backlog in local infrastructure maintenance and renewal. Australian local government policy makers have relied to an unusual and extreme degree on compulsory coun-cil consolidation as the main policy instrument to tackle the financial crisis. This paper sets out the dimensions of the financial crisis and the attendant heavy reliance on forced amal-gamation and then goes to consider the efficacy of compulsory council consolidation as a means of improving financial viability in Australian local government through the prism pro-vided by eight national and state-based public inquiries into financial sustainability in local government over the past decade. With one exception, these inquiries are skeptical of the abil-ity of forced amalgamation to improve local authority financial viability.