The South Australian Local Government Association (LGA) has come out against the forced merger, following Premier Peter Malinauskas’ shock announcement last week of a possible merger of Grant District Council and of the Mount Gambier Council.
A plebiscite will be held in conjunction with the upcoming council elections, asking residents if they are prepared to investigate the merger between the two councils.
Local Government Association (LGA) chief executive Clinton Jury said he met with the state government about the changes.
“Following preliminary discussions with the Prime Minister, the LGA will work closely with the State Government, as well as our members, the Town of Mount Gambier and Grant District Council, on a plebiscite to assess this what both communities think about the idea of a potential merger,” Mr. Jury said.
“The LGA’s position on the forced merger is clear – we do not support it. Any merger initiative should be community-led and supported by both councils involved, rather than imposed on them.
“We know from the experience of interstate councils that forced mergers without community support can lead to costly merger processes and make communities worse off.”
Mr Jury said the LGA would work with both councils throughout the process to ensure voters are informed before making a decision.
“Our immediate priorities are to ensure equal and fair representation – there must be majority support from the communities of Mount Gambier Town and Grant District Council before any progress is made,” Mr Jury said.
“We also want to make sure voters in both communities have enough information to make an informed decision before they receive their ballots.
“There needs to be proper representation, and the communities of both councils need to have a say in this process.”
Further details of the plebiscite have yet to be released by the state government.