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Parking meter revenue a fortune to outback

Friday, 30th May, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Local MP John Williams has come up with a radical solution to financially stricken councils in the far west: Sydney parking meter revenue.

Mr Williams believes the State Government should consider taking some of the wealth generated from parking meters in Sydney and giving it to poorer councils like Central Darling Shire.

The Member for Murray-Darling raised the proposal during a private members statement he delivered in Parliament this week.

He told Parliament the biggest problem facing councils in far western NSW was lack of revenue and that “it is time we looked at some of the richer councils”.

He singled out the City of Sydney Council, suggesting it wasn’t really entitled to the enormous revenue it raised from parking meters.

“Most of the infrastructure in Sydney has been created by the State Government.

“The people who park in the city are visiting State Government organisations or participating in something that is provided by the State Government in most cases.”

Another possible solution was to ask some of the metropolitan councils to consider re-allocating some of their financial assistance grant (FAG) funding to “challenged councils” in the far west.

Mr Williams told the BDT yesterday that metropolitan councils benefitted most from FAG funding because it was allocated on a per capita basis.

He said Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss was aware of the funding inequity, but added as far as he knew there was no proposal to alter the criteria.

“He is supportive in the fact he understands what the issue is.”

Speaking from Sydney, Mr Williams told the BDT that the Sydney City Council had about $1 billion in reserves and could afford to forego some FAG funding or parking meter revenue.

At the same time more funding was needed for councils like the Central Darling Shire, which went into administration at the beginning of the year. 

“Local Government throughout the State is one organisation. Shearing off some revenues to Shires and Councils that cannot get such opportunities is a possible solution.

“I will be discussing with the Minister for Local Government about the potential to take some of the revenue from a Council that is forever enriching itself, sitting there in rivers of gold, and diverting that back into the State.”

Mr Williams told Parliament that Wilcannia, Ivanhoe, Menindee and White Cliffs could all lose their swimming pools as part of cost-saving measures under consideration.

“Given these pools operate in areas where summer temperatures often exceed 43 degrees, it is a big ask for those communities to forego their swimming pools.”

Mr Williams said he hoped to start a discussion about finding a solution to the issue that he could then introduce to Parliament through a private member’s bill.

“If we could get another one-and-a-half million for Central Darling Shire we would just about solve their problems.”

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