IN WHOSE INTEREST? AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT’S POST-AMALGAMATION RATE PATH FREEZE POLICY
By Brian Dollery AND Joseph Drew
As part of its controversial forced amalgamation program, the Baird Government announced that merged councils would fall under a rate path freeze for a period of four years. During that time, merged municipalities would face the same rate increases they would have experienced had they not been amalgamated. The NSW Government also requested the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to offer recommendations on how the rate freeze policy should best be implemented and IPART released Freezing Existing Rate Paths for Newly Merged Councils in August 2016. This paper examines the rate freeze policy and the IPART report and demonstrates that they would impose serious efficiency, equity and financial sustainability problems on compulsorily consolidated councils.