Local Government Reform

The NSW Government has proposed that Hornsby Shire Council merge with Ku-ring-gai Council. Here are some frequently asked questions.

Am I still in Hornsby Shire?

In May 2016 the NSW Government merged the area of Hornsby Shire below the M2 freeway with City of Parramatta Council. There are three ways to find out if your property is one of those in the new council:

If I have changed councils, who should I contact?

For the most part you should contact City of Parramatta by phoning 9806 5050 or visiting parracity.nsw.gov.au

All arrangements, including bin collections and rates, will remain the same until you are informed otherwise by Parramatta.

Any service request or development application submitted before 12 May 2016 will be reviewed by Hornsby Shire Council, while any submitted after that will be handled by Parramatta.

What is proposed for Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai?

The NSW Government intends to amalgamate Hornsby Shire Council and Ku-ring-gai Council, as part of reforms that have seen a number of councils across the state merged.

Why hasn’t it happened yet?

When the proposal was first announced by the Government early in 2016 Ku-ring-gai Council launched legal action against it in the Land and Environment Court. Their case was dismissed in September 2016, but they appealed that decision. In March 2017 the Court of Appeal found in Ku-ring-gai’s favour. The NSW Government has not yet said whether the amalgamation will proceed.

What will happen if the merger takes place?

The mayors and councillors from both councils will be replaced by an administrator, who will fulfil their role until the first election.

Would the merger affect services?

Not at all. Your bins will be collected on the same day, your library card will still work and everything will continue as normal for the near future. There may be some changes down the track, but these will not occur without consultation and appropriate notice.

What is Council’s opinion of the proposed merger?

Hornsby Shire Council supports the proposed amalgamation with Ku-ring-gai Council, which will have a number of benefits for the residents of both communities. These include:

  • Better services, increased infrastructure spending and a much stronger negotiating position with the government and contractors.
  • An extra $70 million in revenue over the next 20 years, on top of the $20 million the Government is offering to help with the amalgamation process.
  • Less need for Special Rate Variations, which both Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils have had to institute in recent years to cover revenue shortfalls.

What if the merger does not occur?

If the NSW Government decides not to proceed with the proposed amalgamation Hornsby Shire Council will seek to regain the territory it lost to City of Parramatta Council. Without Epping and its surrounding suburbs Hornsby’s annual surplus has plummeted from $14 million each year to around $1.4 million. Local government reform was meant to create larger and more financially secure councils, yet Hornsby is now smaller and far weaker. If the territory south of the M2 is not returned Hornsby Shire Council will be seeking compensation for the financial impact. Council is currently seeking legal advice regarding its options.

Did Hornsby Council ever support the loss of Epping and other suburbs to Parramatta?

No. From the very beginning Hornsby Shire Council objected to the loss of territory south of the M2, which had been part of the Shire since its creation more than a century ago. When the NSW Government was considering the options for local government reform Council made a submission demanding that those suburbs remain. Council did not appeal against the Government’s decision to give that area to Parramatta, mainly because the proposed merger with Ku-ring-gai Council will ultimately provide the residents of Hornsby Shire with more than they have lost. However, if that merger does not take place the residents will be much worse off and Council will do everything possible to regain that territory.

Do the communities of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai fit together?

Without doubt, as both communities share a common history and character that goes further back than their creation as councils. Both began as timber-getting and orchard farming communities, linked by the railway lines and Pacific Highway.

From the 1950s the population growth in both areas took off as the orchard farms were subdivided, but the locals retained a strong affinity with the natural landscape that can be seen today in the natural protection work that is carried out by both councils.

Both the communities and councils have a strong track record of working together on a range of organisations such as the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Bushfire Management Service, the Northern Sydney Local Health District, the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Association for Mental Health, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community Transport, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Local Emergency Management Committee and the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Womens Shelter.

The residents themselves also have a lot in common, with a higher education level and higher annual income than the greater Sydney average.

Will the amalgamation between Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai affect my vote?

To some extent, though it will also fix the inequality that currently exists between Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils. The level of representation will likely increase from 16,000 residents per councillor in Hornsby and 12,000 in Ku-ring-gai to 20,000 overall. This remains below other councils such as Blacktown where there are more than 21,000 residents per councillor.

Both Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils currently have voting wards and it is almost certain that would remain the case in a new council.  Hornsby Shire has a popularly elected mayor that residents vote for directly, while Ku-ring-gai’s is elected by councillors. Hornsby Council has suggested the new council have a popularly elected mayor and four wards of three councillors each, but that will be determined by the Government.

What has led to this moment?

The process began in 2011 when the NSW Government held the Destination 2036 Forum. This was followed by the establishment of the Independent Local Government Review Panel and the Local Government Act Taskforce, which each produced a report into the issue of local government reform. Hornsby Shire Council had input into both reports.

Council also undertook its own research into reform options using independent bodies PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Crosby Textor and KPMG.

Those reports can be seen through the following links:

KPMG Final Report - 866kb

KPMG Final Summary Report - 406kb

PricewaterhouseCoopers Report - 1.4MB

Crosby Textor Quantitative Research - 1MB

Would you like to know more?

To find out more information visit the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future website, councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au or strongercouncils.nsw.gov.au