I write with regards to Hilltops Councils recent comments regarding their decision to award the contract for the new Hilltops computer system to the company Technology One.
This issue is especially pertinent in Hardens case, when you consider Harden and their preferred partner Cootamundra shared the same computer systems (Civica) prior to amalgamation which would have meant they would have integrated easily with a simple data migration – at a negligible cost, handled by existing staff most likely.
Young on the other hand have a completely different computer system, as do Boorowa who use a different system again (Fujitsu).
So to merge Harden, Young and Boorowa means a completely new system and all the costs that go with it.
Yet the State Government chose to overlook this massive positive for the merger of Harden and Cootamundra, which would have streamlined operations and saved money that could have been spent in the community and given Harden, Cootamundra and Gundagai an outcome more in keeping with the wishes of the majority of their residents and you would think would be a perfect fit with Mike Baird’s stated reasons for pushing the merger.
Now the council’s preferred supplier of the computer system is one that will cost a fortune and allegedly has links to the State Government.
The following is taken from the web page of David Shoebridge from the NSW Greens.
“TechnologyOne is being actively promoted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to produce an even more lucrative standardised IT model for all merged councils. This is the same software company that has donated over $150,000 to Liberal Party branches across Australia over the last decade.”
This is progress under the new order as decreed by Mike Baird in May last year.
Mr Baird of course now has a job with National Australia Bank, having moved on from politics after forcibly amalgamating our three councils, who along with many others statewide it appeared were performing quite well prior to his interference, merged on the basis of a secret report by KPMG still unreleased.
And in our case here in the Hilltops, by council’s own figures, to be replaced by one which can’t apparently make the books balance after a 15 million dollar windfall and until recently were chasing more funds for the transition.
Also worthy of note is the recent revelations that the new amalgamated councils were failing in eight of ten key areas according to a survey commissioned by none other than the State Government.
Something they have also kept hidden from the general public till recently when forced reveal it to under a freedom of information request.
One of the original selling points for the amalgamation process was the financial benefits.
Here is a clear case where that could have been achieved.
Instead we got a merger that few seem happy with, and is costing millions more unnecessarily.
The other benefit of a three way merger was apparently representational.
Staring down the barrel of council elections we can look forward to, from a previous representation of 25 Councillors, whittled down to 11, the majority of which, if not all, could come from Young leaving smaller communities like Boorowa and Harden severely disadvantaged.
So who can we thank for all this “progress”?
Well, credit where it’s due, here’s a press release from Pru Goward from the Yass Tribune straight after the announcement of the amalgamations – The Hilltops region will merge the former Boorowa, Harden and Young councils.
Ms Goward said the new council will deliver improved services and better representation for local communities.
“The creation of this new council will enhance opportunities for growth and investment across the region and ensure that the communities of the Hilltops region are a true force into the future,” Ms Goward said.
“It was what the communities were hoping for and were made possible with the great efforts of Wendy Tuckerman, Mayor of Boorowa Council and Chair of the Canberra Region Joint Organisation.”
Not sure what communities Ms Goward is referring to that were hoping for our current situation, but in her words it looks like much of the “credit” for our position can be laid squarely at the feet of our Administrator.
I hope everyone shows Administrator Tuckerman and the State Government just how grateful they feel come election time.