The budget principles being pushed by the interim General Manager and senior staff are a pretext to sell community assets and slash services, said Newcastle Greens Councillor Therese Doyle and Councillor Michael Osborne.
“The Lord Mayor and his conservative allies are intent on slashing council services,” said Councillor Doyle.
“They pretend it’s about financial responsibility, but it’s really about a program of austerity; Thatcherism Newcastle style,” said Councillor Doyle.
“This severe austerity program represents a sharp return to the right-wing economics of people like Milton Friedmann or Margaret Thatcher,” said Councillor Doyle.
“The proposed budget cuts are so severe as to be financially irresponsible. The city will no longer be able to meet its responsibilities to its residents if these draconian measures are implemented,” said Councillor Doyle.
“The much touted Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy will be nothing more than a cruel joke on a city whose streets, parks and roads will be left in a state of increasing disrepair,” said Councillor Doyle.
“Newcastle Council should adopt sustainable budgeting principles but they should be based in reality,” Councillor Osborne said.
“The staff seem to be trying to cherry-pick principles at the expense of efficiently delivering a renewal of our assets in the City,” Councillor Osborne said.
“The Council needs to upgrade our ageing assets like the city hall, deliver the promised special capital projects like cycleways and return the operating budget to surplus,” Councillor Osborne said.
“The senior staff are putting forward principles that are not the principles advocated by Professor Percy Allen who chaired the review of the financial sustainability of local government in NSW,” Councillor Osborne said.
“Professor Allen has set the benchmark Operating surplus ratio at 2.5% (rather than 2.7%), the Debt ratio at 60% (rather than 40%) and the Infrastructure backlog ratio at 5% (rather than 2%),” Councillor Osborne said.
“Senior staff are pushing for unsustainable financial ratios as a pretext to sell community assets and slash services,” Councillor Osborne said.
“Council does need to examine its practices to ensure efficiency; but wholesale and indiscriminate cuts are simply unacceptable,” Councillor Doyle said.
Contact Councillor Therese Doyle on 0418 905 417 or Councillor Michael Osborne on 0439 442984