This project was undertaken as a collaborative research venture between the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA), and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). Each wanted to take a fresh look at the issue of consolidation in local government, free from any current political or other pressures to recommend any particular approach towards structural reform.

At the outset, we have to acknowledge the extensive research already undertaken in this field in both Australia and New Zealand. However, whilst we have drawn on that body of work, and have undoubtedly re-iterated some previous findings, this was indeed a 'fresh look' and new evidence and ideas have been incorporated that throw new light on earlier studies.

The term 'consolidation' was chosen in an attempt to embrace a wide range of options that may deliver economies of scale or scope, or other benefits in terms of more effective local government. Options investigated included a range of approaches to shared services delivery, various models of regional collaboration, boundary adjustment, and voluntary, forced and failed amalgamations of councils.

Even though this was by no means a fully comprehensive assessment, a very large amount of material has been assembled. It has therefore been split into two volumes: this report and a second volume containing the full literature review and case studies.

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