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Walka faces audit in crackdown on TrustsPHOTOS

DOUBTS: Former long-time chairman of the Walk Water Works Trust Ray Fairweather says Walka may not be unduly affected by the audit of Crown Land Trusts. NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has pointed to the Walka Water Works Trust as an example of a government entity that could be streamlined.
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In a speech at the Sydney Institute on Monday night, Ms Berejiklian said she commissioned a panel of experts to audit 870 government structures including departments, agencies, state-owned corporations, boards, committees and trusts.

“To give you an example of some of these bodies, there are 76 separate Crown Land Trusts managing assets on behalf of local communities,” she said.

She told the Mercury the audit looked at the Walka Water Works Trust, owned by the state government and managed by Maitland City Council.

Ms Berejiklian said that while the government had not decided the fate of the 76 trusts, the expert panel recommended they be merged into one.

“Over decades, these bodies may have been established for a specific purpose which no longer exists or is no longer important,” she said in her speech.

“There is opportunity here to reduce this number. Not for the sake of it, but because it will reduce waste, streamline decision making and make government work better.”

Maitland City Council community and recreation services manager Lynn Morton said Walka Water Works was a vibrant place for the Hunter, and an important part of Maitland’s heritage.

“Council’s priority is that Walka Water Works continues to be well maintained for the benefit of our ­community, and [council] is happy to work with the state government to investigate an alternative model for managing the site,” she said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge criticised Ms Berejiklian’s “foreshadowed cuts to the public sector”.

He said it would remove local control over parks, reserves and community assets.

“Crown Land Trusts offers a critical service to communities across the state, managing local parks, sports grounds and core infrastructure,” he said.

“These valuable local assets and services will be left exposed if the Crown Land Trusts are abolished, with the loss of local knowledge and accountability.”

Impact on Walka may be minimal says former councillorChanges to the way the state government operates Crown Land Trusts may not have a significant impact on Walka Water Works, Ray Fairweather says.

Mr Fairweather is a former Maitland councillor who was chairman of the Walka Water Works Trust for 14 years.

He said he was unsure how the government’s proposal to streamline the 76 Crown Land Trusts in NSW would affect the historic Maitland site.

Walka Water Works featured as a special mention when Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian outlined the proposal to consolidate Crown Land Trust management in a speech to the Sydney Institute on Monday night.

Mr Fairweather said the state owned the water works site, but Maitland City Council managed it and paid for most of the upkeep.

“The state government hasn’t made much of a contribution to upkeep at all,” he said. “I’m not sure what will come of all this, but there are a lot of public trusts.”

Walka faces audit in crackdown on Trusts | PHOTOS Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works was once touted as a potential crocodile sanctuary.

IN THE BAG: Prudence, Tasha and Isabelle Winsor Okeefe will be part of the clean-up crew at Walka Water Works on Clean Up Australia Day on March 16. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

Maitland’s Walka Water Works

HEALTHY: Walka Advisory Committee member Cr Peter Garnham on the site.

TOP SHOW: Maitland Classic Motor Association president Ian Scanlon (front) with Graeme Head and a 1980 Ford Escort and a 1974 Rover. Picture by STUART SCOTT

Parkrun holds events at Walka Water Works

Parkrun holds events at Walka Water Works

IDEAS PLEASE: Councillor Peter Garnham would like to see Walka Water Works turned into a commercial venue. Picture by CATH BOWEN

DRESSED TO THRILL: Thai dancers Ooraya Sompan, 15 of Aberglasslyn, Jessica Michael, 11 of Aberglasslyn, Parinya Kesornbua, 16 of Cessnock and Chotika Boonon, 15 of Tea Gardens. Picture by CATH BOWEN

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