2014 marked 20 years since the Victorian Local Government Board (under the Kennett Government) instigated Council amalgamations throughout Victoria. These changes aimed to promote Council reform by realigning municipal boundaries to achieve greater efficiencies. This was the biggest change to local government in Victoria’s history.
In 2014, we reflected and celebrated what Council and its community has achieved in that 20 years.
In this area, the changes affected the former councils of the City of Springvale, City of Dandenong, City of Berwick, Shire of Pakenham and the City of Cranbourne.
The City of Springvale supported the retention of existing boundaries where possible and the non-splitting of communities of interest. Many residents had concerns regarding the retention of community services including the library service if an amalgamation was to occur.
The City of Dandenong proposed the creation of a Dandenong super city including most of Springvale, parts of Berwick and Cranbourne with Dandenong as the future base for council.
From 1993 formal and informal discussions about the changes to local government took place and on 15 December 1994, most of the former City of Dandenong, City of Springvale, as well as small parts of the former City of Berwick and City of Cranbourne were proclaimed the 'City of Greater Dandenong' by Order of the Governor in Council.
Selecting a name
In October 1994, the first Local Government Board proposal was that the five Councils merge into three and were named Heatherton, Casey and Cardinia.
The name "Heatherton" was ultimately not selected because it duplicated an existing township name. Residents in Springvale suggested that an alternative name of the ‘City of Sandown’ be considered.
The City of Greater Dandenong was chosen because Dandenong was already recognised as a regional hub for services and “forerunner in industrial and economic growth.”
On 4 December 1994, the City of Springvale held a closing ceremony. This included a tree planting ceremony in Memorial Drive, Noble Park, which recognised the contribution of all Councillors over the 39 years of the City of Springvale. A thanksgiving church service, a festival in Braeside park and a reconciliation ceremony with the Aboriginal community were also part of the ceremony.
The last serving mayors of the former Councils affected by the amalgamation were:
- City of Dandenong: Mayor David Kelly
- City of Springvale; Mayor Eric Mitchell
- City of Berwick: Mayor Tom Gyles
- Shire of Pakenham: Shire President Keith Ewenson
- City of Cranbourne: Mayor Peter Bottomley
Managing the new municipality
Commissioners Ian Cathie, John Nixon and Margaret Nicholls were appointed to manage the City of Greater Dandenong between 1994-1997. The Acting CEO was Warwick Heine. The new council was governed from the former City of Springvale offices.
As a result of amalgamation, the organisational restructure lead to a dramatic reduction in Council's workforce, consolidation of the amalgamated Council records and assets, the implementation of the competitive tendering process and the consolidation of sister city relationships.
In February 1995, Commissioner Cathie reported that "Since the amalgamation the new city had saved between $3-$4 million through senior management restructure and the expected sale of surplus council equipment…" The City of Greater Dandenong was only one of 12 Councils to achieve cuts in expenditure of more than 20 per cent among the Melbourne councils.
The commisioners acted as administrators until 1997 when the first City of Greater Dandenong Council was elected. Many former City of Dandenong and City of Springvale Councillors were elected to the new Council.