Media Release: Local Government Welcomes Barilaro Stance
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has applauded the strong, uncompromising stand taken by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who today announced the National Party would not support the continuation of forced council amalgamations in regional NSW.
In a statement issued at noon, Mr Barilaro said it was time to draw a line in the sand on local government mergers, and reminded the Liberal Party that the coalition agreement was “a blank sheet of paper”.
LGNSW President Clr Keith Rhoades AFSM said the strong statement made it clear the Deputy Premier had not only heard but understood the community during his recent tour of regional electorates.
“These communities are absolutely irate about forced amalgamations, and the proof was obvious at the Orange by-election,” Clr Rhoades said.
“I commend Deputy Premier Barilaro for his strong words today – but I would remind the Coalition Government as a whole that it is not just regional communities that are fighting forced amalgamations with everything they have.
“And it’s not just the inner city either.
“What about the people of Shellharbor who don’t want to be forced into a merger with Wollongong? Or those standing strong against forced amalgamation in Port Stephens and Newcastle?
“Local metropolitan communities are equally as passionate about having a real say in their neighbourhoods and their day-to-day lives.
“That’s been demonstrated time and time again, not just by the court challenges still outstanding but by the collapse of the Liberal vote in Western Sydney and, before that, North Sydney.
“On behalf of the local government sector I say that now is the time to abandon forced mergers right across NSW and to restore local democracy.
“Stop the forced mergers and send those councils who were denied elections last year to the polls in September – let the people decide how they want to proceed.
Clr Rhoades said LGNSW had not budged from its long-held position of supporting voluntary council mergers but opposing forced amalgamations.
“We warned all along that there would be a price to pay if the Government ignored the wishes of the community,” he said.
“We warned that forced amalgamations would not – as Premier Baird promised – place downward pressure on rates, and guess what: they haven’t.
“If the Coalition Government is genuinely committed to a new day and a re-set, then actually listening to what the people want is a pretty good start.”
LGNSW President, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM: 0408 256 405
Media, Toni Allan: 0412 774 441