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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Govt called to clarify LGA merger stance

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The premier, Barry O’Farrell, needs to reassure the community his government does not have a secret plan to amalgamate councils, following comments by coalition figures supporting mergers in the Sunday newspapers.

Former coalition premier Nick Greiner and current Kiama MP Gareth Ward have advocated merging councils, supported by the business and property lobby.

United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said the comments showed a deep ignorance of the sector, and called on voters to reject any candidate advocating council amalgamations.

‘It’s alarming that former coalition premiers such as Nick Greiner and serving Liberal MPs such as Gareth Ward want to sign up to the business lobby’s agenda to merge our councils, slash staff and cut local services,’ Mr Kelly said.

‘Anyone with more than a passing interest in local government knows that over the last 20 years we have gone through endless cutbacks, restructures and rounds of redundancy.

‘There is simply no fat left on the bones of local government.

‘We want Barry O’Farrell and local government minister Don Page to tell us whether they stand with the business lobby or whether they stand with local workers and communities.

‘We have incredibly efficient councils across the state, run by hardworking and loyal employees who want nothing more than to serve the community interest.’

Mr Kelly said the Liberal Party had to make its position clear, so that voters have a clear choice on Saturday.

‘Amalgamating councils will make it harder for residents to access adequate services, with staff and councillors too distant and remote to respond to the community’s needs.

‘Amalgamations simply silence the public’s voice.’


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