Media Release: Political Compromise a Lost Opportunity

14 February 2017
LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said today’s announcement about the future of forced council amalgamations was clearly a political compromise – and like most compromises, was likely to leave a great many people dissatisfied.
“The diametrically opposed positions staked out by National Party leader John Barilaro and Liberal Party backbenchers left the Premier in a very difficult position,” Clr Rhoades said.
“People are asking why the Government has made a distinction between metropolitan and regional councils, and why the city councils don’t deserve the same treatment as their country cousins.
“The only people really able to answer that question are the Premier and the Minister for Local Government.
“Meanwhile, regional communities in areas like Cabonne and Oberon will be celebrating the news that their voice has finally been heard in Macquarie Street.
“Their tireless efforts to deliver an unequivocal message offered a very clear illustration that political support cannot be taken for granted.
“We’ve seen it in the Orange by-election too, and we know there are three more by-elections in the wings.”
Clr Rhoades said today’s compromise announcement failed to deliver certainty for any metropolitan communities opposed to forced amalgamation.
“The Government has said it won’t change its approach in the city, leaving the decision up to the courts,” he said. 
“I doubt that will satisfy communities such as Woollahra, Hunters Hill, Mosman and North Sydney – all traditional Liberal Party heartlands, and all strongholds of opposition to forced amalgamation with their neighbours.
“And for the sector as a whole, today’s decision will simply create further bitterness.
“It’s a lost opportunity to further draw a line under the disruption and upheaval of the past two years.
“But most importantly, it will delay progress on the real issues facing all councils – amalgamated or otherwise - financial sustainability, stronger governance and greater capability in local government.”
Media Enquiries
LGNSW President, Cr Keith Rhoades: 0408 256 405
Media, Toni Allan: 0412 774 441
Mergers which will no longer proceed:
  • Armidale Dumaresq and Guyra (now Armidale Regional), Uralla Shire and Walcha councils
  • Bathurst Regional and Oberon councils
  • Blayney Shire, Cabonne and Orange City councils
  • Dungog Shire and Maitland City councils
  • Newcastle City and Port Stephens councils
  • Shellharbour City and Wollongong City councils
  • Dungog Shire and Port Stephens councils