*Breaking News*: Newcastle Herald 12 May 2016: NSW Council amalgamations announced by Premier Mike Baird
“Mike Baird has just announced that 19 new Councils will be formed across the state through amalgamations. Administrators and interim general managers have been appointed to each of the new councils, which will hold their elections until September next year – 12 months later than those not being merged.”
“Newcastle, Port Stephens, Maitland and Dungog are yet to discover their fate while Gloucester is listed among those disappearing into new entities”
“Three public inquiries have been scheduled. They are for 12am to 4pm June 8 at Nelson Bay Diggers, 7pm to 10pm June 8 at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club, and 7pm to 10pm June 9 at Dungog Memorial RSL.
Submissions will remain open until June 26.”
So the Premier has decided to clear the decks before the Federal Election, leaving a few swinging seats until afterwards. It has already been announced that PSC’s proposal to merge with Dungog will be open for comment until 26 June so that takes it right up to the Federal Election 02 July before the decision will be announced, probably in the aftermath of the election when nobody is listening.
Our Council seems to have adopted the Federal Government’s mantra of “Jobs and Growth,” our Councillors and GM’s own jobs and the growth of the size of the LGA. In a desperate bid to hold onto their jobs and little bit of power, the Councillors and our GM have appropriated another $20,000.00 of ratepayers money to promote the Dungog proposal on top of the $200,000.00 that they have spent fighting the Newcastle one. All we have seen of that so far is a few soggy sausage sandwiches at the public rallies. TRRA are pretty sure this decision was already made 6 months ago, it is just a matter of when it will be announced.
Mea culpa!….. Apologies to Rotary who supplied the Sausage sandwiches. we have been assured by all who partook that they were excellent, and a lot more palatable than some of the speeches………… !
TRRA Wrote to Councillors on 01 May 2016:
“Having considered the business case for the Merger with Dungog, TRRA is not convinced of the merits of advocating a union with a Council which was judged by IPART to be “unfit for the future”. The ILGRP indicated that Dungog Shire Council did not appear financially sustainable and noted that it had received a ‘distressed’ rating in DLG’s Infrastructure Audit. ILGRP also noted that Dungog Council had its own reservations about its capacity to meet infrastructure obligations in the medium term.
TRRA has not found sufficient evidence in the business case to demonstrate any benefits for Port Stephens ratepayers in a merger with Dungog Council. That council is responsible for a sparsely populated area 2.5 times greater than our current LGA with only 6,700 electors to foot the bill for an extensive network of rural roads and bridges. IPART found Dungog not to meet the benchmark for asset maintenance and infrastructure.
TRRA also queries the extent of community of interest with Dungog whose residents might be expected to relate more to Maitland and Newcastle than Raymond Terrace or other areas of Port Stephens.”
Here is the latest political spray from our Mayor:
PS Converse (Audio) – Episode 16 12 May 2016 – Alan Jones, Bruce MaKenzie on Council Mergers and Politics
Examiner 12 May 2016: Minister for Local Government Paul Toole refuses to take Port Stephens-Newcastle council option off the Table
Government Proclamation: Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamation 2016
Is this the new Port Stephens promotion logo?
PSC was set to take legal action to force the Minister for Local Government to hold an inquiry into its proposal for a merger with Dungog Council. An Extraordinary Meeting was called for Monday 2 May 2016 to appropriate another $50,000.00 of ratepayers money for legal fees to take the State Government to the Supreme Court, because PSC’s perception was that their proposal for a merger with Dungog Council did not appear to be under proper consideration by the Government.
According to their Press release (Link Below) the Council that day received a letter advising that a decision has been made to appoint a delegate to inquire into the PSC/ Dungog merger proposal. No timing was indicated in the letter.
Some more work will be needed to thoroughly assess the Council’s proposal and the Morrison Low report, to see if we consider it is in the best interests of our ratepayers. Our initial comments to Councillors are in the link below.
Newcastle Herald May 12 2016 (late): Hunter local government leaders lash Baird over council merger plans | poll
Sydney Morning Herald 12 May 2016: Council amalgamations: Elected officials out and administrators in after Mike Baird sacks 42 councils
Examiner 11 May 2016: Port Stephens Council approves $20,000 publicity campaign to merge with Dungog
02 May 2016: Notice: Special PSC Meeting Re Dungog Merger
01 May 2016: TRRA Letter To Councillors Re Dungog Merger
Examiner 29 April 2016: Port Stephens Council wants Dungog option reviewed under threat of legal action
Newcastle Herald 02 May 2016: Port Stephens Council will take state government to court to have Dungog option heard
PSC Website 02 May 2016: Delegate’s appointment sees extraordinary meeting cancelled