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Councils fight forced amalgamations

By Georgia Fullerton


The fight of many Sydney councils against forced amalgamations has intensified with the Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose calling for an investigation into the Baird government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ program and the June 30 deadline for a response to merger proposals drawing closer.

Marrickville Council voted to strengthen their fight against proposed mergers at last week’s council meeting, and are calling on the state government to extend the amalgamation assessment process. An “urgent” public meeting will also be held by council on June 10 to discuss amalgamations.

The City of Sydney is also staunchly opposed to forced amalgamations. At the council meeting on Monday May 18,  the Lord Mayor Clover Moore said forced amalgamations would be disruptive to the City’s capacity to deliver major projects.

“City of Sydney is Fit for the Future. We have spoken to our community and they have overwhelmingly told us they support the City of Sydney remaining as it is,” the Lord Mayor said.

“I strongly oppose the idea of forcing amalgamations. This would be an attack on local democracy and an incredible waste of tens of millions of dollars of public money.”

The City of Sydney Council went through a forced amalgamation in 2004 and said a merger of councils would particularly disrupt the current ‘fit for the future’ local Government reform program, which includes investing $1.95 billion on new infrastructure and a $220 million light rail.

The proposed ‘global city’ amalgamation would see the City of Sydney merge with several eastern suburbs councils, including Randwick. Randwick Mayor, Ted Seng, supports the idea of an eastern suburbs merger rather than the ‘global city’ model, saying it would increase efficiency.

“In the next 10 years, we estimate this merger option could generate savings of $235M which could be invested into providing extra services and facilities for our community,” he said.

“How can we deny our communities the benefits that come with an extra quarter of a billion dollars?”

“Of those who preferred a merger option, the most supported option was for a smaller, eastern beaches council, particularly combinations of Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra which produced a population of 270,000 residents. People recognise there are similar communities of interest and lifestyles between Bondi and Coogee, Watsons Bay and Little Bay.”

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