The Baird-Barilaro Government is being slammed for threatening to delay democracy for the hundreds of thousands of residents of forcibly merged councils for up to four years.

Following the sacking of 46 councils, the Government’s plan for a further 11 merged councils has been stalled as many continue to fight their forced amalgamations in court.

Now these councils are being threatened with the ultimatum – either amalgamate by the end of this month or elections will not be held until March 2018 – six months after Premier Baird promised they would be held.

The Baird-Barilaro Government has also decreed that if the new councils are not forcibly merged before August 2017, elections will not be held until September 2019.

The State Government is also considering combining the elections with the next ordinary local government elections in September 2020 so as to avoid overlap with the 2019 state election.

This decision would result in all merged councils being represented by Baird’s hand-picked and unelected administrators for more than four years.

Dozens of communities have already been denied the chance to democratically elect councillors and mayors to run the newly-created councils and remove the administrators.

The forced mergers have caused outrage within communities across NSW with many constituents opposing the undemocratic process used by the Government. This was demonstrated by the massive swing away from the National Party in the Orange by-election.

NSW Labor has vowed that if elected in 2019 communities will be allowed a democratic process to determine their future.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Democracy delayed is democracy denied.

“Communities across the state should not have to suffer through Mike Baird’s administrators for any longer and certainly not for years to come.

“In Orange, constituents have demonstrated how unpopular forced mergers are. The Government needs to listen – not delay local elections.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose

“All council elections should have been held at the same time. There is no justified reason for them to be delayed any further.

“The Liberal-National Government’s program of forced amalgamations has been a dog’s breakfast and has had no thought about the community’s right to choose who represents them.

“Mike Baird can be sure that the communities that have been denied democracy will send a message come 2019.”