Minister needs to back down from forced council amalgamations

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The council amalgamation process is descending into chaos following an interview by Minister Paul Toole in which he refused to rule out changes to legislation to force through council mergers. 

Under current legislation all council amalgamations must first be referred to the Boundary Commission for scrutiny via public inquiry.

But Minister Toole has not ruled out changes to the Local Government Act that could give him the powers to circumvent the process, which Labor has consistently criticised for its lack of transparency and due diligence.

With council submissions to IPART due on 30th June there are now legitimate concerns the Minister will increase his own powers to speed up the process and remove any referral to the Boundary Commission. Such changes would remove transparency from the amalgamation process and deny any public scrutiny, Mr Primrose said.

Mr Primrose has repeated his concerns about IPART’s processes and the underlying assumption that ‘bigger is better’, calling on the Premier to step in and tell his minister that the process must run its course.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose:

“The Premier must step in and take control of this process which the Minister has bungled from the start. This process is descending into chaos at the hands of the hapless Minister Toole.”

“With so few councils voluntarily amalgamating, the Minister is now threatening to change legislation to get his way.”

“The Government isn’t listening to the people of New South Wales, they don’t have the numbers to get this through and they know it.”

“Instead of working with the community the Minister has resorted to threats.”

“Labor has questioned the assessment process from the start but it is now clear this Government is driven by pure ideology – the process is being shown for the sham it really is.”

“It is easy to be a bully and that is what this Government has become.”