NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has challenged National Party leader Troy Grant to a town hall debate on the Baird Grant Government’s plan to forcibly merge Cabonne Shire, Blayney Shire and Orange City.

Mr Foley made the debate challenge during Parliamentary question time, asking Mr Grant to meet him in Molong to debate the forced mergers ahead of the Orange by-election. 

Mr Grant refused to accept Mr Foley’s challenge for a public debate.

Mr Grant also refused to admit his Government was wrong to pursue an amalgamation of Cabonne, Blayney and Orange Councils.

Following the Baird-Grant Government’s admission that it was wrong to ban greyhound racing, the Opposition is urging the Government to listen to the local communities and backflip on its forced council mergers.

The mergers have been opposed by local communities across the state with many labelling the process an attack on democracy.

Despite the community opposition, the Liberal-National Government has refused to back down on the program of forced mergers, choosing to appoint unelected administrators in lieu of publicly appointed councillors. 

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“If Nationals Leader Troy Grant is so steadfast in his belief that forced council mergers are a good idea he’ll have no issue arguing the point in a public debate in Molong.

“The local community has been resolute in its opposition to the forced merger of their local councils but Mr Baird and Mr Grant have refused to listen.

“The National Party has abandoned regional NSW for far too long. They’ve become nothing more than lickspittles for a North Shore Liberal Premier.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose

“The community has made itself loud and clear that they don’t want this forced amalgamation.

“The National Party has done nothing to stand up to Mike Baird against his attack on regional NSW communities.”

Quotes attributable to Labor Candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon

“I’m hearing from people all across the community that they are sick and tired of the National Party taking them for granted.

“If Troy Grant truly cared about Orange he would take Luke Foley up on his offer and join him in a debate in Molong.”