Tuesday, 9 February 2016
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said today he was maintaining his opposition to the state government’s proposal to merge Guyra Shire and Armidale Dumaresq Councils and was urging the community turn up and speak out at Thursday’s public inquiry hearings.
NSW Office of Local Government Chief Executive’s Delegate Greg Wright, who has been tasked with assessing the government’s merger proposal, will hold three public hearings on Thursday to take oral submissions from members of the community.
Despite a conflicting parliamentary committee hearing in Sydney on Thursday, Mr Marshall will be addressing the Guyra meeting in the morning and attending the afternoon and evening meetings in Armidale as well.
The MP is encouraging locals to register to attend the hearings and speak to ensure the Delegate hears the views and concerns of the community.
“I’ve never supported the proposal put forward by the government to merge Guyra and Armidale councils and the analysis of the full proposal has only hardened my view,” he said.
“I’m not an ‘anti-reformer’ – there’s no doubt things must change if local government is to be strong in country areas – but this proposal simply doesn’t stack up, no matter which way you look at it.
“The purported financial savings, which underpin the proposal, have been shown to be wildly inaccurate on every measure, using out of date financial figures, assumptions which aren’t relevant to either council and it’s missing some key data.
“Also, both Guyra Shire and Armidale Dumaresq Councils agree that the proposal won’t strengthen or provide any substantial savings above the current shared services and administration model.
“This model, which has already realised considerable savings, is ignored in the proposal document, as are the benefits of increased purchasing power and efficiencies from the newly formed New England Group of Councils (NEGoC), rather than just a flat merger model.
“You don’t necessarily need a merger to achieve the same scale and capacity, just strong relationships and good co-operation across the region and given my experience at Gunnedah and with Namoi Councils, I know it can and does work.
“It’s critical that others who are passionate about this issue turn up and have their say too if the Delegate is to get a good understanding of how the community feels.
“I said right from the start of this process that I’d back my community – as a local MP that’s what a try to do on every issue – and the community is telling me they want no part of this merger proposal.”
Anyone wishing to attend or speak at the public hearings should register online at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au/proposals/armidale-dumaresq-and-guyra-shire-councils/