With the continued stance that Eurobodalla Council has of closing down community engagement, making decisions behind closed doors and retreating behind veils of secrecy they to readily claim as 'Commercial In Confidence' which denies the community any information unless via a GIPA request (that all too often is refused) the community had hoped that a new broom, as Minister for Local Government, might bring change and force openness and transparency. It appears however, judging by the media release from Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, that the Eurobodalla community might be left disappointed. Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren said in his media release that the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, has been grilled about the NSW Liberals and Nationals’ forced council mergers during budget estimates this morning. The Minister said communities who had been forced to amalgamate were “now accepting” of the forced mergers despite multiple councils pushing for de-mergers. The Shadow Minister, Greg Warren, said one of the worst examples of the government’s forced mergers policy was in the Snowy Valleys. Despite being one of the most financially viable councils in the state, the government forced Tumbarumba to merge with Tumut – forming the Snowy Valleys Council. The result has been disastrous, with allegations of a missing $4 million from the council’s coffers. Three directors at the council were also recently sacked in a move that shocked the community. Since the forced merger, a significant portion of the Tumbarumba community has pushed for a de-merger but to no avail. The Minister said the issues of de-mergers was a matter she would “decide upon in the coming weeks and months.” To date, the Minister has refused to visit Tumbarumba. She said she would visit Tumbarumba before making a decision on the de-merger only “if time permits”. The Minister also offered this piece of advice for disgruntled communities who had been impacted by the NSW Liberals and Nationals forced mergers policy: “move on and move forward”. “The Minister is clearly out of her depth regarding this very important portfolio,” Mr Warren said. “How can the Minister expect to make to make a decision in the best interests of the community of Tumbarumba if she won’t even meet with the residents?
“I was in Tumbarumba and couple of weeks ago so I know first-hand how angry and disillusioned the community is with the Minister and the NSW Liberal-National government. Telling residents to “move on” speaks volumes of this government’s attitude towards regional and rural NSW. “Let’s make this crystal clear, residents in communities like Tumbarumba, Cootamundra and Gundagai have not and will not accept this government’s forced mergers policy with has inflicted immense damage on those close knit communities.”
Above: Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Shelly Hancock
Photo: Shelley Hancock MP