Mayor Bruce MacKenzie has today challenged the leader of the NSW Nationals, John Barilaro, to have the courage of his convictions when it comes to regional council mergers.
“Mr Barilaro yesterday stated that the Nats would no longer be taken for granted. Well I’m here to tell him that Port Stephens won’t be taken for granted either,” he said.
“He stood in front of the media and talked about not accepting crumbs from the Liberal party’s table, then in the same breath, wouldn’t rule out support for Port Stephens/Newcastle merger.
It sounds like he wants to be half pregnant to me.”
“The facts are there for anyone and everyone to see. Port Stephens is well and truly fit to stand alone.
We are a highly successful, financially strong Council of 70,000 residents, with a community satisfaction rating amongst the highest in the state.”
“It makes absolutely no sense to merge us with Newcastle.
The NSW Liberal Party knows that and so do the Nationals.”
“What I’m asking John Barilaro to do is to show some integrity and say it publicly.
Does he represent regional NSW or does he represent his own personal political interests?”
“I’m telling you now, Orange was just the beginning.
The coalition can say goodbye to the former safe Liberal/National seat of Port Stephens for the next decade if they stuff this up. It’s their call.”