When the announcement was made in December 2015 that Port Stephens Council would amalgamate with Newcastle Council, the reaction from Port Stephens residents was not favourable.
Port Stephens Councillors got together and formed a plan to put up a solid fight on behalf of the residents.
Port Stephens Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Doohan, told News Of The Area, “We put on gloves and became determined to challenge the ridiculous proposal, and have remained stoic in our fight for the people of Port Stephens.”
The council invested a lot of time and funds to put together a submission to the Government Appointed Delegate (GAD), to prevent the merger with Newcastle.
The delegate did his report, and it was given to local government to digest.
Chris Doohan comically told News Of The Area, “The rubbish in this report was impossible to digest – it smelled more like vomit.”
During this period, Port Stephens recognised the opportunity to have a more successful merger with the LGA of Dungog.
After many of the councillors canvassed the people of Dungog, the support that was mustered was overwhelming.
That proposal was put together and submitted, again with a lot of heart from Port Stephens Council and residents, and that invoked a second enquiry
To date, the delegate report from the proposed Port Stephens/Dungog enquiry is still yet to be received, despite it being months since its submission.
At the recent Local government NSW annual conference (LGNSW) Chris Doohan spoke, and publicly questioned the Minister of Local Government (Minister Toole) about the need for an immediate answer for the people of Port Stephens who have been waiting too long.
He may not have worn his gloves – but he certainly gave Newcastle Council plenty of upper cuts during his address.
Port Stephens is currently paralysed, awaiting the debacle to be over, and an appropriate decision to be made for our area.
Every decision the council makes at the moment is implicated or hampered by the potential merger.
Chris Doohan will keep News Of The Area up to date with updates surrounding the fight against the amalgamation.