Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose has said the Local Government Minister Paul Toole has caused even more confusion in local government by contradicting his own official notice about election dates on forced mergers.
This comes after Great Lakes Council has made its submission on the three-way merger proposal of Gloucester Shire, Great Lakes and Greater Taree City Councils.
On 22 March, in response to a question by the NSW Opposition in Parliament, asking when local government elections would be held, the Minister said, “We have made it very clear in relation to proposing council elections that if a council is part of a merger proposal then those council elections are scheduled for March of next year.”
But in the Government Gazette last Friday the Minister listed councils slated for forced mergers and specified that they legally cannot have elections until after 15 April 2017.
The official order signed by the Minister in the Government Gazette dated 12 April 2016 postpones these council elections until “twelve months after this order is made”.
Then on Monday the Minister was forced to write to all Mayors to “clarify” his notice in the Gazette.
He explained contrary to his gazetted notice, elections would be delayed “up to twelve months” and so could still be held in March next year.
Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose said, “This whole process is a dog’s breakfast and everyone in local government is totally confused by this chaotic mess.”
“Mike Baird, Troy Grant and Paul Toole have absolutely no idea what they are doing. It literally is changing by the hour,” he said.
“This whole mess shows again that forced council mergers just do not work.”
Great Lakes Council General Manager Glenn Handford said, “Our submission has been placed on Council’s website so that residents can access it and be aware of the information we have used to form our position on the merger.”
As part of its submission, Council engaged consultants Morrison Low to undertake an analysis to identify the costs and benefits associated with the merger proposal.
Morrison Low’s Report is included in Council’s submission.
You can access the Report at www.greatlakes.nsw.gov.au