BY OUR CHIEF CIVIC ROUNDSMAN
Dictator Premier Baird and his sidekick henchman minister for Mega Councils Toole were not content with announcing the death of Local Government on the eve of Christmas when Parliament was in recess but have followed up with another scam.
They’re really scraping at the bottom of the barrel. How low can you get and still seek credibility and respect? The hypocrisy is mind boggling.
How many citizens would know that Baird and co have arranged “public” meetings to have the final say on council mergers?
The only announcement was a jumble of nondescript advertisements in the two daily papers and not a word to the local press or community.
They’re obviously seeking an award for the best kept political secret of the year.
Final Biggest farce of All!
Where have all the Global Warming/ Climate Change hoaxers gone?
Dictator Baird’s final nail in the coffin of Local Government Democracy is the biggest and cruellest farce of all.
Almost by chance only we learn that the Dictator has called for meetings to be held in faraway small meeting places for the last opportunity for citizens to have a say on the future of their local councils.
The citizens of Hunters Hill, Ryde and Lane Cove will have one chance only on Tuesday February 2 at – wait for it – Hunters Hill Sailing Club at Clarkes Point, Woolwich.
Nothing in Ryde and nothing in Lane Cove!
There is no public transport access and there are parking meters for the limited car parking!
And you have to register to attend and to indicate if you wish to speak. There will be no questions or answers or debate or public discussion.
Only public notice was a conglomeration of notices in two pages of sixteen crammed uninspiring advertisements in the two Sydney daily newspapers which we imagine next to nobody would have seen or read.
Following a meeting of concerned residents in Hunters Hill RSL Hall last Wednesday attended by Mayor Richard Quinn and Clr Mark Bennett the Hunters Hill Council has called a special meeting this Monday night at the Council Chambers at 7.30pm. SEE PAGE 4.
The one day public hearing will be held at the Hunters Hill Sailing Club in Clarke’s Point on Tuesday, February 2 from 1pm to 5pm and from 7pm to 10pm.
There will be no community hearings in Ryde or Lane Cove and ratepayers who wish to attend or have their views heard by the current council boundary commission review have been told to register at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au
Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale plans to attend but blasted the choice and date of the venue, which he believes shuts Ryde ratepayers out of the democratic process.
“They’ve got to be kidding themselves,” the Mayor said.
“I know the size of the Hunters Hill Sailing Club because I got married there, it is out of the way for people in Ryde and has been deliberately chosen to be out of the way.”
The Mayor described the public hearing as ‘token gesture, a mere formality’ and points to the fact that large and packed public meetings, facilitated by local council staff, have already been held in the three existing council areas but have been ‘intentionally ignored’.
“Our position backed by surveys is that 81 per cent of people in Ryde want to keep our council and a combined 97 per cent of people across the three council areas support our alternative proposal to keep councils local and send elected delegates to a Joint Regional Authority to discuss shared services,” he said.
“So this isn’t ignorance by the Baird Government, it is that it has deliberately chosen to ignore all the evidence and all the passion our communities have shown.”
Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition spokesman Phil Jenkyn agreed.
“What they’re doing with this public hearing is the minimum they have to do under legislation because they are not prepared to test the extent of community outrage with a referendum,” he said.
He said it would be foolish to believe the issue was not a political one and said there was no assurance the views of the public hearing will carry weight with ‘highly politicised’ government, which has shown a capacity reject community views which clash with its own.
“It is a shame process so what our coalition has decided to do now is target Liberal members, branch members, party supporters and especially Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts who should resign if he will not stand up for the community.”
Like Mayor Laxale, Mr Jenkyn ponders why the public hearing is being held in Hunters Hill whose 14,000 ratepayers would be lucky to elect one representative on a combined council representing 164,000 ratepayers and dominated by Ryde under a forced merger.
“We’ll be lucky to get one, Lane Cove will get two and Ryde will get nine, Hunters Hill will be outvoted on development issues every time and our one representative will be left with the token option of having his or her name recorded against the votes.”
Even supporters of mega councils are perplexed as to why our local State MPs have declined to comment on the issue, despite newly elected North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman speaking out against forced amalgamations at a recent Meet The Candidates Forum in Lane Cove Plaza.
Mayor Laxale said he shared their concern.
“As Mayor, I’ve written to Ryde MP Victor Dominello time and time again and I’ve been ignored time and time again,” he said.
“If he believes that Ryde, Hunters Hill and Lane Cove should be amalgamated he’s got to do more than say he thinks it is a good idea, he should argue his case or better still, represent the people he’s paid to represent in Parliament, whether he agrees with their view or not.”
Our local MPs can well argue that this is the Premier’s prerogative but when repeatedly asked by radio personality Alan Jones if he supports forced amalgamations, the Premier declined to comment.