Annual Councillor’s Report

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Pauline Tyrrell, Greens Councillor, City of Canada Bay Council  Here is a summary of my activities over the past year: Environment: I participated in several community events in support of: the Parramatta River Catchment Group’s ‘Make Parramatta River Swimmable’ Campaign; a meeting of Sydney Water with residents; Clean Up Australia Day with CBG members; and Canada Bay Bushcare. I was successful in convincing Council to lobby for more action on … Continue reading

Showdown between Community and Coalition on forced council amalgamations

 

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The NSW Government’s forced amalgamations plans for local councils have been announced.

The forced amalgamations will cut the number of councils from 152 to 112. In Sydney, 43 councils will be reduced to 25, while 109 regional councils will become 87.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has said the target population size for the proposed merged Sydney councils was 150,000.

State-wide opposition to forced amalgamations has already seen Mike Baird’s merger plans ‘Fit for the Future’ scaled back significantly.  Growing community opposition means that the plans are far from guaranteed.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“When a government dribbles out an unpopular policy a week before Christmas it’s a pretty clear sign that it’s feeling a lot of pain and just wants it to stop.

“For all the bluster and arrogance of the Baird government the proposed forced amalgamations on the table today are far less aggressive than his plans were earlier in the year.

“Six months ago the Baird government was planning to have a mass sacking of councils to appoint administrators and force Sydney into just six mega councils with dozens more council mergers in the bush.

“Growing community pressure has already forced a back down from Baird with no councils being sacked and a much reduced plan for forced mergers across the State.

“The Coalition now faces six months of even greater public pressure as each and every one of their proposed forced amalgamations grinds through separate public inquiries run by the Boundaries Commission.

“It’s no surprise this is being announced just before Christmas, it’s is a rubbish policy from an arrogant  government that knows forced amalgamations are deeply unpopular.

“What has been announced today is an incoherent plan for the future of local government without a scrap of evidence to support it.

“There is not a single report that supports a single one of these proposed mergers. What we see from Baird is a scrappy attempt at a political fix and councils and residents deserve far better.

“Baird is already finding that communities have far closer connections with their local councils and the services they provide than some smooth-talking bloke that they see on TV occasionally.

“The Greens remain committed to work with communities to stand up to the Coalition’s bullying, oppose forced amalgamations and keep local councils genuinely local.” Mr Shoebridge said.

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LOCAL COUNCILS SHOULD NOT BE FOOLED BY BAIRD’S BLUSTER AND BULLYING

Local councils across the state should not be fooled by Premier Baird’s bullying language and aggressive campaign to force amalgamations.

Premier Baird and Local Government Minister Toole sent a letter to all NSW Mayors with an unsubtle threat to councils who have listened to their local community and decided to remain standalone: “Councils that see the benefits of merging, but are unable to reach agreement with neighbouring councils, should submit their merger preferences even if agreement has not been reached. These councils will have the best opportunity to shape the future of the new council.”

In response to Baird and Toole’s bulliyng letter, Greens MP David Shoebridge has distributed a letter to all NSW Mayors and Councillors with some essential truths.

There is a very good reason why the Premier is so vague and why he is so bullying. He wants councils to capitulate and “voluntarily” merge by the end of this year because the alternative for him is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

The Premier does not have a political majority in the NSW Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “This is blatant bullying from the Premier and Minister who know that if local councils don’t voluntarily amalgamate, the alternative is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

“Baird and Toole have clearly been frustrated by local councils who have listened to their communities and been told to stand firm and not become a mega council.

“Most councils after consulting with their communities have found that their residents don’t support having their democratic say diluted by a merger and there is no economic justification for a merger.

“The fact is the Premier does not have a political majority in the Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

“The Greens will continue to support locals who, in the face of the Premier’s bullying, decide to stand alone as viable, community-supported and responsible councils.“ Mr Shoebridge said.

Both letters are online here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2015/11/13/local-councils-should-not-be-fooled-by-bairds-bluster-and-bullying/

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Greens call to keep developer donations out of NSW politics

The Greens have written to all political parties registered for next year’s State election, seeking their commitment to reject donations from donors that are currently banned by State law, regardless of the High Court’s findings in the McCloy challenge.

In late July Newcastle Mayor Jeff McCloy issued a writ to overturn the ban on donations from property developers as well as the tobacco, gambling and alcohol industries. He is also seeking to prevent ICAC investigating a $10,000 donation made by one of his companies to the campaign of Newcastle Liberal MP Tim Owens.

Unless the High Court is convinced that the imposition on freedom of political communication is justified by a reduction in corruption risk, it is likely that the bans will disappear before next year’s State election.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: “It is time for John Robertson and Mike Baird to put their money where their mouth is.  Unless the parties can agree to a self-imposed ban, the State faces an inevitable slide back into the bad old days of policies for sale to the highest bidders.

“There were good reasons why these bans were imposed in 2009 and 2010. Regardless of what the High Court says, they must stay in place at least until there is a chance for the parliament to legislate alternative anti-corruption measures.

“This is a once-off opportunity for every party contesting the next election to put the good of the State ahead of their own capacity to raise funds.

“By agreeing to these current laws, the parties would restore a little faith in the political process and help hold back the floodgates of another source of corruption and influence peddling,” Dr Kaye said.

– See more at: http://johnkaye.org.au/greens-call-for-commitment-to-keep-developer-donations-out-of-nsw-politics/

(6/8/2014 Dr John Kaye, MLC)

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