Canada Bay Council is the latest victim of the Coalition government’s ham-fisted attempts to force unpopular mergers on local councils, a process which is causing division, distrust and dysfunction across NSW local government. Just one week ago Canada Bay had resolved to stand alone and not merge with adjoining councils despite pressure from the State government.

However last night a minority of ALP councillors took advantage of a colleague’s absence to overturn the council’s position and propose a merger with Burwood, Auburn and Strathfield Councils. To add insult to injury the same councillors then moved a rescission motion and deliberately voted it down to avoid the democratic majority on Council returning to a stand-alone position when the absent councillor returns from leave.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Coalition government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ agenda is causing serious dysfunction, division and distrust across NSW councils.

“The government needs to abandon its local government scare campaign that is pitching councillors against each other as they try to avoid the heavy hand of the state government.

“These kinds of shenanigans, where the ALP councillors move a rescission motion with the clear intent to vote it down, give politics a deservedly bad name.

“This minority of ALP councillors have ignored the wishes of 70% of the people of Canada Bay who are dead against their council merging.

“The state government should now accept that the ‘Fit for the Future’ agenda is hopelessly compromised and needs to be abandoned in favour of a far more constructive engagement with local councils and communities,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Canada Bay Greens Councillor Pauline Tyrell said:

“I’ll be asking other councillors to support an extraordinary meeting for Council to suspend any submission to IPART while an urgent independent legal review of the ALP councillors’ abuse of the rescission motion is conducted.

“The mechanism of a rescission motion is designed to correct a situation where one or more Councillors are absent and their vote might make a material difference to the Council’s vote.

“The rescission motion can only be used once in any three month period, so to deliberately lose it at a meeting where they happen to have the numbers because councillors are absent is nothing short of a scandal.

“I believe the Council’s actions may well have been unlawful last night and we need an urgent legal investigation.

“As a Greens councillor, I will always stand with my residents, who have told me they don’t want Canada Bay becoming part of an inner west mega-council,” said Cr Tyrrell.

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