Re “‘Poll Questions" Dungog Chronicle, August 2:
I read with some concern the letter by John Connors et al published by the Dungog Chronicle last week and would like to comment on some of the issues raised.
It is true that Maitland is a growing city and has big expansion plans but its expansion strategy is more likely to be along the New England Highway near good transport.
Maitland has 76,607 people and Port Stephens has 64,807 people. In either case, if a merger goes ahead, we will be joining a council with a vastly greater population.
With regard to rates, IPART will only allow rate rises that they believe the community can afford. The November 2015 Morrison & Low Report, does not say our rates will double.
We are told, 'don't worry about anything like trains, medical services and shopping’. This contradicts the issues that the Boundary Commission is obliged to note.
In my opinion, all information being released should be balanced, fair and accurate. I have responded in this spirit.
TIME FOR COOL HEADS
Some of the figures and arguments I see about the merger of Dungog Council with our neighbours seem to be missing the point. The reality of the situation is being lost in the emotion of the debate.
I am not opposed to amalgamation with any Council. If amalgamation is the position that Dungog is finally faced with, the negotiating team should be focused on the best outcome for the ratepayers of Dungog, and maintaining our rural identity.
There are a lot of issues to resolve with each merger proposition before a position should be agreed for Dungog ratepayers. The following comments regarding a Maitland merger do not present a balanced argument.
Maitland council is focused on “commercial, industrial and residential development” – a blend of commercial, industrial and residential development is what we want in Dungog, however it would need to be balanced with our rural lifestyle.
We have 9000 ratepayers, Maitland has 77,000 – the question was asked do we want to take our 9000 and merge with 77,000 – I thought the previous debate was that Dungog had too small a ratebase and needed to increase significantly to be financially viable. The other question was “Do we want to merge with them?” Well it takes two to tango and do they want to merge with us?
The question we need to be asking is “what’s in it for Dungog ratepayers?”
Does Port Stephens want to merge with us? – I get the distinct impression they are not a happy bunch of campers.
It is highly probable that neither Maitland nor Port Stephens will agree to a merger. Time will tell. Let’s relax, take the emotion out of the debate and see what happens after the Council elections. One thing is for sure – our rates will need to rise – we’ve had it too good for too long.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak has highlighted the hypocrisy of Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton after she filibustered to prevent his party’s bill to allow local referendums on Council mergers.
Video has emerged showing the Minister speaking at a rally in 2015 opposing the forced amalgamation of Woollahra Council.
“The hypocrisy of Gabrielle Upton is typical of the NSW Liberal Party Government – one rule of the inner city elites, and another for everybody else,” Mr Borsak said. “Minister Upton opposed the amalgamation of Woollahra Council, but is happy to prevent any other community opposing their own forced Council merger.
“Unfortunately for the rural Councils that have been forced to amalgamate against the will of local residents, the gutless National Party are unable and unwilling to stop it.
“The Nationals are doing what they always do – what the Liberal Party tells them.”