As we go to yet another inquiry, Dungog Shire Council’s standing motion is to stand-alone, with appropriate resourcing from government. Although this merger proposal is between Port Stephens Council and Dungog, the recommendations from the Maitland/Dungog inquiry, now posted on the Boundaries Commission website, should also be taken into account.
If we are forced to merge, it is my view, that one of the key considerations should be geographic cohesion and communities of interest. This is the glue, which will, potentially, bind the two entities together. It’s about where we do our business and where our services flow from and to.
Residents in Dungog are drawn to Maitland as a service centre. The majority of our connections are to the south and the rail link enhances this cohesion. From a health perspective, allied health services such as community nursing and community health are provided into the Dungog LGA from East Maitland. Maitland Hospital and the new Metford site, as well as palliative care, emergency services, follow up surgical, dialysis, and health transport all emanate from the Maitland area. Maitland is also our principal place for employment, retail, markets, business and sporting affiliations. Other commonalities are agriculture, cultural events and tourism.
The DSC Health Forum is where our community and allied health professionals talk about our ‘health’ needs. Expanding into a larger entity, where these health aspects are based, means that services are understood, protected and potentially strengthened through advocacy. Amalgamating with a council, where we don’t have these ongoing and historical relationships, will, in my opinion, have little chance of success.
Dungog councillor Linda Bowden
DUNGOG – PORT STEPHENS MERGER INQUIRY HEARINGS
Delegate Peter Peppin will undertake hearings on June 8 between noon and 4pm at Wests Nelson Bay Diggers Club, and between 7pm and 10pm at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club. There will also be a hearing at Dungog Memorial RSL Club on June 9 between 7pm and 10pm.
Written submissions should be sent to Council Boundary Review – GPO Box R1772, Royal Exchange NSW 2001 BY 5pm June 26. Make a submission online at https://olg.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au
Visit the same website to register to attend and speak at the public hearing.