Dungog Shire Council will revisit the Port Stephens merger issue

Council merger back on agenda

Dungog Shire Councillors may have narrowly voted against a motion to merge with Port Stephens Council on Monday night but the push for a “happy marriage” isn’t over yet.

Council voted down a motion to merge and instead investigate a range of options with the findings to be put to the public in a poll at the next council elections.

However Cr Glenn Wall, who moved the original motion to merge which was defeated 5-4,  lodged a rescission motion late on Monday night.

The rescission motion, which will be debated at the council’s next ordinary meeting on May 16,  was also signed by Mayor Harold Johnston and Cr Stephen Farrow.

In another twist, Councillors were notified on Tuesday morning that Deputy Mayor Tony McKenzie, who voted against the motion to merge, had resigned, effective immediately.

Cr Wall said he lodged the rescission motion at 11.41pm after the meeting.

“I came home from the meeting and thought that’s it, it’s over and done with and I had a cup of coffee and was getting a lot of messages and phone calls,” he said.

“I re-read Cr Knudsen’s motion and realised the actions were unachievable.

He described the motion as “erroneous and misleading in that it requests the council General Manager, Mayor and Deputy Mayor to undertake actions that are completely unachievable.”

He said their is no legislative process for the council to negotiate with the Boundaries Commission.

Regarding the resolution to “approach and seek expressions of interest from Maitland Council as to their view on the merger” he said a request would need to be made formally to Maitland or any other council who would then resolve a determination

Port Stephens Mayor Bruce McKenzie said he was disappointed for the people of Dungog after the Monday night meeting.

“I was pleased to see the Mayor (Harold Johnston) voted in favour of it at the eleventh hour,” Cr MacKenzie said.

“I’m disappointed for the people of Dungog and for the 200 or so people that turned up to the meeting who were hoping their elected representatives would do the right thing.”

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