De-merge support still needed

Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr MP.

INDEPENDENT Member for Wagga Wagga Joe McGirr said the latest announcement that council’s will have to pay to demerge is disappointing.

“It is disappointing – a point that I made to the Commissioner this week.

“The Bill does not preclude Government from assisting but it does not require (compulsory) the Government to assist, which is disappointing,” Mr McGirr said.

“They (government) acknowledge that it  (merging councils)was a failed experiment, they acknowledged the cost to councils, the 19 of merged councils have had to put up their rates, none of the non-merged councils have not had to do that.

“It has caused division and now they are asking councils to pay the price to demerge,” he said.

“The councils need support, initial support from the office of Local Government and they also will need the financial support.

“Now, I agree with the Minister that the councils need to own the process (of demerging), they need to run their own process; the communities (ratepayers) need to be behind it to make it work.

Mr McGirr said he can see that the minister needs to step back to allow councils to take ownership.

He said the mergers were imposed on councils so support in allowing councils lead this, Mr McGirr said they can’t do it on their own. 

“Small councils, rural councils in particular, don’t have the resources to do this, and I don’t think it’s fair,” Mr McGirr said.

“I don’t think it is fair that ratepayers should face further increases in rates to help demerged councils get back on their feet.

“I don’t think it is fair that councils have to pay the full cost.

“I think there will be some communities that are prepared to wear some cost – but for them to wear the whole cost is just not right,” Mr McGirr said.

“It is just not right.

“These councils didn’t ask to be merged; the mergers have been a disaster and the Government should be assisting to demerge.”

Gundagai is going to be exempted from some of this.

Cootamundra – Gundagai council is a special case but it is still not a requirement to be assisted by the Government under this new Legislation.

It has been said by many that the Cootamundra Gundagai de-amalgamation case has been known as ‘test case’ in some ways paving the way for other councils to follow.

“That’s the point to be made,” Mr McGirr said.

“At the end of the day the Government should be helping – it’s not right that they don’t.”

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