Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, has refused to hand over copies of the Local Government Boundaries Commission’s (LGBC) report into the potential demerger of Snowy Valleys Council and Cootamundra-Gundagai Council.
In a letter, Ms Hancock’s Chief of Staff wrote, “I certify to the best of my knowledge that there are no documents held by the Office of the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, that are lawfully required to be provided.”
Further, Department of Premier and Cabinet Secretary Tim Reardon wrote that “no documents covered by the terms of the resolution and lawfully required to be provided are held,” and that the LGBC was not subject to Ms Hancock’s “direction or control” – despite the Minister directing the Boundaries Commission to hold a public inquiry into the possible demergers.
Earlier this month the NSW Upper House passed a Standing Order, requiring the government to release the reports pertaining to the proposal to demerge Snowy Valleys Council and Cootamundra-Gundagai Council. The deadline for release of the documents was yesterday, May 19.
The Standing Order 52, moved by Labor’s Upper House leader Adam Searle, required the government to publicly release all documents created since January relating to the proposed demergers.
Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, argued in a press release that either the LGBC or the Minister are lying.
“The LGBC said it handed their findings to Minister Hancock, yet the Minister says she has no such documents,” Mr Warren said.
“It defies logic. The longer this demergers mess drags on, the longer those communities suffer unnecessarily.
“The people of Cootamundra, Gundagai and Snowy Valleys deserve much more from this Government and the Minister for Local Government.”
Labor spokesperson for Cootamundra and Tumut resident, Mick Veitch, said he was bewildered by the Minister’s response.
“The NSW Legislative Council made it clear that the residents of Snowy Valleys and Cootamundra-Gundagai should have these reports publicly available so they can better understand the intent of the Liberal-Nationals Government,” Mr Veitch said.
“Minister Hancock has a duty to the Parliament of NSW and the people of Cootamundra, Gundagai and Snowy Valleys, to release these documents.”