Premier agrees to meet SoS

Save Our Shire’s Neil Hamilton burning a piece of paper symbolising elements of the merger process, like ‘Letters From MPs.’ For more photos see the Tuesday, August 8, edition of the Tumut and Adelong Times.

Tumbarumba’s Save Our Shire group will speak in person with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today (Tuesday), in a meeting secured by Member for Albury, Greg Aplin.

Save Our Shire spokesperson Neil Hamilton said they would be making the case for all shires, and Tumbarumba in particular, to have the choice to be demerged. Speaking at Thursday’s protest, he called on all of Tumbarumba to lend their voices to the cause.

“The sooner the better the Premier understands that the only way to avoid a wipeout [at the next state election] is to reverse this policy that she has inflicted on rural councils without consultation and in spite of the recommendations of the delegate and the Boundaries Commission,” he said.

“This was fundamental bastardry.

“So Tuesday we have a meeting with Gladys, and we will take your voice to that meeting, and explain to her what she has done to this shire, and explain what we want her to do, and that is to restore our council.

“But we need your help, this isn’t up to Lucy [Henderson, SOS President] and me and the others who are on the committee. We need you. This is your community, and you need to get active; you need to knock on doors, you need to send letters and emails. That’s the only way this is going to work.”

The Gundagai equivalent of Save Our Shire, the Gundagai Council in Exile, have previously met with the Premier to discuss the council amalgamations. However, GCIU member John Knight said he didn’t put much stead in the Premier’s word.

“When the NSW Cabinet was announced a few months ago after Troy Grant was rolled as the Deputy Premier and the Leader of the National Party after the Orange by-election, I just happened to be in Queanbeyan that day, and I toddled along and stood in the crowd, and actually spoke to Gladys,” he said.

“I said to Gladys, ‘you’ve got to stop these forced amalgamations in rural communities. They are destroying country communities, they are destroying our heart and soul.’ And she turned to me, she looked me in the eye, and she said, ‘I am listening. I will act.’ I took that as a promise.

“She then spoke to the media, and I was standing behind her. She turned around, she found me in the crowd, she looked me in the eye, and she said ‘I am listening, I am hearing, I will act.’ So, I take it that, now it’s twice she’s lied to me personally.”

A Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party bill to introduce legislation for referendums in merged councils as to whether they want to stay merged was not voted on last Thursday, after Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton took up all the designated debate time.