Demergers Debacle: Minister Says ‘Move On’

Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, has told the financially and

emotionally distraught communities of Cootamundra, Gundagai and the Snowy

Valleys to ‘move on’.

Appearing in Budget Estimates yesterday, the Minister was questioned by Mark

Buttigieg MLC about the push from the communities to split after being forced

by the NSW Government to merge in 2016.

The Local Government Boundaries Commission investigated two proposals to

demerge Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council and Snowy Valleys and

presented its findings to Minister Hancock in February this year.

Minister Hancock conceded the six months it took to make a decision was ‘a

little too long’, however she was unapologetic about her decision to deny both

demergers.

“The decision is made – it has to be done,” Minister Hancock said.

Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren MP, said the Minister’s

advice to ‘move on’ was insensitive and disrespectful to both communities still

reeling from the forced mergers.

“Both communities were sceptical about the Local Government Boundaries

Commission investigation before it began and the result shows that scepticism

was well founded,” he said.

“Many residents in those communities believed the decision to not allow a

demerger was a fait accompli and it is easy to see why they believe that.

“The Cootamundra and Gundagai communities have been hit with a 53.5%

special rate variation as a result of the bungled demergers policy.

“I wonder if Minister Hancock would ‘move on’ if her rates increased that

excessively.

“Telling those residents to ‘move on’ is insensitive, insulting and inconsiderate.

“Minister Hancock said she understood the communities anger regarding the

decision but it’s clear Minister Hancock has no idea how the communities of

Cootamundra, Gundagai and Snowy Valleys feel.”

Mark Buttigieg MLC said, “The Minister’s comments at today’s hearing

demonstrates that the Liberal and National Government is completely out of

touch with local communities.”

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