During debate in state Parliament today, Alex Greenwich proposed a motion calling on the Government to rule out forcing local councils to amalgamate.
Despite unanimous opposition from the Greens, Labor and the independents, the Baird Government rejected the motion. The State Government has clearly opened the door to the possibility of forced amalgamations.
The State Government has given local councils until the end of June to respond to proposals to amalgamate and create 'mega-councils'. The City will make a submission that demonstrates it is already, "Fit for the Future". That's the Government's way of saying financially sustainable, efficient and able to provide effective services and infrastructure now and into the future.
A majority of local residents and businesses in the City of Sydney are strongly opposed to local government amalgamations, particularly if they are forced.
The Government's preferred outcome - a mega-council the size of Tasmania, made up of the City, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra and Botany - would be a shockingly wasteful and disruptive exercise. The City has a 10-year, $1.95 billion plan to invest in new infrastructure. This includes $220 million for light rail and $440 for Green Square. This work would be put at risk by an amalgamation.
During the recent election, Premier Mike Baird refused to say that he wanted to change the Government's longstanding policy of no forced amalgamations.
Now re-elected, he has no mandate to change the policy. With public opinion clearly opposed to forced amalgamations, changing it would be a significant breach of trust with the NSW community.
Alex's motion sought to protect Sydney and other financially stable local councils that have community support for standing alone. It is disappointing the Government rejected that opportunity and took a step closer to breaching our trust.