Yesterday Premier Gladys Berejiklian walked away from her government’s policy on forced Council mergers, abandoning plans to merge Councils in litigation against her government on this vexed issue. Last February, the NSW Government walked away from regional council mergers, saying that municipalities challenging the policy in court would no longer be forced to merge.
Unfortunately, she still has not taken the final step to bury this undemocratic policy by demerging Councils forced to merge against the will of their ratepayers.
This means that Pittwater and many other areas of the state similarly affected will fight on until the policy is completely dismantled.
It is only due to a failure in Pittwater Council (before its forced termination) to follow through on a motion to seek legal advice with a view to joining in that litigation that sees Pittwater residents in their current dire state.
The Premier said, “Perhaps up to two years ago when we entered into this process, with the benefit of hindsight we should have done things differently. Perhaps we should have listened earlier on in the process.”
Or at all.
The Premier’s comment applies to Pittwater as well as many other communities, whose strong objections to merging with other councils have in many cases been ignored by the NSW government.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley MP called for the Premier to complete the demolition of this failed policy by allowing plebiscites in all LGAs affected by forced amalgamations. These plebiscites must be held in the former council areas to be fair.
Pittwater Forever, its community group members, and many others are determined to carry forward the fight until we have achieved a demerger from Northern Beaches Council, as 89% of residents originally indicated as their preference.