On March 30 2016 I received a letter from the Minister for Local Government The Hon. Paul Toole seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from councillors who wish to be considered for a role in the shaping of the new interim council should a merger be implemented. I forwarded this letter to all Councillors. The possible roles offered are: Administrator, Councillor, Member of a Local Representation Committee or Member of an Implementation Advisory Group. To be eligible for one of these roles six criteria all need to be met. These criteria are centred around a firm commitment to ensure the success and implementation of a new council. A two week response time was specified by the Minister. The Minister once again noted that " no decision has yet been made on merger proposals".
Your Councillors have given long and careful consideration to the Ministers request, weighing all options. We have unanimously decided that after opposing forced amalgamations so vehemently over the past year, in all conscience to now completely reverse our position and sign a document committing to amongst other things " ensuring the success of a newly merged entity and to work collaboratively with Government to implement same" would be hypocritical as well as morally and ethically reprehensible, a criticism our community and others around NSW have levelled at the Minister and Premier throughout this process of broken commitments and ever changing guidelines. How can we as councillors put ourselves in that same position.
As such I wish to advise the community of Oberon, the vast majority of whom have opposed any forced merger from the outset, that no councillor has submitted an EOI. However I have submitted a statement to the Minister which I have set out below for your information.
"Council was elected in September 2012 therefore mandated by the Oberon Community to represent them for four years until September 2016 when Local Government Elections are scheduled under The Act. Therefore Council has a firm commitment to support the overwhelming community stance against forced amalgamation. Due to the fact that no decision has yet been made on merger proposals and given the limited information around the structure of any proposed merged entity during a transition stage, Council does not think it appropriate to consider an Expression of Interest at this time.
For and on behalf of Oberon Councillors.”
Whereas the whole of the community may not necessarily agree with this position it is councils belief that we must act with integrity and believe the overwhelming majority will support this action.
Kathy Sajowitz - Mayor