Yesterday, Thursday May 12 was a bad day for democracy in this state. Premier Mike Baird dismissed 42 elected councils in NSW and formed 19 new councils. Some proposals are not proceeding and nine proposals are “on hold” pending the results of legal challenges. The Oberon and Bathurst proposal is amongst this group.

For further information regarding the announcement I refer you to the website www.strongercouncils.nsw.gov.au. This website contains the full list of merged councils, merger proposals pending and merger proposals not proceeding. 

So what does this mean for Oberon: The Premier/Minister have given “In Principle Support” to the proposed merger between Oberon and Bathurst pending the outcome of our councils legal challenge in the Land & Environment Court scheduled to be heard on 24 - 25 May 2016. Should this challenge fail it is almost certain the Minister will dismiss both Oberon and Bathurst Councils and install an Unelected Administrator and a General Manager to both oversee the merger process and conduct the business of the newly formed entity until the next scheduled Local Government Election for new councils, to be held in September 2017. The Boundaries Commission Delegate Renata Brookes recommended the Oberon/Bathurst merger proposal, refer to https://www.strongercouncils.nsw.gov.au/pending-councils/bathurst-region...

So where to from here: We need as a council and as a community to contact as many NSW State Ministers as possible seeking support, it worked in Walcha where the Boundaries Commission Delegate recommended a merge with Tamworth but due to the strong support of Local Member Kevin Anderson and Federal Member Barnaby Joyce were fortunate to be left alone, the fact that this has become a marginal seat may have influenced this decision. Well done Walcha residents for conducting such a strong campaign. I also note with interest the decision not to go ahead with the merger proposal between Kiama and Shoalhaven – also a marginal seat federally. 

I will be seeking a meeting with our own Local member Paul Toole and all Calare Federal hopefuls.

It is interesting to note that in the NSW Constitution Local Government – democratically elected by the people, is a recognised entity, for one level of Government also elected democratically by the people to summarily dismiss another is odd, not to mention undemocratic. The Premier stated yesterday in response to criticism about his actions that “I strongly believe people have put us here to make decisions”, well to my mind people also put locally elected representatives “here” to make decisions. This smack of double standards.

Mayor Kathy Sajowitz