BY OUR CHIEF CIVIC ROUNDSMAN
Premier Mike Baird and his sidekick Minister for Local Democracy genocide have continued on their arrogant paths of democratic destruction.
Their latest ploy to whitewash their dark intentions was to hold so called “public inquiries” into forced amalgamations which were kept secret from the public apart from a nondescript advertisement in the two daily newspapers on just one occasion.
The Weekly Times was not even notified even through it is THE Local newspaper for the Hunters Hill, Ryde and Lane Cove Council areas. So much for the premier’s self claimed full community and public communication with the public.
The meeting to cover Hunters Hill, Ryde and Lane Cove Councils was held yesterday (Tuesday) in Hunters Hill Sailing Club away from all public transport and parking meters to boot. Nothing in the whole of the City of Ryde or Lane Cove Municipality! An absolute disgrace. But synonymous with the whole despicable political process.
Speakers were only notified on the day of the process and how long they could speak and members of the public had to register the day before! If they knew about it! And the media were under Goebbels like restrictions.
So much for the holier than thou approach of Baird democratic government.
BAIRD’S FIT FOR THE FUTURE FARCE
Hunters Hill will write to residents about any forced merger
Hunters Hill Council will take on the Baird Government’s responsibility to inform ratepayers about official meetings and deadlines linked to the government’s proposed forced merger of Hunters Hill Council.
The information campaign will include a letter to all households and is expected to be backed by similar campaigns by Lane Cove.
It will not canvas residents opinions although a telephone poll by the City of Ryde to around 600 residents will.
Monday night’s unanimous Hunters Hill Council decision responds to a government option to “do nothing” or to inform and encourage ratepayers to have a say.
“We’re making a statement, because if we did nothing that makes a statement in itself,” Mayor Richard Quinn said.
“This is our decision to inform our community, ourselves.”
The information campaign is not expected to push the Council’s long standing policy to stand alone as a council and to negotiate shared services issues with the neighbouring councils under a Joint Regional Authority.
This is linked to last week’s warning by Local Government Minister Paul Toole of “excessive and unreasonable use of ratepaters money to fund misleading campaigns” against the Fit for the Future regime.
Council’s decision was informed by a lively debate with speakers who included former alderman Chris Schofield, who described the information campaign as “throwing good money after bad”.
Save Hunters Hill Municipality spokesman Phil Jenkyn disagreed.
“It is not inevitable and it will not happen, for good reasons,” Mr Jenkyn said.
“If this were to go ahead it would completely destroy the Hunters Hill Municipality, which goes back to 1861 and it will see Ryde taking over Hunters Hill and Lane Cove.”
For Clr Dr Meredith Sheil, the information campaign is a matter of public image as well as principle.
“We are seeming to be steamrolled by the government and I’m not one to lay down in front of a steamroller.”
Hunters Hill Trust spokesman Tony Coote agreed with Mr Schofield while famous local art collector Ron Kaplan backed Mr Jenkyn.
“How much notice will a mega council run by the two major parties have for heritage status?” he asked.
Wide support for SOCC Meeting
Strathfield Town Hall was packed out for last Saturday’s Save Our Councils Coalition meeting with representatives coming from many parts of the State to support the anti Baird forced amalgamation scheme.
Activists came from Harden and Cabonne local government areas while others travelled from Oberon, Cessnock and Newcastle.
Residents and Councillors from various Local Government Areas packed the morning town hall meeting from Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Ryde, Randwick, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman, Pittwater, North Sydney, Woollahra and Willoughby.
VIP guests on stage included Christian Democrats leader Rev Fred Nile, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose MLC, The Greens David Shoebridge MLC, Ku-ring-gai Mayor Clr Cheryl Szatow, Marj Bollinger from Oberon and United Services Union’s Graeme Kelly.
The public meeting resolved to totally reject the Baird Government’s proposals to forcibly amalgamate local councils and secondly, where a merger is proposed there must be a valid binding referendum of all electors in each affected local government area for it is local communities that must decide.
After lunch the meeting formed into smaller working groups to discuss policy and working methods, pictured above.