Merged councils to remain: NSW government

POLICY POSITION: All NSW merged councils will remain in place but proposed mergers in regional areas have been abandoned.
POLICY POSITION: All NSW merged councils will remain in place but proposed mergers in regional areas have been abandoned.

It’s business as usual at merged councils after the state government announced all merged councils will remain in place.

That means no change at MidCoast Council which was formed in a forced merger between Gloucester, Taree and Great Lakes councils.

But merger proposals in regional areas have been abandoned.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council was not earmarked for a merger.

Port Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peter Besseling said on February 14: “Today’s announcement will not affect Port Macquarie-Hastings Council at all, however, it continues the vague and confusing approach taken to reform by the NSW government, where outcomes have not been clearly identified and communities are often left wondering what problems the government is trying to solve.”

The government ended speculation about the future of mergers on February 14 when Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton announced their position.

“Since becoming Premier, the Deputy Premier and I have been travelling across NSW, listening to the views and considering the evidence,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“In addition to maintaining all existing mergers, we will push ahead with those councils in Sydney that are before the courts.”

Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro announced that the government would not proceed with regional councils that have yet to be merged.

“Whilst there have been a number of significant improvements in merged regional councils, we accept that a one size fits all model does not always apply outside Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The financial benefits over the next 20 years will be six times greater in the Sydney councils than those in regional areas.”

Mr Barilaro said councils in the bush had done their fair share to contribute to stronger local government in NSW, and the government had drawn a line under local government amalgamations.