NSW Mike Baird might think he’s Superman but forced council amalgamations are his kryptonite with the potential to destroy his Government.
Without doubt this is THE single main issue driving discontent in the broader community
Last time I checked it was government “of, by and for the people” but it seems that the Baird government and the hapless and hopeless Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, didn’t get the memo and are rewriting this basic and fundamental tenet of democracy.
The words “disdain” and “contempt” for the community spring readily to mind.
This will hurt them.
There are many State Government members right now feeling decidedly uncomfortable about their future prospects. They know what’s at stake as Mike Baird, from the safety of his blue ribbon seat of Manly, throws them under the bus.
So belligerent, dogmatic and uncommunicative is the Baird government on this issue we can only have a high index of suspicion that there is another agenda running.
Agenda 21 anyone? Perhaps, possibly, maybe. You just wouldn’t know. Do we have a government elected by the people or has the Government become a sock puppet?
Council amalgamations are going to be the Baird Governments crown of thorns, if for no other reason than they have no mandate for such a major shakeup of the democratic process and the proposal runs counter to promises made back in 2014.
The Minister Paul Toole told his local paper in April 2014;
“The Government has stated there will be no forced amalgamations and I aim to honour that, but there are also some councils who have already indicated they want to take up voluntary amalgamations with support from the State Government to work through the process.”
That’s pretty unambiguous and unequivocal I would have thought. No forced amalgamations means exactly that. So what’s changed, Premier?
Former Premier Barry O’Farrell made similar noises in 2011 promising that there would be no forced amalgamations, only voluntary.
The public consultation and hearings process has been a farce with speakers restricted to just a few minutes or in some instances, just one minute.
To further compound suspicion about the Government’s motives, they are being sneaky and secretive by refusing to release the KPMG report that the Government commissioned into amalgamations So what does that tell you?
Again, without the transparency and clarity the release of the report would provide, we can only assume that there is something, or many things the government doesn’t want you to know.
Make no mistake the Liberal brand is in strife across the board. Things are bad enough at the Federal level and when people are angry and grouchy they don’t differentiate and the lines between State and Federal issues begin to blur.
Here’s an idea. Why not shelve the entire thing for now and as John Howard did with the GST, take it to the next state election.
But, then I suppose we need to ask ourselves, can Labor be trusted on this either?
Do we feel lucky???