Eurobodalla Shire Councillors went behind closed doors at the Council meeting of 28th Oct 2015 to decide our fate about amalgamation. If you watch the webcast right near the end you will see that the Mayor could not even bring himself to say the word “amalgamation” in public; he called it “the other matter”. This is how determined our councillors are to exclude us from the conversation.
Prior to the meeting ERA asked all councillors and the Mayor two questions:
Minister for Local Government and the Premier of NSW have both declared
that Councils will be merged. The Local Member Andrew Constance has
recently flagged that at least Palerang Council is under consideration
for merger with Eurobodalla. This is by definition the biggest event in
the history of Eurobodalla Shire and as a Councillor of this Shire it
would be expected that you have a point of view and an action or
inaction plan for the ratepayers that you represent. We ask you the
following question on their behalf:
Considering that there is $15
million for infrastructure projects such as aquatic centres and
performing arts centres and $10 million which will only be given to
councils who actively seek amalgamation, do you support sitting back and
doing nothing and risk losing Eurobodalla’s share of $25 million? Will
you continue to support ongoing special rate rises?”
As it is not
unusual for the more arrogant of Councillors to ignore ratepayers’
enquiries when it suits them, we added an incentive to reply in that if
there was no response we would publish their nil response as “No idea.”
Lindsay Brown: No idea; Clr Gabi Harding: No idea; Clr Danielle Brice:
No idea. Certainly they have no ideas which they want to share with you
As it turns out that may have been a good
strategy. Clr Pollock ignored the questions and made some rambling
response regarding the allocation of ERA preferences at the election
over 3 years ago. Clr Schwarz responded with a bedtime story about the
financial dealings of dental surgeries. He called his reply simple.
Schwarz also demonstrated his total lack of understanding of the IPART
report in the same way that Clr Burnside did in his reply.
after lashing ERA and everyone else for only having “half the facts”,
went on to make a complete fool of himself (as did Schwarz) by calling
Palerang and Queanbeyan “basket cases” “crumbling bridges and roads”
“unfit”. In fact IPART found both those Councils Fit in all categories
including financially fit, bar one: scale and capacity; they are too
small. Neither of them could have read the report. The concern for all
ratepayers is that these two Councillors are prepared to make life
altering decisions for others with little or no research, little or no
understanding and arrogant incompetence. This alone makes amalgamation
ERA Councillors Innes and Leslight want this debate
in the public arena. They do not want this shire forever dependent upon
SRV’s. They support all of the potential benefits of amalgamation. They
say it is up to the six councillors who whisper their decisions about
amalgamation behind closed doors to prove why it is not one of the
greatest opportunities for this long stagnating Shire. It is not good
enough to say we are OK; we want to be the best we can be. The next fact
shows what OK means.
FACT: In the last 5 years 2.6% population
growth in Eurobodalla, yet 4.1% in NSW and 4.6% in same Group 4 Councils
as ours. Yet this Council wants more of the same.
Ron Gifford - ERA
Councillor Schwarz reply:
Dear Mr Gifford
Let me put it to you as simply as possible.
one has a dentistry practice and the business is going well. In fact,
recently you had an external consultant in and they told you that your
business is fit for the future and you are serving your customer base
well. Your finances are in good order, as are your assets. Then one day,
someone from ERA (not sure who they are or what they represent these
days) says that you should take on two other practices that lose money
hand over fist, after they joined forces, whose assets are in disrepair,
their books are a shambles and their customer base small but
geographically big (9000 sq km with crumbling roads and bridges) and the
people not happy. ERA thinks it is a fantastic idea to use the hard
earned dollars of Eurobodalla shareholders to bail out two failed
practices to the west on a vibe.
But if you take on these two new
distant practices you may get a new backyard pool (above ground) thrown
in, but your Eurobodalla shareholders (Mum and Dad) will have to
service and maintain it, but in this case, let's just call it Palerang
dentistry, has decided to stand alone and therefore Eurobodalla will not
get the cheap pool.
Please oh enlightened ERA persons, please tell us where where the value is. Always on the lookout for a good deal.
Perhaps Clr Leslight will show us the way tomorrow. The Motion he is moving is really on the pace.
Clr Peter Schwarz
Clr Pollock reply
Ron,I remember the fantastic deal you offered me at the last local
govt. election, I am sure you remember- My second preferences for ERA
3rd preferences,so as a councillor with no idea ,please at least include
this info as a prelude.
Clr Rob Pollock
Clr Burnside reply
Thanks for your email. Great to see you using tact and diplomacy in your usual artful way.
observation regarding Councils merging is correct. Last Tuesday, the
Government released IPART's findings on the 'Fit for the Future' process
which found about 2/3rd's of Councils didn't make it by their criteria.
Eurobodalla, along with our neighbours, Bega and Shoalhaven, originally
deigned by the State to be 'stand alone' Councils, demonstrated that
they conformed to the requirement to be fit, and are not being
considered for amalgamation. This hasn't stopped us forging ahead with
an MOU with Bega Shire to get more economies and use our close
similarities to our mutual advantage. I heard Andrew Constance on the
radio last week too, and noted that he's no longer looking at coastal
Council mergers but is wanting us to look west to develop scale of
Naturally, when he said that, our Mayor called his
Palerang counterpart and was told that they were simply not interested
in continuing the argument and would draw a line in the sand as a 'stand
alone' Council, daring the State to sack them which they probably will
Funds from the State supporting amalgamations are made
available to Councils which agree to merge, individually and
collectively. No funds would be made available for us to merge with
Palerang as they don't agree.
Palerang is a Council formed a few
years back by amalgamating Braidwood and Bungendore, two financially
unviable Councils, into one -- as it turns out -- great big unviable
Council. It's a basket case -- small pop., huge road system (1400km of
roads; 700 of them dirt - 30% of their budget spent just on them) small
rate base and no money. What on earth would there be to gain by us
taking them on? Bungendore and Queanbeyan are virtually commuter suburbs
of Canberra and Braidwood has historic links -- educational; business
etc. with Goulburn so there's absolutely no 'community of interest'
If you can form an argument that demonstrates that
Eurobodalla and Bega ratepayers (also Bega State seat electors) would
somehow be better joining with their unfit tablelands neighbours taking
on a raft of problems that we simply don't have, then I'd love to hear
If, however, i don't hear from you in 48 hours I'll file your email under 'here goes Ron again armed with half the facts'.
Yours in tact and diplomacy,