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plebiscite plan on the cards to head off nsw council merger backlash

plebiscite plan on the cards to head off nsw council merger backlash News Article With The full text news and with Resource Link at the bottom of the text and you can View this News Article in the source page.



plebiscite plan on the cards to head off nsw council merger backlash

the berejiklian government is considering using plebiscites to allow residents to decide the future of the state's councils, in a potential major about-turn from one of the coalition's signature policies.

the use of plebiscites to settle the contentious issue of council mergers would raise logistical and political issues across the state, after multiple councils were already forcibly amalgamated.

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gladys berejiklian's priorities as premier

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gladys berejiklian's priorities as premier

gladys berejiklian has made clear her plans as nsw's 45th premier –- but can she pull them off?

but after gladys berejiklian declared that she would listen to the community on the topic, it is understood that residents in councils that have not yet merged could be given the chance to decide whether they want to amalgamate.

it is unclear what would happen to councils that have been merged, but if the government did not allow residents in those areas to vote on the future of their councils, there would be a certain strong backlash from mps and residents.

the premier would not confirm the government's thinking. "as i have said, we are looking at the council amalgamation policy," she said through an emailed statement.

the first cabinet meeting since ms berejiklian replaced mike baird as premier last monday is to be held on thursday. it is understood the government will want to have its position resolved before parliament resumes on tuesday, february 14.

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prior to her selection as premier by the liberal party room, fairfax media revealed that ms berejiklian would re-consider the contentious council merger policy.

although the government has already created 20 new councils across the state, another 11 councils are still to be created. these have largely been delayed because their constituent councils have challenged the amalgamations in court.

berejiklian is poised to perform a backflip on her party's signature policy.
berejiklian is poised to perform a backflip on her party's signature policy. p o: ben rushton

the first challenge to make it to the high court – woollahra's bid to prevent its merger with waverley and randwick – is likely to be scheduled for a hearing date to determine leave to appeal some time this month.

ms berejiklian has appointed politicians to key posts who have in the past strongly opposed amalgamations. the member for vaucluse and new local government minister, gabrielle upton, told a public meeting in 2015: "i believe that local governments are local.

woollahra is hoping to prevent its merger with waverley and randwick.
woollahra is hoping to prevent its merger with waverley and randwick. p o: robert pearce

"my position is that woollahra council should not be merged with other councils."

the member for lane cove and new planning minister, anthony roberts, told a meeting in 2013: "bigger is not better. the case has been prosecuted that bigger is better and i don't think it will be able to be prosecuted."

both mps are in areas where councils have so far resisted amalgamation. sydney councils that were to be merged under mike baird's government but have not yet been amalgamated are: burwood, canada bay and strathfield; hornsby and ku-ring-gai; hunter's hill, lane cove and ryde; mosman, north sydney and willoughby; and randwick, waverley and woollahra. 

the merger issue would also be contentious in the upcoming by-election in north shore, which was precipitated by former health minister jillian skinner's retirement from politics.

the nationals leader, john barilaro, has already committed his party to preventing any more amalgamations in regional areas. this policy would prevent the merger of armidale dumaresq and guyra with uralla and walcha, bathurst's merger with oberon, blayney's with cabonne and orange, and dungog's merger with maitland.