Today, Justice Moore of the NSW Land and Environment Court dismissed court action by the Liberal dominated Lane Cove Council against the Baird Liberal Government's plans to force the amalgamation of Lane Cove, Hunters Hill and Ryde Councils.
This is really crazy when you think that a Liberal dominated Council has spent tens and thousands of ratepayers dollars opposing through court actions the unpopular decision by the Liberal State Government to force the amalgamation of our local councils.
In today's decision, Justice Moore ordered that Lane Cove Council pick up the legal costs for this action for not only for themselves but for the costs of the Liberal State Government in defending this action.
To top this off, Liberal Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said he will not proceed with the merger to give time for our Council to consider further court action appealing this decision. This means more of our ratepayer dollars may be spent.
As our local Labor Candidate the 2012 Lane Cove Council Elections and 2015 State Election local residents were very clear to me that they did not want to see Lane Cove Council merged with Hunters Hill, Ryde, North Sydney or Willoughby Councils. I'm proud that Labor has officially had a policy since 2003 opposing any forced Council amalgamations. However, Mike Baird and Paul Toole are determined to see our local Council merged.
What next? It is very likely that the Baird Liberal Government will proceed with a forced amalgamation. This will mean that our local Council which is dominated by Liberal party members will be sacked and paid to sit on an 'advisory board' whilst an Administrator is appointed to oversee the Council merger until elections are called. We have no idea when these elections may be? September 2017? Some people are speculating that we will need to wait till March 2018. How undemocratic.
In that time, an Administrator has the power to sell public land, privatise public services such as child care centres and commit to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of new expenditure as this new merged Council hires consultants, marketing firms and rebranding itself. What a waste of money when we have so many other worthy issues such as the need to upgrade parks, roads, build cycleways and support local community organisations.