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About 300 people attended the public inquiry, conducted by the Council Boundary Review Delegate Cheryl Thomas, in Marrickville on February 2.
Of the approximately 70 speakers, an overwhelming number spoke against the forced amalgamation of Marrickville, Ashfield and Leichhardt councils.
In 2013, we asked our residents if they wanted Marrickville to amalgamate, and 64% of them said they wanted Marrickville Council to stand alone. In May 2015 this had grown to 71%. By December 2015 it had reached 75%.
Our residents acknowledge and accept that there may be benefits from a merger with Ashfield and Leichhardt. But they want to stand alone.
Many attendees expressed frustration at the limitations on speaking times which were reduced further on the day of the Inquiry. Their main concerns were loss of local identity and character, less representation, and a lack of transparency in the merger process with many speakers calling for a plebiscite on the issue.
Council’s General Manager Brian Barrett summed up another of the foremost themes of the day when he called on the Delegate to demand to see the full KPMG report.
The contentious report claims that amalgamations will reap economic benefits of $2 billion. It is central to the State Government’s case for its policy of forcing NSW councils to merge, but the full report, and the modelling used, has never been released.
He pointed out that even if the Government doesn’t release the full KPMG report the Delegate has an obligation to properly examine it, and test for herself the adequacy of the assumptions that provide the justification for one of the most significant structural changes in NSW local government political history.
The communities affected and the people who attended the public enquiry are owed that.
Sam Iskandar, Mayor
City of Marrickville
Editors note: tell FOCUS about your amalgamation experience.
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