The fierce debate about council mergers continues to power on this week, with anti-amalgamation campaigner Peter Primrose speaking from Guyra on Tuesday.
The shadow local government minister said the argument that “bigger is better” in local government – was a fallacy. He said a full and open inquiry into local government finances was needed.
And it’s those financial questions that the ANTY group have been searching for since Guyra was forcibly merged with Armidale.
“Why is it that the state government is currently shifting $680 million worth of responsibilities from the state onto local councils every year,” Mr Primrose said.
“There are endless issues where local councils are being asked to do more and more with less and less by other levels of government.
“There is no evidence anywhere in the world, and I’ve challenged two premiers and two ministers for local government in parliamentary estimates on this, that simply making councils bigger will make them better.
“There’s no academic evidence, no peer reviewed evidence anywhere in the world and the government refuses to provide that.”
Mr Primrose said “local government needs to remain local”. Guyra ANTY spokesperson Rob Lenehan said Guyra and Tingha needed to unite and continue the fight to re-establish the Guyra Shire Council.
“These communities forced into amalgamation against their will are now expected to vote for a new council they never wanted,” he said.
“In the limited canvassing from some candidates thus far, it is apparent you can count on one hand the number of prospective councillors who recognise the Guyra region let alone advocate any real policy or benefit for ratepayers.”
Mr Lenehan said Scot MacDonald’s recent claims that he had saved Guyra ratepayers from a 30 per cent rate increase was “a farce”.
“With many rural ratepayers experiencing increases in their last notice, it is obvious that there will be a huge cost increase for residents after the three year freeze period,” he said.