Gundagai Council in Exile Inc. was formed to fight the disgraceful forced amalgamation of both Cootamundra and Gundagai Shires in May 2016.
There are many similar groups statewide also fighting to overturn the former Baird Governments move to strip communities of their dignity and democracy.
We have made it very clear to the Premier, Deputy Premier and the Minister for Local Government that our fight will continue for as long as it takes to return democracy to those NSW communities currently living under punitive Administration.
The proposed elections in September will not deter us from our resolve. The Upper House of the NSW Parliament recently passed a Bill that, if enacted, will see forced amalgamations stop and allow those that were amalgamated a plebiscite for a return to the previous Council area that existed before it was proclamation of the new Council.
The Bill was passed due to the united approach by The Greens, Shooters and Fishers and Labor in the Upper House. This Bill will be placed before the Lower House in August for debate. Many country National Party members have used the excuse that they were not given the opportunity to vote for or against amalgamation as it was done by Proclamation.
They have indicated sympathy to their constituents but have done nothing despite evidence of the overwhelming desire for demerger (certainly in our community). We now all have the opportunity to ask our local members what their vote will be. Will they cross the floor and vote for the Bill and thus prove that they are indeed there to represent the area from which they were elected or will they toe the party line against the wishes of the voters.
Be assured that if this Bill does not pass, the next round of amalgamations will happen soon and it could be your community that loses its identity and democracy. They will of course tell you that they will not force amalgamations – the same line that was given to us prior to the last election.
Secretary, Gundagai Council in Exile