A thought-bubble by Kiama MP Gareth Ward for an opinion poll to be conducted to assess the community’s views on the State Government’s surprise forced local council amalgamation proposals in the Illawarra has been dismissed as a con job by Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson.

“This thought-bubble by Gareth Ward is simply to divert attention from his inability to convince his own Government that all local Councils in the Illawarra should remain stand-alone entities as recommended by the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel.

“Mr Ward has led local Mayors and Councillors up the garden path for the last four years telling them that the State Government wouldn’t dare to force local councils in the Illawarra to amalgamate.

“Now, in true Gareth Ward style, he’s trying to pass the buck for his own political bungling by proposing a non-binding, non-compulsory opinion poll should be conducted to assess the community’s view on his own Government’s proposal to force councils in the Illawarra to amalgamate.

“I don’t need a fake opinion poll to tell me that the people of the Illawarra are overwhelmingly opposed to forced council amalgamation in the Illawarra.

“Mr Ward had a small taste of the substantial community opposition to his Government’s proposal just before Christmas when 500 people spontaneously showed up at his Kiama office to deliver a clear message that his Government’s proposal is not on”, she said.

Ms Watson said that if Mr Ward was serious about opposing forced Council amalgamations in the Illawarra, he could, as Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, lead a deputation of the region’s Mayors, Councillors, local MPs and community representatives to meet with the Minister for Local Government, Paul O’Toole within days.

“Instead, Mr Ward only wants to grandstand and put out thought-bubbles like holding an opinion poll which will have no binding effect on his own Government’s decisions to hide his own political incompetence.

“His own Government ignored his own opposition to forced amalgamation and he has deliberately misled the region’s Mayors and Councillors for years telling them none of this would happen”, Ms Watson said.


5 January 2016