Consideration of Motion to be Accorded Priority

I call upon all members of The Nationals to acknowledge the widespread community opposition to forced council mergers and to stand up for their electorates and support Labor and the Opposition in ensuring the integrity and dignity of people in rural and regional areas, which are under attack by the forced amalgamations being rammed through by the Baird-Grant Government. Nationals members are strutting around like roosters in their electorates and then they are coming to Macquarie Street and acting like feather dusters by voting against motions to have this vital debate on amalgamations. Specifically I call upon those members who have voted against their communities on this issue: the member for Orange, the member for Cootamundra, the member for Northern Tablelands, the member for Monaro, the member for Myall Lakes and the member for Bathurst. I call on them to think about the people in their communities—people in towns such as Wellington, Yass, Dubbo, Oberon, Harden, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Cabonne, Guyra, Walcha, Dungog and Gloucester—to listen to their communities and to stand with them to ensure that they are able to retain their towns' councils and their identities which form so much of their community spirit. I suggest to members that they take the message back to Mr Scot MacDonald in the other place that the reason that fewer than 600 people in this State voted for him at the last election was that he is the kind of upper House member who stands up in his local community, in a community meeting of more than 300 people, and tells them that they should vote for a forced amalgamation, which even the Premier and this Government have now walked away from. The Council Boundary Review website now lists a multitude of options for amalgamation. It is like a Bachelor and Spinsters Ball gone crazy—everyone is on a dance card with multiple partners and they are lining up and waiting for the music to stop to see where the wallflowers will end up. Look at that big wallflower from my area, Dungog; look at my own local government area of the city of Maitland. First they were unfit and then they were fit. I wish my membership of the parliamentary gym would get me as fit as quickly as a stroke of Minister Toole's pen, because he can go from unfit to fit in a minute. Poor old Dungog, the member for Upper Hunter was shepherding Dungog around like a wallflower and setting his sights on Gloucester. Now Gloucester is back with Great Lakes and Dungog is back with Maitland. I suggest that when they are looking for dance shoes they get the flip-flops of the Baird-Grant Government.

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