MEDIA RELEASE: Council Amalgamation Petition Launched

Today Maitland's Labor state and local representatives and federal candidate for Paterson, Meryl Swanson launched a petition calling on the NSW Parliament to discontinue the proposed merger between Maitland City Council and Dungog Shire Council.

Labor opposes forced amalgamations and has called for the release of the secret KPMG report the government has put forward in support of the amalgamation.

The Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, earlier this month revealed he had sent a proposal for a merger between Maitland and Dungog to the Office of Local Government for examination, despite taking the plan off the table last December.

In another government backflip, Maitland was initially declared "unfit" and then declared "fit" in the Government's Fit for the Future Determination.

Labor representatives will be holding a public meeting on Friday night at Maitland Park Bowling Club from 5.30-7.30 for members of the community to meet with Councillors to discuss their views and sign the petitions.

They are hopeful of gaining the requisite 10,000 signatures to enable a debate on the issue to be heard in State Parliament.

Quotes attributable to Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison:

“It is good to see Ms Swanson is behind our state member and local Councillors who are representing our community. We need everyone in Maitland to pull together to fight this forced amalgamation.

“We must stand strong and united if we are to stand alone as a council. It is vital that our community’s voice is heard on this issue.

“The Baird Government has been flip flopping around on this issue and there is simply no justification to forcibly amalgamate Maitland with Dungog.”

Quotes attributable to Labor’s Candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson:

“I am working with local Maitland Councillors and the local State MP to ensure the voice of the community is heard.

“I urge the community to attend public briefings, sign the petition and make a submission about the merger proposal.”

Quotes attributable to Maitland West Ward Councillor Henry Meskauskas:

“We are fit for the future, so why should we even be in this situation where the Government is forcing Maitland to amalgamate with Dungog?

“Why should Maitland have to carry the burden for Dungog for 4 years?”

Quotes attributable to Maitland East Ward Councillor Ben Whiting:

“I am obligated to represent the interests of Maitland residents and oppose this costly Merger.

“This is a purely political process being determined on the run.

“Maitland residents made the hard decisions with our Special Rate Variation to secure us financially into the future. A merger with Dungog will throw that sustainability into disarray.”

Quotes attributable to Maitland North Ward Councillor Robert Aitchison:

“The people of Maitland asked me to represent their views and they have said that they vehemently oppose this amalgamation.

“Not one person has contacted me with any support for this merger.

“I urge all residents to sign the petition to ensure our community isn’t paying the price of the Baird Government’s lack of support for regional communities.”

Quotes attributable to Maitland Central Ward Councillor Loretta Baker:

“Maitland ratepayers will be adversely impacted by any merger. It is not in the best interests of the community.

“Maitland ratepayers will be supporting the people of Dungog because of the Government’s decision to freeze Dungog’s rates over the next 4 years. Dungog’s significant infrastructure costs and debt will be forced on the people of Maitland.

“The majority of Maitland residents wouldn’t even know that the Maitland-Dungog merger is back on the table.”

To view the original release click here

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