MidCoast Council is here to stay. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian cemented the union of Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Gloucester councils on Valentine’s Day.
“All merged councils across NSW will remain in place,” Ms Berejiklian said. The announcement ends the hopes of a few former Greater Taree councillors and staff that the new Premier would dissolve the union forced by former NSW Premier Mike Baird in 2016.
In recent weeks former mayor Paul Hogan consistently cited the need for Ms Berejiklian to focus on the new 10,000 square kilometre local government area declaring “the forced amalgamation that created MidCoast Council is not working.” Former deputy mayor Alan Tickle said “the scale of the council is ridiculous and front line service is appalling” and former general manager Ron Posselt added that the council “now sticks out like a sore thumb in regional NSW councils … its residents have a burden of a roads and bridges infrastructure that is so out of proportion that it beggars belief.”
However, on February 14 Ms Berejiklian said “residents and ratepayers would be worse off if this was undone.”
“New councils across NSW have been working hard to deliver better services for their communities.”
It is a statement that echoes the comments of MidCoast Council administrator John Turner who this week said, “we are making great strides in MidCoast Council, we are announcing savings and we are putting that money back into infrastructure.”
“It’s business as usual” for Mr Turner, who reveals “I didn’t ever think there was going to be a de-merger” in the wake of comments made by NSW deputy premier John Barilaro in relation to merged councils.
“Comments made by the deputy premier only ever related to not proceeding with mergers that had not been completed,” Mr Turner said. “I think some people got enthusiastic about his comments and went one step too far.
“I invite those people who have been against the merger to accept that it has occurred and see that it might actually be working.”
Residents and ratepayers would be worse off if this was undone.