Letter to the editor: Council amalgamations and Dungog Council

Just when one thinks they have seen it all with council mergers and the dust seems to have settled, Dungog Council sneezes and one has to prepare for the merger season again.

Recently, as was to be expected, the general manager of Dungog council gave notice of his resignation. His position became untenable as councillors consistently ignored his advice to consider merging with Port Stephens. He advised that the future of Dungog was bleak and unsustainable unless they merged. He and his staff were not in a position to effectively run the council given the future prospects and the current instability within the council and in particular amongst the councillors.

Following the notice of resignation by the GM and the earlier resignation of a councillor through ill health, four councillors including the mayor also resigned. Five councillors are required to form a quorum and as there are only four councillors they cannot meet to conduct business.

One may ask, ”what has that to do with Midcoast?”

Put simply, the government will be forced to step in and decide what happens to Dungog. Whilst it would appear logical that a merger with Port Stephens would now happen, others are calling for all options to be considered.

These include, a merger with Maitland and carve Dungog up with parts of neighbouring councils including Midcoast.

But wait for it, one of the options being pushed is a merge with Midcoast. Whilst we may laugh, one must remember the initial option was for Dungog and Gloucester to merge.

Another option would be to examine boundary adjustments between Dungog, Midcoast, Port Stephens, Maitland and Newcastle.

Whilst I personally believe the last two options are fanciful, they are nonetheless being pushed in some areas of the wider community.

The timetable is set for elections to Port Stephens, Newcastle, Maitland and Midcoast in September but that could change.

What happens now to Dungog is anyone’s guess.

However, it is a timely reminder of the importance of effective, stable local government.

It is a clarion call for us to ensure Midcoast Council has the best effective community representation, irrespective from where the councillors come, if the ratepayers are to benefit into the future!

Len Roberts

Former deputy mayor Great Lakes