“Behind a smoke screen of verbiage about still supporting an independent Council, the Labor Councillors led by the Mayor Darcy Byrne have rolled over for the Liberal state government,” says Hall Greenland, a spokesman for the Save Leichhardt Council committee.
“It is a gift for the Baird Liberal government.
“The Labor and Liberal Councillors may have run up the white flag on Leichhardt Town Hall but the fight to save Leichhardt Council will continue judging from the response of the packed gallery last night.”
Staff have already done financial modelling that purports to show the financial benefits of the amalgamation and prepared a ‘community of interest’ study to show how much the three municipalities have in common.
“The Lab-Lib alliance is running a risible scare campaign,” says Mr Greenland. “They have even claimed to have avoided a forced amalgamation with Auburn!”
The capitulating Councillors are citing contentious legal advice that the Baird government has draconian powers to dismiss them and appoint a tame administrator if they fail to meet the November 18 deadline set by the Premier.
“Yet there is alternative legal advice that shows the state government is trying to bully and bribe Councils into amalgamating precisely because the government is not sure of its legal powers,” says Mr Greenland.
The Labor and Liberal Councillors claim that by agreeing to amalgamate they are saving the Council from dismissal which means they can continue to oppose projects like WestConnex and the Parramatta Road over-development
“But how seriously is the Baird government going to take that opposition when Labor and Liberal Councillors have proved so meek on the amalgamation issue?” Mr Greenland asks.
Some speakers at last night’s Council meeting thought it more likely that the motivation for the amalgamation move is to do with the personal ambitions of certain Councillors.
“Whatever is driving the push it will weaken local communities and break the solidarity with those Councils still standing up to the bullying of the Baird government,” says Mr Greenland.