Narromine mayor Councillor Bill McAnally says he would struggle to see the benefits of amalgamating Narromine Shire with any other council.
Cr McAnally’s comments come as Dubbo prepares to host one of a series of meetings for stakeholders to have their say on the future of local government as part of a NSW Government review.
The United Services Union (USU) this week suggested the NSW Government had a secret plan to amalgamate councils and was suspicious of the timing of the Dubbo meeting and a “lack of publicity”.
“The government’s intention is that when the announcement of council amalgamations comes, it can claim that the community was consulted during the process,” USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said.
The Orana Regional Organisation of Councils, chaired by Cr McAnally, will host a panel at Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo today to consult with stakeholders as part of the review.
“The area OROC covers stretches out to Bourke and Brewarrina, with vast distances between council areas, so amalgamating any of them would just not work,” he said.
“If they want to start the ball rolling with amalgamations they should start in Sydney where you could drive through three council areas within minutes and not know it.
“The OROC region is unique not only because of its vast geographical area; local government has become integral to the core strength of community services and over time inequities have been placed on our communities and in particular local government to supply and ensure services remain within our rural communities.”
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Cr McAnally said the Independent Local Government Review Panel would examine options for governance models, structural arrangements and boundary changes.
Meanwhile Cr McAnally said the provision of aged care and other health facilities in smaller western communities had become a most pressing issue.
“We need these in our smaller communities so residents don’t feel they have to move to the coast when they get to that stage of life,” he said.
“We are hearing of people who go on a holiday to the coast and decide they’re going to retire there.
“And if we don’t have doctors and dentists and all the other things that support a community then people will leave.”
Cr McAnally encouraged residents to make a submission to the review via the website www.localgovernmentreviewpanel.nsw.gov.au by the closing date of September 14.