Elections for many Sydney councils will finally go ahead this weekend (9th of September),46 of 128 NSW councils will go to the polls, after confusion and capitulation over council amalgamations delayed their vote.
In 2014 The Baird government announced that there would be amalgamations across the state, the result of an independent review into local government. Confusion reigned and court battles ensued, with the forced amalgamation of only 20 councils out of the intended 35 mergers occurring.
20 newly merged electorates will be getting their first cohort of councillors and in total some 1938 councillor and 61 Mayoral candidates are standing, with Mayors elected in the following councils: Burwood, Canada Bay, Hornsby, Hunter’s Hill, Mosman, Newcastle, North Sydney, Orange, Port Stephens, The Hills, Willoughby and Wollongong.
These proposed mergers have caused friction on many councils. Waverley Mayor Sally Betts was a constant target for the opposition, although she insisted she was against the proposed Waverley/Woollahra/Randwick merger.
Mayor Betts refusal to back High Court action over the proposed merger led to claims, by labour Cr and former Mayor John Wakefield, that she was driven by the power and prestige a super council would yield.
Over in Hornsby, Liberal mayor Steve Russell toed party lines, supporting the amalgamations. Only to be branded “toxic” and ushered out of his post-in favour of “father of the house” Phil Ruddock- when he voiced his displeasure at the Berejiklian backflip.
Hornsby was slated for an amalgamation with Ku-ring-gai, whilst Epping and Carlingford were carved off for the new Parramatta council. The State’s turnaround left Hornsby out of pocket, whilst the new Parramatta council slapped them with a $22 million-dollar bill for rates and tax contributions from its newly acquired regions.
The latest issue to emerge in the ongoing saga involves the voting itself. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) encouraged people to enrol or update their voter information for the Marriage postal plebiscite, before a deadline of August 8th.
The NSW Local elections roll closed on the 31st of July, meaning thousands of potential voters may be turned away on the 9th .
These Elections could raise more questions than they answer, nevertheless it is important to get your voice heard. If you cannot make it on Saturday, pre-polling has started at various councils or, you can head to Town hall and cast your vote on the day.