Coalition’s last council ally turns on them, as Hornsby wants amalgamation unwound

Media Release 13 July 2017

Coalition’s last council ally turns on them, as Hornsby wants amalgamation unwound

The Coalition has lost its last ally in local government, as Hornsby Council delivers a stinging rebuke to the Berejiklian forced amalgamation mess.  Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council, the last remaining elected council that supported the Coalition’s forced amalgamations, is now demanding it be given back the land and residents it lost to the new super-sized Parramatta Council.

At its meeting last night Hornsby Council decided to formally apply to the government to get back the 15,000 residents and high rating land in Epping and Carlingford that were delivered to Parramatta in highly controversial political deal to maximise that council’s income and Liberal vote. This land had previously delivered Hornsby Council a $9 million surplus in rates over expenses and its loss has significantly weakened the council’s financial capacity.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“Every rat is leaving the Coalition’s forced council amalgamations ship and it’s well and truly time that Captain Berejiklian scuttled the whole affair.

“The Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council had been one of the few elected councils that supported the Coalition’s forced amalgamations because they thought they would gobble up Ku-ring-gai.

“Now its planned take-over of Ku-ring-gai Council has fallen over, Hornsby Council has turned against the Berejiklian government and is demanding its high-rating land back.

“The decision to hand over parts of Epping and Carlingford to Parramatta Council was never about the best interests of those residents, it was designed to deliver money and Liberal votes for a super-sized Parramatta Council.

“The Greens support the return of Epping and Carlingford to Hornsby, not just because of the finances, but because those residents never got a say in the forced boundary change in the first place.

“Treating residents as pawns in the Coalition’s politicised boundary changes and forced amalgamations is a very low form of politics that the Greens fundamentally reject.

“While there are good democratic and financial reasons to see Hornsby Council restored, it is deeply troubling that the Liberal Council says it wants the decision reversed to get back ‘developable assets in the Epping area worth between $50 million to $100 million’”

“No Council should be eying off public land solely as a development opportunity. The Greens support restoring Hornsby Council to its former boundaries, but it must be with a promise to keep scarce public land in public hands,” Mr Shoebridge said.

As the Council report states:

  • “Council’s view is that our ratepayers are likely to judge both Council and the Government harshly if Council seeks a rate variation to recover a significant portion of the lost revenue.
  • “The NSW Government’s execution of its local government reform agenda has to date comprehensively failed the residents and ratepayers of Hornsby Shire.
  • “The matter has been made worse by the NSW Government’s subsequent inaction and apparent indecisions.
  • “The Council is not even able to carry out something as fundamental as the appointment of a permanent general manager, and has now appointed it’s third acting general manager since August 2015.
  • “No other council in NSW has been subjected to such a significant loss of territory, on top of an amalgamation. The situation is worsened by the fact that the NSW Government never signalled its intention to transfer the area south of the M2 Motorway to Parramatta.
  • “Since the areas south of the M2 Motorway were removed from Hornsby Shire Council there have been no formal surveys or other research into the opinions among the local community.
  • “By the Government’s action and inaction, it’s strongest supporter of local government reform has been left weaker with less scale and capacity than before. And it is the only local government where this has occurred.”

Fast Facts:

–          Hornsby Council lost large parts of Epping and Carlingford to Parramatta Council by a decision of the State Government in May 2016

–          Hornsby Council had supported the loss of the land to Parramatta provided it got to amalgamate with the smaller Kur-ring-gai Council

–          In March 2017 Kur-ring-gai Council won its case in the NSW Court of Appeal to set aside plans to force it to amalgamate with Hornsby Council

–          Hornsby Council says the land lost to Parramatta delivers annual net $9.1 million in rates

–          The Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council says it wants the decision reversed to get back developable assets in the Epping area worth between $50 million to $100 million

–          On 12 July 2017 Hornsby Council resolved to return of the land under s218E of the Local Government Act

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