Greens call for a Boundary Commission Inquiry

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

The Central Coast Greens have criticised Central Coast Council Administrator, Dick Persson, for ruling out a popular vote on de-amalgamation at the September Council elections and declining to withdraw the Gosford Council building from the asset sales list.

Spokesperson Sue Wynn said The Greens believed residents deserve an opportunity to have their say on the amalgamation and whether to reverse it.

“That is entirely their privilege,” she said.

“We will now be commencing the process of collecting enough signatures to obtain a Boundary Commission Inquiry.

“We are mindful that the surveys of Central Coast residents conducted before amalgamation showed widespread opposition to the merger.

“The Boundary Commission will then recommend the Local Government Minister either maintain the amalgamated Central Coast Council or de-merge into new Wyong and Gosford Councils.

“By now, everyone is acutely aware of the Council’s financial situation and, if the residents choose to opt for a de-merger, this would also be in the knowledge of the costs associated with it.

“Yes, a de-merger would involve additional cost, but it is unclear if these would be as excessive as for the bungled amalgamation.

“It is not contentious to say that the NSW Government strongly pursued consent for the unpopular amalgamation.

“It follows that the State Government should be expected to contribute to and assist with re-establishing the two former Councils if that is what people really want.

“We have put the Administrator on notice that there is considerable interest in our community to explore a de-merger.

“To now proceed with the sale of the Council building in Gosford is a reckless act which seeks to close the door on a potential new Gosford Council.

“The Central Coast can absolutely come back from this stronger and better.

“The return of our Central Coast Mariners from the bottom of the league table to lead the competition is an inspiring reminder that no one should write us off.”

The Greens have also criticised Persson for refusing to extend the options for the referendum questions to be put at the election, saying the exclusion of an option for 15 councillors with no wards is a “glaring omission”.

“Absurdly, cutting councillor numbers won’t solve the political game-playing of the last suspended Council,” Wynn said.

“It will give each part-time councillor far too much work and make it more likely to miss issues that the staff are not reporting.

“A reduction in (the number of) councillors means that the future Council will be characterised by the voting blocs of the major parties (with) the same old adversarial politics returning to the Council chamber.

“The Administrator’s preferred model of nine councillors in three wards makes it harder for genuine community and minor party candidates to get elected.

“It is fair to say that the administrator has now chosen to extend his remit from fixing the financial and administrative problems of this Council into meddling in our local democracy.

“He has crossed over into the realm of politics.

“The Central Coast Greens favour abolishing the ward system to allow residents to elect representatives for the entire area and encourage councillors to cooperate across the wide range of issues in our region.

“We see this as the best way to circumvent the tendency (as noted by the Administrator) for representatives to divide into two hostile groups along party lines.”

Media releases, Mar 12 and 16
Central Coast Greens