Ratepayers will lose in $500k review |Audio, poll

NOT AN ISSUE: Dubbo MP Troy Grant said people in his electorate had no desire to see the council merger reversed. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

NOT AN ISSUE: Dubbo MP Troy Grant said people in his electorate had no desire to see the council merger reversed. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

There are very few people who aren’t delighted with the council amalgamation, says Dubbo MP Troy Grant, and investigating the decisions made by the administrator could cost up to $500,000.

Orange MP Phil Donato, a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, introduced the Local Government Amendment (Amalgamation Referendums) Bill into Parliament last week.

The bill calls for referendums to be held on both past and future mergers. In communities where the amalgamations were still opposed they would be undone.

However, Mr Grant said in his electorate only a few people were calling out for a reversal of the merger. Those people were in it for their own self-interests, he said.

“Even in Wellington, there was angst and upset in the beginning, [but now there are] very, very few people who aren’t delighted with the amalgamation,” Mr Grant said.

Dubbo and Wellington were currently going “gangbusters”, the Dubbo MP said.

“I think in time people will look back on the merger of Dubbo and Wellington and think it was a great thing and wonder what all the fuss was about. I honestly believe that,” he said.

“As you move around the community most people don’t care. As long as their services are being met, as long as they’re not being hit with exorbitant prices or rate rises they’re okay, they’re happy.”

Mr Grant also slammed a proposal to investigate the decisions made by the Dubbo Regional Council administrator. It was an outrageous call, he said, and the equivalent of putting a rate rise on Dubbo residents.

“He’s made sound decisions on the best advice possible and it’s been governed by a probity process as well,” he said.

“We’re talking at least $300,000 to $500,000 to review every one of those decisions. He’s made hundreds of decisions so is that councillor truly expecting the ratepayers of Dubbo and Wellington to fork out money when the decisions going forward are only putting us in the best place to prosper?”

The review, which was initially raised by former deputy mayor Ben Shields, has been backed by numerous council candidates.

Mr Shields has disagreed with the costs put forward by the Dubbo MP.

“Forming a Democratic Review Committee will cost little. Very little. Reports given to the administrator to make decisions already exist - so costs would be practically non-existent,” he said.

“It is wise, fair and needed for a democratically elected group to review decisions made by someone who is not accountable to the public and was not elected.”

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