Group will make forced council mergers an issue in Cootamundra by-election

POLL PROTEST: Members of the Save Tumbarumba Shire group, which held a de-merger "plebiscite" at local polling booths at the September 9 local council elections. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.
POLL PROTEST: Members of the Save Tumbarumba Shire group, which held a de-merger "plebiscite" at local polling booths at the September 9 local council elections. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

Residents from the small NSW town of Tumbarumba will be protesting against a forced council merger during voting in the Cootamundra by-election on Saturday.

Tumbarumba Shire was merged into the Snowy Valleys Shire under the NSW Government’s forced amalgamation program in 2016.

The town’s anti-merger group, Save Tumbarumba Shire (STS) said in a statement on Monday: “The overwhelming majority of Tumbarumba residents who support de-merging our local government have been utterly ignored by the State government. So now it's time to turn up the music. Tumbarumba will be travelling to Young.

“Why Young?  The Cootamundra by-election provides a direct and immediate opportunity to send a signal to Macquarie St. The government is running scared on the forced merger issue so Tumbarumba can be sure that our voice will be heard.”

Other NSW “Save Our Council” groups will be at Cowra, Cootamundra, Gundagai and other centres in the electorate, STS said. “Our patch, Young, will play a critical role in the outcome.”

STS says it is not endorsing any by-election candidate, but is encouraging all voters to number every box on the ballot, contrasting with Premier Gladys “Berejiklian's strategy of saying numbering only one box, an abuse of democracy if ever there was one: if your chosen candidate is not elected, your vote just disappears”.

“So we are taking a bus full of people to Young to explain to people what has happened in Tumbarumba and other forcibly merged councils, and to encourage them to number every box on their ballots.”

“Come to Young with us on Saturday to help send a message to Gladys: demerge our council or suffer the consequences!

“The Liberals are not even bothering to run a candidate in the by-election, and are already expecting a swing of 15% against the government. Come to Young with us on Saturday to help send a message to Gladys: demerge our council or suffer the consequences!”

In September STS, organised its own “plebiscite” on the forced merger of its council alongside the September 9 local government elections and said out of 1275 voters who lodged formal votes at the election, 1207 (94.7%) voted in the “plebiscite” and 1125 of those supported a de-merger.