A PROPOSED merger of Dubbo and Wellington local government areas (LGAs) would see the future LGA split between two federal electorates, a complication Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said added weight to the argument against amalgamation.
Last week the Electoral Commission announced a boundary reshuffle that would see the Parkes electorate expanded to more than 400,000 square kilometres but in the process it would lose the Wellington LGA to the federal electorate of Calare. The changes were set to be gazetted in late February.
Cr Dickerson said it would be a "ridiculous" situation if some of the proposed so-called "Dubbington" was in Parkes and the remainder was in Calare.
"It would create a problem every time we have to deal with the federal government," he said.
"Every time we put in a grant application we'll have to talk with the Parkes MP and then we'll have to talk to the Calare MP. It's crazy, who'd be in control?
"If we're building a new facility, say, trying to get funding for a sewerage treatment plant or saleyards, there will be complications about how relevant it is for either part of the LGA."
Even before the NSW government announced the plan to merge Dubbo and Wellington councils as part of the Fit For The Future process, a discussion paper released by the Australian Electoral Commission highlighted an argument for keeping Dubbo and Wellington in the same federal electorate, acknowledging the latter had more in common with communities to the west than to the east.
The Proposed redistribution of the New South Wales into electoral divisions October 2015 document read: "The Committee recognised that Wellington LGA has a strong community of interest with Dubbo, however changes made to the proposed Division of Parkes could not accommodate Wellington LGA. Consequently Wellington LGA was transferred to the proposed Division of Calare with whom it shares a community of interest, albeit to a lesser degree than that with Dubbo".
Indeed, in formulating the federal electorate boundaries, the document said the committee had applied, where possible, principles including that "communities of interest represented by LGAs and localities are kept together, particularly in rural areas".
The mayor said merger plans had been made "on the run".
"You'd think if this (merger) proposal was something they'd talked about they would have talked to the Boundaries Commission about the situation," Cr Dickerson said.
"It indicates to me the state government is not that organised about this."
Parkes MP Mark Coulton was no stranger to having part of an LGA in his electorate and the remainder in another.
"For the past two terms Mid West Regional Council has mostly been in Parkes but Rylstone, Kandos and Bylong are in Hunter," he said.
"Last week's change will split Gwydir in two. It was like that when I was elected in 2007. I shared it with Tony Windsor.
"In some ways it's nice to have all the shire boundaries in the electorates, it makes it easier to understand, but when you are dealing with such large geographical areas sometimes this is bound to happen."