Representation

Shire Almalgamation – Editors Opinion

If there is one thing that the IPART assessment proved, it’s that it’s all about the numbers. We are not a community. We are 6,700 now, and by 2031 we will be just 5,500. That’s the only number the NSW State Government cares about. And because that number is not judged as high or important enough, Lachlan Shire is in danger of becoming obsolete.
Now I don’t profess to always support Lachlan Shire Council, or its decisions on a regular basis. I am not always a fan of council, but our community matters to me. And I know one thing is for sure. If we are forcibly amalgamated with Parkes, then you can say goodbye to local representation and the upkeep of roads and infrastructure. We will be forgotten as quickly as they close the Lachlan Shire office doors.
Lachlan currently looks after 4,500 kilometres of Shire roads. Who will care if they are sitting in an office in Parkes? No one, that’s who. Who will travel the distance to check on a water supply at Lake Cargelligo or Tullibigeal? That’s over two hours out of their day. Now why is Parkes the be all and end all for Lachlan? Sure it has a bigger population, but did not satisfy one crucial area of the IPART assessments – efficiency. Now how does that work?
You’re not efficient but you’re fit because of your projected population growth? Let’s get real. Parkes is riding on the back of mining right now, but when operations inevitably wind down they will be looking at more than a gigantic hole underground, they will be looking at a gigantic hole in their population and economy. IPART has not mentioned how they will handle that. However Lachlan has been judged unfit on a projected falling population.
The State Government says amalgamations will save money, but then offers incentives under the Stronger Communities Fund for up to $15 million to invest in community infrastructure. I’m going to call if for what it is – absolute bread sticks (read between the lines on that one). If they have the money to literally throw ‘incentives’ away to amalgamating councils, why can’t they put that money into local government so they can provide better services and infrastructure? That might just make too much sense.
It seems funny to me (in a humourous way) that the Local Government Minister Paul Toole (Bathurst) and National Leader Troy Grant’s (Dubbo) local council areas are deemed ‘fit’. Just make everything bigger, and let even more services and representation slide away.
That brings me to our National Party representatives. Now where are they in this argument?
Not out fighting for our local councils, simply hiding behind one line responses and generic press releases. Come on. You were elected to represent our electorate. Get out here and explain why this is so good for us. Come to a community meeting and look us all in the eye, and tell us all why we need massive, amalgamated councils. We voted for you in good conscience, so that you would stand up for us and the issues that are important to this town. If you don’t fight for us, I think you don’t deserve our vote. You certainly won’t be getting mine at the next election, if you don’t support rural communities. I think you have lost sight of what true community means. I think you need to talk to your constituents.
Love them or loathe them, Lachlan Shire Council has earned the right to represent its community at a local level. They are committed to the Shire and steering the organisation in a better direction. I implore you all, to write a letter to your state and federal member. Tell them you don’t agree. If you think nothing gets done now, wait till Lachlan is part of a 21,000 plus mega council area.
People power can change this. Write a letter or start a petition. We may have to suck it up and accept some tough decisions, if it means we get to keep Lachlan local then so be it. If you don’t care, then do nothing. But do that at your own risk.
Have the courage to tell the state government what you think. Have the courage to tell the state government this is wrong. Have the courage to say NO to forced amalgamations.
Melissa Blewitt

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