Local Government

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [5.29 p.m.]: Only one thing is more ridiculous than this motion—that is the moustache on the face of the member for Hornsby.

The ASSISTANT-SPEAKER (Mr Andrew Fraser): Order! I remind the member for Prospect that personal attacks on other members are not allowed under the standing orders. If he wishes to attack the member for Hornsby he should do so under Standing Order 73.

Mr John Sidoti: I ask him to withdraw that comment as it is unparliamentary.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I withdraw the comment.

Mr Matt Kean: The member is in order making that comment.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: Why does the Government want to destroy good councils? Certain councils have underperformed and need reform but we do not need to force reform on good functioning councils. There are divisions within the Government over this policy. The Attorney General says one thing while others say something different. I love the statement by the Minister on 23 April 2014—members have heard it but I will repeat it—when he said:

The government has said there will be no forced amalgamations and I aim to honour that, but there are some councils who have already indicated they want to take up voluntary amalgamations—

good luck to them—

with support from the state government to work through the process.

That is good if they want to do it but I want a commitment from the Government that there will be no forced amalgamations. The Government will not do that. It says one thing but it does the opposite. Government members know full well that the majority of ratepayers are against amalgamation. It is one of the worst policies the Government has come up with.

Mr Matt Kean: No, that's not true.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: Yes, it is, mate, and you know that. Ratepayers are against amalgamation. In Western Sydney the vast majority of councils oppose this, as they should because they have well-functioning councils that look after their ratepayers. They support their local communities and often help the most vulnerable in their communities. The Government is seeking to push them into becoming megalithic councils. So much for the great Liberal Party promoting decentralisation and local government; it is seeking to create mammoth councils. What a joke. Such councils will not look after ratepayers. Government members should be ashamed of themselves. It will not work.

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