Mayor undeterred with deadline looming
DUBBO’S Mayor Mathew Dickerson remains undeterred by the looming deadline for registrations to public inquiries into the proposed merger between Dubbo and Wellington councils.
He’s encouraging residents to go ahead and attend the meetings in early February even if they miss today’s noon deadline.
“I would encourage people to just to turn up,” he said as the deadline of Friday, January 29 arrived for people to register for the February 4 public enquiry.
“How embarrassing for people thinking they live in a democracy and who want to have their say, to turn up and then be turned away. They’d have to ask “What sort of a democracy is this?” Hopefully they won’t be turned away.”
Dickerson cites poor publicity by the state government about the public inquiry as one reason residents may learn of the registration deadline after it has passed.
“They’ve put one ad in the Sydney Morning Herald and I saw one ad in yesterday’s [January 25] paper but it didn’t look like an advert, so we’ve started advertising,” he said.
A notice that appeared in the Wellington Times and is available for download on the Council Boundaries Review website, draws attention to details for the public inquiry sessions in Dubbo and Wellington.
“Pursuant to section 745 of the Local Government Act 1993 the Acting Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government has delegated to me the examination and reporting functions under section 218F of the Local Government Act,” the notice reads.
The “me” refers to delegate Ian Tiley who will preside over the merger proposal public inquiries for Wellington and Dubbo.
According to the Council Boundary Review the “delegates are not an advocate for the proposal. Their role is to examine and report on the proposal in line with the requirement of the Local Government Act 1993”.
However, Tiley is the author of a 2012 book, “Divided We Fall: An Insider’s Perspective on Local Government Amalgamations”; described by online bookstore, Amazon, thus: “Based on detailed research, this long term local government ‘insider’ perspective will be of value to all those interested in driving change through local government reform.”
According to Dickerson, council was told by the state government that it was the delegate running the process.
“So we said to the delegate, great, put the meeting back, change this … but the government said no, so it’s not the delegate running the process, it’s the state government running the process.”
Public inquiry rules require members of the public wishing to speak to register their intent to do so by 12-noon today, January 29. However no guarantees are offered. The delegate will determine the order of speakers.
“I’ll speak but I’m only allowed to speak once. There’s two sessions but I’m only allowed to speak at one of the sessions,” said Dickerson.
“That’s their rules. It’s not been run by us; it’s run by the state government. I said I wanted to go to the Wellington one as well and wanted to speak there, but they said, no you can’t. There are three public inquiries but you can only speak once.
“Logically, not many people are going to be able to talk. Let’s say they gave five minutes to each person, which I think may not be enough time, but let’s say you gave five minutes, then you only have 12 people in an hour.
“The first session’s two hours so you have 24 people. The next session is three hours, so you have 36 people.
“That’s assuming everyone is tight with their time and they switch over person to person, so you’re talking about maybe they’re allowing 60 people to speak.”
Two sessions will be conducted in Dubbo, on Thursday, February 4 at 3pm and 7pm respectively at Club Dubbo, but Dickerson has concerns about the venue’s suitability.
“I’m not being harsh on Club Dubbo but it’s on the outskirts of Dubbo with just 150 seats.
“The first thing I would like to see right now is to get as many people along as possible. Turn up. It’s a democracy we live in. Even just turn up to listen. We’re not saying to people turn up to talk but at least turn up to listen.”
Residents against, or for, the proposed merger between Dubbo City Council and Wellington
The first thing I would like to see right now is to get as many people along as possible. Turn up. It’s a democracy we live in. Even just turn up to listen.” – Dubbo Mayor, Mathew Dickerson
Council have until 12 noon today, Friday, January 29, to register their intent to attend.
Online registrations can be done at the www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au website or by telephone 1300 813 020.
However, attempts by Dubbo Weekender to phone the 1300 number three consecutive times resulted in each call being put on hold for one minute then disconnected.
Details on the proposals, delegates and the consultation process can be found at http:// www.councilboundaryreview. nsw.gov.au.
The closing date for written submissions is 5pm EST, Sunday, February 28, 2016. Submissions can be made online at www.councilboundaryreview. nsw.gov.au or by mail to GPO Box 5341 Sydney NSW 2001.
Dubbo Weekender chose not to try to contact Member for Dubbo Troy Grant, who is on leave following a family tragedy, but will seek his comment upon his return.
The government’s proposed amalgamations, which will go before the Boundaries Commission, could cut councils state wide from 152 to 112, and from 43 to 25 in Sydney.
Local Government NSW’S chief executive Donna Rygate briefed representatives from regional councils in Dubbo on January 22, at a Responding to Merger Proposals workshop to discuss the reform process, legislation, community engagement strategies and factors in the Act.