Toole bestows ‘Honorary’ titles on sacked councillors

Toole’s Prince Philip’s knighthood moment?


NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole wants to confer the title of ‘Honorary Councillor’ upon some of the local councillors he unceremoniously sacked in May this year when the state government forcibly amalgamated 42 councils.

Mr Toole wrote to the 19 new NSW councils last week, expressing his desire to recognise the contribution of ex-councillors currently serving on the local committees of new councils by giving them a title. He is keen for council administrators to press ahead with a council resolution to make this happen.


Honorary councillor
Pic: Facebook.


But the move might be too little too late for some councillors.

One of the loudest criticisms of the forced council mergers – some of which are still before the courts – is that the government’s battle plan entirely did away with any elected local representation on councils, all of which are now run by government-appointed administrators until local government elections in September 2017.

When the mergers were proclaimed some people criticised NSW Premier Mike Baird for failing to acknowledge the years of service given by former councillors and claiming that he had treated councillors shabbily.

At the time, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Keith Rhoades slammed Mr Baird for sacking 378 local councillors without so much as a backward glance.

“He didn’t even have the respect or the manners to say: ‘I know this is a difficult time for those councillors involved and as Premier I wish to thank you for your services to the community of NSW and I wish you all the best’. In some cases it’s in excess of 40 years’ service,” Mr Rhoades told Government News.

Whether Mr Toole’s overture will be seen in a positive light by deposed councillors remains to be seen.

Former Leichhardt Mayor Rochelle Porteous, who served 12 years on the council, said that giving the title of “Honorary Councillor”  to councillors who had been sacked was “offensive and a slap in the face of local democracy”.

She opted not to join the local committee of the Inner West Council, the Sydney council formed by amalgamating Leichhardt, Ashfield and Marrickville.

“Councillors are elected local representatives who are elected to make decisions in consultation with the local community, for and on behalf of the local community. The former Councillors on these committees do none of this and to imply any relationship between the role they had previously and the one they have now is deliberately misleading.” Ms Porteous said.

“I expect most people will quickly realise that this is just another very bad, very expensive idea rolled out by the Baird PR army and it is unlikely to be seen as anything but what it is – a lie.”

Paul Braybrooks served on Cootamundra Shire Council for almost 25 years, many of these as Mayor. When his council merged with Gundegai Shire Council he volunteered to sit on Gundegai Council’s local committee.

“My only thought from a personal point of view is I’m either a councillor or I’m not a councillor,” Mr Braybrooks said.

“Quite frankly I would rather not be an Honorary Councillor but I’m quite happy to assist the administrator over the couple of coming months to set up something that will work.”

LGNSW’s Keith Rhoades said there was no provision for the new title under the Local Government Act and that he had never heard of such a title being conferred before.

“I don’t know what he (Mr Toole) is doing. I can’t work out why. Has somebody lobbied him for it? What about the councillors that aren’t on these committees? They will feel worse.”


Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

8 thoughts on “Toole bestows ‘Honorary’ titles on sacked councillors

  1. What a complete fu–up! An ill considered decision made without consideration of all the bad ramifications resulting from a gestapo like decision.
    And this isn’t the only one!!
    This government is as bad as any labor government that we have had in the past.
    I cannot believe the premier has any foresight all,
    Only a fool sells off assets to pay his bills !
    Especially when they are not his to sell!

  2. Is this some sort of joke? The loudest, the most vociferous critics of council amalgamations have been the councillors and senior administration executives deprived of their leather chairs and dangling chains. How about the Govt staring down their petty mindedness for entitlement baubles and pressing ahead with the amalgamations to save us the poor old ratepayers of our hard-earned dosh. Nothing honourable about their desires for self-image.

  3. The stupid is palpable. The NSW government is destroying communities, reducing solidarity, eliminating democracy and trashing heritage and environment. All so their mates can build monuments to themselves. It’s time they were called out on it.

  4. I endorse the sentiments of Rochelle Porteous, former Leichhardt Mayor. Its simply asinine for the Minister Paul Toole to make such a barbaric suggestion as designating “Honorary Councillor” to councillors who had been sacked. They were sacked for a reason and honouring them for failing to do their jobs is hypercritical in the extreme. So much for all those good councillors who did the right thing and made decisions in consultation with their communities. This is a slap in the face for them. Minister Toole needs to get back to the fundamental elements of what local government is about, and if he can’t understand that, he should resign.

  5. In 1750 a fiery young clergyman in Boston, Massachusetts by the name of Jonathan Mayhew coined the immortal words “No taxation without representation” in “Pamphlets of the American Revolution” as a fundamental democratic principle against Britain taxing the American colonies which at that time had no representation in government.

    Alas, there is a clear parallel with Reverend Mayhew’s wonderful call to arms with the Baird government’s appointment of unelected administrators to control Councils’ finances in the recent spate of local government amalgamations.

    In the (then) Department of Local Government’s “Council Rating and Revenue Raising Manual (2007)” the introduction reads (page 6):
    “The levying by local government of local taxes distributed on the basis of relative value of property has been the principal means of financing local government in Australia throughout this century. The local property tax has always been a tax base principally allocated to local government, which is the level of government routinely providing public services which retain or enhance the value of private property (such as local roads, garbage disposal, parks, footpaths).”
    Clearly, the New South Wales Government acknowledges that rates are taxes. But what about democratic representation? Unfortunately, no such fundamental concept is on Baird/Toole radar screens with the appointment of administrators.

    With the creation of amalgamated Councils, we have an undemocratically appointed administrators, who not only have the total financial authority to decide the incidence of rates on the various categories of rate payers (e.g. residential, business, farmland) within a cap but also the disposition of these rates (read taxation) revenue among competing claims from former Shires until September 2017.

    Surely, anybody who believes in and has fought for democracy must find this state of affairs totally reprehensible. I call on the Baird government to hold local government elections in September 2016 to restore some sort of legitimacy to what has been, possibly, a fatally flawed process.

  6. Well said .
    Paul Toole & Mike Baird have insulted our war veterans past and present who fought and died for put freedoms and Democracy. These 2 should resign immediately!

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required