NSW council merger goes through me first, says Barilaro


Will Nationals Leader John Barilaro halt the Orange/Cabonne council merger?



Council merger opponents in regional NSW have pinned their hopes on new Nationals Leader John Barilaro to plead their case with NSW Premier Mike Baird.

The Amalgamation – No Thank You (ANTY) group from Cabonne, whose council is slated to merge with Orange and Blayney Councils, met with Mr Barilaro last week and said that he “confirmed that no merger would proceed unless it had first been through him”.

ANTY’s Marj Bollinger said Mr Baird, former Deputy Premier Troy Grant and NSW Local Government Minister Paul Tools had repeatedly refused to meet the group but she was impressed by Mr Barilaro’s attitude when she met him.

“The meeting was a feeling of fresh air compared to the negativity and rejection we have been experiencing from those who have gone before,” Mrs Bollinger said.

“From Mr Barilaro’s comment that before a forced merger was taken to the governor it would have to come to him first we concluded that he’s the one to stop it going ahead.”

Mr Barilaro apparently advised the group that he was “happy to look at alternate options if there are options out there – one might be to exclude Cabonne from the merger”, although no mention was made about what might happen to Orange or Blayney Counncils.

The Monaro MP replaced former National Party Leader Troy Grant last month after Mr Grant resigned following the National’s disastrous showing at the Orange by-election in November when Nationals candidate Scott Barrett was toppled by only 50 votes by Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Philip Donato in a hefty swing against the Nationals.

Jock Hayes from ANTY said that Mr Barilaro now had “a much greater understanding” of the group’s case against Cabonne merging with other councils, particularly with Orange, which is carrying some debt.

“Mr Barilaro did not confirm whether Cabonne would be forced to amalgamate pending further court action but confirmed that no merger would proceed unless it had first been through him … that he was now much more aware of the reasons why Cabonne has fought so hard to stand alone and would take up the issue with Mr Toole,” Mr Hayes said.

ANTY argued in its Fit for the Future submission that Cabonne Council connects a series of 14 towns and villages over more than 6000 sq kms and that amalgamation could lead to council job losses and have a negative domino effect on schools, businesses and communities. Cabonne is loathe to merge with Orange because it fears being sidelined and also because Orange is carrying some debt.

Shadow Local Government Minister Peter Primrose called the Deputy Minister’s merger statement evidence of a “major rift” between the Nationals Leader and Mr Baird.

 “This split in the NSW Cabinet is a real test for the National Party in NSW – are they really prepared to stand up to the Liberals and stop the forced mergers?” Mr Primrose said.

“Deputy Premier Barilaro has made it clear that there will be no more forced mergers without the approval of the National Party. The people of Cabonne have fought this forced merger all the way. The Nationals should not let them down again this time.”

But he appeared to suggest the Cabonne anti-merger group’s optimism was unfounded.

“The last time Mr Barilaro promised to oppose forced council mergers was in his campaign speech to Bombala RSL Club on 18 March 2015. Then he was elected to Parliament and voted for forced mergers ever since.”

Mr Barilaro has been contacted for comment. 

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4 thoughts on “NSW council merger goes through me first, says Barilaro

  1. What a load of Rubbish. Cabonne MUST merge now, as it is clear at some stage they will be forced to merge. Mike Baird and Mr Toole made the correct decision in forcing some Councils to merge Cabonne is just holding out on a wing and a prayer.

    If you stop the merger with Orange, Blayney and Cabonne it will be another back flip, instead of moving foreward with the mergers.

    Yes I agree that the merger was partly due to the Nationals losing their seat, there were several underlying reasons More importantly was that the Nationals and the Liberal Governments were not spending any money in the Orange electorate as it was a Blue Ribbon seat and they took it for granted

    The Greyhound reversal was the main reason as was health and other community

    There are major issues with the hospitals administrators and the NSW Health Minister refused to acknowledge, that there is a problem

    Another issue is when are they going to appoint the Deputy Commission to the Orange Station as promised as there is a pandemic amoungst the young have access to Ice

  2. when will the Nats split from NSW Liberals and re-establish themselves as a true Country party? Big business has overtaken the genuine farming community, people in country towns and the fragile western environment.

  3. the merger of Cooma, Jindabyne and Bombala in the Monaro Electorate is going terribly. Debt is growing and corruption under the administrator is flourishing.

    Our rates and fees have been raised by at least 6%, there are a huge list of new fees and charges applied to doing business with the council, including an hourly fee for any planning discussion and assistance, and our rural-waste charges increased by 400%.

    Amalgamation is death to small town identity.

  4. No way a merger can happen as things currently are. How does the state government intend on handling the water supply of orange for starters. Unlike everybody else who contracts their water service, orange owns it outright and manages it like an owned business. Not to mention cabonne will never get a voice to represent them. Merge blarney and cabonne for sure but no way should orange be merging with them. That’s like telling lithgow to merge with sydney

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