Former Local Government Minister Wendy Tuckerman, the Minister behind Cootamundra-Gundagai’s demerger green light in August last year, says Labor has betrayed the communities of Gundagai and Cootamundra after last week’s announcement that the Council and community will need to front a third public inquiry before Labor will consider a demerger. Now Shadow Local Government Minister, Mrs Tuckerman said that before the election Labor was telling communities that it was going to help Councils to demerge, and even passed a legislative amendment to ensure the government paid the demerger costs.

“Since coming to government, Labor and Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig have completely changed their tune on Council demergers,” Mrs Tuckerman said. “The Labor Government is trying to backpedal as fast as they can from their own amendment, and the Budget handed down just weeks ago has no funds available for councils like Cootamundra-Gundagai that had already done the hard yards and been through the Boundary Commission inquiries.

“The former Coalition Government set out a clear demerger roadmap, in consultation with the council and the local community, that guided the entire process – which has now been completely and senselessly discarded by Ron Hoenig. “Instead of following the roadmap, which was near completion to delivering a demerged council, the Labor Government – true to form – starts another review.”

The Coalition Government’s had also announced in February that the legal path for demerging the Council would likely require legislative change to facilitate the process after the March State Election. “So, either the Minister wasn’t paying attention, or he is wilfully misleading the community and should apologise,” Mrs Tuckerman said. “Despite having a roadmap that is almost complete and advice to urgently create new legislation, the Minns Labor Government will be returning the issue to the Boundaries Commission for the third time further dragging out this process and risking the Council’s ability to hold a demerged election in time with other Councils across NSW.

“The Minister needs to urgently fix this mess and provide clear details on the demerger process, including timelines and what financial support will be provided. “I am devasted for the residents and the Cootamundra-Gundagai Council staff. This is yet another example of Labor saying one thing before the election and doing another after the election. “This is a Government that just doesn’t care about regional and rural communities.”