The long-awaited decision on the future of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council has been handed down with Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman backing a demerger.
Ms Tuckerman said she made the decision after considering the recent reports published by the Local Government Boundaries Commission and a proposal put forward by the CGRC.
“This is a complex decision which I’ve made after considering both the report and the dissenting report,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
The 70-page report described escalating tensions between the Cootamundra and Gundagai communities following the forced merger of the shires’ councils in 2016.
“There are countless examples across the state of amalgamated councils performing strongly by lowering costs and delivering better infrastructure and services for residents,” she said.
“It is disappointing that Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council has not been able to achieve this outcome.”
The council has been plagued by conflict and financial troubles throughout its short history.
Following the release of last month’s report, mayor Charlie Sheahan reflected on the cost to both communities.
“We can do the finances to death but [we must] start talking about the social aspect and the impact that’s having on the people and that has come through in the submissions. That has played a big part in the decision they have made,” he said.
As news of the de-merger broke, Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke celebrated the announcement on her Facebook account.
“FIVE YEARS OF TOIL AND TEARS… but totally worth it. Thank you so much to Minister Tuckerman and the Premier, on behalf of the communities of Gundagai and Cootamundra. I’ll have more to say soon,” she wrote.
“PS: To everyone who has believed in my leadership on this issue over the past 1,775 days, thank you for keeping the faith.”
Federal MP Michael McCormack was measured in his response, but pleased that the communities had been heard.
“A result both communities have been fighting for since the merger was announced in 2016,” he said
“Former Gundagai Mayor Abb McAlister led a passionate local campaign and I am happy they got the desired result.”
Residents across the two regions were also busy on social media with hundreds of comments across various pages and community groups.
Some were already wondering about the broader implications for other regions unhappy with amalgamations.
Wendy Tuckerman concluded her announcement by acknowledging the CGRC and their work in difficult circumstances.
“I’d like to thank Cootamundra-Gundagai councillors and staff for serving their communities. I will make a further announcement on the next steps and transitional arrangements in due course.”
She said it is anticipated council elections for the de-amalgamated shires will be held in line with the local government general elections in September 2024.
Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.