26 February 2020

Demerger submissions greenlit for Boundaries Commission

| Edwina Mason
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NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock

NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock. Photo: Supplied.

Community efforts to demerge Snowy Valleys Council and Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council have been referred to the Local Government Boundaries Commission for formal assessment.

The announcement was made on Tuesday (26 February) by the NSW Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, who said she had directed the independent Boundaries Commission to hold a public enquiry as part of the process.

The minister said she made the decision following extensive public exhibition of the proposals which resulted in a combined 1550 submissions being lodged by the local community and councils.

Of those, 533 submissions were received in relation to Snowy Valleys and 1017 submissions received for Cootamundra-Gundagai.

“The Boundaries Commission will now follow its own processes in accordance with the Local Government Act,” the minister said.

Ms Hancock said a variety of factors would be considered as part of the assessment.

“These would include financial advantages and disadvantages, the local community and geographic cohesion, the attitude of residents and ratepayers, and any impact on council operations and staff,” she explained.

“The Boundaries Commission will then provide me with statutory reports for consideration before I decide whether to recommend implementation of the proposals to the Governor,” she added.

The decision follows years of fierce campaigning by groups in the former shires of Gundagai and Tumbarumba who opposed the NSW Government’s 2016 announcement of forced mergers.

Snowy Valleys Council was established on 12 May 2016 following the amalgamation of Tumbarumba Shire Council and Tumut Shire Council, at the same time the former shires of Cootamundra and Gundagai were also forcibly merged.

Spokesperson for Save Tumbarumba Shire Dr Neil Henderson said the announcement was excellent news.

“We’re very pleased. We believe this is the natural progression under the Local Government Act – we spoke to the premier and the minister for local government recently and we have been assured that the submissions will be treated seriously and that seems to be the case,” he said.

“The issue now is that we have undergone the most drastic damage caused by the bushfires and the demerger is now even more urgent than it was before, so we are hoping the Boundaries Commission will act quickly and they will come to Tumbarumba and other towns in the shire as well – because there is enormous anger at the shire – so this process needs to happen quickly,” Dr Henderson said.

Cootamundra-Gundagai Mayor Cr Abb McAlister also welcomed the announcement and praised NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke for their advocacy on behalf of disgruntled residents.

“I think it needs looking at – there are certainly some financial and other issues that need to be looked at,” he said, “I want to make sure the process is done right and looked at seriously and weighed up – pre-merger and post-merger.

“I can understand from Tumbarumba’s point of view that during the submission period they had bushfires and I know that is probably a big priority there at the present time – I’d certainly like to think it would be [resolved] in the next couple of months and prior to the election,” he added.

Snowy Valleys Council mayor Cr James Hayes said while the announcement was welcome, it was another step in the journey.

“I was against amalgamation when it was first mooted, but I was elected to try to make this work and my theory is that we’ll work with what we’ve got until the government in their wisdom changes it again,” he said.

NSW Member for Albury Justin Clancy and Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr were also contacted for comment.

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Margaret Willings11:26 pm 28 Oct 20


Dear Ms Hancock,

Over the past 30 years I have spent several months each year in Tumbarumba and was concerned by the forced amalgamation of the thriving Tumbarumba Shire Council with the more populous Tumut Shire Council.
Prior to 2016 Tumbarumba Shire Council was a FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT and FINANCIALLY VIABLE COUNCIL lauded by the NSW LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION for its probity, energy and cohesiveness.

Today, post merger, and with the advent of ‘Harmonisation’, RATES and CHARGES have INCREASED and local supports, services and jobs have decreased or disappeared. Residents do not want more job cuts, reduced services or reduced access to plant and equipment. Residents do not want to see young people leaving the area as a result.

Ratepayers of the former Tumbarumba Shire Council have enjoyed council/community support of Aged Care, Child Care, Medical Centre and Swimming Pool services. Council/Community oversight and funding ensures that such services are run for the benefit of the community and NOT for the benefit of COMMERCIAL PROFIT DRIVEN ENTERPRISES and external providers with little or no connection to the community.

Tumbarumba Shire Council was, and still is, a geographically cohesive area with a thriving tourist industry and festivals showcasing its NATURAL BEAUTY, WALKING TRAILS, ORCHARDS, VINEYARDS, HYDRO, FORESTS, HORSEMANSHIP and now its BIKE TRAILS.

A re-established Tumbarumba Shire Council can once again be a viable, thriving enterprise and in the interests of the well-being of the community, there must be a DEMERGER.

Kind regards,

Margaret Willings.

Deb Robertson3:28 pm 08 Aug 20

there have been innumerable examples of Snowy Valleys council inability to deal fairly with the residents of the former Tumbarumba shire. I have experienced this bias personally on a number of occasions, especially since the bushfires when we really needed the council to come to our aid and there was a decided lack of cooperation on the part of SVC. Tumbarumba and surrounds are a strong and united community that does not need or want the divisive actions of SV Council

Deb Robertson10:50 am 14 Jun 20

I, along with many other Tumbarumba residents feel a great anger at the forced merger with Tumut. We were a close community, even more so now that we have endured the bushfires.Tumut displays a complete lack of interest in the Tumba region,which is reflected in the attitude of many of thr council employees, especially outdoor staff.Council can spend 1.7 million dollars doing works in Tumuts main street, but refuses to remove roadside trees in Laurel Hill, which have fallen across boundary fences as a result of the bushfires.(Laurel Hill is in the old Tumba shire).Tumbarumba council, as it was, was a responsible council, financially as well as the attention that it paid to the general wellbeing of the residents of the shire. It was a happy friendly place, not so now. What original staff that are left in the Tumba office are disgruntled and disillusioned. My anger has increased not abated since 2016.Geographically we share no commonalities with Tumut, although Batlow has much more in common with us. Tumut is a low country town, we are a high country town.The acrimonious exit of Gus Cox from the Tumba office,particularly enraged and infuriated many, including myself. Gus was a highly regarded member of the local team and his sacking was painful and unprofessional.I have to question the motives of the people who removed Gus and the other staff who were sacked that day.

Muriel Kelly7:15 pm 26 Feb 20

Please let this happen for the mid coast council. So many of us did not want it in the first place but had no say and now we have a council for different regions with different needs and worst of all who are not one little bit interested in the opinions of the communities. We have multi millions being spent on a combined council office in an unsuitable place for beginners. Just waiting to vote them out this year – the petitions the state government has received are proof of this. Help !!!

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