NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has crept through a rear entrance at a Griffith community cabinet meeting on Thursday to dodge a horde of anti-merger protesters.
Activists from both the Save Tumbarumba Shire and Save Griffith Base Hospital groups swarmed Wakaden Street to voice their fury at the state government.
The Premier snuck through the car park at the Griffith Exies Club to evade more than 200 angry residents.
Michael Hinton, a Tumbarumba local who caught a bus into Griffith at 5.30am, belittled the NSW Government’s lack of thought for regional communities.
“They’ve taken away our independence and we want it back,” he said.
“We aren’t going to idly stand-by while the Premier picks apart our communities and ruins our towns.
Protesters gathered around Griffith Exies main entrance from 8.45am hoping to confront a NSW Government minister about the issues facing the Riverina.
Many rushed to a Yambil street entry when a car with Victorian number plates driving Ms Berejiklian was spotted entering a car park.
While in Griffith, Ms Berejiklian announced a $500 million cash investment to boost infrastructure across regional NSW.
Member of the Save Tumbarumba Shire group Claudia Hiatt said it was an “unsuccessful diversion” from the real issues at hand.
“It doesn’t matter how much money they want to wave around when they’re doing downgrades at the hospital and robbing our town of its identity,” she said.
“I highly doubt they thought they were going to come to Griffith and receive a standing ovation.
“This government only cares about Sydney.”
However, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who will be on the Border on Friday, and Ms Berejiklian stressed they were making big commitments for places like Albury, Wagga and Griffith.
Prior to the meeting, the Premier reportedly stood by her refusal to undo forced mergers in the Riverina.
Among those in support of Save Tumbarumba Shire’s campaign includes broadcasting heavyweight Alan Jones.
“A government that doesn’t believe in democracy, let alone honour its promises, doesn’t deserve the benefits of democracy,” he said.