The state government has announced the amalgamated councils of Snowy Valleys and Cootamundra-Gundagai will not be demerged, despite years of lobbying from residents.
NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock announced on Tuesday that the boundaries of the two council areas would remain in place.
The four former councils of Tumut, Tumbarumba, Gundagai and Cootamundra were forcefully amalgamated in May of 2016. Ever since, the local communities have called for demergers.
Ms Hancock enlisted the Boundaries Commission to examine demerger proposals for each LGA in February 2020. The commission has since compiled a report with its findings and recommendations for the minister, which was revealed to the public on Tuesday.
The commission recommended that Snowy Valleys Council demerge with conditions, and that Cootamundra-Gundagai remain amalgamated - however, there was a dissenting report from two commissioners.
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"The reports do not provide a clear consensus on the issue of demerging and do not provide me with the necessary confidence to make these important decisions," Ms Hancock said. "This provides both councils with certainty and a plan for the future."
Chairman of Gundagai Council in Exile, Dr Paul Mara, said that the minister's decision is "disgusting" and doesn't reflect the community's wishes.
"The failure to demerger will increase costs for all ratepayers," he said. "We'll be fighting it all the way."
Similar sentiments were shared by Neil Hamilton of Save Tumbarumba Shire, who said the town is not giving up on a demerger.
"We need a clear, open and transparent discussion of the analysis within the Boundaries Commission report," he said. "The overwhelming majority of people in the former Tumbarumba Shire want to demerge and want their council back."
Wagga-based Nationals MLC Wes Fang labelled the minister's decision as "poor" and said he will raise the issue with the deputy premier.
"For the minister to set aside the decision and shift the goalposts after an adverse determination is wrong," he said.
Independent Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr said he has written to the premier expressing his "bitter disappointment at this decision" and asking her to overturn it.
"This feels very much like the city kicking the country. It feels like the government is ignoring its regional base," he said. "The Coalition is supposed to be governing for the whole state, but it seems like we have the Liberals disregarding the views of their regional partners."
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