Going by what was said at the state government-organised public inquiry this afternoon (February 3) into the proposed merger of Hurstville and Kogarah Councils, the matter still has a way to run.
Kogarah is not budging from its original position to go it alone; Hurstville also wants to be alone but is willing to enter into union with Kogarah if all else fails; Kogarah MP Chris Minns is batting for a St George Council comprising Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale; most ratepayers want to keep their councils and communities as they are and could be persuaded to put up a fight.
Brian Shaw from the Hurstville Residents Association and a regular Hurstville Council goer said what a lot of people are thinking — ‘‘the whole thing is shonky’’ and the government is just ‘‘going through a process’’ to make it look as if the community had a say while the mergers were a done deal.
Mr Shaw said the Premier Mike Baird and Local Government minister Paul O’Toole were like ‘‘punch drunk boxers on steroids’’ over the mergers but had forgotten to sell the ‘‘scale and capacity’’ argument to ratepayers.
Both Kogarah and Hurstville were found ‘‘fit for the future’’ but for the scale and capacity benchmark, meaning they weren’t considered big enough to go alone.
The inquiry at Club Central in Hurstville attracted about 30 people, with five registered speakers and three walk-ins.
Several complained that the event had not been sufficiently publicised.
Speakers included Mr Minns and Hurstville and Kogarah mayors Vince Badalati and Stephen Agius.
Cr Agius said Kogarah would run another public campaign to encourage residents to voice their objections to the government.
Cr Badalati stated the council’s first preference was to stand alone but appeared to accept the amalgamations would go ahead in which case Kogarah was the only possible partner.
‘‘We have a similar demographic,’’ he said.
Mr Minns said a St George Council was the only logical solution if the councils were not permitted to stand alone.
The second part of today’s inquiry begins at 7pm at Club Central and the community is encouraged to go along.