Residents vote against a Cabonne council merger in ballot box protest

BALLOT PROTEST: Anti amalgamation supporters lined up in Molong on Saturday to object to not being allowed to vote in council elections. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
BALLOT PROTEST: Anti amalgamation supporters lined up in Molong on Saturday to object to not being allowed to vote in council elections. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

HUNDREDS of Cabonne residents took part in a protest vote on Saturday, objecting to the absence of Local Government Area (LGA) elections.

Hosted by Amalgamation No Thank You (ANTY) the protest across the Cabonne shire saw mock ballot boxes set up for residents to cast a vote in support of the anti-amalgamation campaign, which has arisen to fight the proposed merger with Orange City and Blayney councils.

ANTY spokeswoman Marj Bollinger said the NSW Government’s proposed amalgamation had denied residents in all three LGAs their right to elect councillors.

Mrs Bollinger said the group was happy with the turnout, with people braving the damp conditions to line up along the street outside the Spa supermarket in Molong.

“We haven’t done any counts yet, we’ve estimated we got about 500 votes in Molong and about 200 in Manildra,” Mrs Bollinger said.

“There wasn’t one person in the street who didn’t stop and sign.

“They are supportive of what we are doing and said ‘keep it up, we’re right behind you’.

“There is over 6000 eligible voters in Cabonne. Even if this is all we get I think we will do very well.”

Mrs Bollinger said residents at Cudal, Yeoval, Canowindra and Cumnock were also given a chance to take part.    

“We left some [forms] in Manildra for people to drop them off through the week,” she said.

“We are just getting an indication of the number of people who were disillusioned with the system and we will be passing that on to the government.” 

Cumnock General Store owner Paula Rudd also had a ballot box in her store as part of the protest and said there was good support throughout Saturday morning.

“We’ve always been supporters of ANTY, we would rather have our own council. I don’t agree with amalgamations,” Mrs Rudd said.

“People are still confused if they have a right to vote and so are happy to fill in their protest slip.”

ANTY chairman Jock Haynes said the protest vote was also a vote of support for the current councillors and mayor of Cabonne.

“It’s more than just a protest,” Mr Haynes said.

“It’s just making everybody aware we shouldn’t be having our council merged, all the merged councils will not get a vote until September next year.

“This [state] government has decided they want an administrator to set everything up.”

He said the dissatisfaction with the government could carry through to the Orange byelection scheduled for Novermber 12 and may affect the chances of Nationals candidate Scott Barrett due to his party’s position on council amalgamations.