An appeal against forced mergers may have been struck down, but Member for Orange Phil Donato and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) will launch a legislative assault next year.
On Thursday, the Land and Environment Court dismissed Woollahra council’s appeal and awarded costs to the state government.
Several councils across the state including Cabonne Council were awaiting the decision on Woollahra before determining their future legal avenues.
“It’s disappointing that it happens on the eve of Christmas, people who’s livelihoods are going to be impacted by this, are going to go into the Christmas period with that degree of uncertainty and anxiety upon them,” Mr Donato said.
“What we’ve seen here is (Premier Mike) Baird and (Deputy Premier John) Barilaro unfortunately shutting down and causing dissent upon local councils to be able to stand up for their own interests and look after their own people.
“The National Party have sufficient opportunity to address these issues and stand up for regional and rural NSW, in this case Cabonne Council, and really represent them but they have failed to do so. They’ve just done whatever the Liberal Party has told them to do.”
Mr Donato said the new year would bring new strategies to fight the mergers on the floor of state parliament.
“Shooters, Fishers and Farmers will introduce a bill into the upper house when parliament resumes next year,” SFF upper-house member Robert Borsak said.
“With the support of the cross-benchers, the Christian Democrats, the Greens and the Labor Party we will move to fix the processes that have been put in place by this government.”
The bill will push for plebiscites to residents can have their say about amalgamations. Mr Borsak said the plebiscites would demonstrate people’s views on whether they want to merge.
He said it would give the Nationals the chance to back their communities, allow councils to de-consolidate and get back to working for their residents.
“We expect that the National Party should support us on that, if they are truly fair dinkum about supporting the bush, supporting jobs and local communities, we would expect to see Mr Barilaro lead the charge with the rest of the National Party in the lower house.”