Cabonne councillors' legal battle vindicated by state government backdown

Cabonne Deputy mayor Cr Kevin Walker (left).

Cabonne Deputy mayor Cr Kevin Walker (left).

Councillors from Cabonne Council feel their decision to fight forced council mergers proved to be the right course of action following a NSW government back down last week.

Cabonne deputy mayor Kevin Walker said Thursday’s announcement by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian that she wouldn’t push ahead with forced mergers for Sydney councils vindicated what his council stood for.

Cabonne mayor Ian Gosper said the recent decision justified the council’s decision to stand up for its community but it cost the council three councillors. 

“The whole process in my opinion has been a dog’s breakfast,” Cr Gosper said.

“The state government should have listened to the people.

“I know the state government has got itself into a bind and it backed down [but] I don’t have much sympathy for them.

“We lost three good councillors a few months ago and that was all partly [due] in my opinion because of this amalgamation process.” 

Cr Gosper said he also felt for the former councils of Dubbo, Wellington, Cootamundra and Gundagai who followed the state government advice and merged.

On Thursday, Dubbo’s last mayor Mathew Dickerson described the NSW government decision as bittersweet and former deputy mayor Ben Shields was disappointed Dubbo found itself in a small group of councils forced to merge.

Both Mr Dickerson and Mr Shields said at the time not making a legal challenge was the right thing to do, because the state government made it clear it would change legislation to ensure mergers were legal.