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Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s recent decision to abandon plans for more local councils mergers is a win for communities who strongly protested this undemocratic decision.
While we welcome the change in policy for those councils which have been reprieved, the merger of the three local councils — Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt — into the very large Inner West Council remains fundamentally undemocratic.
It also begs the question why amalgamated councils are alright for some areas and not others?
In the limited consultation that took place in the inner west, residents made it very clear, that, overwhelmingly, they opposed amalgamation for the same reasons as the councils who took legal action against the NSW state government.
Now that we can see which councils have been spared forced amalgamation, it is very clear the Liberal-National Berejiklian government has done the electoral arithmetic.
The inner west councils that have been amalgamated are those also waging the biggest fight against WestConnex and the Urban Growth. The merger was a thinly veiled attempt to hasten the construction of the wasteful WestConnex toll road and crush its growing grass roots opposition.
Local councils, the closest level of government, are very important for local democracy. They provide resources which keep communities alive and flourishing.
Council mergers have been pushed by conservative state governments across the nation as attempts to stamp out grassroots democracy and resistance to neoliberal big business interests.
Socialist Alliance is totally opposed to the forced council merger, and calls for its reversal. We believe that three original councils should be reconstituted, jobs be re-offered and council offices be utilised.
While the three local councils were not without their flaws, they were at least more accessible than the current Inner West mega-council.
We call on all parties and independents running in for the Inner West Council to commit to campaign to reverse the forced amalgamation.