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Bathurst MP Paul Toole suffers backlash over forced amalgamations

By Daniel Hughes

Minister for Local Government Paul Toole is still experiencing opposition after he shocked the NSW public late last year, announcing that many NSW councils will be merging in what has been labelled as forced amalgamations.

On the 18th December last year, Minister Paul Toole surprised 35 NSW councils and its people with announcements of forced amalgamations without any evidence except for a KPMG report commissioned by Toole himself.

MP Paul Toole stands in front of Oberon sign despite his unpopularity in the area

MP Paul Toole stands in front of Oberon sign despite his unpopularity in the area.

There have since been accusations that the KPMG report was influenced by the MP as the report was not made public until June this year, when the State Government was forced to hand over the report to the Land and Environmental Court.

A KPMG spokesperson released a statement found on the North Shore Times website later that day stating: “In December 2015 the merger impacts and analysis report (prepared by KPMG) concluded that there is likely to be a net financial benefit following a merger of the councils under consideration.

“KPMG strongly denies any issue of independence in its work for the NSW Government regarding council mergers,” they said.

Although some council weren’t opposed to mergers, Walcha, Oberon and Cabonne councils have joined together in legal challenge against the NSW Government.

Mr Toole has not only been met in the court rooms but has also had to face bitter Oberon councillors.

Oberon Councillor Samantha Lord is still in disbelief why they want to merge the financially stable Oberon Council with an in-debt Bathurst Council.

Mrs Lord has been unimpressed with Mr Toole’s involvement in Oberon despite claiming this merger is for the best of the two councils.

“He very rarely comes to town, so you won’t see him out here much doing anything. Maybe opening a little shop or something when he sneaks in the back then goes back to Bathurst real quick,” she said.

 

 

Oberon Committee member Majorie Armstrong has also shunned Mr Toole saying that she doesn’t even see him as the local member.

Councils can do nothing but watch and wait as Oberon Mayor Kathy Sajowitz heads to Sydney on Monday to sit in on Woollahra Council’s appeal to the Land and Environment Court.

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