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Howard's paper thin hypocrisy on amalgamations

Media Release

Thursday 16 August 2007

The Coalition Government has exposed its hypocrisy on council amalgamations with its current attack on the Queensland Government according to Independent Member for Calare, Peter Andren.

"When I took a delegation of local mayors to Canberra several years ago to see then Local Government Minister Wilson Tuckey, he was enthusiastic about the need for mergers of councils," Mr Andren said.

"Evans, Oberon and Bathurst Councils were then facing amalgamation and he voiced strong support for amalgamations in the interests of better council management.

"Both Liberal and Labor Governments have never backed away from such policy.

"The Prime Minister talks of giving people a say in the process. How come the limited public input into the recent federal electorate boundary changes was largely ignored, especially from people strongly opposed to the ridiculous boundaries for the new Calare?

"There are no referendums for state or federal boundary changes, why the concern over local government boundaries determined by the same commission process?

"This is pure unadulterated election year populism from a government that is philosophically at one with any state labor Government in wanting to wind down local government to a more politically controllable entity.

"I personally oppose council amalgamations unless there are overwhelming financial reasons that will benefit ratepayers. But the major parties are as one in their desire to reduce local people power.

"Wilson Tuckey proved that when he was federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government," Mr Andren said.

Peter Andren, is the popular Independent Federal MP representing the NSW rural electorate of Calare, which has recently been destroyed in all but name as a result of boundary changes. Peter Andren had announced his nomination as a candidate for the state of NSW in the forthcoming Senate elections. However, he has since been diagnosed as having cancer so has been forced to withdraw his nomination so that he can focus his energies on treatment for the condition and recovery.

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