Ku-ring-gai Council has launched Supreme Court Action in a strong stance of defiance against the merging of councils. The council lodged legal documents requesting the full KPMG report under the Government Information & Privacy Act. Requests by individuals as well as the council have been denied access to the full report on multiple occasions by the State Government. The KPMG report was commissioned by the State Government to reinforce its argument for forced mergers across the state. If Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby councils were to be amalgamated the new council would be 300 000 residents strong.
The Council has sought the Supreme Court to settle the matter and provide the full report and access to all the information. Mayor Szatow said “Residents have the right to have the full facts concerning the merger proposal”. The report was produced at a cost of $400 000 by Mike Baird’s government claiming the mergers will save the state $2 billion over the next twenty years. The government has stated that all of the facts are contained within the report.
In addition the Council is requesting an injunction on Gary West’s – a government appointed delegate – final report evaluating the amalgamation. Until the full information is available, The Council asserts the final report should not be delivered. The report was due to be published April 5 and the court proceedings were filed on Tuesday 24th March. Ku-ring-gai Council is the first to tackle the dispute over the report legally, but surrounding local councils have also been seeking access to the full report and have all been denied.
State Liberal Member for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea also supports the local council decision to stand alone, raising issues with the drawing of boundaries that would make functioning as a cohesive council difficult. “the area currently in Hornsby Council west of Berowra Creek should be excluded from any Ku-ring-gai/Hornsby merged entity and transferred to the new Hills/Hawkesbury merged council area… This land is essentially rural in nature and largely out of character with the rest of the proposed Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai council area.”
“Our community have told the government through surveys, submissions and in person at the public inquiry that they are strongly against a merger with Hornsby Council ” said Mayor Cheryl Szatow.
79 per cent of surveyed residents to be exact support Ku-ring-gai Council standing alone. Until all the facts are available and the viability of the merger accurately evaluated the Ku-ring-gai Council’s fight for the residents will continue.