NSW Labour Government Takes a Wrong Turn on Coota-Gundagai Demerge Roadmap

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Labor Government has clearly lost its way on the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council demerge process, and has turned its back on the local community, who are now once again facing an uncertain future.

Ms Cooke said she is shocked and dismayed by the Local Government Minister’s decision to blind-side the community with a significant roadblock on the path to de-amalgamation, by announcing yet another inquiry into the issue.

“I don’t know if the minister has been paying close attention, but newsflash: we have been there and done that. This is déjà vu all over again,” Ms Cooke said.

“12 months ago we had a commitment from the previous Coalition Government to demerge the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, and importantly we had a plan to make it happen.

“That decision put in place a road map to facilitate the demerge, and we were well on our way to our destination; it was full speed ahead. In March this year, that journey came to a grinding halt, and now we have a minister who has taken a disastrously wrong turn, leading us back to where we started.

“This will be the third time the Boundaries Commission has examined this demerge proposal, which begs the question: how many times will it take for the NSW Labor Government to understand that this is what the local communities overwhelmingly want to see happen?

“It’s clear the NSW Labor Government has zero understanding of this issue, and is kicking the can down the road by setting up another inquiry, which it appears, is the only way the Labor Party know how to govern.

“If, as they claim, legislation is needed to help facilitate the demerge process, then I say to the minister: make it happen. Step up and take some leadership on this issue; show that you aren’t completely back-flipping on your promise to honour and fund the original demerge decision, which were commitments the then opposition made to these communities prior to the election.

“The NSW Labor Government has kicked this issue down the road, and by setting up yet another inquiry, the minister is clearly ducking for cover, and completely betraying the communities of Cootamundra and Gundagai in the process.

“And let’s not forget, local government elections are now less than 12 months away, which leaves very little time for the demerge process – should it go ahead – to be completed.

“The NSW Labor Government has never had this community’s back, and that’s been well and truly demonstrated here today. We are now back at square one, and the communities of Cootamundra and Gundagai remain in complete limbo, unable to plan for their future.

“It has been a tough fight to get to this point, and clearly it’s not over, but the people of Cootamundra, Gundagai, and those in nearby villages, can be assured they have my full support as we continue the fight to get the outcome our communities want, and more importantly, deserve,” she said.

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