Letters to the Port Stephens Examiner

Unity is needed

I AM dismayed at the way some of our elected public officials are conducting themselves at the moment.

It was announced that we were going to have a truce between the factions in Port Stephens and show strength and unity to opppose the proposed merger between Newcastle and Port Stephens councils. Ceasefires between Israel and the PLO have lasted longer than this truce, to the detriment of the citizens of Port Stephens.

I for one, do not object to the spending of $200,000 to fight this merger, as I believe it will be a pittance to what we will lose if it goes ahead.

How are the people of Port Stephens going to feel when our assets are sold or rates increased to fund a new art gallery in Newcastle?

Port MP Kate Washington needs to make a decision on where her true allegiances lie, is it with the her constituents in Port Stephens or to the Labor Party? 

She has consistently had swipes at Port Stephens Council, but I have not seen one comment about the failings of Newcastle Council from her, of which I believe make the issues in Port Stephens pale into insignificance.  Is this because she has been told to leave her Labor colleagues alone in Newcastle?

The furor over the Australia Day stubby holder is a perfect example of taking any opportunity to get in the media and slam Port Stephens Council.

I believe it was inappropriate to have them in the gift packs, but to be the only thing on the front page of the Herald on a Friday edition beggars belief. There are more important issues out there. I would also like some clarification from councillor Geoff Dingle on his comment of "what a bogan council" [The Herald, January 29].

Is he talking about the elected officials, of which he is one, or the the management and staff of Port Stephens Council?

To stop this merger, we need to stand together, and at the moment that is not happening. If we lose our local government area we will not get it back.

Darrell Doggett


Political motive

DIVIDED WE FALL: Medowie's Darrell Doggett believes elected representatives such as Kate Washington (pictured) and mayor Bruce MacKenzie should put on a united front.

DIVIDED WE FALL: Medowie's Darrell Doggett believes elected representatives such as Kate Washington (pictured) and mayor Bruce MacKenzie should put on a united front.

FROM any perspective, the decision to “merge” Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council is a political one.

It is not based on the objective evidence.  If it had been, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) finding that Port Stephens Council was “fit to stand alone” would have been accepted.

If it had been, the recommendation of the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel (ILGRP) that Newcastle and Lake Macquarie City Councils (neither considered by IPART as “fit for the future”) should merge, would have been accepted and acted upon.

Instead Premier Mike Baird made a political decision to reject the findings of the independent bodies. In doing so he has treated Port Stephens rate payers and residents with contempt.  

By his high handed actions he has swept aside hard work by Port Stephens Council employees and sacrifices by rate payers and residents over the last three years to ensure our finances and administrative procedures are in order for the future. 

Some argue that a merger would be worth it to “get rid of” mayor Bruce MacKenzie.

Loss of financial control, a reduced voice in the decision making process, significantly increased rates, and reduced services would be far too high a price to pay for the sake of one person.

I urge all rate payers and residents to attend planned public forums and protest meetings, to write submissions and, most importantly, send a copy to Premier Baird’s office objecting to the merger proposal.

The Local Government Act gives him absolute power to ignore parliament, and make the final decision. 

Ron Abbott