Port Stephens anti-merger rallies attract hundreds despite heat.

Port mayor Bruce MacKenzie referenced boxing legend Les Darcy vowing to keep up the fight while former Port MP Craig Baumann describe the merger as like being “”handcuffed to an ugly cousin.”

There were plenty of fighting words spoken at both Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace rallies on Sunday.

Roughly 800 people turned out for each event despite temperatures reaching the mid-to-high 30s - many holding placards with statements opposing the merger.

NO WAY: Port Stephens residents vent their frustrations at the Raymond Terrace rally.

NO WAY: Port Stephens residents vent their frustrations at the Raymond Terrace rally.

Councillor Chris Doohan once again wore his boxing gloves to the event as a symbolic gesture of the fight ahead while councillors Paul Le Mottee and Ken Jordan urged people to sign petitions opposing the amalgamation.

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington was in Sydney for a Labor conference but sent her apologies stating that 10,000 signatures on the petition would require the matter to be debated in state parliament.

According to Cr MacKenzie, roughly 5000 people have already signed with more signatures expected this week.

He told the crowd at Raymond Terrace that Port Stephens Council’s service delivery was not only cheaper but more efficient and also made  reference to contentious issues in Newcastle such as the Laman Street figs saga and the boulder that fell from a cliff which blocked a path for three years and cost $3 million to move.

“If it were me in charge I’d have gotten rid of the trees in a day and the bloody rock in half a day,” he said to applause from the crowd.

Mr Baumann told the crowd the the proposal was based on flawed logic and addressed local government minister Paul Toole, warning that the issue has only galvanized the Port Stephens community.

“Minister Toole if you are listening, I say, the good news is you’ve united the Port Stephens community as never before,” he said.

“The bad news is that they are united against you and your proposal to hitch us to Newcastle.

“It’s like being handcuffed to an ugly cousin.

“It’s like marrying off the publican’s daughter to the town drunk.”

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