Petition to scrap merger between Port Stephens and Newcastle is tabled in state parliament

HEFTY: The petition with 13,500 names of Port Stephens residents who want the state government to throw out a proposed merger with Newcastle. Picture: Sam Norris
HEFTY: The petition with 13,500 names of Port Stephens residents who want the state government to throw out a proposed merger with Newcastle. Picture: Sam Norris

THE petition to scrap the proposed merger between Port Stephens and Newcastle councils has been tabled in state parliament with one request – give it the air time residents deserve.

The subject has been set down for discussion on March 23 since the requisite 10,000 people have signed the document and Port Stephens MP Kate Washington called on the Baird Government to give it their full attention.

“I’m guessing that the government will try to shut it down,” she said.

“I’ll be telling the government that the people who signed this petition haven’t yet had their voice heard.

“The government needs to allow this to be heard in a way that the community and the people who signed it would see fit.”

The petition was started in response to the proposed merger announced days before Christmas. The state government wants to slash some 152 councils to a number it sees more manageable.

Both Port Stephens and Newcastle councils say it will cost upward of $20 million to implement rather than save a promised $65 million.

A survey of 2000 people found 93 per cent of people opposed it. And the petition – with more than 10,000 signatures – ensures the topic is set down for discussion in the Legislative Assembly.

“It’ very difficult to get 10,000 signatures on anything,” Ms Washington said.

“These petitions don’t come before parliament often and the level of opposition speaks volumes about this proposal.”

The petition passed 10,000 signatures last month and since then has gathered a further 3500 names.

Further copies continue to flow in and Ms Washington will add those to the already hefty bound documents.

Parliament goes into recess on March 24.

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