PORT Stephens Council will lodge a formal request with the Minister for Local Government Paul Toole to consider a merger with Dungog.
The application under the Local Government Act asks that Mr Toole refer a merger with Dungog Shire Council, in part or whole, to the Boundaries Commission.
Clarence Town has already asked the government to consider making it part of Port Stephens.
Councillors supported the idea unanimously as a mayoral minute on Tuesday night as an alternative to a merger with Newcastle.
“I think this is out ticket out of jail,” Cr John Nell said.
“And in the long term it would safeguard Port Stephens against any further mergers.”
Cr Paul Le Mottee said the Port Stephens-Newcastle option was an embarrassment.
“We need to look at this as a face-saver for the government,” he said.
The application, under section 218E and 218F, would require a survey of electors in Port Stephens and Dungog, through public meetings and postal surveys as two examples.
The application seeks to cut off the Dungog-Maitland merger option. It’s back on the table because Gloucester is now in discussions with Great Lakes and Taree.
The councillors agreed that it was still preferable for Port Stephens to stand alone. If not allowed to, they will press the case for the Dungog option.
“I think we need to have a conversation with Dungog and its mayor Harold Johnston who’s been on NBN TV saying he doesn’t want a bar of it,” Cr Geoff Dingle.
“He’s probably feeling about us the way we feel about Newcastle.”