Minister for Local Government Paul Toole says it's not his job to list Dungog-Port Stephens proposal

THE Port Stephens-Dungog merger proposal is absent from the council boundary review website and that worries Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

Port Stephens Council forwarded the proposal to the Boundaries Commission last month as an alternative to the Newcastle marriage.

Gloucester, which was to merge with Dungog, has already had its counter proposal to join with Taree and Great Lakes listed on www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au.

“I have to question whether the Minister [Paul Toole] is taking this seriously,” Ms Washington said.

“I have to question if what he said in parliament was truthful.”

Mr Toole acknowledged receipt of the proposal in parliament on March 23, in response to a 16,500-name petition against the Newcastle proposal.

“I have received from Port Stephens Council a proposal to merge Port Stephens Council with Dungog Shire Council, they acknowledge that joining with a neighbouring council will deliver significant benefits for ratepayers in the community,” he said.

“I have also referred the Port Stephens Council-initiated merger proposal to the chief executive of the Office of Local Government to commence the examination and reporting process.”

Mr Toole wrote to councils on March 7 to about council-initiated proposals. He said then that consideration of any further proposals may occur subsequent to the December proposals.

When the Examiner approached Mr Toole’s office this week, a spokesman said it was out of the minister’s hands, for now.

“The timeframe during which proposals are considered under the Act is a matter for the Chief Executive of OLG or his delegate and then the Boundaries Commission,” he said.

The spokesman said the Dungog proposal had been sent from Mr Toole’s office to the Office of Local Government upon receipt.

“The Port Stephens proposal has been referred to the Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government for examination and report as required under the Local Government Act,” he said.

SUPPORTIVE: Dungog residents at a recent community meeting to discuss a merger with Port Stephens.

SUPPORTIVE: Dungog residents at a recent community meeting to discuss a merger with Port Stephens.

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