Amalgamation set to hit residents like a blunt axe.

Residents living in the Regents Park and South Granville wards of Cumberland Council (former Auburn Council) are set to be whacked with an increase in rates $80 per year and $400 over 5 years, this is on top of standard annual rate increases (CPI) and increases due to higher land valuations.

The rate increases are a result of the amalgamation of Auburn Council, Holroyd Council and Granville which was formerly part of Parramatta Council.

It is part of a misnamed process called rates harmonisation where the three former Council areas had three different levels of residential and business rates, rates harmonisation will increase the rates up to the highest level. The former Auburn Council had the lowest rates of all the Councils in the Sydney Metropolitan area. Auburn Council was made up of a high number of low income earners according to the most recent ABS statistics, people who can least afford a big increase in residential rates.

When promoting Council Amalgamations, the Liberal State Government was keen to stress there would be no increase in rates during the first four years of Amalgamation apart from standard increases. The Government was deliberately deceptive and never mentioned its intention to increase rates through rates harmonisation knowing full well this would provoke greater public opposition to Amalgamations.

Most Council Amalgamations were forced on residents living outside Liberal Party electorates and ironically many Councils saved from Amalgamation were smaller Councils in wealthier parts of Sydney. Hunters Hill Council has 14000 residents compared to Regents Park ward in Cumberland Council with approximately 35,000 residents.

Another bitter twist is the money that was supposed to compensate Amalgamated Councils (Stronger Communities Fund) with a quarter of a billion dollars was spent on Councils that were not forced to amalgamate in mostly Liberal Party strongholds.

The Amalgamation of Councils has been disastrous leaving a large number of Amalgamated Councils in debt, out of 20 Councils forced to amalgamate the debt is estimated at $1.03 billion. Cumberland Council was rated as number 7 of the 10 worst performing Amalgamated Councils losing a hot $81.6 million.

The former Auburn Council with all its problems with corruption and over development was financially healthy and provided pretty decent levels of services to residents and our rates were still the lowest in Sydney. Since Amalgamation we have lost services, verge cutting, our garbage collection has been contracted out with a lower level of service and now Cumberland Council is planning to sell off the Seniors Units in Auburn and Lidcombe. Council operated Childcare Centres are also on the chopping block.

Liberal and Our Local Community Councillors have voted to pass the cost of Amalgamation on to us the residents and cut our services. All Councillors including Labor are willing to pass on the cost of Amalgamation through increased rates ($400 over 5 years) for former Auburn Council residents. Our Mayor Steve Christou has to be the greatest hypocrite, he talks about back to basics when cutting our services but at the same time wastes ratepayers money on promoting himself as a candidate in the next State Election. He currently takes out a full page advertisement in the Daily Telegraph every Friday at Councils expense. The Mayor has opened a shop front office on Merrylands Road just opposite the local MP’s office and you don’t need to be a genius to understand the office is a defacto election office. Council Staff have told us the Mayor has hijacked Councils Media Team for his own use. We were mistaken, we thought the Mayor was supposed to be a leader and for us any rate we believed a leader was supposed to set a good example, thats right lead by example but many residents tell us he’s an ass and some are blunt and call him an arse. We will leave that up to your judgement?

At the Battler we have been consistent with our argument that Amalgamations would never work in the interests of ordinary residents. It doesn’t make us feel good that former Auburn Council residents are going to be hit with a sledge hammer and pay higher rates while losing important services. The issue for us is about Democracy, Local Democracy thats where we get a say over what gets built in our street, what happens in our local environment and what type of services are provided in our local community and Amalgamation (Big Corporate Councils) have done the opposite stripping more of our rights away.

The Battler argues that part of the solution is dis amalgamation, smaller Councils and smaller wards. Yes, like Hunters Hill Council we want a smaller Council with smaller wards where residents know our local Councillor, the Councillor is forced to be accountable and take notice of our residents. Our Councillors need to know they are answerable for their actions and decisions. We believe residents should have the right of recall and when the majority of residents agree a Councillor is not doing their job, we have the right to get rid of them.

South Granvile ward Councilors who voted to contract out our child care services and sell off senior units. They also supported increasing your rates.

Liberal Councillor Tom Zreika OAM
Phone: 0400 805 303
“Our Local Community” Councillor Paul Garrard
Phone: 0414 504 504

Regents Park ward Councilor who voted to get rid of council child care services and sell off our senior units. Also supported increasing your rates.

Liberal Councillor Ned Attie
Phone: 0419 583 254