LAST Friday, Greens Calare candidate Delanie Sky and Greens MP David Shoebridge were in Oberon to discuss with council and community members opposition to forced amalgamations and to launch the Greens' plan to strengthen local government in the regions.
"The Greens have been listening to the needs of regional councils, and we are promising to deliver fairer funding and respect the rights of local communities to control their own futures," Ms Sky said.
"This means saying no to forced amalgamations and supporting legislation that gives residents, not politicians, the final say on any proposed amalgamations.
"The Greens also believe that regional councils need a fairer share of the $700 million Commonwealth financial assistance grants to deal with their extensive road network.
"Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC are providing leadership to ensure local government is delivered constitutional recognition and to give residents the power they need to stand up to Mike Baird's attempts to force council amalgamations.
"In rural and regional areas, keeping councils and council jobs can mean the difference between maintaining or losing libraries, waste management, road safety and other essential services.
"Oberon has a proud history of being a strong and independent regional council, and its community knows that if the forced amalgamation proceeds, any future decisions about Oberon will be made by a council that is overwhelming comprised of councillors elected from the Bathurst area.
"Oberon Council was found by IPART to be financially strong and sustainable as a stand-alone regional council, there is not a shred of evidence to support its amalgamation with Bathurst.
"The Greens stand alongside local residents in Oberon and Cabonne against Local Government Minister Paul Toole MPs chaotic push to force amalgamations and to take the democracy out of the most grassroots level of government," Ms Sky said.
"The Oberon community knows that if this forced amalgamation goes through, its council will be absorbed by Bathurst and decisions will be made by councillors they have no links to. Over one thousand signatures from residents to save Oberon Council have been tabled in Parliament.
"Councils and their residents shouldn't have to take the State government to court to protect their local democracy from Baird's ugly plans for mega councils.
"We guarantee to support and develop legislation that will give residents in Oberon and Cabonne the subject of a forced merger the right to vote in a binding plebiscite on de-merging.
"The Greens strongly believe local government is an essential part of our democracy because it is closest to the community and is in the best position to identify and respond to the needs of the community," she said.