Amalgamated council will stay, says MacDonald
The amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils will stay in place, according to NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Mr Scot MacDonald.
Ms MacDonald was responding to calls from the NSW Labor Opposition for the new Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian, to give residents in merged local government areas the opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted to remain in an amalgamated Council.
Mr MacDonald said he would be prepared to help micro-communities argue for changes to the five wards used to divide the new mega-local government area but not for another four years.
The Peninsula has been placed in the Gosford West Ward which also includes the Gosford CBD and rural communities such as Mangrove Mountain.
"Central Coast Council will stay," Mr MacDonald said.
"It is viewed as being one of the successful mergers," he said.
"Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done and we don't dispute that, but it is fair to say the NSW Government is committed to this one and I see no prospect of plebiscites or demergers."
Mr MacDonald said he believed the Central Coast Council was held up as the model merger because "it was a good geographic fit and a good cultural fit.
"It had been looked at for a long time, over 20 years by different governments.
"I think by and large people didn't use it as a political plaything and it came together well."
He said he believed any attempt at a demerger would be "a retrograde step, create a lot of uncertainty, something we don't need."
The ward structure within the new Council was something that could be reviewed, Mr MacDonald said.
"There is always scope in the legislation to relook at wards and, if particular communities feel they have been disenfranchised, I am happy to take that forward but it would be four years after the September election before it would have any effect."
The size of the Central Coast Council, as one of the state's largest, meant it was up to staff and councillors to rise to the challenge of making sure they were engaged with all communities across the area through good communication and consultation.
Mr MacDonald said he believed that the community would be satisfied that the costs of the amalgamation, if weighed up against the "service delivery efficiencies" it would deliver, would be outweighed by the benefits.
When will the community be informed of those costs and benefits so it can make up its own mind?
"Come the September election, my expectation is administrator Mr Ian Reynolds should be able to report to both the Government and the community to say these are the savings we have made," Mr MacDonald said.
"We [the Government] have that belief it is going to be delivered but the community want to know," he said.
Interview, 2 Feb 2017
Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast
Reporter: Jackie Pearson