By George, that’s why council amalgamations are doomed

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The Kontos ReportDO you want Camden Council to amalgamate with Campbelltown?

Or if you are in Liverpool, do you want your council to amalgamate with Fairfield?

No, actually a better question is: Do you care either way if your council amalgamates with anyone?

No, that’s right, hardly anyone cares. Apathy rules, OK?

Which is a little factor the state government has completely forgotten about in its haste to bribe councils to reduce the numbers in the Sydney metro area.

The late George Paciullo may have been police minister when Labor was in power, but after his retirement he told me that he really always wanted to be local government minister.

No, the former member for Liverpool hadn’t been down in his famous wine cellar for too many tastings of his red wines, he simply believed that he had a reasonable idea of what was required to bring councils into the 20th century, and heavens above, ready for the next millenium.


That’s right: council boundaries were all wrong, according to George, so what was needed was to look at the current boundaries and change where necessary. He said that after nearly 100 years since the boundaries were drawn up, there had been massive changes in all local government areas of Sydney.

So for example, parts of Liverpool may end up in Camden Council, parts of Fairfield in Liverpool, parts of Wollondilly in Campbelltown and so on, which made a lot of sense.

The Kontos Report
No support for amalgamations: Campbelltown’s deputy mayor Ted Rowell, left, with the Mayor, Paul Lake.

The current campaign is looking at re-drawing boundaries – but through amalgamations.

George said you don’t need to amalgamate to modernize councils, just re-draw the boundaries.

I am sorry, George, but it looks like nobody was listening.


HOW many 20-somethings do you know who knock back job offers for more than $100,000?

Not many? Nor me. In fact I haven’t come across anyone in my line of work who was able to resist the lure of the mighty dollar for many years.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame anyone who has gone over to the “dark side’’ as the journalists call working for politicians or doing other PR type of work. For most of the journalists involved it means almost double what they were on, so it’s a no brainer.

And with the print newspaper industry in steep decline at every level – some local papers are half the number of pages they were just a few short years ago – there’s the job security factor.

Well, today I sat down with a determined young journalist who did just that – knocked back a very lucrative offer from a rising local politician, and a salary with a lot of zeroes in it.

Not too long ago another politician boasted to me how easy it was to poach journalists away from newspapers, because they basically “double their pay’’.

But this young local person made me so proud, and humble at the same time, to be a journalist.

I know we are not held in great esteem these days, and for good reason – too many rats in our ranks – but believe me when I tell you there are still plenty of journalists who are honest and have integrity, and who continue to try to make the world a better place a little bit at a time.

Not so much here, but in many parts of the world journalists die in the line of duty, just for trying to get a story that is in the public interest.

Now I am rambling, so I’ll just finish by saying today my faith has been restored just a tiny bit.


SPEAKING of journalism and being humbled – there’s a theme emerging here I think – I’d like to close today’s report by thanking every single person who has given the South West Voice a go since we went live a little over two months ago.

In that short time, the readership numbers have grown incredibly fast and they are rising all the time.

I was hoping to give the south west of Sydney a different voice and quite a few of you are coming along for the ride.

There has also been a great deal of feedback, good and bad, and it’s all welcome, honestly, no chips on the shoulders here, and for that I also thank you.

And please keep it going, get involved, tell your friends, because a good newspaper should belong to its readers. They should be the ones who determine the kind of stories which are covered, not the other way around.

The days of the media knowing what’s best for their readers or viewers are gone, thanks to social media.

And I reckon that’s just the way it ought to be.


FINALLY, really, congratulations to South Sydney and their myriad of fans in south west Sydney – saw a lot of red and green jumpers in Liverpool and Campbelltown the last two weeks – for winning the 2014 NRL premiership.

A case where it truly can be said rugby league was the winner.

2 thoughts on “By George, that’s why council amalgamations are doomed”

  1. Apathy is right Eric. I remember vividly the then Mayor, Mark Latham in a Macquarie Street shop while they were watching barricades going up for the start of the works to close the road and turn it into a mall, being asked ” they’re not really closing the road are they?” You can imagine his shock at the question. We are guilty of living under a rock at times.


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