Amalgamate Hunters Hill Day?

Amalgamate Hunters Hill Day?

It was resolved at Hunters Hill Council meeting on 10th December 2018 to adopt 31 July each year as a day to celebrate defeating the NSW Government’s most recent attempt to amalgamate Hunters Hill into a municipality with scale and capacity – which was withdrawn on 31 July 2017.

We recall the public debate at that time as being unbalanced. The Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC) campaigned against amalgamation and Council decided to mount a fight for its own jobs and benefits, but there was no organisation campaigning for amalgamation. There was no counter-balance. As a result, the ‘debate’ was one-sided and there was no chance to stop and actually consider whether we would be better off being part of a larger council, or whether it woulde be better to have boundaries that do not divide Gladesville (or Boronia Park) into two different Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Since 31 July is now adopted as Hunters Hill’s official day of gloating over their anti-amalgamation victory, we are committing to not leaving rational residents of Gladesville (or any other supporters) feeling like their/our voices do not matter. Hunters Hill Council has voted to support the divisive initiative, celebrating 31 July each year – so we will use that same day to give a voice to open-minded, progressive people who are open to change and reform.

We acknowledge there are those who would like the NSW Government to come back and finish the job (legally), and amalgamate the smallest Council in NSW into a council with enough size to be effective – without 9.74% rates increases, as are being sought at the Hunters Hill Council meeting to be held 12 December 2018.

The most balanced argument we saw at the time was the “Rough guide to the impact of amalgamation” published by the Hunters Hill Trust. Apart from publishing the thought-provoking guide available at the links below, the Hunters Hill Trust generally stayed out of the 2017 amalgamation debate because it was divided.

If Council’s size and shape is an important issue to you, or the opportunity to be a part of a constructive and balanced discussion about whether new boundaries might be better for the modern era – then this initiative is for you. If you have wondered whether a more-widely skilled staff could deliver better and more cost effective services than a micro-council, this is for you. If you have wondered whether economies of scale are more important than parochialism, this is for you. If you have wondered where it’s good for Gladesville to be targetted for almost all of the Hunter Hill municipality’s development, this is for you.

With the help of HHC, the anti-amalgamation group were very loudly heard in the 2017 process, but being loud does not necessarily mean their opinion is right, it doesn’t mean they’re the majority, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call for municipal improvement and reform. It is time to find out how many of us are actually open to amalgamation, without being shouted down.

To build the best future, we think the community needs to be master of its own destiny. If we wait for the next forced amalgamation, we might not have much of a say. Amalgamation does not need to be forced, not when the sensible discussion moves from insularity and emotional fear of change, and considers the benefits of scale with an open mind. It could be the best thing to happen to us!

We expect to form a sub-committee or working group to drive this forward. We will also look for street/neighbourhood coordinators to help with distributing printed leaflets. You do not have to live in Gladesville, this is an issue that affects residents throughout the area.

Also, please email this to like-minded friends who think that the Council size and shape and reform issue needs more attention. New subscribers can register for our emails by contacting us at

9.74% rates increase in HHC and Anti-amalgamation Day

Hi Everyone,

Please note below urgent action on the Special Rates Variation seeking to increase your rates by 9.74% – bold item under “what you can do” in the second section of this email.

Anti-amalgamation day: 31st July each year

At the Hunters Hill Council meeting to be held on Monday 10th December (tomorrow), Council is looking to adopt 31st July each year to celebrate the NSW government’s decision not to pursue council amalgamations which were subject to legal challenge – on 27th July 2017.

The relevant section of the Council Meeting Agenda is available at the link below. Submissions are included, if you’d like to review them.

We are disappointed that this divisive issue of amalgamation has been brought up again.

We respect that some people believe the boundaries should remain as they are. Unfortunately they do not respect that there are other opinions, which are valid and widely held – certainly in the north ward.

We are well aware that there is a lot of support for the ideas that:
1) the boundary on Victoria Road dividing Gladesville across two municipalities is problematic, and
2) amalgamation to a more suitable size – such as the combination of Hunters Hill Council and Lane Cove Council
– would create a better-sized municipality with economies of scale and the capacity to employ a wider range of specialist skills which are so important in the modern era, while retaining a suitable local focus.

It is very disappointing that a particular interest group has sought to insult and speak over other residents who feel differently, by seeking official recognition of their views as the adopted position of the Council – and of all of us rate-payers.

We already have Moocooboola which is a great festival for the Community, attracting 20,000 attendees (and we can’t even maintain a website for it – check the Moocooboola website link on the page below).

Our view is that Hunters Hill Council should be focussing on performance, focussing on delivering value to rate-payers. In this pause between NSW Government initiatives to amalgamate this micro-Council, we should be focussing on earning and building genuine support, rather than more of the same games we saw last time when Council tried to tell people what they think.

Such a blatant leading question as whether people want “a SUPERIOR alternative” as shown in the header image of this email (laughing face added) – extracted from the Fit For The Future propaganda downloadable at the link below, would not be tolerated by those who argued against amalgamation if it wasn’t convenient to their argument.

It was not surprising that 70% of respondents wanted a “superior alternative”, what was surprising was that the other 30% either didn’t undertsand what the word Superior means, or they didn’t trust Council!

For those who hope to defend the smallest Council in NSW from amalgamation in the future, we thought uniting the community in support of a better performing Council was a better idea than insulting the members of the community with different views.

Our initial thoughts have been to petition the NSW Minister for Local Government and the Shadow Minister every year on that same day – to give a voice to those who aren’t committed to the existing boundaries. We don’t expect it to achive much for a while, but after 5-10 years with a few hundred signatures each year, it should provide political support to revisit the boundaries of this anomaly micro-council.

We didn’t pick this fight, but we’re certainly not going to be spoken over.

What you can do:

* Come to the HHC meeting on Monday night at 7:30 if you can make it

* Fill in a request to present and sent it to HHC before Midday on Monday if you’d like to speak – form available at the link below

* Watch it on the Facebook live-stream if you are able to – but can’t attend

* Email us back with your ideas about how to make sure reasonable opinions about reforming council and boundaries aren’t drowned out by the hijacking of our Council’s endorsement by those who think the smallest micro-council in NSW must remain forever so.

Do help us out when you have ideas: please reply back with your suggestions of how we should counter this disappointing insult which really was SO UNNECESSARY.

Special Rate Variation (SRV) – increase rates by 9.74% or 6.74% instead of the 2.7%

You can’t make this stuff up.

On the same week that Hunters Hill Council is looking to adopt a day to celebrate anti-amalgamation which was intended to give the scale and capacity required to cost-effectively serve rate-payers in the modern era, Council is looking to hike our rates dramatically.

You might notice from the header image (laughing face added) – extracted from the Fit For The Future propaganda – that Council was going to strengthen its financial sustainability with increased shared services delivering long term savings. There were a range of initiatives that HHC argued made amalgamation unnecessary, but we haven’t seen a roadmap to achieving them, nor any progress.

But we do see plans to celebrate anti-amalgamation day.

The scare-mongering is even worse on the page below. We certainly weren’t told that our assets were going to deteriorate, when they were telling the state government that we don’t need to be amalgamated because we have scale and capacity!

You can’t have it both ways.

Our view is that HHC should make good on it’s claims made when campaigining against amalgamation, of delivering operating synergies and improved economic performance – before asking us to pay more in Council rates.

Otherwise we may just be throwing good money after bad, extending the demise of the micro-council, at cost to rate-payers – both financial and performance/amenity.

Other problems we see with the SRV are that:

1) The items are list without costings, and nor have we been given detail on the expenditure beyond a few words’ description,

2) Relocating 10 Cowell St – why are we rate-payers funding that after selling approximately 2,000 sqm of public land ADJACENT to the 10-storey+ development site for only $9.5m in 2016 (without tender)? And don’t forget Council’s handling of the heritage listing – remembering that HHC listed the timber cottage at 10 Cowell St in the draft Local Environmental Plan 2012 but pulled it out at the last minute because APPARENTLY they hadn’t had enough time to decide (scale and capacity to get the job done eh?) – and then instead of deciding whether to list it they signed Option Deeds for its DISPOSAL, eventually returning to the question of heritage listing years later after complicating the matter with the disposal Deeds, and then creating the ONLY listing in HHC for a heritage item EXCLUDING ITS CURTILAGE! We haven’t even agreed that the timber Cottage at 10 Cowell St should be moved! Hasn’t HHC DONE ENOUGH for the developer by now!?!?!?!?

3) Insurance is listed as requiring the Operational Special Variation – does this mean we will be under-insured without it, and if so how could it become the case and for how long has this been the situation?

4) The very significant Operational Special Variation (3% component) is described as being permanent, and also described as being for 4 years – on the same page. How can people even be properly expressing a view on that component when we can’t tell if we’re accepting at 3% increase to be compounded into our rates forever, or is it only for 4 years as listed?

Of course, as always, we’re happy for our subscribers to disagree with our comments, and say whatever you believe to be right. We don’t speak for you, we’re letting you know there is a chance to be heard – because you may not otherwise know.

What you can do:

* Send your submission to ASAP, with your view on the SRV. Per the page on HHC’s website, submissions closed on Friday, but they might still be taking feedback. You might like to cc the Councillors by copying the list below into your email:” <>,” <>,” <>,” <>,” <>,” <>,” <>

* Go to the HHC meeting on Wednesday 12th December – for those who can make it at 5pm.

* Fill in a request to present and sent it to HHC before Midday on Wenesday if you’d like to speak – form available at the link below.

– From the team at Gladesville Community Group (inc)