GM Salary vs resident numbers + HHC deficit blowout + plebiscite motion

Shortly after Channel 9 reported the General Manager salaries and resident populations, as well as the pro- and anti-amalgamation arguments, in Hunters Hill Council’s meeting on Monday 23rd May 2016, the revised 2015/16 deficit was advised to have blown out from $276K to $667K (without the costs of current legal action). In the same meeting, Council resolved to commit an estimated $100K (unless the Australian Electoral Commission offers to pay for it) to hold a plebiscite on the specific amalgamation of Ryde, Hunters Hill, and Lane Cove councils (only).


Channel 9 News story: GM salaries vs resident populations & arguments for/against amalgamation

Less than 2 hours before the start of last night’s Council meeting, Channel 9 broadcast this story. It was a concise snapshot of the pro- and anti-amalgamation arguments, and contains interesting view of the cost of providing General Managers to small resident populations.

Deficit blowout

The revised expected deficit from Hunters Hill Council for the 2015/16 year, included in the long term financial plan provided to last night’s Council meeting, has gone from $276K deficit to $667K deficit.

The new estimated deficit is understood not to include the costs of legal action currently being taken against the state government, for which the costs were reported in the same meeting to have blow out from the estimated $150K+ to now upto $200K, excluding the cost award against Council if we lose the case – which is expected to have less than a 50% chance of success.

The deficit for the 15/16 year is also understood not to make provision for the plebiscite resolved during the meeting.


Unavailable to the public at the time of drafting this update, the Report and Motion can be viewed at:

The plebiscite motion was included by way of Mayoral Minute, with Mayor Quinn using his authority to table the minute for which Councillors had no formal prior notice – learning of it upon arrival at council chambers as described by Councillor Miles. At the time of reading the minute to the meeting Mayor Quinn spoke of calling local federal and state MP’s Zimmerman and Roberts to advise them of the motion, and Councillor Miles observed that Councillors who were to vote on the actual motion were not advised of it in advance by similar phone call – or at least he was not. It is not known if any Councillors were given advance notice by telephone, of the plebiscite motion to be moved by Mayoral Minute.

No Councillor spoke against the principal of holding a plebiscite. Councillors Miles and Bird spoke of the need for reasonable time to consider the matter fully before committing to such a serious undertaking; of the importance of the wording of the question to be put; and of the fiscal responsibility of such a commitment given the legal action pending. The plebiscite motion sought to give the public a voice only on the specific question of amalgamating Ryde, Lane Cove, and Hunters Hill Council areas. Despite the $100K expenditure, no other combination or local government reform is to be considered. The Motion was carried 5-2 with the support of Mayor Quinn, Deputy Mayor Clr McLaughlin, Clr Dr Sheil, Clr Astridge, and Clr Bennett.

The results of Gladesville Community Group’s survey of public opinions of Council’s handling of Fit For The Future is available at:

Gladesville Community Group has been disappointed at the lack of ‘open-question’ consultation of the public about our preferred form and size of Local Government. We feel that the failure to openly and properly investigate the possibility of amalgamating Hunters Hill and Lane Cove Council areas, a solution advocated by our survey respondents, is a loss to the local community.

Boundaries Commission Delegate report

The Boundaries Commission Delegate’s report considered the JRA, among other relevant issues, and is available at the link below. It is well worth a read. Some of the government’s proposed mergers were identified by such reports as not appropriate to proceed, lending credibility to the process. Foreseeably, it was identified that residents of the existing Hunters Hill Council Local Government Area (LGA), the smallest in NSW, will benefit from amalgamation.

Amalgamation – time to move forward

It’s time to move the conversation forward and talk about how to manage amalgamation


Hi Everyone,

Thank you for the messages of appreciation after our recent email alerting you to Hunters Hill Council’s approval of legal action that is expected to cost the community at least $150,000 and probably more like $300,000 – $400,000, to (at best) defer the amalgamation process.

Please see below (at the bottom) an email sent to Hunters Hill Mayor Richard Quinn, on Saturday 7th May 2016. We are seeking use of the Hunters Hill Town Hall on the same terms as was granted to the Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition.

The reason for us doing so is simply because we believe it’s time for the Council to stop following the vocal minority who are threatening legal and political Armageddon against the NSW state government, which appears determined to achieve local government reform. Instead the Council and community really needs to focus on how to best influence amalgamation, so that we preserve as much as possible that we like about the past. It is also timely to consider whether a legal fight with <50% change of success (according to Council’s own report) is the best use of $300,000 – $400,000 of ratepayers’ money, when there are footpaths, roads, drains, gutters, sports fields, environmental damage, street trees, and more issues requiring attention.

Although some may fear change, change is a reality of life and we will improve our future when we play a role in helping to shape it instead of trying to fight the unwinnable or ignore the inconvenient.

There will be some blessings to come from amalgamation – with economies of scale and knowledge sharing enabling us to enjoy benefits such as:
* streaming local council meetings on the internet as Lane Cove does (
* the ability to employ specialist staff to deal with the broad and increasing range of technical issues faced by local councils,
* efficiency in back-office processing, and much more.

There is concern about local representation as the number of residents to Councillors will increase, but in this issue too Hunters Hill can learn from Lane Cove – at which members of the public can address council on any matter of importance to them for 3 minutes at the start of each council meeting – without needing (as is the case in Hunters Hill Council) Mayoral approval (

When we look to the future with an open mind we see that there can be improvements, that the status quo is not necessarily the very best we can have. But there will be challenges, and that is why we want to start – better late than never – the discussion about how to protect what we appreciate.

Probably the best reference document to promote a productive conversation comes from the Hunters Hill Trust, that published the ‘rough guide to amalgamation available by clicking “Impact of Amalgamation Report” link at ( Indeed, from the comments on the Hunters Hill Trust page, you can see how emotive the topic of amalgamation has been. But we must move forward, rationally not emotionally.

Please get in touch if you are interested in helping to promote the new conversation. From the emails we’ve received we know that many of you agree it’s well overdue.

Team at Gladesville Community Group (Inc)


Councillor Richard Quinn

Mayor of Hunters Hill

Town Hall

Alexandra Street

Hunters Hill

NSW 2110



Dear Mr Mayor,


I represent Gladesville Community Group. The Group would like to hold a public meeting at the Town Hall on a weekday evening during May or early June to consider positive proposals re Hunters Hill for a future interim council to consider. The Group believes it is essential for Hunters Hill’s specific interests to be considered, championed and incorporated in the formulation of any new amalgamated council authority.


The Group notes the Council’s commitment to providing ratepayers and residents in the municipality with a full understanding of the developing situation. In this regard, the Group would seek the use of the Town Hall public area on the same terms as those offered earlier to another community group, Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition.


The group would appreciate your early consideration of our request.


Thanking you in anticipation,


[name redacted]      

Gladesville Community Group