Deputy Premier John Barilaro was not at ‘home’ in his office at Crawford Street, Queanbeyan on Friday when a representative crowd of anti-council amalgamation protesters came calling.
But the subsequent meeting, held in front of the Deputy Premier’s office, was told that Mr Barilaro, who holds a slender majority in his state seat of Monaro, now ‘wants to talk’ to members of the anti-amalgamation lobby.
The lobby, energized by a strong protest cell from Gundagai, wants a complete end to any proposed amalgamations and a democratic plebiscite of areas merged so far.
Several speakers addressed the Queanbeyan rally, which included representative groups from Gundagai, Tumbarumba, Queanbeyan and Palerang, Harden, Dubbo, Blayney, Delegate, Sydney and Boorowa.
Calls were made for the sacking of non-elected administrators and for a return to democratic representation in which the community regained control of its councils.
Greens representative David Shoebridge and shadow minister for local government Peter Primrose said their parties would be prepared to work with the state government to bring an end to its despised amalgamation policy.
One speaker said: “If the government won’t reverse its policy the Labor Party will do it when we put them in!”
Federal Labor member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly, told the gathering “They have taken away your vote, but they can’t take away your voice.”
A representative from the Sydney group Save Our Councils said that this body would apply continued political pressure to the government, especially to members in marginal seats, to reverse its unpopular amalgamation decisions.