Federal Election and Local Democracy

Please find below the Candidates for North Sydney in the Federal Election  SOCC Federal Election Candidates for North Sydney NDT 29 June 2016 – and the results of the SOCC Survey of Candidates regarding Local Democracy. SOCC Survey Results North Sydney 2016

Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC) recommends that you vote for a party or an independent that believes in local democracy, opposes forced council amalgamations and supports valid referendums as shown in the results of the survey above:

Also attached are a number of recent media articles. An article ‘The Liberals back down on John Howard’s Democracy Laws’ illustrates just how far the Liberal Party has fallen from John Howard’s principled position of governments listening to the people on important issue like forced council amalgamations. There are interviews with Dr Stephen Ruff (Independent), Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (The Greens) and Nella Hall (CDP Senate Candidate).

  1. Dr Stephen Ruff independent voice for North Sydney TWT 29 June 16
  2. Baird has damaged Liberal brand says Greens candidate for North Sydney TWT 22 June 2016
  3. Stop forced Council mergers Nella Hall CDP Senate Candidate TWT 29 June 16

The Liberal Federal Member and Candidate Trent Zimmerman was asked a couple of questions on Local Democracy at the ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum in Hunters Hill on Sunday 26 June.

One question related to signing the Candidate Commitment form supporting and respecting local democracy and opposing forced council amalgamations. His answer was to say the he can’t as it is said to be a State issue but is of the view that the Baird Government is going down the wrong path – see question and answer here. He was also asked a question on the ‘Democratic Plebiscites’ which became Federal law under John Howard and stated that Premier Baird has made it quite clear that he would not have regard to a federal organised plebiscite – see question and answer here. The Liberal Party is clearly a divided Party with a Premier who does not respect or value local communities, their views and their elected councils.

There is of course only one Liberal Party in this state and across the nation. The Party has broken its election promise to the people of NSW on no forced amalgamations and it will not listen to the people. Frankly it can’t be trusted.

Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC) recommends that you vote for a party or an independent that believes in local democracy, opposes forced council amalgamations and supports valid referendums.

Given the seriousness of the attack on local democracy by the Liberal/National Party, consideration must be given to placing that party last in this election.

Kind regards,
Phil Jenkyn OAM
Co-convenor Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC)


This is an important election for all those who care about local democracy, honesty and transparency In government, and the keeping of election promises.

On the issue of forced council amalgamations, the Liberal/National Party and the Baird Government have trashed all of the above. The Liberal/National Party now seeks our vote in this Federal election.

Please find attached the 8 Candidates standing for the seat of North Sydney, together with information including their website and facebook pages.

Each Candidate was sent the attached Survey form from Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC). This asked the candidates to state whether their own and their party’ policy was to respect local democracy, oppose forced council amalgamations, and support valid referendums if mergers were proposed.

The Survey Results for North Sydney are attached. They reveal that Stephen Ruff (Independent), Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (The Greens), Peter Hayes (Labor) and Sharon Martin (Christian Democratic Party),  individually and on behalf of their parties, are all opposed to forced amalgamations and all support valid referendums. These four have also signed on behalf of their parties the attached ‘Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy’ form.

The Liberal member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman stated at the ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum at Hunters Hill on 26 June that he is not able to sign the commitment form as the Liberal Party’s policy is for forced amalgamations and the party does not support federal plebiscites. The survey form was not responded to.

Local democracy, local communities and local councils are very much a Federal issue. There is a Federal Minister for Local Government and a Federal Minister for Cities. The Federal Government makes significant grants to local government and to cities, which necessarily involves it considering and dealing with local communities and their elected councils. The attack on our local democracy could never take place if local government was recognised in our Federal constitution. The Federal Government as a result of legislation brought in by John Howard can now fund plebiscites in circumstance where there are forced council amalgamations within a State. Political Parties like the Liberal/National Party transcend State boundaries. The issue of trust – whether a political party can be trusted, is very much an issue at play in this election.

Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC) is a member of Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC). Both organisations are non-party political.

Both organisations recommend that you vote for a party or an independent that opposes forced council amalgamations and supports valid referendums and believes in local democracy.

Given the seriousness of the attack on local democracy and the clear breach of trust by the Baird Government and the Liberal/National Party, consideration must be given to placing that party last in this election.

Kind regards,

Phil Jenkyn OAM
Co-convenor Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition (SHHMC)

SOCC Candidates for North Sydney Federal Election 2016

SOCC Survey Results North Sydney 2016

SOCC Survey Form June 2016

SOCC Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy final version 3 May 2016


Below, please find the up-to-date SOCC Report dated 20 June on councils’ legal challenges to the NSW Government’s forced amalgamation proposals.

SOCC Report On Council Court Cases 20 June 2016

  • What has been revealed in court is significant and serious as to the misleading actions of the Government.
  • The councils’ cases are compelling. As to the misleading actions of the Government, a finding that this has tainted the whole process could mean that all the forced amalgamations of councils to date have not proceeded according to law. This could have serious ramifications.

  • This has implications not only for the court cases but generally in the political arena.
  • Also attached are relevant Government media releases, and a brief video taken at the SOCC Rally on 18 June. I was asked for an update on the court cases.

Kind regards,
Phil Jenkyn OAM
Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC)

Video from “Maintain the Rage” anti-merger rally Waverley Council June 18 2016

Premier’s Media Release 18 Dec 2015

Minister for LG Media Release 6 Jan 2016


On June 18 2016 communities across the state of NSW held anti-amalgamation rallies including in Oberon, Tumbarumba, Glouster, Harden, Gundagai. Save Hunters Hill, Save Our Councils and communities of Waverley and Randwick also rallied in support of rural communities outside Waverley council chambers in Malcolm Turnbulls electorate.

Protesters to Rally Against State Government Mergers – 9 news June 28 2016

Merger Rally Rage across the Riverina – Daily Advertiser June 19 2016

People Power Could Change Merger Plan – Western Advocate June 20 2016

WIN News coverage of the Maintain the Rage Rally at Gundagai and Harden in protest of Forced Council Amalgamations. June 19 2016


Thousands of people gathered at Sydney Town Hall, to protest against the dictatorial attitude and destructive policies and agendas of  the NSW Baird Government.

“The Premier is under pressure over a suite of reforms that many in the community see as being stacked in favour of big business and political allies, instead of local communities and the public at large. The popular backlash has grown in particular after Baird sacked local councils around the state…” Thousands condemn new premier sydney protest – newmatilda.com

Protestors gather in Sydney’s CBD to oppose the draconian laws and polices of NSW Premier Mike Baird and his government. – “A crowd of more than 3000 marched on NSW Parliament House on Sunday, venting opposition to a range of policies of the Baird government. The WestConnex motorway, the sacking of councillors, increased police powers and anti-protest laws were all criticised strongly at the protest, which also reflected local opposition to a western Sydney airport, to the removal of trees in the eastern suburbs, to TAFE cuts, and to lock-out laws. “It doesn’t matter what your issue is, at some point you will ask yourself the same question,” said rally MC Alex McKinnon, a journalist with Junkee.com. “Whose city is this? Whose state is this?” It’s Mabo. It’s Justice. It’s WestConnex. Protesters rally against Mike Baird’s vibe SMH May 29 2016

A clear and unifying message was dissatisfaction with the modus-operandi of the Baird Government which is increasingly pushing through major and highly suspect agendas and projects, with massive ramifications for Sydney, NSW and local communities  – without transparent business case arguments,  without proper and effective community consultation, and without a community mandate or consent, while simultaneously bringing in new laws to quell community protest.

Many or all of these projects are seen as prioritising economic gain for the State Government and it’s private partners (and vested interest donors- including property and infrastructure developers, big business and mining companies), and riding rough-shod over  the critical community and environmental interests that keep our cities and communities beautiful, liveable, social and desirable.

This has seen severe urban planning failures, with  new infrastructure projects such as the light rail, bulldoze its way through Sydney’s Anzac trees and major aboriginal heritage sites, and West-connex bulldoze its way through the heritage and urban conservation areas, communities, schools and open spaces of the beautiful Inner West. It has also seen ideologically driven but flawed local-out laws decimate Sydney’s social and vibrant heart. The list goes on and on – and continues to grow at pace.

In addition, there is a major privatisation process going on – a sell-off, that eclipses the sale of poles and wires, but for which there has been no community mandate sought or received. Behind the scenes the Government is selling off billions of dollars of public land and assets for private development and also merging, stripping bare and privatising public and community services.  Again – these are major and significant agendas, with enormous ramifications for the people of NSW – and yet they are being rammed through based on economic ideology without a transparent and justifiable economic AND SOCIAL business case, without an assessment of risk, harm or negative impacts, and without effective community consultation and debate, and hence without community and social licence. So we see the anger over issues such as  Powerhouse museum, Barangaroo, Parramatta’s heritage precinct, Tafe and Disability services, just to name a few.

This bullish approach to Government coupled with draconian new anti-protest laws, is seeing a grass roots revolt – people are uniting to protest common themes of “authoritarianism” “dictatorship” – “selling off the state” “riding roughshod over communities” “killing democracy”  – and “turning into a police state”.

The community anger has been brought to a head by the recent round of forced council mergers, in which locally elected councillors have all been sacked, and all council assets, funds and development and planning decisions have been given over to the control of single individual “administrators” hand-picked by the State Government for more than a year and a half, effectively suspending local democracy and removing the local communities capacity and right to have a say and influence over over major projects that are likely to have major impacts and ramifications for their local areas.  In effect – the Government has implemented a State-appointed dictatorship of Local Government.

Video – “Mike Baird is out of control” – Speech by Darcy Byrne previously Mayor of Leichart Council

Video – Opening Speech – Alex McKinnon – “Whose city is this?” – “This isn’t a question of conflicting ideas, this isn’t a question of political differences, this is about whether we live in a democracy or just the appearance of one”.

Video Speech David Shoebridge – People in open revolt against Mike Baird’s attack on local democracy.

FURY ERUPTS AT FIRST MEETINGS OF NEW MERGED COUNCILS IN THE INNER WEST of SYDNEY and MID COAST – Communities ungovernable. Administrators forced to leave.

Inner West erupts in fury over council sacking and West-connex

Midcoast Council – community erupts in fury of council sacking and CSG


 Anti-merger protest at Turnbull’s Edgecliff office Wentworth Courier 19 May 16

The Delegation from Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC) to the Prime Minister’s Electorate Office was a success. Present were representatives from community groups and
councillors from across the Wentworth Federal Electorate and from across Sydney.SOCC Pledge Candidate Malcolm Turnbull NOT signed Liberal Wentworth 5 May 16
Malcolm Turnbull was not present to accept the ‘Pledge for Local Democracy’ which remains to be signed.
Carolyn Corrigan President SOCC and representatives are to meet with him and this is to be followed up. The event was covered by the Wentworth Courier  here and  The SMH and 9News took photographs and film.

On other matters it appears that Woollahra’s court judgement is this coming Monday.

Waverley votes to hold plebiscite on council mergers SMH 18 May 16 –

Waverley council out-voted their Mayor, Sally Betts and resolved to hold a poll of electors regarding amalgamations on the same day as the Federal Election. Sally Betts, who works part time in Turnbull’s Office, (who is rumoured to have been promised the plush job of administrator of a new amalgamated council) is now attempting to over turn the decision..

Turnbull’s John Howard – induced headache on council amalgamations SMH 19 May 16

In 2007, Mr Howard accused the Beattie state Labor government of “riding roughshod” over Queenslanders through forced council amalgamations. Facing the loss of federal seats in Queensland, the Howard government passed a law allowing the Australian Electoral Commission to hold plebiscites on Mr Beattie’s proposed amalgamations and Mr Howard promised the Commonwealth would pay for each one.

Councils in NSW are now calling for Malcolm Turnbull to do the same for them.

That is a quick rap up and the fight goes on.


Communities in marginal seats have been spared – including Kiama and Walcha.

Communities violently opposed to amalgamation in safe Liberal-National seats have been betrayed – including Pittwater and Tumbarumba.

Other Council amalgamations proposals involving strong community and council opposition have been “held over”  pending the outcome of court action – including Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick, Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby, Kuringai and Horsnby, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde, Strathfield, Oberon, Cabonne, Harden,  Shell Harbour and Wollongong, Gundagai also joined legal action at the 11th hour, shortly before the proclamation.

Council amalgamation: Premier forges ahead on mergers except in the federal marginal seats – SMH May 12 2016

Mixed reaction in regional NSW to council merger, amid controversy about appointment in state’s north – ABC News May 13 2016

Ryde, Hunters Hill survive first merger announcement – Daily Telegraph May 12 2016



The following documents are relevant to all local communities approaching NSW Candidates for the Federal Election, drafted by Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC).

1. Briefing Notes re Candidates – 5 May 16

2. Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy final version 3 May 2016

3. Draft letter to MPs final version 5 May 16

The ‘Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy’ form or Pledge is intended to be signed by all NSW Candidates and Political Parties for the Federal Election who truly believe in local democracy. To sign the Pledge the Candidate and their Political Party must commit to the three requirements therein. How community groups go about approaching Candidates is dealt with in the ‘Briefing Notes’ and a Draft letter to MPs may act as an aid in the drafting of letters to go with the form. The aim of these documents is to empower local community groups in their campaign to ensure that we keep and protect our local communities and our local councils.

Save Our Councils Coalition launched this campaign on 5 May 2016 at the Save Waverley Action Group (SWAG) Public Meeting held at Club Bondi Junction. The meeting in the Prime Minister’s Wentworth electorate was a great success and it was a full house in the auditorium. See launch video here

Three unanimous resolutions were passed, the first calling for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed forced amalgamation of Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick; the second supporting the Upper House recommendation for an improved model for regional cooperation; and the third calling on the local member Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to sign the SOCC ‘Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy’ form. The detailed resolutions are here: SWAG Meeting Unanimous Resolutions 5 May 16

There were a number of photos taken at the Meeting as above.

Photo 1 is of the Speakers left to right: John Wakefield Cr & former Waverley Mayor, Jeff Morris Deputy Mayor North Sydney, Malcolm Stewart solicitor Speed & Stracey, Toni Zeltzer Woollahra Mayor, Dominic Wy Kanak Cr Waverley, Phil Jenkyn Save Our Councils Coalition and Tony Bowen Cr & former Randwick Mayor.

SOCC SWAG Meeting photo 1 Speakers May 5, 2016

Photo 3 is the Labor Candidate for Wentworth Evan Hughes holding up his signed ‘Candidate Commitment on Local Democracy’ form. This is the first form to be signed – as the launch by SOCC had only happened a short while before.SOCC SWAG Meeting photo 3 Labor Candidate Wentworth signed May 5, 2016

A copy of the signed form or Pledge is the last attachment above.SOCC Pledge Candidate Evan Hughes signed Labor Wentworth 5 May 16

Photo 7 shows a number of members of SWAG and SOCC with the Pledge awaiting the signature of Malcolm Turnbull.SOCC SWAG Meeting photo 7 Turnbull not signed 5 May 16

The other photos are of one of the speakers and part of the audience.

Also attached are the speaking notes of Phil Jenkyn who spoke on behalf of SOCC: SOCC Phil Jenkyn Address to SWAG Public Meeting 5 May 2016

A Video of the meeting is available here: 

This is a time for all of us to act and to ensure that every NSW candidate receives the form, is encouraged to sign and their response duly noted and revealed to all. 


Deja Toborek – Greens Candidate for Wentworth signs the pledge.

Christine Berman – Independent candidate for Bradfield signs the pledge

Malcolm Turnbull has still not signed the pledge.

SOCC Pledge Candidate Dejay Toborek signed The Greens Wentworth 9 May 16


The following councils have commenced legal action against the State Government and Delegates over forced mergers: Kuringai, Woollahra, Hunters Hill, Mosman, North Sydney Strathfield, Walcha, Oberon and Cabonne, with  others that have resolved to do so – including Pittwater.

Mosman launches legal action – SMH May 2 2016

Hunters Hill Council taking Premier to Court NDT 27 April 2016

Hunters Hill goes to Court to stop forced merger TWT 27 April 16

SHHMC Media Release re Hunters Hill Court Action 22 April 16

Bairds merger plan – Barnaby in the ring as regions fight plan  – The Australian April 18 2016

Council amalgamations – More Councils to join legal battle with State Government over mergers SMH April 6 2016

NSW Councils take Government to Court over Forced Mergers – The Australian April 3 2016


SOCC Launches Pledge for Candidates at Federal Election

Turnbulls mate joins NSW council merger revolt page 1 Weekend Australian 2 April 16

Federal MP Ann Sudlamis votes to condemn Baird merger plan – South Coast register April 2 2016

Baird blamed for massive swing against Liberals in North Sydney Federal By-election


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In the absence of proper polls – The upcoming Federal election will provide communities across the state the only opportunity they have to express their extreme anger at the NSW Liberal and National parties over forced council mergers.

Hunters Hill residents delivered a swing of 16% against the Liberal Candidate at the recent North Sydney By-election with a “put Liberal last” campaign based on this issue. Also, closely aligned is anger at the totalitarian and undemocratic agendas  of the NSW Liberal party which is controlled by lobbyists and developer and mining donor vested interests. Residents across NSW are sick and tired of Liberal Policies – Federal and State – that put Liberal donor vested interests first and communities last. Residents across the State will soon have the opportunity to have their say in the same way.


Submissions to the Boundary Commission Public Inquiry process have now closed however Hunters Hill and communities across NSW are fighting on against this flawed and incompetent forced amalgamation process.

SHHMC Submission to Boundary Review re Hunters Hill 28 Feb 16

SEE HERE for copies of SUBMISSIONS made by others at the public inquiry process: