Court finds against NSW government on council mergers

The NSW Land and Environment Court found government-appointed delegates who recommended mergers for Mosman and North Sydney with Willoughby City Council and Burwood and Canada Bay with Strathfield Council had not followed the Local Government Act. The court found there was "no proper statutory foundation" for either of the proposed amalgamations, given the flaws in the delegates’ recommendations, and set the mergers aside.

However four other councils were unsuccessful in their appeals. The court dismissed the cases of Hunter's Hill, Lane Cove, Ku-ring-gai and Shellharbour, finding their complaints about the amalgamation process were unfounded.

Hunter's Hill Mayor Richard Quinn said the dismissal of his council's case was disappointing as the forced mergers were contrary to the majority views in polls.

"Eighty per cent of people say that they don't want this [merger] to proceed," he said. "We believed from the outset communities should have a direct say in how they're governed.”

The four unsuccessful councils will have a week to consider whether they will appeal against the decision.

The state government has created 20 new councils in its amalgamation program. It has reduced 152 councils to 112, sacked hundreds of councillors and appointed administrators in their place.

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