Government insists election will be held on September 9
The NSW Government is now insisting a September 9 election will be held for Central Coast Council, after previously being non-committal about whether the administration period would be extended.
The Premier's Office, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and the Member for Terrigal all contacted Peninsula News after the Premier had previously said she would not rule out an extension of the current administration period.
During the early weeks of Ms Gladys Berejiklian's term as Premier of NSW, it was speculated that changes might be made to the local council mergers.
Some National Party MPs and members of the Labor Opposition had called for plebiscites to be held in communities that had been subject to compulsory council dismissals and mergers.
They said that communities should be given the chance to vote for or against the council amalgamations that had been forced upon them by the Baird government.
The new Premier has also been under pressure to abandon all, or at least some, mergers and to extend the administration period of some newly-merged councils, including the Central Coast Council.
At a doorstop interview before NSW Ministers attended a Community Cabinet meeting on the Central Coast last week, Ms Berejiklian refused to commit to September 9 as the date for the first Central Coast Council election.
She also said she would not rule out an extension of the current administration period.
"I'm not ruling anything in or out," she said.
However, on Tuesday, February 14, Ms Berejilkian issued a statement to confirm that local government elections for merged councils would take place on September 9.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Mr Scot MacDonald, and the NSW Member for Terrigal, Mr Adam Crouch, both contacted Peninsula News to reinforce the message that September 9 would be the Central Coast Council election date.
The Government has also ruled out plebiscites to give communities the opportunity to vote for or against Council mergers.
The delay in finalising the audit of the former Gosford Council's accounts and the volume of work needed to combine the major planning instruments of the two former council's does, however, make a September election a very tight timeframe.
One former Gosford councillor said they believed an extension of the administration period was still a real possibility.
They said there was also speculation that the size of the new Central Coast Council, one of the largest local governments in NSW, if not the nation, meant that there was simply too much work to get through to hand power to new councillors at any time before the next State Election, set down for 2019.
Local government elections are usually held in NSW on the first Saturday in September every four years.
The proclamation that sacked Gosford Council and created Central Coast Council also set the date of the election for that newly created Council as September 9.
According to the NSW Electoral Commission, if the Government did decide to further amend that date, it would need to do so by passing specific legislation through the State Parliament.
Interview, 9 Feb 2017
Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Premier
Phone and facebook messages, 16 Feb 2017
Adam Crouch, Member for Terrigal
Phone interview, 16 Feb 2017
Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast
Phone interview, 16 Feb 2017
Richard Carroll, NSW Electoral Commission
Reporter: Jackie Pearson