HUNDREDS of Oberon residents, along with local politicians, ventured out into the rain on Saturday to make their voices heard about proposed council mergers.
Clad in wet weather gear, 250 people listened to speakers at the rally who reaffirmed that the voice of the people could change the outcome for local councils facing amalgamation.
Speakers included Oberon mayor Kathy Sajowitz, Anti Amalgamation Committee president Brian Dellow and committee members Marjorie Armstrong and Sam Harris.
Ms Armstrong said the rally was a reminder to Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Local Government Paul Toole that the people would not stand for “devious, dishonest and non-transparent government”.
She also took aim at Mr Toole’s comments earlier in the week criticising opposition leader Bill Shorten for commenting on the state issue of amalgamations instead of concentrating on federal politics.
“You may say it is not a federal issue. You are wrong. We, the people, are making it a federal issue,” Ms Armstrong said.
Saturday’s rally was attended by Labor’s Dr Jess Jennings, the Greens’ Delanie Sky and Rodney Bloomfield from the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), all candidates for the federal seat of Calare.
The Nationals Party candidate Andrew Gee sent his apologies.
Mr Bloomfield said the rally achieved its purpose in stating small councils were against forced amalgamations.
From his perspective, it all came down to democracy, which residents of these communities felt wasn’t a factor in the state government’s decisions.
“Passions amongst the crowd certainly ran high. They are unequivocal in the message that they want to get across to the state government and the federal candidates,” he said.
There are currently no further rallies or protests planned by the Oberon Anti Amalgamation Committee, however, Ms Armstrong said the group would likely have a presence at the July 2 Federal election.
The group will encourage people to use their vote wisely in response to the issue of forced amalgamations.
“The ballot box is where you can make them pay,” Ms Armstrong said.
“If there were a state election on July 2 there would be no more Baird government.”
In the meantime, Ms Armstrong said the Anti Amalgamation Committee was eagerly awaiting the judgement to be handed down in Oberon council’s legal action against amalgamations in the Land and Environment Court.
“We are sitting here waiting for the court decision and, if you’re a sceptic like most Oberon people are, it will come out after the election,” she said.