Democracy is being trampled and the views of ratepayers ignored by Sydney's business community as they selfishly promote council amalgamations in the hope that more lucrative contracts can be won from mega-councils, the United Services Union (ASU NSW US Branch) has said.
The union, which represents more than 40,000 local government workers across NSW, said that the views of local communities were being disregarded by amalgamation champions with dollars in their eyes.
USU general secretary Graeme Kelly also accused Sydney Business Chamber boss Patricia Forsythe of ignoring the fact that community consultation was a central part of democracy.
"Sydney's business community are leading the charge for amalgamations, not because they care what is in the best interest of ratepayers and others in the community, but because they see the possibility of big business entering local government," Mr Kelly said.
"Demands by the Sydney Business Chamber that councillors get on board the amalgamation bandwagon, without any community consultation or democratic mandate, highlights that the community is not even being considered.
"New South Wales isn't a dictatorship, and the future of the most responsive level of government shouldn't be decided based on the chest-beating of big business advocates, it should be decided by the millions of affected residents.
"Councillors have an obligation to answer to the people who elected them, not vested interest groups greedily seeking to squeeze profits from community services."
Mr Kelly said it was unsurprising that an unelected body such as the Sydney Business Chamber, that doesn't answer to anybody in the community, would be attempting to hijack the amalgamation debate.
"The Sydney Business Chamber seems to have completely forgotten the most important part of local government: the community," he said.
"No council should make any decision about amalgamating without genuine consultation and community engagement.
"Ratepayers and community members are the ones who rely on the services, they are the ones who live with the planning decisions, and in a democracy they — not unrepresentative business groups — should decide what kind of local government area they live in."
Media comment: Graeme Kelly — 0417 420 919
Further information: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313