In his presentation to the Delegate, Gareth Ward, MP for Kiama, made the argument that the burden of proof as to whether the proposal should proceed should rest with the NSW Government.
“There is no doubt that the Government has attempted to address this [the financial advantages and disadvantages] criteria in its merger proposal public document,” he said.
“There are however another nine criteria on which the Government has been virtually silent. If the community is required to respond to the ten heads of consideration, why isn’t the Government?”
He continued, “A case which completely ignores nine of the ten criteria required to be considered by the Boundaries Commission is strategically, factually and completely deficient… the onus is clearly on the Government to prove its case, and the role of the delegate and the Boundaries Commission is to assess all ten aspects of this case on the basis of available evidence.”
With respect to the published merger proposal from the Government, Mr Ward said “It’s interesting to note that this evidence has already once been withdrawn, amended and updated without any notification to the public or me as the local MP. If the Government doesn’t have confidence in its own facts and contentions, how can the public have any confidence in the claims contained therein? Will there be more changes, more amendments, new questions, new facts? Or is this really the final draft?”
He went on to say that the Government had erred in providing procedural fairness and natural justice with respect to Kiama Council and its finances and called for a plebiscite to be held.