While the year has started off positively for Dubbo with businesses generally recording good Christmas sales numbers and events and projects for this year starting to roll out already, it is hard to think about long-term strategies and positive progress for Dubbo at the moment with the threat of a merger hanging over our heads.

I encourage everyone to read the Merger Proposal document on the State Government Web site at http://ow.ly/WHajk so you can gain more information on the proposal. I must admit to being incredibly disappointed with the quality of the document in my readings so far. The more I read the more inaccuracies I pick up. If one of my children was handing this in for a high school assignment I would be disappointed with the lack of attention to detail and just the plain inaccuracies in the document. Given that this will be the most important process in Dubbo’s history since our amalgamation with Talbragar Shire Council on 1 April 1980, I was hoping for a document of accurate and unbiased information to allow the people in our community to have a fair say on the proposal.

We are sending off information to the State Government highlighting some of the mistakes in the document in the hope they will be corrected and a new copy placed on the Web site. To give you but a few examples, on Page 10 a table lists the number of dwellings in Wellington as 15,934. Anyone familiar with the area would know this is more than their total population! It is an amateur copy and paste error as that is the number of dwellings in Dubbo. On Page 7 the number of residents are listed in Dubbo and Wellington as 41,573 and 8,951 with the new combined population cited as 50,627. A ten-year-old could tell you that those numbers add up to 50,524. Only a basic error I admit but it points to the level of accuracy in the document. In fact, the Government is not even clear on the population of Wellington. On Page 7 the population is 8,951 and on Page 11 the population is listed in a table as 9,054. It becomes much worse when you start looking at philosophical errors. I quote from the document: “These communities [Dubbo and Wellington] have a common heritage in both agriculture and mining.” In my opinion, after “four years of extensive consultation, research and analysis” as quoted in the document, I would have hoped that someone would have worked out neither Wellington nor Dubbo have any mines (yet) and Dubbo only employs 2.8 per cent of our employees in agriculture compared to Wellington’s 21.7 per cent.

For Dubbo ratepayers though, they should be most worried by the statement on Page 8. “The two councils are projecting divergent operating performance over the next 10 years. Dubbo City Council forecasts that its negative operating ratio will improve as it brings in more revenue than it spends, while Wellington Council projects that its expenses will grow faster than income over the same period.”

I would strongly encourage you to have a say – the submission form is open now at http://ow.ly/WHamp and it is very easy to send in your submission. People power will hopefully win the day in this scenario.

On the positive side, we have the solid backing of our local Member and the Deputy Premier, Troy Grant. I have often said that it is fantastic having the Deputy Premier as the local Member and Troy does an excellent job undertaking both roles. At our time of need when we need someone sitting at the table with our best interests at heart, it is comforting to know he is backing Dubbo to stay as a standalone Council. #NoDubbington

Councillor Mathew Dickerson

Mayor of the City of Dubbo

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