gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.” Forever more, no review of Dubbo for this
year will be complete without the analysis of Council amalgamations and the
consideration of Hitchen’s razor. Hitchen took the Latin proverb above and
asserted that the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the
claim; if this burden is not met, the claim is unfounded and opponents need not
argue further in order to dismiss it.
that in mind when you consider the strength of Dubbo earlier this year. The
last year as Dubbo City Council saw the magical 200,000 number through the
airport cracked for the first time ever with 203,294 passengers. An increase of
7.6 per cent over the previous year and we now boast direct flights to seven
destinations from four different carriers. The median house price hit a record
high of $345,000 – an increase of 7.8 per cent – and our days on market of 69
days is well ahead of the Evocities average of 146 days. 782 Development
Applications were processed with a value close to $200 million which was an
increase of 9.5 per cent. Unemployment was at the low rate of 3.8 per cent
which was a 5 per cent improvement over the previous year and again better than
the State average. I can list many other indicators that show the strength of
our economy. High motel occupancy rates; strong figures in tourism and visitation;
increasing average spend per visitor per night; increasing retail expenditure…
The positives were in every direction.
community surveys, we found that 93 per cent of residents were happy with the
ability to be involved in Council decisions; 82 per cent were satisfied with
the overall operations of Council and 69 per cent were satisfied with the
performance of Councillors.
all hardly sounds like cause to throw out a Council – so the alternative must
be fantastic. Using Hitchen’s razor, the State Government must have some
extraordinary evidence when it made its claim that amalgamations would put
“downward pressure on rates” and “provide many benefits to communities.” No
evidence was forthcoming as we should all, according to our Premier, just “consider
the big picture.” Whatever that means. In fact the evidence against
amalgamations was overwhelming. In a brief analysis of the 26 amalgamations
that occurred from 2001 to 2004, some startling statistics came to light. Only
26.9 per cent of the amalgamated Councils were declared Fit for the Future; 75
per cent had population growth below the State average and 76.9 per cent of
those Councils applied for additional rate increases – with the average
increase above rate pegging sitting just over 30 per cent.
much as I would prefer to talk about some of the wonderful achievements of
Dubbo in the 2016 year, the reality is that one event alone that occurred this
year overshadows all other events. The legacy that this State Government has
forever left the communities of Dubbo and Wellington is the amalgamation that
80 percent of people didn’t want. The result will be the loss of identity for
Wellington and the loss of momentum for Dubbo. Sure, the bins will keep being
collected and water will keep coming from our taps (even if we have to boil it
before drinking it) but I can’t help but think of how this column might have
read if we didn’t have the amalgamation that was forced onto us this year.
Councillors are proud of the fact that we have left the City in a better condition
because of our involvement. This State Government cannot even dream of making
the same statement. Bring on September 2017!
Last Mayor of the City of Dubbo