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Matt Speaks Against Labor's Attempt to Censure Premier Mike Baird

This censure motion should be seen for the shabby, political, attention-grabbing stunt that it is. Those opposite purport to be committed to opposing council amalgamations. But how many questions have Labor members asked in the past 12 months about council amalgamations? Zero. They have asked not a single question. If there is a vested interest, Labor is there to defend it. Who can you trust to defend and protect overpaid politicians in this State? Labor. Who can you trust to featherbed union interests across this State? Labor. Who can you trust to defend the interests of overpaid and underworked general managers across this State? Labor.

It is little wonder Labor is defending general managers because they have formed a new union and a number of delegates are very upset about the amalgamations. For example, the general manager of Port Stephens Council, on his $302,000 a year ratepayer-funded salary, is very upset about being disenfranchised. Perhaps the general manager of Wyong Shire Council, on his $465,540 a year ratepayer-funded salary, is very concerned about losing his job. So is the general manager of Holroyd City Council, on his $324,000 a year ratepayer-funded salary. But luckily for the general manager of Woollahra Municipal Council, Luke Foley is out to defend him and his $322,793 a year ratepayer-funded salary.

Labor was not always opposed to amalgamations. In fact, those opposite were once the true believers when it came to amalgamations. In 2000 Labor amalgamated Concord and Drummoyne to form the City of Canada Bay council. Labor caused the amalgamation of the Sydney City and South Sydney councils. Labor forced the amalgamation—this is my personal favourite—and created the Clarence Valley Council. The mayor of Clarence Valley is in the Chamber today. How did he find out about it? I will tell the House about the extensive consultation that occurred in that case. He got a text message from Tony Kelly the night before. That is how the council found out about the amalgamation. Labor was so committed to it that Harry Woods, who was the Minister at the time, said, "It will benefit ratepayers."

Labor used to care about ratepayers. What has happened? What did that great defender of integrity and Labor values, Tony Kelly, who was the Minister forcing the amalgamations, have to say? He said, "I intend to change local government. I have a unique opportunity and I intend to make sure that when I am finished local government in New South Wales will be able to better serve ratepayers of this State." Even Tony Kelly wanted to look after ratepayers. The reality is that Labor has no integrity on this issue. Those opposite are hypocrites. Some 26 amalgamations occurred on their watch—amalgamations that they championed and believed it. We on this side of the House will always put the interests of ratepayers first and we will always defend better infrastructure and more services for communities at lower costs. That is exactly what this policy is about.

I am proud to stand behind the Premier and to support this policy. I am also proud to stand behind the Minister for Local Government. Those in my community and others across New South Wales are not interested in Labor's defending special interests. They are not interested in Labor's defending those poor, underpaid general managers on huge taxpayer-funded salaries. They are interested in government providing the services and infrastructure they need and deserve at a lower cost. They are not interested in hands being put in the pockets of ratepayers; they are interested in government giving the money back. That is exactly what this policy does and that is exactly what this Government will stand up for. That is why I defend the Premier.