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Disappointment as government turns Page

Berrigan Shire Mayor Bernard Curtin said he was impressed by Don Page's performance and disappointed to see him go

May 1, 2014 2:10am

Berrigan Shire Mayor Bernard Curtin says it is disappointing to lose Minister for Local Government Don Page at the same time councils are coming to terms with the Revitalising Local Government report.

Mr Page has been replaced by Paul Toole, a first-time Coalition front-bencher, as part of the NSW Government shake-up following Premier Barry O’Farrell’s shock resignation less than a fortnight ago.

Cr Curtin said he did not know Mr Toole but had hoped to meet him at Wednesday’s planned Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils meeting in Albury, which Mr Page had previously said he would attend.

With Mr Toole unable to attend, the meeting has been shifted to Jerilderie instead.

‘‘I was very impressed with Don Page’s performance,’’ Cr Curtin said.

‘‘He was prepared to listen to some ideas and give councils an opportunity to put those ideas into practice. For example, the joint organisation the report is suggesting, he was going to have a couple of pilot schemes.

‘‘He was a fellow you could discuss things with ... I was a bit disappointed Don wasn’t remaining in this portfolio,’’ he said.

The Revitalising Local Government report suggests Berrigan and Jerilderie Shires merge to form one council. It also suggests Deniliquin, Murray Shire and Conargo Shire amalgamate, with the possible inclusion of Wakool Shire.

All six are also listed in a recommendation to form a ‘Joint Organisations’.

Conargo Shire Mayor Norm Brennan said the change in Minister for Local Government was ‘‘interesting’’.

He said the next step would be to gauge the new minister’s attitude toward proposed amalgamations.

‘‘I thought Don Page was a highly regarded minister on the front bench, as I thought about George Souris who has also been removed.

‘‘We are waiting to see what will come of the new Minister for Local Government, as there are a few possibilities.

‘‘The review could be put on the backburner, or it could be sped up. We will be watching and waiting with bated breath.’’

Ministers removed from the front bench by new Premier Mike Baird were Robyn Parker, George Souris, Greg Smith and Don Page.

Added to the cabinet for the first time are Rob Stokes, Troy Grant, Dominic Perrottet, Mr Toole and Jai Rowell.

Member for Murrumbidgee and pre-selection candidate for the new seat of Murray, Adrian Piccoli, remains in his role as Minister for Education, Jillian Skinner remains Minister for Health and Michael Gallacher is still Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

The cabinet reshuffle began last week after former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell resigned.

A thank you letter signed by Mr O’Farrell for a $3000 bottle of wine he had previously stated to ICAC he had not received was uncovered, leading to his immediate resignation.

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