Sunbury secession: ‘No’ campaigners state their case

Sunbury residents Sharon Phillips and Raz De Vito go where few have been brave enough to tread for fear of being branded “the no group”.

No, they don’t want Sunbury to secede from Hume – not now at any rate.

The duo say they have formally started a ‘no’ group in response to the ‘yes’ group, which has prominent backers including Sunbury councillors Jack Ogilvie and Jack (Steve) Medcraft, state MP Bernie Finn and political aspirant Trevor Dance. Most debate has taken place on Facebook.

They say there has not been any rational conversations about the financial implications foreshadowed by economic analysis firm KPMG, which predicted Sunbury rates would rise considerably if the community tried to stand alone as a local government.

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In May, KPMG was commissioned by Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell to assess the costs of establishing a Sunbury shire while maintaining the same levels of services and asset investment. This was done to inform debate in the lead-up to October’s poll. The report found it would cost between $3.5 million and $4 million to just set up the new shire, while rates for Sunbury residents would rise more than 14 per cent.

The duo last week slammed the ‘yes’ group’s denigration of the KPMG findings as “a flawed report”, and its labelling of people who don’t agree with them as “Labor”.

“Until there’s a rate base to sustain it, we can’t afford to do it,” Ms Phillips, a former shire of Bulla councillor, said. “Young families don’t want to be paying for this.”

She accused the ‘yes’ group of “flogging a dead horse”.

“They’ve been going on and on about this for more than 10 years,” she said. “I’d be happy for this to happen in 20 years time; we’ll have the rate base then.”

“Why is it so important that Sunbury stands alone unless this is about control and power?” Mr De Vito asked.