Sunbury secession: Split must be quick, says hume councillor

The axe should fall sooner rather than later to separate Sunbury from Hume, Cr Jack Medcraft told his Hume council colleagues last week.

Counter to Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell’s direction that a panel would be appointed in the new year to oversee the secession of Sunbury from the rest of Hume, Cr Medcraft urged his colleagues to ask for the deed to be done “as quickly as possible”.

Cr Medcraft disagreed with parts of a motion before councillors asking Mrs Powell to confirm that boundaries of the new Sunbury shire would accord with the Deep Creek boundary that was put to voters in October.

He said he wanted the old Bulla shire boundaries to Oaklands Road to be included with Sunbury, along with Melbourne airport and Tullamarine, while Diggers Rest residents could also be drawn, electorally, from the Melton council area into Sunbury.

Cr Ann Potter called on the minister to “open up the lines of communication”.

“Here [at Hume] we have a very fine organisation, all intact, that at the moment looks like it is going to be torn apart,”
Cr Potter said, adding that the council
had not been officially notified of the minister’s decision to appoint a panel and had heard it only via local media.

Mrs Powell denied this, telling the Weekly: “I directed my department to inform the CEO of the council of the government’s decision to establish a panel prior to making a public announcement [on Wednesday, November 27]. The establishment of a local government panel is required, under the Local Government Act, to provide advice to the government on any changes to municipal boundaries.” 

Reiterating earlier advice that panel members would be announced in the new year, along with terms of reference for their task, Mrs Powell said a key focus of the panel’s work would be ensuring the new municipality was financially viable and capable of best representing the interests of the community.

The panel will undertake extensive community consultation and consider growth projections, communities of interest, distribution of council assets and potential boundaries in making its recommendation to the government, the minister said.

Hume councillors will write to the minister seeking further meetings and ongoing discussions.