Tingha residents risk more than a fine if they refuse to vote in the Armidale Regional Council (ARC) elections next month, warns candidate Simon Murray.
The former Guyra deputy mayor believes the tiny town could be waiting much longer than the required six months from the September 9 election for their boundary change into the Inverell Shire.
“If I was a Tingha person, I wouldn’t be betting strongly that they’re moving to Inverell soon,” he said. He felt backlash from the council amalgamations had scared the government into inaction.
“I think it’s going to take quite a while, because now that (Cootamundra MP) Katrina Hodgkinson resigned, if she loses her seat, the government won’t be doing a thing about it, because they’ll be so scared,” he said.
“The Shooters, Fishers, Farmers, they’re going to really run hard on Katrina’s seat, and if they win it, it’s going to be pretty rough on the government to continue on along this line of amalgamations and mergers and stuff.”
Mr Murray urged Tingha residents to use their votes wisely.
“What I’m hoping for is people do not do a donkey vote - you know, just go in and get their name signed - because they’ll still need someone to represent them, potentially for some time,” he said.
Despite the large pool of candidates, there are no Tingha representatives. Mr Murray said ARC is in danger of becoming too ‘city-centric’.
“There’s about four of us from outside Armidale. All of the Armidale people, all they talk about is Guyra and Armidale. They do not mention anything outside of those two localities.
“Water supply for Guyra and main street for Armidale, and the airport. That’s it. ”
Tingha resident Audrey McArdle, who served on the Guyra Council for 17 years, said nobody in town had even considered standing. She said some asked why she didn’t stand in protest.
“What’s the point?” she asked.
“I’ll be there six months and be fired.”
Mrs McArdle said locals were “very disgusted” with the inaction and frustrated to remain part of the ARC. She is concerned the town could “go backwards” without any support from Armidale.
“It’s going to be very hard for us here in Tingha,” she said. She said ARC representatives told locals they could be waiting until July 2018 to join Inverell.
To the Armidale candidates, she said, “What are your plans for Tingha?”