Gunning Report: Upper Lachlan 63% rate rise meeting

About 150 people attended the Gunning 63% ULSC rate rise meeting today 

At 3pm today, I attended the meeting conducted by the Upper Lachlan Shire Council at the Shire Hall in Gunning. The first thing I noticed was the presence of four armed NSW Police officers. Many residents suggested that the meeting was little more than a tick-a-box requirement for IPART for a special rate variation to increase rates by 62.85 per cent over the next three years, with a 55 per cent increase next year. 

The meeting didn't go well for the council, and the majority of people I spoke with thought that council had already made up their minds and this was an expensive way of meeting their tick-a-box requirements. 

Council were unable to answer any questions today so what we could end up with is anybody's guess.

This is my best recollection of the meeting for those who were unable to attend. If you support the rate rise, this report is not for you (one person supported the rate rise using the example of Strathfield Council in Sydney).

The meeting began with the MC, Warren [someone] (who had lived in Gunning previously) doing an acknowledgement of country. At this point I immediately called out, "We voted against this rot". Not off to a good start. (For the record, my great-grandmother was Kamilaroi and her father was most likely from Walhallow Aboriginal Mission. Her mother and grandmothers went out of their way for my great-grandmother to be an Australian. I honour that commitment.)

We then sat through a recorded presentation on a screen that was difficult to read from a distance. The video was already on YouTube:

The MC asked for any questions about the content of the presentation. The bottom line is that the only people who answered questions were Alex Waldron, previously the acting general manager who now refers to herself as the CEO, and the finance officer who could only refer us to a website for more information. Apparently minutes were taken and these will be made available at some stage.

The basic outcome of the meeting was that residents are upset and angry at the Upper Lachlan Shire Council. Councillor Lauren Woodbridge appeared to threaten that if we didn't increase rates we could lose the Gunning Library. She was met with a former mayor of ULSC telling her that she had no right to threaten ratepayers in that way. It is a shame because I daresay the people of Gunning would get behind Lauren if she represented the people who elected her instead of supporting the wasteful financial management that got us here in the first place.

None of the 90 minutes' worth of questions were answered and the only other elected representative who spoke was the mayor, Councillor Pam Kensit. I actually cannot recall what she said because it was all waffle to me.

People noted that Gunning Shire Council increased rates by some 75% (or so) before amalgamating, refuting the claim that ULSC had never increased rates beyond the amount pegged by IPART. Gunning Shire Council was also in the black before amalgamation, and everyone wanted to know how ULSC had let Gunning's roads and especially the creek become so run-down. 

I noted the dual bike lane on Saxby Street and the absence of kerb and guttering, the mural painted on the bare Besser blocks of the Gunning Scout Hall, and the drag queen readings to children at the library that we paid some $1,000 per session, and then that they had asked veterans to do so for free, and, never having had any interest in veterans beforehand, that we veterans decided not to do so as a way to justify their expensive drag queen readings. I asked which councillor would break ranks with this circle of incompetence. No answer. 

Many others had their say over a 90 minute period, including a project manager who was able to refute much of the information presented by the council staff who spoke while the councillors sat there silent. There was also a former council engineer who stated that council needed to set out the technical standards of service that were not mentioned in the report by the consultant, AEC Group. Of course, there was no meaningful response and the CEO and finance person had nothing to add.

The general response from the community was that council has not shown value for money in the use of ratepayers' funds to date, and the community does not trust them to use the proposed increased rates in a way that represents value for money.

None of our elected representatives spoke in any meaningful way. The mayor showed a complete absence of leadership by remaining silent. The MC attempted to answer questions on council's behalf a few times but was met with calls of "who are you?"

What are the proposed rate increases? And what can you do about it?

1. The proposal is as follows:

The proposal as presented by Upper Lachlan Shire Council

2. Provide feedback to ULSC using this link: Sorry it is a long link but they have buried it at the bottom of a page, so I have linked directly to where you input your feedback.

3. Sign the petition. Anne set up the hard copy petition that is all over the Shire. I set up the online version of the petition today here:

4. Write to Wendy Tuckerman, our NSW MLA, and ask her to support an e-Petition to the NSW Government to investigate the Upper Lachlan Shire Council for their toxic culture that has residents concerned for their ability to afford to continue to live in the Shire. This is serious stuff, but four generations of my family and many others served in the Australian Army so we could have these political rights. Please honour our veterans by using the very rights they dedicated their lives to. Wendy's email address is: Please let me know if she will not support our request and I will lobby another NSW MLA to support us. Please see my letter below but please modify it - politicians respond better to individualised letters rather than copies of copies...

Dear Wendy,

I would like your support to create a NSW e-Petition to have the Upper Lachlan Shire Council brought to account for a toxic culture and for its current attempt to increase rates by up to some 64 per cent next year. Despite spending on numerous virtue signalling activities and focusing on grants that fit a particular identity politics narrative championed by the ULSC general manager, they have decided to spend some $150,000 engaging a consultant to present three different scenarios to increase rates at a time when basis services are not being provided, and tip prices have increased by around 50 per cent.

I would appreciate some advice but this council is behaving in a similar manner to Wingecarribee, they are refusing to engage properly with ratepayers except in a minimalist, during work hours fashion, and they are not providing the services we currently pay for. Increasing rates will only increase waste.

Are you willing to support our petition to have the Upper Lachlan Shire Council investigated by the Local Government Minister for its toxic culture? Or perhaps suggest an alternative proposition that will bring a sense of justice to the current injustice we are experiencing?

Best wishes,


Dr Michael de Percy FRSA FCILT
30 Saxby Street
Gunning NSW 2581
+61 0457 063 286
Le Flâneur Politique ISSN 2652-8851.

Dilectio Libertas et Doctrina

5. There are people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet and one broke down while asking their question today. Please honour these people by respectfully saying "No" to an unjustified rate increase. Councils are not permanent entities - Wingecarribee Council was sacked by our local member when she was Local Government Minister. Together we can achieve anything. See here:

Further reading:

I am a political scientist and I am committed to standing up for Australia's "forgotten people". I regularly write for The Spectator and occasionally appear on Spectator TV. For over 195 years, The Spectator has supported free speech and it has done so in Australia since 2008. My articles are available online at: Please note I am not paid to write for The Spectator. Please contact me at if you have any questions or comments. Thank you.

Note: An earlier version of this article had some incorrect information that has since been amended. Thanks to those who provided the correct information.