Although seating was provided for 110, only 59 Cootamundra residents turned up on Wednesday to be speakers or observers at the NSW Boundaries Commission's inquiry into the proposal to de-amalgamate the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.
Expecting high demand, and with Covid-19 restrictions to keep in mind, the Commission spread its hearing over three sessions, at 11am, 1.45pm and 4pm, and asked intending speakers and observers to register beforehand in case demand for places exceeded supply.
However the anticipated high demand didn't come, and the meetings were characterised by having many empty chairs.
The 11am session had 21 people in attendance, the 1.45pm session had 25, and the 4pm had only 13.
The meetings were live-streamed by video as they occurred, and it's thought that some people who had registered to attend may have changed their minds when they learned about the ability to view proceedings live from home or office.
The full proceedings will be available on the Boundaries Commission website from around midday on Friday, at the web address https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/commissions-and-tribunals/local-government-boundaries-commission/
The four members of the Commission listened attentively and took notes as people spoke. The chairperson, Bob Sendt, introduced each session. The other three members were Grant Gleeson, Councillor Rick Firman and Councillor Lesley Furneaux-Cook.
They were accompanied by three administrative support personnel, who checked registration, measured temperatures and ensured Covid regulations were adhered to and operated the video equipment.
In Cootamundra, speakers, who included a number of Gundagai visitors, were almost unanimously in favour of de-amalgamation, with only one - Councillor Gil Kelly - having a slightly different viewpoint.
Cr Kelly, who spoke at the 4pm session, said he hadn't been especially interested in local government until he decided to run for election, and so didn't have any formative experience of the previous shire council structure.
He therefore didn't have any strong views one way or another about amalgamation, and was happy with how Cootamundra and Gundagai councillors had been able to lead the discussions about issues affecting their respective districts.
Speakers at the first session were CGRC deputy mayor Dennis Palmer, followed by Tom Gosling, Geoff Moore, Nina Piotrowicz, Ronald Kirkland, and Peter Gain.
Speakers at the second session were CGRC general manager Phil McMurray, Isabel Scott, Mark Maynard, Leigh Bowden, Rob Junge, Charlie Sheahan, Phil Quamby, Peter Close and Mayor, Abb McAlister.
Speakers at the third session were Mitch McTavish, Paul Mara and Gil Kelly.