More than 20 sacked mayors have banded together to protest against the Baird government's council merger process at NSW parliament.
"Keep hope alive, this battle is not lost".
That's the rallying cry opposition leader Luke Foley had for more than 20 sacked mayors who converged at NSW parliament after being unceremoniously dumped under the Baird government's council amalgamations.
The merger process, which has seen hundreds of councillors sacked, 19 new councils created and unelected administrators in control until September 2017, was like an international coup, Mr Foley said.
"An entire tier of government, democratically elected by the people, has been thrown out by a premier with the stroke of a pen," Mr Foley told the Labor-convened forum.
The Labor leader, who was joined by Sydney shock jock Alan Jones at the Summit of Sacked Mayors, also pledged to wind back the mergers through a plebiscite in 2019.
Jones attacked Premier Mike Baird for not listening to the community.
"This debate has been characterised by untruth and lies," he told the crowd.
He pointed to a letter from the previous Coalition opposition which said council amalgamations "should not be forced by state government intervention".
The letter had been signed by then Liberal and National Party leaders Barry O'Farrell, and Andrew Stoner, as well as the now-minister for Local Government Paul Toole, Mr Jones said.
Jones, a long-time critic of forced mergers, also flagged the potential that Mr Toole would lose his endorsement in the NSW Nationals over the issue.
But Mr Toole said he would continue in his role.
"What we are doing is fundamentally about putting the community and ratepayers first," he told AAP.
The state government had been advised by the Electoral Commission that it was impossible to hold elections for the merging councils earlier than September 2017, Mr Toole said.
The amalgamations controversy has been intensifying since May, with the government facing questions over the role auditing firm KPMG had in analysing the case for mergers.
At least two meetings of the newly-created councils have been shut down by protesters in recent weeks, including one in Sydney's inner west which descended into chaos after council workers were spat at and jostled.
Several of the mergers are also under scrutiny in the Land and Environment Court. The state government was last week forced to put the merger of Strathfield, Burwood and Canada Bay councils on hold due to a "legal technicality" in the delegate report making the case for the proposal.