June 25, 2012, 2:15 am
High-profile western suburbs professionals and community leaders have united to rally against the Barnett Government on multiple policy fronts as disquiet grows in the Liberal Party’s heartland.
The Western Suburbs Alliance, a union of interest groups, says the Government has presided over “an erosion of our democratic rights”.
It says its actions have caused a “growing wave of fear, anger and alienation across the western suburbs”. Key issues include high-rise rows in Cottesloe, Dalkeith and Subiaco, the Elizabeth Quay project on the Perth foreshore, local council mergers and “draconian” planning reforms such as development assessment panels.
Critically, the alliance vows to back candidates sympathetic to its causes at next year’s State election.
A letter for the group’s planned launch this week said approaches to local Liberal MPs had been “to no avail”. In contrast, wealthy businessmen and international firms had private access to Colin Barnett and his ministers for $25,000 at a so-called Leaders’ Forum.
“We elect people to represent us in Government; we then expect open consultation and constructive dialogue,” the letter says.
The more than 30 signatories include lawyer John Hammond, architect and City Gatekeepers’ spokesman Linley Lutton, Emeritus Professor Martyn Webb, Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins and Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan.
“It’s not a few spot fires because there’s a whole lot of people who are upset,” Mr Hammond, who heads Keep Cott Low, said yesterday.
The area includes the seats of the Premier (Cottesloe), Environment Minister Bill Marmion (Nedlands) and Education Minister and independent MP Liz Constable (Churchlands) which the Liberals hope to retake when she retires at the March election.
Political analyst Harry Phillips said upsets would be a tough task but a high-profile independent getting Labor and Greens preferences had “a good chance”.
“If I was the Government, I’d be just nervous at this stage,” he said.
Mr Barnett said the Government was making the right decisions in the interests of all in the State. He said the Cottesloe and Perth waterfront debates had gone on for decades and it was “generally accepted” WA had too many councils.
The West Australian