Opening remarks by Colin Latchem
As Chairman of the Western Suburbs Alliance Inc or WSA, I’m pleased to welcome you all to tonight’s forum. It’s gratifying to see so many of you taking the trouble to come and take part in this event.
WSA was formed by members of community groups in Claremont, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove, Nedlands and Subiaco. Its launch was marked by the publication of a letter in the POST newspaper of July 1, 2012. Signed by 38 mayors, former mayors, councillors and other high-profile citizens, this expressed concerns about the new state planning laws which give dictatorial powers to the Minister for Planning. Since then our membership and donations to the cause have grown dramatically. We have also received supportive calls from all over the metropolitan area and beyond. As you will hear tonight, we are also faced with forcible amalgamation of our councils. This is all part of the centralization of control by the Barnett government and erosion of our democratic rights.
The Robson Report recommends reducing the number of councils in Metropolitan Perth to 12, council elections to be mandatory and party political nominations to be permitted. Premier Barnett made it clear from the start that he wanted amalgamation and says that if necessary, amalgamations will be enforced by an Act of Parliament. He is deliberately delaying any decision on this issue until after the March 9 election.
The Approvals and Related Reforms (No. 4) Planning Act, 2010 represents the biggest change in WA’s planning laws since 1928. Development Assessment Panels or DAPs make decisions on all developments over $7m – or between $3 – 7m at the discretion of the ‘applicant’. They are made up of 3 ‘technical specialist’ members (mostly private consultants) and 2 council members. The developers have right of appeal. The councils don’t have this right. And the Planning Minister and the newly formed Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority can rezone any part of the Metropolitan Region, taking planning and development controls away our local councils
You will hear more from our speakers on these amalgamation and planning issues.
WSA is not against change, not against development, and not against local government re-organisation. What it is against is the ruination of our built and natural environment by developments that are totally out of character with our lifestyle and aspirations, the deliberate disempowerment and marginalising our councils and communities and enforced local government reorganisation without any strong evidence of the benefits and cost benefits and a fair and open system for voting on the proposals.