Anti-merger Councils Confident of Supreme Court Hearing

Shire of Kalamunda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

15 September 2014

 ANTI-MERGER COUNCILS CONFIDENT OF SUPREME COURT HEARING

Councils opposing forced amalgamations in the WA Supreme Court have been told by Chief Justice Martin the case will be heard on 25th November 2014.

The Council merger plans by the Minister for Local Government are being challenged by the Cities of Subiaco, South Perth and the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale, along with former Vincent Councillor Ian Ker.

Their Supreme Court action is being supported by the 12-member Councils for Democracy, including the Shire of Kalamunda.

Kalamunda Shire President Sue Bilich said “Chief Justice Martin signed consent orders last week enabling the case to proceed to hearing”.

The signing of consent orders means both sides have agreed to produce documents in support of their arguments ready for  the hearing on 25th November 2014.

“The Councils and their legal team are confident that there is a case for the Minister and the Local Government Advisory Board to answer and that this could be a turning point for local government reform, Mrs Bilich said.

The Minister for Local Government Tony Simpson received the report on local government reform from the Local Government Advisory Board last week and told media on Friday he was yet to read the 652 page report in its entirety or brief his colleagues.

He said he was waiting for the second part of the report which is still with the Advisory Board. Under the Local Government Act, the Minister can accept or reject the recommendations but not change them

The Supreme Court challenge against him alleges the Minister’s conduct was unlawful and misleading when he induced Councils to submit merger proposals, circumventing the Dadour Provisions which would give residents a vote by poll, and it challenges the impartiality of LGAB members, some of whom are government employees or who represent affected Councils.

It is understood that if the Minister seeks to act on the report before completion of the legal action, that the Councils and Mr I Ker will apply for an injunction from the Supreme Court.”

Mrs Bilich said; “A large majority of Shire of Kalamunda residents have been vocal in their objection to the proposed merger with Belmont and in February this year Electors attended the Annual General Meeting of the Shire and moved motions to fight this battle in the courts if need be. It appears that request is now coming to fruition and I am very pleased and proud to know we have a fiercely  independent thinking community in the Shire. This has been a fight for democracy through and through and it seems that people power may prevail in the end and we will either get to vote on our  future or we will stop the process. Both of which are acceptable outcomes for the community.”

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