Originally posted by Ian Ker on his Vincent Blogspot – 11 November 2014
Time and time again, during this chaotic and drawn-out so-called reform process, WALGA has embarrassed itself and the local government sector by not adequately reflecting the views of local Councils. We shall probably never know the extent to which this is the result of Troy Pickard’s imposing himself on the organisation, but it is clear that any supposedly representative organisation that doesn’t reflect the diversity of views held by its members is not serving their interests.
WALGA has consistently supported the amalgamation thrust without acknowledging that many of its members oppose it.
Of late, WALGA pronouncements appear to align more with the state government and keeping its process on track than on making sure the outcome is sensible and supported. It almost seems as though the apparent chastisement of the state government for providing inadequate funding for the process is a smoke-screen to draw attention away from WALGA’s sycophancy.
The WALGA model, with zones and State Council, is yet another example of systematic concentration of power at the expense of diversity and democracy.
Each Council is part of a WALGA Zone. Each zone considers an issue and ‘instructs’ its delegates to State Council, where WALGA policy is determined.
It is easy to see how this model can lead to perverse or undemocratic outcomes. In the case of local government so-called reform, the western suburbs councils and Vincent are all but one of the members of the Central Zone (the other being the City of Perth). The Central Zone, therefore, might be expected to have a large majority view against amalgamations.
Other metropolitan zones are likely to be more evenly split between potential ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.
So we can easily have a majority of zones, but a minority of councils, in favour of amalgamations.
Perhaps scrapping WALGA would be a step too far, although the City of Nedlands seems to be faring quite well without it, but it clearly needs to change and become more representative of the diversity of views held by its members.
In the case of local government reform, I wonder how long it will take for the representatives of non-metropolitan councils to catch up with the admirable and realistic position adopted by the National Party.