Perth Metropolitan blog sites on Amalgamations

Julie Matheson

There are a lot of hard-working people trying to make sense of the Premier’s desire to reduce the number of Perth metropolitan councils down from 30 to 15.

Many have turned their hand at making their concerns available to the public through a blog site.

The blog sites I have come across with information that might be of interest to members of the public are listed below:

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Legislation for bigger City of Perth set to be sunk as Liberals line up to cross floor on proposal


PREMIER Colin Barnett’s plan to legislate a supersized City of Perth is set for the scrap heap, with members of his own party vowing to vote against it.

Mr Barnett’s former police minister, Rob Johnson, declared he would oppose the proposal when it was debated in State Parliament.

Mr Johnson said other Liberals were lining up to cross the floor, with Upper House MP Simon O’Brien speaking out against it.

In the Lower House, 21 Labor MPs, seven Nationals MPs and now Mr Johnson are set to join forces to try to defeat the Bill in the 59-member Legislative Assembly.

If just one more Liberal MP crosses the floor on this issue in the Assembly, the Bill will be defeated.

Mr Johnson said the City of Perth Act, which involved ­expanding boundaries to incl­ude major institutions such as the University of WA in a new Perth locality, robbed people of a vote on the issue.

He said he would not support “forced amalgamations”.

“It’s a question of arrogance.” Mr Johnson said. “(Mr Barnett) knows there are people within the Liberal Party who are opposed to the City of Perth Act and forced amalgamations.”

Mr O’Brien also vented his anger at the proposal, saying: “Apart from Colin (Barnett), I don’t know of anyone else on the planet who is for what is being proposed in local government.”

Mr Johnson’s plan to cross the floor is a major blow for Mr Barnett, who would not comment yesterday. He is already struggling to get enough numbers to pass his planned Act.

In the Upper House, the Liberals’ partner in government, the Nationals – who hold the balance of power – have already indicated they will not support it.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said: “WA Labor will not support any laws that remove the right for a local ­referendum or have vote weighting”.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said: “It would be a travesty if our members in State Government did not support this. It is incumbent on each of them to understand the merit of a stronger capital city and the tangible benefits it will deliver.”


From “The Maxwell Fish & Chip Wrapper” January 2015 Written by Victoria Park Councillor Vince Maxwell

This is a rare and unusual event and it was only through the hard work by a few residents of the Town that has made it possible for you to have a say. The outcome of this poll is binding on the State Government under the Local Government Act. Many people who live in the Town have migrated from countries where democracy either doesn’t exist or is abused by those in power. Democracy is a fragile thing and needs to be protected. This has been demonstrated in the past where our predecessors were prepared to fight and some gave their lives to ensure we have the freedom we enjoy today – We cannot take it for granted – let our governments at all levels know that we want to maintain our democratic rights by participating in this poll. Politics is the science of living together – although some let the power and responsibility go to their heads, it is no reason for us to sit idly by. We must ensure that our democracy remains strong and not allow any one person on a power trip take it away from us. The ballot package that you have received from the Australian Electoral Commission contains an information sheet that lists the for and against arguments for an amalgamation. This information was provided by the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB). Unfortunately the arguments put forward are very simplistic opinions that are not supported by evidence.

One argument is that the Town will be more sustainable – however the WA treasuries modelling that was used by the LGAB demonstrates the opposite. The Treasuries own figures show that the Towns current rating of 70, which incidentally is the Ministers preferred minimum level, will drop to 68 upon amalgamation with South Perth. In the future a modest improvement is shown but, like forecasting the weather, the further into the future you look the less accurate the prediction. Conclusion: this claim is unsubstantiated.

Another argument is that a larger local government can employ more expensive staff but is that what we need? The CEO of Victoria Park already earns in excess of $240,000 and senior staff receive over $170,000. Larger Councils automatically pay these staff at a higher rate as this is determined by the State salaries and remuneration tribunal – it is not a free market. The pay scales are set and there is minimal range within each band to pay someone more or less to match their capability. The range is determined by the size of the Local Government. For example larger Councils like Canning and Wanneroo have almost twice as many senior staff and the total Senior staff wages bill is almost double indicating that little will be saved by forming a larger Council. No cost benefit analysis has been done by the State Government or the Town. We are sailing into unknown territory.

Professor of economics and Director of the UNE Centre for Local Government, Brian Dollery, in correspondence with me stated that he agreed with my calculation of the likely costs and concluded by writing “It seems to me that many Perth councils are sleepwalking towards big financial problems stemming from amalgamation.” Former secretary to the NSW Treasury, Professor Percy Allan (AM), in a presentation in October to the Committee for economic development of Australia (CEDA) reported that Local Governments in Australia were quite large by world standards averaging more than 40,000 residents compared to USA 7,981 and the European Union 5,693. Post amalgamation a number of Perth Councils will be over 100,000 residents! 12.5 times the average in USA & 17.6 times the EU! His report continues ….Yet, researchers both here and abroad have found that larger councils do not exhibit lower unit costs of servicing than smaller ones. It has been found that some council functions are done best on a large scale while other tasks are performed better on a small scale. “Smaller units are the most democratic and participative, and also the most efficient.”

Amalgamations in every other jurisdiction in Australia have resulted in higher rates, reduced services, and less representation. If for some reason it was to be different in Perth then the Government has failed to show how. The State government has not provided any financial modelling.

Barnett to retire from WA politics after Burswood stadium opens



· JANUARY 03, 2015 6:00PM
WA Premier Colin Barnett is tipped to step down in 2018 if he wins 2017 election.
PREMIER Colin Barnett will retire from politics after he tosses the coin at Perth’s new football stadium, according to informed sources.

If he wins a third term at the 2017 election, it is understood Mr Barnett will remain as Premier to see the Burswood stadium open the 2018 AFL season and retire later that year.

Insiders were also adamant that Mr Barnett would not spend any time on the backbench if he steps down as Premier – leaving his prized Cottesloe seat open for a newcomer.

The 64-year-old announced in October that he would vie for a third term as Premier.

The latest Newspoll, published in The Australian this week, shows he is in good stead with the electorate.

The primary vote for the Liberal-National coalition is currently at 42 per cent compared with the Opposition’s 33 per cent.

In September, Mr Barnett will clock up seven years as Premier.

Mr Barnett this week refused to answer questions put to him by The Sunday Times about whether he would serve out a full term of government if he won the 2017 poll.

Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said he had an “obligation to come clean and tell West Australians whether or not he will commit to a full term”.

Political analyst Harry Phillips said he expected Mr Barnett would not serve out a full third term of government if he won the 2017 poll.

“In the modern era, serving even five years as Premier is a big job and he would have served nine years as Premier by 2017,” Dr Phillips said.

“The problem that Colin Barnett has got is that if he goes to the 2017 poll saying he will stand down after the election that will weaken him.

“So I’d expect him to say he will do a full term if he wins.

“But I think there would be a fair expectation from the public that Mr Barnett will at least do two years of a third term as leader and do a good job while he is there.”

Sir David Brand was WA’s longest service Premier, leading the state for 11 years and 11 months.

Mr Barnett would need to remain Premier until September 2020 to beat that record.