October 23, 2014, 1:35 pm
Senior Barnett minister John Day breaks ranks to back ratepayer input into Kalamunda merger plan.
John Day, one of the most senior ministers of the Barnett Government, has broken ranks over the proposed council merger in his electorate of Kalamunda by arguing it needs to be put to ratepayers.
The proposed mergers of the Shire of Kalamunda with the City of Belmont and Shire of Mundaring with the City of Swan were among councils Colin Barnett yesterday announced would be achieved via boundary adjustments rather than amalgamations.
Under boundary adjustments, two local governments are brought together by “adjusting” one of their borders around both of them while reducing the other’s down to nothing, and ratepayers do not get a say.
Amalgamations are done under the Local Government Act, giving ratepayers the right to vote, and can be vetoed if a majority of once council’s electors turn up to vote ‘no’.
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Mr Day, who is Planning Minister and Leader of the Government in the Lower House, said he could understand the concerns of ratepayers in his electorate over not getting a vote on boundary changes.
“I do share their concern about the proposed process to bring Kalamunda and Belmont together and I’ve made that very clear over the last couple of months and in my view it does need to be the more equitable and fairer process of the amalgamation method being used rather than one local government completely absorbing the other,” he said.
“So that’s a work in progress. I’ll be working with the Shire of Kalamunda and within the Government to get what I think is a fair and equitable outcome for the Shire of Kalamunda and the same applies also for the Shire of Mundaring in the proposed merger with the City of Swan.”
Asked why he accepted the model as a member of Cabinet, Mr Day suggested the support only extended to the new entities – not the method by which they were to be created.
“What has been said in fact is that the Government accepts the boundaries which are proposed (by the Local Government Advisory Board), with the exception of around UWA and the QEII medical centre, but that each individual proposal will be considered on a case by case basis as to how it is implemented,” he said.
Mr Day said it was “not completely consistent” for the LGAB to recommend some councils be merged via boundary changes while others be achieved via an amalgamation.
“That’s not for me to explain but it’s for me to deal with as a local member,” he said.
“It is a significant local issue in the Kalamunda district. I’m very well aware of that.”
Mr Day said there were advantages to the Shire of Kalamunda merging with the City of Belmont – such as Perth Airport and surrounding industrial land being located in one local government, which was better from a planning standpoint.
“There is a good rationale as to the proposed outcome. How we get there is really important and I have always said it needs to be fair and equitable to all and that’s something I am continuing to work on,” he said.