Parliamentary Motion: Local Government Amalgamations

The Shadow Minister for Local Government, David Templeman, sent the following to CEOs,   Mayors, Presidents and Elected Members,

On Wednesday 26 November 2014, I moved the following motion:
That this house –
(a) Condemns the Premier and the Minister for Local Government for allowing, through its forced amalgamations process, some communities in the metropolitan area an opportunity to have a poll under the Dadour provisions in the Local Government Act 1995 about their local council’s future, while others have not been given that democratic right; and
(b) Further, supports all affected communities having a right to a poll on their council’s future.

Extract from Hansard

[ASSEMBLY — Wednesday, 26 November 2014] p8879b-8894a

Mr David Templeman; Mrs Michelle Roberts; Mr Dave Kelly; Mr Bill Johnston; Mr Tony Simpson

[1] LOCAL GOVERNMENT — AMALGAMATIONS — POLL PROVISIONS

Motion MR D.A. TEMPLEMAN (Mandurah) [5.05 pm]: I move — That this house — (a) condemns the Premier and the Minister for Local Government for allowing, through its forced amalgamation process, some communities in the metropolitan area an opportunity to have a poll under the Dadour provisions in the Local Government Act 1995 about their local council’s future, while others have not been given that democratic right; and (b) further, supports all affected communities having a right to a poll on their council’s future.

Mr D.A. TEMPLEMAN: This house has debated numerous motions about the government’s forced amalgamation process in the metropolitan area. It has been an elongated, mishmash of goalpost changing, deceitful tactics and deceitful actions by the government and the minister. It has been a flawed process. No economic business case or model has been presented to support its purpose and it is based on a broken promise to the people of Western Australia prior to the March 2013 election.

The ACTING SPEAKER: Excuse me, member. I just need to direct you that you cannot call a minister of the Crown deceitful. You asserted that. I am just warning you, that is all.

Mr D.A. TEMPLEMAN: I will amend that to a deceitful government. We know the history of this process, we have gone through it on numerous occasions and I am not going to go through it again. A number of weeks ago, the Local Government Advisory Board made recommendations to the Minister for Local Government about what local government should look like post-2015. The board recommended that a range of councils either merge or dissolve and split into other entities through amalgamation or boundary changes. The minister indicated that he has accepted all but two of the board’s recommendations. We have been left with some communities in the metropolitan area affected by the changes to local government that will have an opportunity to take part in a poll through the Dadour provisions of the Local Government Act, which are triggered and enacted when certain things occur. The Dadour provisions were inserted into the act some decades ago —

Mr A.J. Simpson: It was in 1974.

Mr D.A. TEMPLEMAN: Sorry—in 1974. The minister and Premier argued in previous debates that the Dadour provisions are undemocratic. They have stated that on a number of occasions. Continue reading

Calls for chairman on council advisory board to resign after attempts to line up another job

By Jessica Strutt Updated about 11 hours agoWed 12 Nov 2014, 9:14pm

There are calls for the chairman of an independent board that advises the WA Government on new council boundaries to be sacked, after it emerged he asked to be considered for another job as a local government commissioner.

The Opposition said it was further evidence that Local Government Advisory Board chairman Mel Congerton had multiple conflict of interests in performing the role and has compromised the independence of the body. In October last year the ABC revealed that Mr Congerton was a long-term member of the Liberal Party, which led the Opposition to question the Government’s claim that the board was independent.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson has confirmed his office did receive correspondence from Mr Congerton on August 22 last year in which the chairman expressed an interest in being appointed a commissioner should the need arise.

Opposition spokesman David Templeman said it was a clear conflict of interest and a bad look for both the Government and the minister. “This latest example clearly shows that when the Local Government Advisory Board was actually receiving the proposals for boundary changes, and indeed for amalgamation proposals, Mr Congerton was also emailing the Minister’s office saying ‘if there’s a commissioner’s job coming up please consider me’,” he said. “That’s totally inappropriate and he should not now be chairing the important independent body.”

The State Government has recently released details of its plans to slash the number of metropolitan councils from 30 to 16. The board played an integral role in making recommendations to the Government on the new proposed council boundaries. Under the Government’s plans, new local governments would be established from July next year, in some cases under the guidance of State Government-appointed commissioners. The salary commissioners earn varies depending on the number appointed to each council and the length of time they spend in the role. Local government sources put the annual salary at between $60,000 and $130,000.

Mr Simpson today described Mr Congerton raising interest in a commissioner role in the email as inappropriate but denied there was a conflict of interest. “Yes, very inappropriate, I’ve made it quite clear to Mel that in no way would he ever be becoming a commissioner while I’m the minister,” he said. Mr Congerton said today that in hindsight it probably was inappropriate of him to have put it in writing. “I never progressed it any further,” he said. “It was part of banter with the (Minister’s) chief-of-staff. I have not discussed the matter since with the Minister.”

Nationals Cross the Floor Over Council Mergers

ABC News
By Jacob Kagi
Updated Thu at 11:00amThu 11 Sep 2014, 11:00am

Tensions between the two State Government partners have flared again, with the Nationals crossing the floor to vote with Labor against local government reform.

All six present Nationals MPs sided with the Opposition in the Lower House during debate on a Labor motion to oppose the “forced council amalgamations process in the metropolitan area”.

The Nationals had initially been supportive of the Liberals’ plan to reduce the number of Perth councils, but voted unanimously at their state conference at the weekend to oppose the plans due to fears the regions were next.

Labor MP David Templeman said on the back of the Nationals also voicing opposition to the prospect of privatising the state betting agency, the TAB, there was “chaos” within Government.

“The divisions are getting deeper and deeper,” he said.

“I think it demonstrates that there are some deep-seated problems now in the Government, and the leader of the Nationals and the Premier are now at loggerheads on another issue.

“The National Party siding with the Opposition is a sign of chaos within the Government … this sets up a lot of distrust.”

The Nationals hold seven seats in the Lower House and five in the Upper House. The Liberals hold a majority in the Lower House, without the support of the Nationals.