Ratepayers head to WA Parliament to demand say on council mergers

By Jessica Strutt
Posted yesterday at 6:23pmTue 18 Nov 2014, 6:23pm

Ratepayers converge on WA Parliament Ratepayers have taken their petitions opposing the council merger process to Parliament. (ABC News: Jessica Strutt)

Ratepayers have converged on Western Australia’s Parliament to present petitions demanding a say on planned council mergers.

The Government is slashing the number of councils in metropolitan Perth from 30 to 16, but only residents in six council areas will be able to vote on the mergers.

A combination of amalgamations and boundary adjustments is being used to cut the number of councils.

Only councils being amalgamated get to vote on the process, but the Government has refused to explain on what basis it was decided which councils will be merged using boundary adjustments, and which will be joined using amalgamations.

Residents in a number of disaffected local governments have organised petitions with thousands of signatures demanding the right to hold a Dadour poll.

Save Serpentine Jarrahdale group’s Jackie Dines said her group had attracted 500 signatures from local residents in one week.

“In the community nobody wants to see their local government area be renamed,” she said.

“At the very least give us our democratic right to have a vote on what happens, [but] they’re not doing that.”

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan accepted the petitions outside Parliament after Local Government Minister Tony Simpson refused to do so.

Mr McGowan said the Government’s process was “a dog’s breakfast” and was disempowering ratepayers.

“The Government has ignored community views and wishes,” he said.

“This is the Premier and the Liberal Party running roughshod over local communities.

“We live in a democratic state and the Premier and the Liberal Party are ignoring basic democratic principles and that’s pretty shameful.”

Quizzed about whether he would grant ratepayers in all local governments access to a poll, Premier Colin Barnett indicated he would not.

“That’s not the law, and what we have said is we have accepted the recommendation as to the structure of local government,” he said.

“We will proceed progressively one by one and I think in time, most local governments will agree.

“This is some sort of rearguard action to stop a modern, functional system of local government for younger generations and generations to follow.”

Residents in the City of Kwinana, which the Government plans to merge with the City of Cockburn, are entitled to vote because their local government is being amalgamated.

At a special meeting today, Kwinana Council voted unanimously to support its community to hold a poll on the proposed amalgamation.

Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams said the decision was made after about 500 signatures were collected in favour of residents having access to a poll.

She estimated the cost to ratepayers of the poll would be $50,000.

“We resolved it’s not in the best overall interest of the Kwinana community that we amalgamate because of the high transition costs, no additional funding on offer from the Government and no ward representation,” she said.

WSA Public Forum 26 November 2012 – a presentation by Heather Henderson

A presentation by Mayor Heather Henderson 

The recently release  of the final report from the Metropolitan Local Government Review Panel foreshadows the most significant changes we have seen in the history of Western Australian local government.

One of the recommendations in the report, which poses a real and immediate threat to our communities is the amalgamation of the seven western suburbs local governments.

The western suburbs have undoubtedly been a target for amalgamations since the state government began its reform agenda about four years ago. Continue reading

WSA Public Forum 26 November 2012 – by Heather Henderson

Amalgamation

Written by Heather Henderson, Mayor of the City of Subiaco

  The recently release  of the final report from the Metropolitan Local Government Review Panel foreshadows the most significant changes we have seen in the history of Western Australian local government.

One of the recommendations in the report, which poses a real and immediate threat to our communities –  is the amalgamation of the seven western suburbs local governments.

The western suburbs have undoubtedly been a target for amalgamations since the state government began its reform agenda about four years ago.

In 2009, the state government asked local governments to participate in voluntary amalgamations. The cities of Subiaco and Nedlands were the only local governments in the metro area that responded. We formed a three-way partnership with the state government by creating a regional transition group .The group went through the state government’s process of developing a feasibility study, which was designed to look at the costs and benefits of a merger between Subiaco and Nedlands.

When the feasibility study was complete, we took it to our communities for comment. Despite the predicted annual savings of around $3 or $4million, the City of Subiaco community strongly rejected an amalgamation. The primary reasons for this rejection were to retain the city’s independence, the unique sense of identity and local democracy. Continue reading

WSA Public Forum – 26 November 2012 – Report

Second WSA Public Forum, Church of Christ Hall, 260 Bagot Road, Subiaco, Monday 26 November, 2012. 

Posted November 27, 2012 by Western Suburbs Alliance

Following the highly successful, well-attended first WSA public forum held in Cottesloe on October 11, local mayors, councillors and other high-profile citizens again spoke, this time in regard to the following issues:

• The state government’s stated intention to force through amalgamations, if necessary by Act of Parliament, rather than by democratic means.

• New state planning laws which give dictatorial powers to the Planning Minister.

• The State appointed Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) which now control major development approvals including those on reserve land.

• The DAPs consist of three state government-appointed ‘specialist members’, one of whom is the Presiding Member, and two local council representatives and they give right of appeal to developers but deny such right to councils and communities.

• Planning processes that are totally lacking in transparency and accountability.

• The inappropriate and out-of-scale developments the state government and developers are forcing upon Subiaco, Nedlands, Cottesloe, Stirling Highway, the Perth Waterfront and elsewhere in the metropolitan area and beyond.

• The flurry of planning applications from developers and further erosion of our democratic rights that can be expected after the next election.

Under the Chairmanship of Richard Diggins OAM (former Mayor of Subiaco), the speakers were:

On amalgamation issues:

Heather Henderson (Mayor , City of Subiaco)

Max Hipkins (Mayor, City of Nedlands) – Video of presentation

Ron Norris (Mayor, Town of Mosman Park)

Ken Eastwood AM (Former national CPA president)

On planning issues:

Hon. Lynn MacLaren (MLC )

Julie Matheson (Councillor, City of Subiaco)

A Q & A session followed, involving the above speakers plus Wayne Monks (Independent candidate for Churchlands). Again at the end of the forum there was a unanimous show of hands in response to the following questions:

1. How many of you feel that the government’s centralisation of planning powers and disenfranchisement of local government is unacceptable, that the DAPS should be terminated, and the right of appeal restored and public open spaces should be preserved?

2. How many of you would support a statement of no confidence in the Planning Minister, John Day?

3. How many of you would say ‘No local government reorganisation without majority community support’?