Protesters carry ‘Coffin of Democracy’

ABC News 25 November 2014

Prior to the hearing protesters carried what they called the “coffin of democracy” from the Concert Hall along St Georges Terrace to the front steps of the court.

Save Kalamunda Shire Action Group convenor Alan Malcolm was among the 30 protesters who accompanied the fake coffin in a mock funeral procession.

Alan Malcolm Save Kalamunda Action Group
PHOTO: Alan Malcolm from the Save Kalamunda Shire Action Group, dressed as an undertaker for today’s protest against the process of merging councils. (ABC News: Natasha Harradine)
He said the forced amalgamations were undemocratic.

“We believe the Government has sought throughout this entire process to deny people their democratic right to vote on forced amalgamations, first of all by seeking to remove the Dadour provision from the Local Government Act and then by making these forced mergers,” he said.

Mr Malcolm also criticised Mr Barnett’s move to force the mergers.

“We believe he’s burying the democratic process and this is a symbolic attempt to highlight that they are, in fact, burying democracy,” he said.

“Democracy is not something political, it’s the bedrock, the foundation of the entire political system.

“It’s about asking or demanding our democratic right to vote on something we believe we should be entitled to have a democratic vote on, that is the forced amalgamations or mergers of most of, or nearly all the cities, shires and councils within the Perth metropolitan area.”

The State Government last month rejected the Local Government Advisory Board’s recommendation for merging the five western suburbs councils of Peppermint Grove, Claremont, Nedlands, Mosman Park and Cottesloe into one.

The Premier made it clear the Government still planned to move on the western suburbs merger at some point, but refused to explain how it would achieve that.

There are provisions in the Local Government Act for ratepayers to have a vote over planned mergers through what is called as a Dadour poll.

But because some mergers were being done through a boundary adjustment rather than an amalgamation, not all residents will have a say, which sparked claims that the process is undemocratic.

Mayors predicted rates would have to increase to pay for the Government’s plans after it only allocated $60 million for the merger process.

Of that sum, $45 million was in the form of loans.

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.”

Day Breaks Ranks on Council Mergers

Daniel Emerson
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’.
BATTLE FOR BURSWOOD BREWS

WESTERN SUPER CITY ON HOLD, NATS BLOCK VISION

SEE THE NEW COUNCIL BOUNDARIES

THE NEW COUNCIL BOUNDARIES EXPLAINED
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.

WA Government to legislate to expand City of Perth

WA Government to legislate to expand City of Perth, confer special powers
Updated Sat at 6:30amSat 18 Oct 2014, 6:30am
The City of Perth boundaries may be expanded to include Burswood and UWA under government plans. (By Florence Roca)
RELATED STORY: Perth will not get Burswood in proposed council boundaries

RELATED STORY: Liberal infighting over Perth taking Burswood

RELATED STORY: Simpson, Barnett clash over boundaries reform advice

The City of Perth will grow to include the University of WA (UWA) and the City of Vincent under legislation being planned by the State Government.

The move would also see Perth get special powers to recognise it as a capital city.

Premier Colin Barnett had previously called for the City of Perth to be expanded to include some of the key assets it had been lobbying for, including UWA and QEII Medical Centre.

But it is understood the Local Government Advisory Board had not recommended these areas in its review of council boundaries.

Mr Barnett said today legislative change would be needed to properly recognise the city as the state’s capital, similar to what had been done in other states.

“So there’s a number of aspects, there is City of Melbourne legislation and other states also have specialist legislation for their capital cities,” he said.

“But yes, we are looking to legislate.”