New legislation would see super-size City of Perth: Colin Barnett

December 16, 2014 – 4:47PM

The City of Perth is set to more than double in size in a bid to achieve “capital city status” under proposed legislation.

Premier Colin Barnett announced on Tuesday his government had begun drafting the controversial City of Perth Act that will redraw local boundaries to include the neighbouring City of Vincent and University of WA.

The proposed act is part of a wider plan to amalgamate local councils to reduce their number from 33 to less than 20.

The WA Government plans to introduce the City of Perth Act to parliament next year, despite the Nationals pledging to oppose the amalgamation plan, and doubts over whether the Liberals have the numbers to pass it.

City of Vincent Lord Mayor John Carey has also opposed the move, saying it will strip local residents of any power to vote on the proposed Perth merger.

Mr Barnett said he was hopeful of getting the Act passed with the support of the opposition, adding the City of Vincent supported the proposal.

“The National Party has said they’re going to basically exempt themselves from any discussions about metropolitan councils – that’s probably the reality – but I would expect the Labor Party to support this,” he said.

However, Mr Barnett admitted he hadn’t spoken to Opposition Leader Mark McGowan about the proposal, and that there was no “Plan B” should it fail.

“The City of Perth supports it, the Town of Vincent supports it, the University of WA supports it, the state government – all the major institutions in the state – support it, the business community and tourism industry support it,” he told reporters.

“It will bring several features that are Perth’s great selling points under one council which makes good sense from a planning and tourism point of view.

“I think the vast majority of people in Western Australia believe we should have a proper pact to define the capital city of this state.

“It will give the city the status it should hold as Australia’s west coast capital and an increasingly important city in the Asia region.”

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said it would be his “number one priority” to get the legislation passed next year.

The expanded boundaries will include the current City of Perth, City of Vincent, UWA Kings Park QEII Medical Centre and the new Perth Children’s Hospital.

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.