City of Perth Act to create a great capital for WA

Premier and Minister’s Media Statement

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

​City of Perth Act to be drafted as part of metropolitan local government reform
Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane have their own Acts of Parliament
Consultation with key stakeholders in the new year.

The State Government will draft a City of Perth Act which will establish Perth as the city’s pre-eminent council, with legislation due for introduction into State Parliament early next year.

Premier Colin Barnett said consultation with relevant parties would begin in the new year, resulting in an Act to recognise Perth as the State’s capital city and acknowledge its central role in tourism and economic development.

“Given the Government’s investment in revitalising Perth with investments such as Elizabeth Quay, the Perth City Link and Riverside, it’s timely for the City of Perth to have this special recognition,” Mr Barnett said.

“The city is the centre of business and retail activity and is the pre-eminent entertainment precinct in the State. This Act will recognise the need for it to be treated differently from other residential councils.”

The Act will also outline the City of Perth’s expanded boundaries, which will take in all of the City of Perth and the City of Vincent plus The University of Western Australia, Kings Park, the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre and the new Perth Children’s Hospital.

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

“Cabinet has this week approved the drafting of the Act which will lay the foundations for building a great capital. A bigger and stronger City of Perth will be better equipped to respond to the demands of a growing State – and better represent WA on the world stage.

“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 the Act was a high priority for the State Government.

The Act will be drafted in consultation with both the City of Perth and the current City of Vincent as well as relevant business, tourism and ratepayer associations.

Mr Simpson said the State Government’s plan for metropolitan local government reform was on track with reforms being progressively put in place.

Fact File
The new Act would operate in conjunction with the Local Government Act 1995
For more information, visit http://metroreform.dlg.wa.gov.au
Premier’s office – 6552 5000
Local Government Minister’s office – 6552 6600

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Perth council mergers: Principal argument rejected by court as protesters rally

ABC News Updated 1 minute ago Tue 25 Nov 2014, 3:56pm

Perth councils have been forced to abandon one of their principal grounds for a Supreme Court challenge to the Western Australian Government’s mergers plan.

Several councils including Subiaco, South Perth and Serpentine-Jarrahdale, claim the Government’s plan to cut Perth councils from 30 to 16 is invalid because it does not comply with the Local Government Act.

The lawyer representing the councils, Chris Shanahan, said the action was about the process and the way Local Government Minister Tony Simpson sought permission to go through with the mergers.

He argued in court that Mr Simpson had initially made the “artificial” decision to split the plan into 12 pieces to avoid giving electors the right to vote on the changes.

But after legal argument with Chief Justice Wayne Martin, Mr Shanahan conceded this did not apply to his clients because the Local Government Advisory Board had not accepted most of Mr Simpson’s proposals, and he abandoned the argument.

Mr Shanahan also claimed there was proof of extensive bias by the board’s chair, Mel Congerton, and other members in favour of the merger plans.

He revealed an email by Mr Congerton sent in July 2013.

“Let the minister know that he’s doing a great job in the trenches,” Mr Congerton purportedly wrote.

“In the words of Churchill – we will prevail.”

Justice Martin questioned whether this was relevant given it was not until later that year that the Minister announced his proposals for council mergers.

Mr Shanahan also outlined an email to Premier Colin Barnett’s by Mr Congerton where he expressed an interest in becoming a local government commissioner, as previously revealed by the ABC.

“That might give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias,” Mr Shanahan said.

He also said meetings by board members with Mr Simpson and the involvement by Local Government Department members in the board’s deliberations pointed to bias.

That argument was rejected by the lawyer representing the State Government, Craig Bydder.

He said if the board had been doing the Government’s bidding it would have gone along with its wish for a greater City of Perth, including the University of Western Australia, QEII hospital and Kings Park.

Mr Bydder agreed with Justice Martin that the most which could be said was Mr Congerton was generally supportive of the council merger plan.

Mr Shanahan also suggested local governments and electors should have been allowed to make their own proposals for boundary changes before the Local Government Advisory Board made its recommendations to Government.