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.

Time To Scrap WALGA And Start Again

Originally posted by Ian Ker on his Vincent Blogspot – 11 November 2014

Time and time again, during this chaotic and drawn-out so-called reform process, WALGA has embarrassed itself and the local government sector by not adequately reflecting the views of local Councils. We shall probably never know the extent to which this is the result of Troy Pickard’s imposing himself on the organisation, but it is clear that any supposedly representative organisation that doesn’t reflect the diversity of views held by its members is not serving their interests.

WALGA has consistently supported the amalgamation thrust without acknowledging that many of its members oppose it.

Of late, WALGA pronouncements appear to align more with the state government and keeping its process on track than on making sure the outcome is sensible and supported. It almost seems as though the apparent chastisement of the state government for providing inadequate funding for the process is a smoke-screen to draw attention away from WALGA’s sycophancy.

The WALGA model, with zones and State Council, is yet another example of systematic concentration of power at the expense of diversity and democracy.

Each Council is part of a WALGA Zone. Each zone considers an issue and ‘instructs’ its delegates to State Council, where WALGA policy is determined.

It is easy to see how this model can lead to perverse or undemocratic outcomes. In the case of local government so-called reform, the western suburbs councils and Vincent are all but one of the members of the Central Zone (the other being the City of Perth). The Central Zone, therefore, might be expected to have a large majority view against amalgamations.

Other metropolitan zones are likely to be more evenly split between potential ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.

So we can easily have a majority of zones, but a minority of councils, in favour of amalgamations.

Perhaps scrapping WALGA would be a step too far, although the City of Nedlands seems to be faring quite well without it, but it clearly needs to change and become more representative of the diversity of views held by its members.

In the case of local government reform, I wonder how long it will take for the representatives of non-metropolitan councils to catch up with the admirable and realistic position adopted by the National Party.

Liberals, Nationals edge closer to healing rift on council mergers

By Jessica Strutt
Posted yesterday at 6:44pm Wed 19 Nov 2014, 6:44pm

Hundreds of people have gathered to protest council amalgamations at parliament house this evening.

The Liberals and the Nationals in Western Australia appear to be a step closer to healing their rift over council mergers.

Cabinet has ticked off on new legislation that will encourage regional local governments to share resources and services, something the Nationals have been pushing for some time.

The issue of council mergers has long caused tension between the Liberals and Nationals, who are in an alliance in Government together.

The Nationals have already withdrawn their support for Government plans to almost halve the number of metropolitan councils after they became concerned country councils would be next on the chopping board.

The three Nationals ministers even sat out of recent Cabinet discussions on new metropolitan council boundaries.

But now it appears the Liberals are extending an olive branch and have agreed to introduce the legislation the Nationals have long been lobbying for.

It is understood it was approved by Cabinet on Monday.

The ABC understands the legislation will closely mirror a private member’s bill that Nationals MP Shane Love introduced into Parliament in June.

At the time it was introduced, Nationals leader Terry Redman said Local Government Minister Tony Simpson had refused to bring their new legislation in as a Government bill.

The ABC has been told the new Government legislation will allow two or more local governments to establish a subsidiary to jointly undertake and deliver a variety of works and service activities.

It is not expected to expressly protect regional shires from forced mergers.

Neither Liberal nor Nationals MPs have yet been briefed on the full details of the new legislation.

It is expected to go before the Liberal party room next week before being introduced to Parliament.

Political analyst Peter Kennedy said Labor had been able to capitalise on the tension in the alliance over mergers, and the move could be about trying to settle differences before the 2017 state election.

“I think the Liberal Party would be very keen to diffuse the issue over amalgamation, especially in country areas, well in advance of the next election,” he said.

“The Nationals are a key part of the alliance and although they have a certain degree of independence, compared to previous years, their vote is very important so the Government, and particularly Mr Barnett, would be very keen to keep them on side.”

Developers slam WA Nationals over council merger opposition

ABC News Sat 8 Nov 2014, 9:27am

A group representing WA’s property developers has taken a swipe at the Nationals over their opposition to the State Government’s council mergers plan.

WA Nationals leader Terry Redman has said his MPs will not support legislation to expand the City of Perth, the first of the major reforms.

But the Property Council of Australia’s Joe Lenzo has branded the party’s stance “bizarre”.

“I would have thought the National Party is the champion of the regions,” Mr Lenzo said.

“Maybe they should concentrate on that.”

Mr Lenzo predicted public backlash to the plans to reduce the number of metropolitan councils from 30 to 16 would blow over.

“I think it’s misinformation that’s being delivered by small minority groups who just can’t see past their own backyards,” he said.