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.

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.

The Financial Implications of Local Government Amalgamations – WSA Public Forum 26 November 2012

Written by Ken Eastwood 

The Metropolitan Local Government Review conducted by the panel led by

Professor Alan Robson contains some 30 recommendations regarding the amalgamation of Metropolitan Perth’s 30 Local Government Councils to either 12 super Councils (option A) or 16 super Councils (Option B).

It’s important to note that neither the Robson Report nor Minister for Local Government has suggested that any savings will follow from these recommendations or that there will be any reductions in our rates.  The only person to claim this is the Premier.

The only example of amalgamation we have is the recent voluntary amalgamation of the Geraldton and Greenough Councils.  In that instance, rather than enjoying a reduction in rates, the rates increased by a massive 23%.

There are suggestions in some quarters that fewer councils will result in savings. In fact Robson doesn’t claim this or provide any evidence of cost savings. Continue reading