Nats place hurdle in way of council mergers

Kate Emery

The Barnett government's plan to reduce the number of metropolitan council from 30 to 16 has it a hurdle with the National Party ruling out support for forced amalgamations.

The Nationals will not support a Bill to forced the amalgamation of the cities of Perth and Vincent, one of the key planks of Premier Colin Barnett’s local government reform plans.

While Mr Barnett said today that his plan had been signed off by Cabinet and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson told reporters he was confident the Bill would pass Parliament, Nationals Leader Terry Redman said the Nationals would not support forced amalgamations.

“Our position hasn’t changed. The Nationals WA do not support forced local government amalgamations,” Mr Redman told thewest.com.au.

In State Parliament question time, asked by Opposition Leader Mark McGowan if the Nationals would support a City of Perth Act in the Parliament, Mr Redman said the party “reserve our right” to take a position on any piece of legislation that may or may not come before the House.

The rift is significant because the Nationals can scuttle any Government legislation if they decide to vote against it in the Upper House.

Perth’s 30 metropolitan councils will become 16 under a plan that saw the State Government reject recommendations from its independent advisory board for the City of Perth and most of the western suburbs.

Instead of endorsing a recommendation that would see Perth simply merge with the City of Vincent, the Government will use legislation to redraw the boundaries as it wants, taking in the University of WA and the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre. Vincent will also be part of the new capital city.

The Burswood Peninsula will stay with a combined Victoria Park and South Perth.

The Government also rejected the Local Government Advisory Board’s proposal to create a G5 western suburb model, dubbed Riversea.

The Riversea proposal, which would take in Nedlands, Claremont, Cottesloe, Mosman Park and Peppermint Grove, had to be rejected because of some overlap with the Government’s plans for Perth. However, the Government is supportive of the G5 proposal and wants it to go ahead in a slightly tweaked model, albeit not by the July 1 2015 deadline.

SEE THE NEW COUNCIL BOUNDARIES

THE NEW COUNCIL BOUNDARIES EXPLAINED

Today’s announcement marks the Government’s response to the LGAB’s report, delivered to Local Government Minister Tony Simpson last month.

All of the report’s recommendations were endorsed, except for the Perth-Vincent model and that for the western suburbs.


Premier Colin Barnett said: “Except for the City of Perth and City of Riversea, the State Government endorses the board’s recommended boundaries. This report provides a clear direction for the most significant step forward for local government reform in 100 years and people in the metropolitan area can clearly see how this process will affect them and the local government authority in which they live.”

It is yet to be seen whether the councils proposed to be part of a G5 super council would back it. Some councils in the western suburbs have endorsed a G5 model because it was preferable to a G7 proposal but that was on the basis that assets like UWA and QEII were included.

The full plans for reform can be viewed on the Department of Local Government’s reform website. Reactions from mayors started to trickle in this afternoon.


City of Stirling mayor Giovanni Italiano said he was “bitterly disappointed” that Stirling’s borders will be cut.

“We remain unconvinced this decision is in the best interest of the ratepayers who will likely pay the ultimate price through increased rates and fewer services,” he said.

Mayor Cartman, the mayor of South Park in one episode.


Town of Cambridge mayor Simon Withers said plans for his council, which will effectively see it merge with the City of Subiaco, was “broadly in line with what we had proposed” and expected.

“The important thing now is to get on with it,” he said.

“We have all wasted enormous amounts of time an energy on this process and the sooner we put it behind us the better.”

City of Swan mayor Charlie Zannino welcomed a tie-up with the Shire of Mundaring.

“We have been expecting news that the City of Swan and Shire of Mundaring will become one,” he said.

“Today’s announcement gives us the certainty that this will be the case and we can continue to work with the Shire of Mundaring to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“A smooth transition is important for our communities and staff, and both local governments have been working towards this.”