Colin Barnett. Picture Lee Griffith
Colin Barnett. Picture Lee Griffith

Colin Barnett has called for fewer local councils or a reduction in their powers and responsibilities as a way of dealing with Perth's "growing pains".

In the latest attack by the Premier on the third tier of government in recent weeks, he said yesterday it was difficult for Perth to remain a "functional, beautiful and attractive city" with 29 metropolitan authorities.

The comments were blasted by WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard, who said the State Government had yet to produce "justifiable evidence" to show local government "is broken and needs fixing".

Mr Barnett said while councils did a good job in areas such as rubbish collection and maintaining streets, parks and sports facilities, the issues facing Perth were bigger than any one authority could handle. He listed congestion, urban growth and waste disposal.

"Perth's got some very big growing pains now and into the future, so we either reduce the number of local authorities so they can work better together or we reduce their powers and responsibilities," he said.

"This issue has been out there for two years and, unfortunately, local authorities have failed to come up to the mark. They've failed to come up and be proactive."

Asked on Radio 6PR whether he wanted councils to go back to footpaths and rubbish he said: "Well, a lot of people do."

Mr Pickard said limiting councils to the three Rs - roads, rates and rubbish - showed a "significant lack of understanding".

"If the Government is trying to build a case for forced amalgamation of local government then I think it's going around it the wrong way," he said.

"The community won't be duped (by) smokescreens and thought bubbles."

Mr Barnett, who expected a draft report from the Metropolitan Local Government Review Panel to be ready in May, said an ideal number of city councils would be "probably about 15 or so".

Shadow local government minister John Hyde accused Mr Barnett of "attempting to nobble what should be an independent report".

"Local communities can have no faith that Cabinet will treat this independent report with respect. The Premier's clearly made up his mind and is not going to be diverted by fact and sustainable logic," he said.

The West Australian

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