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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1816

Mr IRONS (Swan) (10:28): I rise to speak on an issue in Western Australia which is not necessarily a federal issue but which concerns my electorate and the five councils within it, and that is local council amalgamations. In 2005 the Labor minister for local government and regional development commenced an inquiry into local government structure and electoral reform in Western Australia. The findings of the board were that some local governments were facing severe demographic pressures and that they were threatening community sustainability. A specific recommendation was made for the amalgamation of local governments in metropolitan Perth and regional areas. The coalition government has continued with that. There is not a lot of disagreement with the Barnett coalition government but I do not think it has got this issue right, and here I particularly want to speak on the South Perth and Town of Victoria Park proposal. In a media release, John McGrath, the MLA for South Perth said he has:

… urged ratepayers in his constituency to stand up against a State Government proposal under its Local Government amalgamation agenda that will see the City of South Perth come under the control of the Town of Victoria Park for a period from July 1, 2015.

This is a result of the Minister for Local Government putting forward a submission to the Local Government Advisory Board to abolish the City of South Perth and absorb it into the Town of Victoria Park, which to me seems strange, as the City of South Perth is the larger of the two entities; and the Town of Victoria Park has little or no reserves, whereas the City of South Perth, on behalf of its ratepayers, holds reserves of $53 million.

But what they have done is change it from an amalgamation to a boundary change to avoid scrutiny, because their amalgamation guide actually says that all stakeholders should be part of the process—the principal stakeholders of the local government should be involved in the process, and they are the electors, residents, non-resident landowners and business owners. They have been cut out of this process by having this boundary change instead of an amalgamation. The two councils had made submissions for a simple amalgamation, which would see both dissolved at the same time, but the Minister for Local Government has decided to go to a boundary change, which cuts out the opportunity for residents and ratepayers to have their say in the amalgamation, something that I spoke to him about. He said to me that he thought that it would be the City of South Perth that takes over, but since then he has come out with a different argument that now the Town of Victoria Park will take over the bigger entity, the City of South Perth.

So I would say to all my residents and ratepayers in the City of South Perth, where I happen to live as well: write to the LGAB by 13 March, make your thoughts known—that you oppose this boundary change and that the government needs to get it right—and, I hasten to add, go to the meeting at the City of South Perth on Thursday night.