Councils stand firm

Town of Victoria Park Mayor Trevor Vaughan raises a red protest flag with City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty.
Town of Victoria Park Mayor Trevor Vaughan raises a red protest flag with City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty.

In their joint submission, the neighbouring councils said they largely supported the aims of local government reform, and therefore agreed to the State Government’s proposal for the two councils to amalgamate, but not if the State Government persisted with transferring Crown Perth and the new stadium to the City of Perth.

‘No single, tangible benefit for residents and ratepayers has been identified,’ the submission stated.

‘The Government has not put forward a compelling evidence-based case, let alone a true business case that demonstrates the significant transition costs would be outweighed by the benefits.

‘The Government’s belief that placing as many as of Perth’s tourist facilities under one council will assist in promoting Perth on the world stage is a proposition without justification.’

The submission stated the Town, or an amalgamated Victoria Park/South Perth, would lose its largest ratepayer (Crown Perth), potentially 10,000 residents in proposed high-rise developments and would gain the questionable compensation of an older portion of the City of Canning, with decaying infrastructure in need of multi-million repair and replacement.

The submission advocated Bentley in Canning, north-east of Leach Highway between Shelley Bridge and Orrong Road, be enveloped into the new entity, along with the 1.37ha Balbuk Reserve on the Swan River next to Graham Farmer Freeway, which straddles the Victoria Park/Belmont boundary.

Canning council’s submissions said it would only support losing Bentley if an amalgamated Victoria Park/South Perth loses a major part of the Burswood Peninsula to the City of Perth.

Belmont Mayor Phil Marks said the council had not been consulted on the issue and, as it had undertaken significant environmental enhancement in the area, it would contest the proposal.

He said the intent seemed illogical as it would create a district boundary that crossed a major freeway to take in only a small portion of the land to the north.

Decisions were not unanimous at Victoria Park and South Perth, where special meetings were held last week for councillors to vote on the amalgamation submissions.

At Victoria Park, there was a lone vote against amalgamation in Banksia ward’s Rowena Skinner’s rejection, while at South Perth four of the 11 councillors were unsupportive.

Cr Skinner, disappointed and sad the Town would be forced to amalgamate, reminded her fellow councillors that once they supported it, albeit reluctantly, there was no going back.

At South Perth, the public gallery applauded McDougall ward councillor Peter Howat’s passionate speech against amalgamation.

‘It is difficult to support this view unless there are clear financial benefits to ratepayers, and an assurance that there would be no rate increases to fund the process,’ he said.

‘So far, there is no clear evidence of a cost benefit to residents.’