Merging an unpopular option

In a joint submission, the councils say they largely support the aims of local government reform, and therefore agree to the proposal for the two councils to amalgamate, but not if the State Government persists with transferring Crown Casino and the new stadium to the City of Perth.

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

‘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 of Perth’s tourist facilities under one council will assist in promoting Perth on the world stage is a proposition without justification.’

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

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

Canning council will only support losing Bentley if an amalgamated Victoria Park/South Perth loses a major part of 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 seems 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 one vote against amalgamation from Banksia ward’s Rowena Skinner while at South Perth, four of 11 councillors were unsupportive.

At South Perth, councillor Peter Howat gave a passionate speech against amalgamation.

‘There is no clear evidence of a cost benefit to residents,’ he said.