Council reps mum on merger

The ABC revealed details of government plans for the shire amalgamations on Friday, usurping the much-awaited official announcement from Premier Colin Barnett and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson today.

On Sunday, Mr Barnett announced the City of Perth would more than double in size to include landmarks including Kings Park, the new Perth Stadium, University of Western Australia, QEII hospital and Leederville’s cafe strip.

But neither the government or councils would confirm speculation about the southern suburbs mergers.

City of Gosnells chief executive Ian Cowie said he looked forward to meeting with the minister to review the map today.

A City of Canning spokesman said the council did not know the outcome of the local government review but expected to be fully briefed today. Speculation should be put to rest when mayors and shire presidents meet Mr Barnett and Mr Simpson to receive details of proposed new shire borders at a briefing at the City of Cockburn today.

The meeting may end uncertainty that has affected retaining staff and long-term planning at local governments.

Mayors have said mergers have been stymied by a lack of direction and reasons for change and have questioned whether there will be enough money for the cost of amalgamations in the State Budget on August 8.

Mr Simpson has indicated all the changes across Perth could take up to two years, after new councillors who would be responsible for carrying out the mergers are elected in October.

Reducing Perth’s 30 councils and changing their roles has failed several times in the past five years, during which the government-initiated Robson Report in 2012 suggested the creation of just 12 councils be created.

Mr Barnett backed 15 to 20 councils, but also threw his support behind a Claremont-based G4 council including Mosman Park, Cottesloe and Peppermint Grove of about 27,000 residents, in his electorate that would go against the report’s suggestion of creating new councils of about 100,000 ratepayers or more. He said all information would be available at www.dlgc.wa.gov.au by about 11.15am today.