‘We have to face reality. Over the next 12 years, we need to house another 500,000 people in the Perth metro area,’ he said.
‘To plan for that growth, we need stronger local government with a stronger focus on delivering a range of services.
‘So we intend to halve the number of councils from 30 to 15 by July 1, 2015.’
Mr Simpson said local government was big business. The 30 local governments in Perth raised $1.9 billion in operating revenue each year and employed more than 9000 full time staff.
He said despite that growth, most local government boundaries had not changed since they were first gazetted.
‘We want to create modern councils that can provide the best possible services more efficiently and sustainably,’ he said.
‘To do this, we need a co-ordinated and strategic approach across the whole metropolitan area.’
In 2006, WALGA commissioned an assessment of the condition and prospects for local WA governments, a move Mr Simpson welcomed. ‘It would be easier for us to do nothing at all,’ Mr Simpson said.
‘Quite simply, we cannot afford to sit back and stay with the same arrangements designed for life more than 100 years ago.’
Cannington MLA Bill Johnston said the Barnett Government was creating confusion and misery across metropolitan councils for mayors, councillors, staff and ratepayers.
Mr Johnston said residents had voiced frustration about the Government’s lack of consultation and disregard for ratepayers to make their own decision.
‘WA Labor is fighting against these changes and the community is with us,’ he said.
‘The fact is the lack of representation from this Government at the public meeting held on March 5 only goes to show they do not care about the interests of ratepayers.’