Poll provision change

Mr Pickard said the State Government decision to reduce metropolitan councils to 14 was close to the option proposed by the sector.

But he said it was alarming for most local governments that as part of the reform process the community poll provisions would be suspended.

The poll provisions in the Local Government Act enable a majority of a poll of at least 50 per cent of any affected council area to deny a merger with another council or group of councils.

Mr Pickard said the poll provisions ” often referred to as the Dadour amendment ” were the safety net for the community in structural reform.

He said it was widely suspected in the local government sector that the Act would be amended to enable a more representative community process.

‘But that the arbitrary suspension of the poll provisions in metropolitan Perth would certainly be opposed,’ he said.

‘For example, there have been recent cases where just a few hundred people in a small local government have stopped what would have been a merger of four local governments.

‘I think most in the sector saw the increased incidence of this as a potential problem with the poll provisions, whereby a minority of the overall affected community can have an undue influence.’

Mr Pickard said there might be some support from the local government sector to add greater overall fairness to the poll provisions, but to suspend them from the process was at odds with the sector’s position.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson planned to remove the poll provisions to provide a smoother transmission for amalgamations.

He would introduce the legislation in the next few weeks.

‘This takes into account that there has been widespread consultation already on metropolitan reform over the past four years and the sector and community are looking for decisions,’ he said.

‘The poll provisions have previously prevented proposed amalgamations from proceeding, even when the proposal has had the support of all of the councils involved.

‘The existing provisions mean a very small number of electors in one area can currently determine an outcome in an unrepresentative way.’

Mr Simpson said the new legislation would increase the membership of the Local Government Advisory Board.