Last Tuesday, opposition local government spokesman David Templeman said councils had received mixed messages from Mr Simpson and Premier Colin Barnett on the matter and people wanted to know whether amalgamations would be forced.
He said local governments such as Victoria Park and Serpentine Jarrahdale were now ‘waiting for their execution’ and the uncertainty was preventing many councils from hiring or keeping staff.
‘In July last year Mr Simpson claimed ‘super councils don’t work’ and that he did ‘not support any of the options in the Robson Report’,’ he said. ‘Mr Simpson also said he wanted to maintain ‘the community spirit of Serpentine Jarrahdale, his own local council, yet after he became minister in March he changed his mind and now says they will have to amalgamate.
When asked to respond, Mr Simpson’s office told the Comment News he did not want to use the media for a back-and-forth with the opposition.
He repeated that the government would release its preferred reform model in about two months, and decisions about merging some of Perth’s local governments would come sooner rather than later.
‘The model would encompass entire council areas, with minor boundary changes to address any anomalies,’ he said.
‘Any boundary changes would be finalised with the Local Government Advisory Board, and councillors elected at the October 2013 local government elections would serve a significant term to help shape the new councils.’
Mr Simpson flagged changes to the Local Government Act that, if triggered, would allow a bigger percentage of the population to be heard over any proposed amalgamations. He visited the City of Armadale’s council meeting on Monday night.