City of Armadale boss says vitriol damages all levels of government


Ray Tame.
Ray Tame.

THE “vitriol and negativity” surrounding politics is leading to people having a low opinion of all levels of government, according to Armadale chief executive Ray Tame.

Mr Tame recently attended a presentation by Opposition local government spokesman David Templeman on the future of local government.

During his talk, Mr Templeman said he was aware of “red tape” and increasingly bureaucratic processes that both local governments and their communities were being subjected to.

He said reviewing the Local Government Act to ensure it met the sector’s needs would be an important part of restoring community confidence.

Mr Tame has been chief executive at the City of Armadale for 18 years and said, in his experience, the public was the most cynical it had ever been about all levels of government.

“From the vitriol and negativity with which the Federal Government criticises State Government and in turn, State Government criticises local government, it is little wonder the public has little faith and a general low opinion of all levels of government,” he said.

“Add to that the bitter rivalry between political parties and it’s no surprise that talkback radio and social media can quickly get an emotional debate going on the failings of our system.

“Instead of criticising and telling everybody else how to do their job, maybe we should focus on rolling up our sleeves and working together.”

Mr Tame said he was prepared to work with anyone of any political persuasion, Federal or State, if they were prepared to pitch in and work genuinely to improve things.

Commenting on reviewing the 1995 Local Government Act, Mr Tame said “we need to get back to the basics of sound business practice and good governance”.

“I have worked in local government long enough to remember that the intention of the last review of the Act (1995) was to make it less restrictive, giving councils more autonomy and freedom to govern ‘for the good of their local community’,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the fine print and subsequent regulations repeatedly emphasised that the 1995 Act was about councils being bound by the State.”

He said the focus on autonomy and accountability to the community had changed in favour of compliance, audits and checks, which add nothing to productivity, increase administrative costs and reinforce a culture of blame.

A representative for Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said the government constantly reviewed legislation to ensure it met current expectations.

“Earlier this year, amendments to the Local Government Act requiring the online declaration of gifts came into force and a range of other amendments recently progressed through the legislative assembly,” the representative said.

Further amendments to the Act to expand the role of the Auditor General to include financial audits of all local governments are also planned for introduction into Parliament this year.

Meanwhile, the City of Armadale is waiting for the Turnbull Government’s Cabinet to get settled in before chasing up the Liberal Party’s election commitment to provide $10 million for the upgrade of the Armadale Aquatic Centre. The funding commitment was announced by Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Liberal candidate for Burt Matt O’Sullivan during the campaign.