Local Government minister awaits amalgamation decision

Former Byford baker and now Local Government Minister Tony Simpson. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d399381
Former Byford baker and now Local Government Minister Tony Simpson. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d399381

His seat is in jeopardy if amalgamations are forced because residents and the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale have made it clear they oppose any merger.

In a phone interview from his new city office, Mr Simpson said he had no forewarning of his ministerial appointment.

Mr Simpson is in his third term in Darling Range. He was first elected in 2005 when it was the seat of Serpentine-Jarrahdale.

Before entering parliament, Mr Simpson was the Byford baker for 14 years, running his own business and maintaining a keen involvement in the community.

Submissions to the Robson report closed a week before the Comment News interview and Mr Simpson said there was still a long way to go.

He acknowledged he was in an unusual situation and said that while the shire council had made clear its answer on amalgamation was ‘no’ that there was a 3000-signature petition that had been circulated that suggested support for a merge into the Peel region, Mr Simpson said.

‘I’m a local member first, so it’s very important to see what happens in Darling Range,’ he said.

He would not comment on how the decision may go for Serpentine-Jarrahdale because a decision on the Robson report was yet to be made.

He hoped that in six months there would be a plan to implement the Robson report recommendations, of which amalgamation is part, and he acknowledged that councils could be going into their October elections without knowing how merger discussions will affect them.

‘We would hope that by October to have a clearer picture of which way we’re going forward,’ Mr Simpson said.

In the meantime, Mr Simpson has asked to meet with the mayors, chief executives and presidents of local governments. He said this was a meet-and-greet opportunity and a chance to seek feedback on the Robson report.

Submissions to the Robson report closed April 5. Mr Simpson recently merged the Department of Community Services with the Department of Local Government to form the Department of Local Government and Communities.

He is responsible for several other portfolios: youth, and seniors and volunteering.

‘For the first time the senior population is outgrowing that of children which brings challenges and opportunities,’ Mr Simpson said.