The committee recently called on Queensland-based economic consultant AEC Group to produce an economic study detailing the impacts of reform.
The study, presented to Cockburn Council last Thursday, found that the State Government’s proposal would cost nearly $100 million to implement changes in Cockburn, Fremantle, Melville, Kwinana and East Fremantle.
That is significantly higher than the $24.3 million the committee expects its proposed merger of Cockburn and Kwinana to cost.
Committee representative Geoffrey Sach said the study validated the group’s proposal.
‘The economic study demonstrates that uniting Cockburn and Kwinana does result in a bigger, stronger city and it provides more benefits to people in both communities than the carve-up proposed by the State Government,’ he said. ‘We strongly urge the State Government to read this report from cover to cover, as it is the most detailed and up-to-date economic study conducted by anyone during the current proposals period.’
In a joint statement, the cities of Fremantle, Melville and Kwinana said the report’s figures had been exaggerated.
Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams described the $60 million requirement in the report for new council offices and $30 million for a new depot as misleading.
‘It’s a nice attempt to further confuse the issue, but when you read into their argument, it’s entirely based on this fictional need for new offices when no such need exists,’ she said.
‘We’ve reviewed the accommodation requirements of the Minister’s proposal and we can confirm without hesitation that the cities of Kwinana, Fremantle and Melville can accommodate all staff and equipment without the need to fund new centres.’
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt agreed, saying a new council building earmarked as part of the broader $220m Kings Square development was independent of the reform process.
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, who met with the committee last Thursday, didn’t want to speculate on costs, but believed action had to be taken.
‘I can say we are paying the costs of 100 years of inaction on the reform of local government boundaries,’ he said. ‘While there will be costs upfront, there will be long-term savings and benefits from creating larger councils with economies of scale.’
Meanwhile, Cockburn Council will attempt to reopen discussions with Kwinana over the possibility of an amalgamation.