City of Perth Act Passes WA Parliament

City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.

NINE months after it was introduced to the Legislative Assembly, the controversial City of Perth Act has passed through the Upper House of State Parliament.

From July 1, the City of Perth’s boundaries will extend to include Kings Park, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, UWA and the Perth Children’s Hospital.

In a social media post, Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi thanked politicians who supported it, saying it was more significant than many would appreciate.

“It signals a new beginning in the state’s history,” Ms Scaffidi said.

“The City of Perth Act will provide the necessary structure and legislation to ensure local and state government can work together on vitally important issues.”

Ms Scaffidi said the City of Perth Act would bring Perth in line with other Australian capital cities and acknowledged its central role in tourism, business and economic development.

“Government can oversee the needs of key business and economic drivers and strengthen ties with stakeholders to achieve better outcomes for the community,” she said.

“It is about strengthening the role and position of Western Australia’s capital city, not just for the City of Perth, but for the benefit of the entire state.”

The Bill drew criticism in October amid revelations by the Corruption and Crime Commission that Ms Scaffidi wrongfully accepted gifts and travel she failed to declare in her annual return with some councils saying it was bad timing for Perth to extend its boundaries.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said the Bill acknowledged the unique role played by the City of Perth and outlined the responsibilities that should guide its council’s actions and decision-making.

“The City of Perth has responsibility not only to its ratepayers but to the thousands of people who visit the city for work and leisure every day, including visitors from interstate and overseas,” Mr Simpson said.

Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson said a boundary change within the Bill would force 3000 Subiaco residents south of Aberdare Road to become part of the City of Perth.

Earlier this month, Mrs Henderson said the COP Bill was already out-of-date and could not be enacted.

She said the Bill stated that the consultation needed to be completed and a report submitted to the Local Government Advisory Board by March 31.

“If the Bill is enacted by the Upper House in February, there would not be sufficient time to undertake the required six-week community consultation as stated in the Bill,” Mrs Henderson said.

However, Mr Simpson said Mrs Henderson was “patently incorrect”.

“The City of Perth Bill provided the City of Subiaco with an opportunity to carry out a ward review prior to boundary changes on July 1, 2016,” he said.

“The ability for or the willingness of the City of Subiaco to do this prior to this date has no impact on the validity of the City of Perth Bill.”

UWA Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson said he was looking forward to UWA joining the City of Perth’s international engagement and outreach agenda.

“This is a smart decision to help build a smarter State,” Professor Johnson said.

“It will benefit Perth and the entire Western Australian community by helping UWA achieve its full potential as the leading international university in one of the world’s best cities.”

Premier Colin Barnett said the Act ensured Perth had the status befitting one of the Asia Pacific’s most liveable and modern cities.

“West Australians now have a capital city they can be truly proud of because of this government’s decision to deliver the infrastructure needed to create a vibrant city with the ability to host world-class events and attract more tourists,” Mr Barnett said.

“The city has undergone a major transformation through the delivery of major projects such as Elizabeth Quay, Perth Arena and the rejuvenated Perth Cultural Centre, with work under way on the Perth City Link and Riverside project.”