Local government reform will be his legacy

Darling Range MLA Tony Simpson
Darling Range MLA Tony Simpson

Despite widespread opposition from mayors, administrators and residents, the politician has refused to bend.

He has used the same argument since the State Government announced council amalgamation plans last year, saying they are needed to meet the demands of a growing city and to create an equal rating system.

‘The current system is not working fairly enough for the ratepayer. That’s one of the main key areas we are working on,’ he said. ‘If I sit back and do nothing, that will be a failure for me as Minister for Local Government.’

He said a strong council would have a mix of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

‘The ultimate local government has to have a reasonable rate base of roof tops ” of you and I and mums and dads paying rates ” some commercial, shopping centres and also industrial to create a fair and sustainable system,’ he said.

Mr Simpson said the plan to halve metropolitan councils was the best outcome for residents and he did not have much sympathy for councils that resisted the process.

He refuted claims the process was undemocratic, stripped communities of identity and favoured developers, saying councils had not explained the process to residents.

The Local Government Advisory Board is considering 36 proposals, including 12 from Mr Simpson’s office ” recommendations are expected to be announced soon.

He said the board was independent of the government and he had no input into its investigations, though he could accept a recommendation or reject it ” but not change it. If he opts to reject a recommendation, the consultation process starts again.