‘The State Government is not about to change its timetable or change its policy,’ Mr Barnett said this week.
Councils are concerned they may not be able to complete accurate submissions in time, after chief executives said they were not given clear information about the composition of the replies to the Government’s July merger announcement in briefings last month.
‘I think (chief executives) are well-paid, mature people who can deal with structural change and they have had three years to think and talk about it,’ Mr Barnett said.
The head of the board that is to determine if proposed council mergers are viable says the process will remain independent, despite the Government having the final say on the appointment of new members.
‘We are independent and not a rubber stamp for the Government,’ Local Government Advisory Board chairman Mel Congerton said.
The board will analyse councils’ responses to the Government’s July announcement to reduce the number of local councils to 14 by July 2015, and increase the board from five to seven representatives drawn from bureaucrats, councils and its staff.
Legislation for the appointment of a sixth and seventh board member is expected in State Parliament this month, but a vote may not be held until the end of the year” two months after an expected announcement on the appointment of three members to replace those whose tenures ended on August 31.
Mayors and councillors are concerned that the members of the enlarged board will be influenced by the Government’s resolve for change, whether it has resources to consider multiple submissions and the status of requests for new councils preceding July.