Merger details loom

Representatives of councils from across Perth have been invited to a closed-door briefing at the City of Cockburn offices, where it is understood they will be provided with more informa- tion on local government reform that could include forced amalgamations and changes in boundaries.

An official announcement is likely on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Mr Simpson has confirmed the briefing would outline the Government’s decision on the Robson Report’s recommendations.

Included in the report’s advice was a larger role for the State Government in waste disposal, greater links between the Government and councils for strategic planning, a mayors’ forum headed by the City of Perth and compulsory voting in council elections.

While the State Government has made no secret of its desire for council reform, until now it has always stopped short of committing to forced mergers. But Mr Barnett has pledged to reorganise local government ‘one way or the other’.

Representatives from the City of Swan and the shires of Mundaring and Kalamunda this week confirmed they would attend the briefing.

The City of Swan has been working with the Town of Bassendean on a voluntary merger of the two authorities in lieu of any State Government proposal.

‘The City has made its position on local government reform clear, through numerous submissions throughout the review process, and is keen to hear from the State Government on this topic,’ City CEO Mike Foley said.

Kalamunda has been opposed to any forced amalgamation from the outset, including a merger with Mundaring to create a single Perth Hills local government.

The ‘no’ vote for a merger was overwhelmingly supported by Shire residents in a community poll in May.

Kalamunda Shire President Sue Bilich, who will attend along with new Shire CEO Rhonda Hardy, said the council had a strong vision for its future.

‘The Shire of Kalamunda believes that it is sustainable in its own right,’ she said.

‘We have a unique community who do not want to be amalgamated. We are awaiting the announcement by the State Government with much anticipation.’

Mundaring Shire CEO Jon–athan Throssell, who will attend with president Helen Dull-ard, said he hoped the briefing would provide certainty.

‘I expect that after four years of uncertainty we will be presented with information that provides a greater level of certainty about the future, both for the community and employees,’ he said.

Reducing Perth’s 30 councils and changing their roles has failed several times in the past five years, during which time the Government-initiated Robson Report in 2012 suggested the creation of just 12 ‘super’ councils of about 100,000 ratepayers or more.

Mr Barnett is understood to support a plan for between 15 and 20 councils.

The Tuesday briefing is likely to help end uncertainty that has affected councils’ long-term planning strategies and ability to maintain staff.

Several mayors have said mergers have been stymied by lack of Government direction. There have also been questions whether or not there would be enough money to fund the cost of amalgamations in the State Budget on August 8.