Merger plans on hold

‘What I’ve been through is a clear message to anyone that the only way you’re going to get reform in WA is by using legislation,’ he said.

‘It won’t be me. It won’t be the next government, it won’t be the one after, but reform is still going to be on the table.’

The State Government has wiped |its hands of the local government |reform process, admitting it failed in its attempt to reduce 30 metropolitan councils to 15.

Mr Simpson did not believe the lack of funding was the reason the proposals were met with so much resistance.

He said one factor was the ‘self interest’ shown by some councils.

‘All you need is one local government to come out and say ‘if this happens they’ll close our library or lose the hall’ and I’ve got to defend that,’ Mr Simpson said.

‘The scaremongering from the local governments drove it to the point where it was hard to retrieve it back.’

Mr Simpson said he was ‘probably a bit naive’ to come in as a new minister and think he would have the support he needed to overhaul Perth’s local government authorities.

‘I got the job in March (2013) and by July I had met all 139 councils and they all said the same thing,’ he said.

‘This has been going on now for 10 years. We need to make a decision, we’re on to our eighth report.

‘But the reality is, the ones who were supporting it said nothing.’

Mr Simpson admitted the State Government could have handled the reform process differently and said he shared blame for it failure.

‘If you had your time again you’d take all your boundaries off the map and then put a pin drop into a regional centre and then you’d start drawing circles around them and make your local governments,’ he said.

‘I think you’d end up with something like eight or nine local governments.’

Kalamunda Shire President Sue Bilich told Belmont councillors at a special meeting last Tuesday the Minister had agreed to her request for revocation of Governor’s Orders involving the councils to be ‘first cab off the rank’.

In a joint media release, Cr Bilich and Belmont Mayor Phil Marks said it was essential the State Government work collaboratively with local governments to standardise and simplify planning processes.