Merger will go to vote

A motion was passed at a special meeting of councillors on Monday to hold a poll to determine if residents would favour a merger between the Shire and another local government.

The local government areas of Fremantle, Canning, Kwinana and Melville have each held online surveys to gauge community reactions to amalgamation, but none has put it to an official vote.

The referendum is expected to be held in the next seven weeks after the Shire hires a consultant to draft the discussion paper and passes it on to the WA Electoral Commission.

The Shire intends to help educate residents on amalgamations through a major publicity campaign before giving them the chance to be officially heard on the issue.

Heated debate erupted at the council meeting when the poll motion faced opposition from councillor Bob Emery.

‘How can we educate ratepayers if we don’t know what is going to happen ourselves?’ he asked.

‘We may ask ratepayers what they think of the Robson Report but the State Government may not even push for it.’

Mr Emery said he was in favour of council amalgamations but giving ratepayers false hope that their voices would be heard was ‘dishonest’.

Cr John Giardina gave a passionate speech in support of the referendum.

‘This issue has gone under the radar by our current Government, there was no reference to it in the recent election campaign,’ he said.

‘We have been left in limbo’