LOCAL Government Minister Tony Simpson came under fire last week after he was a no-show at a reform rally at Parliament House.
About 30 people, including four from the Save Kalamunda Shire Action Group, attended a peaceful demonstration on November 18 to present a petition demanding the right to vote on council amalgamations.
When confronted by Opposition Local Government spokesman David Templeman for not attending, Mr Simpson said he was not invited.
Mr Simpson said the local government reform had gone through due process.
‘We have gone through 17 weeks of public advertising,’ he said. ‘We have consulted wide and far with the sector to come up with the Local Government Advisory Board proposal.
‘It made a recommendation to me through its report in regard to boundary adjustments versus amalgamation. The government accepted those proposals and is moving forward with the reform process.’
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan later weighed in.
‘It is disgraceful that the minister does not even have the courtesy to accept petitions from members of the public,’ he said. ‘Community representatives from numerous local councils made the effort to stand up against the Premier’s forced amalgamations so they can have their say, their democratic right.’
Action group member Margot Harness said the presence at the demonstration was weak but there was still strength in the fight.
‘Numerically there weren’t a lot of people but there was substance to our argument,’ she said. ‘I think the timing was just bad, people could not make it because of work.
‘It was a peaceful and quiet demonstration. The faithful are holding quite a bit of hope.’
Action group member John Humphreys said he thought it was a successful demonstration.
Mr Simpson confirmed with the Reporter that he received the petition, but showed no signs of giving in to the protesters’ demands.
‘The State Government was clear that only those districts being amalgamated were subject to a poll,’ he said.
‘Any requests for polls relating to amalgamated areas will be assessed by the Department of Local Government and Communities.’
The State Government made the controversial announcement that as part of local government reform, the boundaries of the City of Belmont would be adjusted to take in the Shire of Kalamunda.