Robson review receives mixed

However, University of WA Professor Alan Robson said he was pleased most of the 30 recommendations from his year long review had been accepted after its report went to the Government last October.

‘They’ve broadly supported some of changes related to the relationship between state and local government, changes to the structure of local government but have supported only some of the changes suggested for the governance of councils,’ Prof Robson said. He would not comment on the rejection and acceptance of specific recommendations.

The report said reform of local government was a chance to simplify the number of rates across Perth, including unimproved valuations for empty blocks, the Cambridge Endowment Act encompassing Bold Park in City Beach, whether rate equivalents paid by state enterprises should go to councils, and charities being exempt.

The Government said it would consider charities’ rates status ‘in a further stage of reform’ before rejecting the other suggestions.

It also did not take recommendations for compulsory voting and alternatives to ‘first past the post’ voting at council elections, residents electing mayors, allowing party political nominations and limiting councillors to three terms.

Giving the new councils power taken by the five-member DAPs, staffed by a majority of unelected government appointees, was considered by panel opponents as a way of ameliorating controversy after the new bodies had planning approval for some developments worth more than $3 million.

‘Development Assessment Panels are working well,’ the Government replied.

It supported publicising councillors’ pay, a mayors’ forum not headed by the City of Perth, putting council boundaries in the middle of the Swan and Canning rivers, reviewing borders every 15 years and waiting for a report on taking over rubbish disposal and dissolving regional councils until the end of this year.