Warning on merger plans

‘If your merger proposal does not fit with the Government’s preferred model, (the) minister may put forward a counter proposal to the Local Government Advisory Board,’ Local Government Minister Tony Simpson told mayors at last week’s announcement.

Mr Simpson said ‘minor boundary changes, but not wholesale changes’ could be tolerated and councils could develop a ‘solid case’ to move a few streets or blocks after talking to the board to ‘iron out any anomalies’.

Meanwhile, ratepayers will lose the right to vote on council mergers in order to stop residents of a single council rejecting the new borders.

Premier Colin Barnett said Cabinet, which includes National Party MPs, had decided to abolish the Dadour Amendment allowing residents to vote on a merger so ‘small groups’, which have included country voters scuppering regional mergers, could not stop metropolitan changes.

‘We’ll abolish the poll provisions for Perth and then deal with the country areas,’ Mr Barnett said.

The 1974 amendment by former Subiaco MLA Tom Dadour allowed 250 residents or 10 per cent of a council’s population to petition for a merger poll, but half of all ratepayers had to vote before an amalgamation could be rejected by a majority decision.

Each of the nine groups of merging councils has been given $200,000 to organise committees, mooted to comprise one to two members of each council, which will write submissions to the board about what they want by October 4.

The board, established in 1995 to advise ministers on border changes, will evaluate each submission and send a recommendation to Mr Simpson, who told mayors if they did not send a submission the Government would put in its own.

After the submissions, nine Local Implementation Committees will be formed to control all aspects of each merger.

Commissioners will run the new councils for their first three months from July 1, 2015, after which there will be elections for the first councillors in October that year.

Voters will continue to elect councillors whose two-year terms expire this year.