Be honest about reform: mayor

Her statement comes after a WA Local Government Association-hosted breakfast meeting last Friday with Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, and more than 90 mayors, chief executives and councillors.

‘The question I put at the meeting was, ‘What happens if councils don’t do anything? What are you going to do?’,’ Ms MacTiernan said.

‘The response was, ‘We’ve got the legislative power to do it. We can go down that process and we will’.

‘I said, ‘That’s fine but why don’t you just acknowledge this is forced amalgamation and just get on with it, and stop beating around the bush?’

‘I’m not against any amalgamation, I just think they need to be more honest.’

Town of Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers said Mr Simpson made it clear that he would use his power to make council amalgamations happen.

‘It’s very clear that the amalgamations will be forced amalgamations,’ Mr Withers said.

‘Everyone just has to prepare for that.’

A spokesman for Mr Simpson said that during his address, the minister reiterated his encouragement for the local government sector to embrace the reform process.

‘The Government will release its preferred model for local government reform within two months and provide its response to the Robson Report,’ the spokesman said.

Ms MacTiernan said Mr Simpson stated the amalgamation process could take about another two-and-a-half years to implement.

‘I said, ‘That would be so destructive’,’ she said. ‘If this is going to be done, let’s get it done in a year.

‘Big councils are poaching our staff so the small councils that are under the sword are finding it harder and harder to continue to operate with good personnel being recruited away because people are obviously worried whether they are going to have a job or not.’