Board shake-up has councils concerned

‘There won’t be a decision until there is legislation changing the board, which is expected in November,’ board chairman Mel Congerton said last week.

In July, Local Government Minister Tony Simpson announced there would be 14 new councils across Perth and the board’s membership would increase from five to seven members.

The current board comprises Mr Congerton, Department of Local Government representative Mark Glasson, WA Local Government Association representatives, Kalgoorlie Mayor Ron Yureyvich and Shire of Mundaring councillor Helen Dullard, and Local Government Managers Association representative Shayne Silcox.

Mrs Dullard’s, Dr Silcox’s and Mr Glasson’s memberships expired on August 31 and shortlists of replacements from their organisations have been sent to Mr Simpson, with a decision expected in a fortnight.

The decision on the sixth and seventh members may not be made until the end of this year.

However, the Government having the final say on the five new members has some councils concerned about the board’s independence, ability to consider multiple submissions and the abolition of a previous six-week consultation period.

‘They could have a very short consultation period or no consultation at all,’ Peppermint Grove Shire president Rachel Thomas said.

Mr Congerton said the Government expanded the board to avoid conflicts of interest and he understood the two new members would come from outside local government and could be former mayors but not sitting councillors, mayors or council chief executives.

WALGA president Troy Pickard said the association’s nine-candidate list came from an open and merit-based process in July and an announcement on appointments was expected ‘in coming weeks’.

A department spokeswoman said there was no ‘must conform to State policy’ criteria in proposed legislation, the time to appoint new board members depended on Parliament and resources for multiple submission analysis would be determined after all were sent, before recommendations to Mr Simpson about council borders were made in mid-2014.