Challenge for Trust

River users will soon find that councils have mid-river boundaries.
River users will soon find that councils have mid-river boundaries.

‘If different councils take over parts of the river, there will not be a co-ordinated approach and the river’s health could be compromised,’ Community and Public Sector Union-Civil Service Association branch secretary Toni Walkington said.

‘There would be no benefit or effective cost savings made if responsibility was transferred to local government areas.’

Ms Walkington said while the union had not heard of any plans to restructure or abolish the Trust, the 2012 Robson Report into local government reform recommended councils be given more responsibility for the rivers.

Council borders currently reach the high-water mark, but the Trust can become involved in any proposal that affects the foreshore one metre either side of that mark.

Another issue is whether rates income will be used to pay for urgently needed river wall and riverbank repairs, or the Government will increase its funding for the works in the context of a tight State budget.

The Robson report recommended mid-river borders to ‘provide for better control of developments over the river and management of the riverine environment’.

When Premier Colin Barnett announced council mergers last week, the Government agreed to the recommendation, and to place Rottnest Island and Kings Park in new councils covering Fremantle and Perth.

The riverside councils of Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove and Claremont are now concerned the Government will not clarify what duties the new council will have for the estuary when the mid-river recommendation becomes law.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said management of the Swan and Canning rivers would stay with the Government, the Trust would continue in its role and the Rottnest Island and Kings Park boards would remain.