G5 City of Riversea merger briefing held at Fremantle

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson.
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson.

LOCAL Government Minister Tony Simpson appeared split on separate legislation for a G5 City of Riversea council, during and after a mergers briefing in Fremantle last week.

‘I asked him whether he was going to legislate for a G5 as part of City of Perth legislation, and he said he would prefer separate legislation,’ Mosman Park Mayor Ron Norris said.

It is feared separate legislation could silence residents’ polls in Nedlands, Claremont, Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park councils that are to be joined for the G5 in the State Government’s plan to cut Perth’s 30 councils to 16.

‘It is not intended that the City of Perth Act would deal with the western suburbs,’ Mr Simpson said after the meeting. ‘However, the boundaries identified for the new City of Perth will have an impact on the proposed western suburbs boundary.’

Peppermint Grove president Rachel Thomas said other Government statements that it would ‘take steps’ to form the G5 could mean ‘anything’, and only a November 24 Supreme Court hearing of a challenge to mergers could bring clarity.

Irate mayors left the briefing saying an unaltered package of $45 million in loans and $15 million of grants over three years would cause higher rates.

A group of 12 councils would get first access to the package, leading to fears there may be no money for the G5 while it waits for expanded City of Perth legislation to be written and negotiated with the National Party for up to a year.

Mr Simpson said no councils would be abolished with Governor’s Orders until after the Supreme Court hearing and Treasury loans would have interest rates 2 per cent lower than the commercial market.

‘WALGA’s research… shows an average cost of $4.1 million to $7.2 million per amalgamation,’ WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said.

Another $60 million was needed for the 12 Government-endorsed mergers and the 2 per cent interest subsidy was ‘trivial’, he said.