Merger fight goes to Supreme Court

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

Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson would not comment on what was expected at the hearing or discussions with the Government’s lawyers after her council, Kalamunda and Serpentine-Jarradale started court action on July 2, claiming the Government forced mergers ruled out keeping current borders and that Local Government Advisory Board members recommending new boundaries had conflicts of interest.

Last week Mrs Henderson said an announcement from Local Government Minister Tony Simpson that new borders would not be released until late August added ‘uncertainty’ for council staff and members who wanted to know in which directions to take their councils, and the delay would cut into the time needed to create any new councils before July 2015.

A previously expected July announcement would have given current staff 12 months for redundancies, writing new town planning schemes and integrating computer networks to halve Perth’s 30 councils.

But last week, Mr Simpson said the LGAB now needed more time to ‘satisfy its responsibilities under the Local Government Act’.

After more than five years of debate, the LGAB is considering 38 proposals, including four late suggestions from councils in May.

Tomorrow, it will advertise for public comment lasting three weeks on three new ideas for Serpentine-Jarradale, Armadale, Melville and Cockburn councils, discussed at meetings yesterday.

LGAB chairman Mel Congerton said an August announcement was not the result of the legal action, Mr Simpson’s direction for more time needed to analyse proposals for new councils, and it was decided to delay ‘so we can consult on all the various sections we need to under the Act.’.

Mr Congerton would not name the sections and said he did not anticipate another delay unless it was caused by the councils’ legal action.