One is Tony’s only number

Tony Simpson.
Tony Simpson.

Last Tuesday, the State Government revealed its submission to the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) to halve the number of Perth metropolitan councils from 30 to 15.

It proposes to combine the seven western suburbs councils into one, plus Wembley Downs, Churchlands and parts of Woodlands.

‘The advisory board would have to put up a very good case to me to say that there could be a case for another (council),’ Mr Simpson said.

‘I’d like to stay with 15. I’m trying to reduce the amount of local government red tape.’

Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers said the minister’s comments surprised him because the LGAB was supposed to be independent.

‘The State Government talks as though it’s a fait accompli that its proposal will be accepted on block from the LGAB, then on the other hand it tells us that the LGAB is independent,’ Mr Withers said.

‘Clearly both those things can’t be true at the same time.’

The LGAB is currently considering submissions from councils, the Government and the public and will deliver its recommendations to the minister by mid-2014, which Mr Simpson will be able to accept or reject, but not amend.

Mr Simpson said he intended to introduce changes to Parliament next year to remove the poll provisions in the Local Government Act, known as the Dadour amendment.

The Dadour amendment allows a council to veto a merger if at least 50 per cent of eligible voters participate in a poll and more than 50 per cent of participants vote against the proposed merger.

Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson said the Dadour Group was lobbying the Liberal and National parties. ‘While (Dadour) sits there, at least there is the power of self determination,’ Mrs Henderson said.

‘At least the people are still empowered to make the final decision, unless of course that is eroded away in the next round of parliamentary sitting in autumn.’

Mr Simpson said his job was to make councils get their ‘blinkers’ off and look at the bigger picture.

‘There are seven chief executives in the western suburbs, a number of them are paid quite a considerable amount of money and there’s a duplication of services right across that area that needs to be addressed.’