Waiting, waiting

WALGA president Troy Pickard.
WALGA president Troy Pickard.

However, WALGA president Troy Pickard said it was an ‘unfortunate choice of words’ and told his staff it was not this week.

Mr Pickard said he had expected an announcement before this month based on Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) recommendations being before Cabinet and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson saying he would not leave councils ‘hanging and waiting’.

Cabinet did not consider an announcement yesterday, after the recommendations were sent to Mr Simpson on September 22 following five years of debate, several reports and several ministers.

Mr Pickard said the time it was taking for an announcement, and a November 25 Supreme Court hearing of councils opposing the merger process, were destabilising local governments and undermining council staff who needed to know if their employment was secure.

‘And the only way to move on is for the Government to make an announcement,’ he said.

Mr Simpson can only accept or refuse ” not alter ” the LGAB’s recommendations that an unchallenged report last month said put Burswood Peninsula outside a new Perth CBD council, potentially wrecking Government and City of Perth proposals to include James Packer’s casino, the new Perth stadium and proposed Belmont Park apartments in a capital city council.

‘Well, that’s a hearsay thing, and I can neither confirm nor deny it, but hypothetically I can’t see why our actual recommendation would change things,’ LGAB chairman Mel Congerton said, when asked if his Burswood recommendation was holding up the announcement.

Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said another recommendation that the University of WA not be in the new city had ired Premier Colin Barnett, leading to delay, while Claremont Mayor Jock Barker and Mosman Park Mayor Ron Norris said the Government had to wait until the Supreme Court’s decision.

Mr Simpson’s spokeswoman said all the LGAB’s 658-page report had to be considered and Burswood had not contributed to the time being taken.

Asked for a broad timeframe to provide certainty for councils’ staff, she said Mr Simpson was ‘preparing to make an announcement sooner rather than later’ once it was considered by Cabinet.