Business Specialist CFP | Local Government Expert | Political Adviser
Back in 2009, Chris Thomson of WAtoday.com.au asked Perth’s metropolitan mayors to discuss their thoughts on council amalgamation. Some of the results are surprising given the current political environment and the release of the Robson Report.
Here’s what Mayors had to say back in 2009:
Only six of metropolitan Perth’s 29 mayors say they will consider merging with neighbouring councils when the Barnett Government forces them to nominate efficiency measures later this year.
Local Government Minister John Castrilli has set an August 31 deadline for WA’s 139 councils to decide if they want to merge, take land from their neighbours, or otherwise become lean and mean.
On Monday, WAtoday.com.au revealed how sparsely populated shires in WA’s Wheatbelt and Midwest regions were charging up to 10 times more rates per person than their city cousins.
Now, a straw poll of metropolitan mayors and shire presidents reveals 16 oppose mergers, six support, and two are undecided.
Armadale mayor Linton Reynolds – NO
“The good thing about this process is it’s caused everybody to stop and think.”
. Opposes amalgamations with neighbouring Gosnells and Serpentine-Jarrahdale on grounds that main financial weakness of all three councils is that their rate base is too suburban;
. opposes amalgamations with Cockburn or Kwinana, both separated from Armadale by Kwinana Freeway, as he sees no common community of interest;
. says number of Armadale councillors should be culled from 14, to between six and nine.
Bassendean mayor Tina Klein – NO
“There’s no need for us to amalgamate with anyone, because we’re sustainable.”
. Opposes amalgamation;
. prefers ‘squaring off’ boundaries with neighbours along main roads, sharing regional services, and reducing number of councillors.
Bayswater mayor Lou Magro – YES
“My personal preference would be for metropolitan councils of 100,000 people or above.”
. Supports council amalgamations so that each Perth council would have no fewer than 100,000 people;
. supports ‘squaring off’ of council boundaries.
Belmont mayor Glenys Godfrey – NO
“It’s putting the cart before the horse because the WA Local Government Association had already entered into a reform process.”
. opposes amalgamation; . supports greater sharing of services among eastern suburbs councils.
Cambridge mayor Simon Withers – NO
“I think there should be a lot of amalgamations in the Wheatbelt councils. All the urban councils are sustainable for as long as they want, basically.”
. opposes amalgamation with neighbouring councils;
. supports squaring off the town’s boundaries.
Canning mayor Joe Delle Donne – NIL RESPONSE
Claremont acting mayor Paul Kelly – MAYBE
“It’s certainly worth considering because there’s economies of scale and substantial efficiencies that can be gained.”
. open minded toward merging with the City of Nedlands, and instituting an electoral system where both Claremont and Nedlands would retain ward status;
. says that regardless of outcome, current boundaries need to be squared up.
Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett – YES
“We see the main way of moving forward as an amalgamation with a neighbouring local government.”
. supports amalgamation with either City of Fremantle or Town of Kwinana;
. looking at squaring up boundaries;
. supports regional service sharing;
. has reservations about reducing current number of councillors down from 10.
Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan – YES
“Peppermint Grove is an integral part of any merger involving Cottesloe.”
. open-minded to mergers, especially with tiny Peppermint Grove, though doesn’t expect there would be great financial benefits;
. prefers number of Cottesloe councillors be slashed from current 11 to a “lean, mean council” of five, but worries about increased councillor burden;
. supports regional service sharing.
East Fremantle mayor Alan Ferris – NO
“I think that we’ve been a long term (takeover) target of everyone. We’re a small council, we understand that (but) we don’t agree with it.”
. opposes amalgamation with neighbouring Fremantle;
. supports greater service sharing, in finance and human resources services with neighbouring councils;
. says his ratepayers should decide whether the town is amalgamated or not.
Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri – YES
. Vigorously opposes Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett’s mooted merger with smaller Fremantle, but is a long-term advocate of merging with the even smaller Town of East Fremantle;
. supports squaring up boundaries;
. supports greater sharing of services, particularly information technology where he sees potential economies of scale.
Gosnells mayor Olwen Searle – NIL RESPONSE
Joondalup mayor Troy Pickard – NO
“We’re 160,000 people, and if you get any bigger than that you expose yourself to the potential of losing touch with your community.”
. Opposes amalgamation with Joondalup’s neighbours;
. supports larger councils such as Joondalup contracting out expertise (such as urban planning) to smaller councils in remote areas.
Kalamunda shire president Donald McKechnie – YES
“We could do with a bit more industrial and (annexing) that Hazelmere area (from the City of Swan) would make us very sustainable because that’s where the heavy industry is going.”
. Says annexing Hazelmere from City of Swan would broaden Kalamunda’s largely residential and rural rates base;
. supports slashing current councillor numbers from 12 to 9;
. says amalgamation spotlight should be on smaller country and western Perth councils, not on larger Kalamunda;
. supports squaring up boundaries.
Kwinana mayor Carol Adams – NIL RESPONSE
Melville mayor Russell Aubrey – NO
“The reform process, it’s a bit confusing for us all without a firm idea of what the minister is hoping to achieve.”
. Opposes amalgamations, because he sees his city’s size of 100,000 as optimum;
. supports squaring up boundaries;
. says current number of 13 councillors is fine.
Mosman Park mayor Ron Norris – MAYBE
“Divide and conquer is the only intelligent strategy I can attribute to the manner in which the minister is conducting this matter.”
. If residents of North Fremantle came to him, and wanted to move from City of Fremantle to Mosman Park he’d welcome it;
. likewise with the tiny shire of Peppermint Grove, but he won’t be initiating annexure for fear of falling into Mr Castrilli’s divide and conquer “trap”.
Mundaring shire president Helen Dullard – NO
“We are currently looking at why we would do that and what gains there would be for our communities.”
. Lukewarm on need for mergers with neighbouring councils of Swan, Northam or Kalamunda, saying she does not want to pre-empt an imminent council decision on the matter;
. supports boundary ‘tidy ups’
Nedlands mayor Sheryl Froese – YES
“If (amalgamating with neighbour Claremont) is done in a good way and brings the community with you, that might be something that might work.”
. Supports a merger with adjacent Claremont, but not a mooted super western suburbs council;
. supports boundary square offs.
Peppermint Grove shire president Brian Kavanagh – NO
“We’re financially well off, viable, and deliver services people want and they’re prepared to pay for it, so why would we want to change?”
. Opposes amalgamations;
. actually wants more councillors – up from current seven to nine to ensure there’s a quorum at meetings;
. supports squaring of boundaries.
Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi – NO
“I believe that amalgamation is a question mark of a word.”
. Advocates “redrawing the local government map” to encourage greater efficiency;
. says there is scope for Perth to extend north into Northbridge and southwest toward the University of Western Australia to enhance its capital city role;
. says a recent media report saying Perth wanted to annexe the Burswood entertainment precinct and residential areas of Northbridge was incorrect.
Rockingham mayor Barry Sammels – NO
“Our boundaries are pretty well defined.”
. Opposes Cockburn’s amalgamation overtures, as he believes Kwinana is already sustainable, and growing all the time;
. opposes any reduction in the town’s current number of 10 councillors;
. says squaring of boundaries is unwarranted, because the current ones work well.
South Perth mayor James Best – NO
“South Perth is incredibly sustainable.”
. opposes amalgamation with neighbouring councils;
. supports slashing current number of councillors from 13 to 9;
. supports expanding existing service sharing with adjoining Victoria Park to joint procurement of equipment, employment of back-office staff, and mowing along the river foreshore.
. supports squaring up of boundaries.
Stirling mayor David Boothman – NO
“I don’t know if there would be any sense in amalgamation – we’ve already got 190,000 population.”
. opposes amalgamation;
. opposes squaring of boundaries, given adjustments in recent years when Stirling lost part of Glendalough to Vincent and gained ratepayers and land from Bayswater.
. opposes slashing councillors from current 14.
Subiaco mayor Heather Henderson – NO
“In the long term, Subi is a very viable and sustainable council with such a rich history and we would look to stay as we are.”
. supports greater resource sharing across western suburbs councils;
. supports reduction in number of councillors from current 13 to nine.
Swan mayor Charlie Zannino – NIL RESPONSE
Victoria Park mayor Trevor Vaughan – NO
“We’re not interested in amalgamating with anybody.”
. Opposes amalgamations on grounds Victoria Park is already sustainable;
. has engaged a consultant with Belmont and South Perth to examine service sharing arrangements with neighbouring councils.
Vincent mayor Nick Catania – NO
“We’ve got to take over some territory rather than merge with anyone.”
. Opposes amalgamation on grounds Vincent is already sustainable;
. supports a takeover of areas in adjacent councils to make Vincent more sustainable, but will not reveal which councils are on his hitlist;
. slams as “cherry picking” the City of Perth’s reported wish (subsequently denied by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi) to annexe parts of Northbridge and Burswood.
Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly – NIL RESPONSE