Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Community Advocate

WALGA President

A keen supporter of local government sent me this email:

For those who did not see the TV program last night, we were treated to a vigorous defence of Barnett’s Council amalgamation policy by none other than Troy Pickard, President of WALGA. Pickard also said due to the current climate legislative change would be required to achieve amalgamation. (Read forced amalgamation.) The newly appointed Minister for Local Government and Community Affairs said he will not force amalgamation…maybe he won’t, Barnett will.

If the WALGA President is supporting undemocratic State Government policy instead of defending the democratic right of Local Government to decide its own future, why should he be allowed to remain as WALGA President.

4 comments on “WALGA President

  1. James
    April 14, 2013

    WA Today Oct 25 2012: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/local-council-amalgamations-revealed-mayors-dont-believe-premier-20121024-2867m.html

    Barnett said “We’ve made it clear we will not force amalgamations, however, we reserve the right, if re-elected, to use powers to fix up anomalies,” he said.
    “This issue will not go away. I urge and ask local authorities … to look at the structure of local government which will serve Perth as a growing city through this century.”
    The topic is likely to become an election issue.
    Opposition leader Mark McGowan claimed the Barnett Government had a “secret agenda” to force amalgamations after the election.

    1. As yet neither of those predictions have come true, so why does everyone keep claiming Barnett will make amalgamation compulsory?

    2. Troy Pickard is President of WALGA. I assume he is elected into that role? The WALGA website states: The WA Local Government Association is the voice of Local Government in Western Australia. As the peak industry body WALGA advocates on behalf of the State’s 140 Local Governments and negotiates service agreements for the sector. WALGA is not a government department or agency. So one can assume Pickard is not alone in supporting the notion that there are some councils which should amalgamate if the anonymous “keen supporter of local government” is correct in saying Pickard vigorously defended the amalgamation policy.

    It seems to me that it is quite possible there may be some uneconomic councils which should amalgamate for the benefit of ratepayers. It is also likely that the Mayors, Councillors and Employees of those councils are the least likely to put such a proposition to ratepayers if that was the case because they would be potentially proposing themselves out of a job! That is probably why legislation would be required.

    If I was a ratepayer and received a well argued proposal for amalgamation with obvious benefits then I would be comfortable. However, If I was in a council where I was happy with how things were being managed, and the level of rates being charged, and I could see no benefit in the proposal for me, then I would be extremely pissed off. Why would the State Government want to force something on to ratepayers which is a potential vote loser?

    I can’t help but get the feeling some people are trying to shut down debate on possible amalgamations before it starts, just in case there is little or no opposition to it. Because if the majority of people truly oppose it, it won’t get through.

  2. Julie Matheson
    April 15, 2013

    from Reg Kelly: I don’t believe Troy Pickard as President of WALGA should be using his position to advance his personal political agenda disguised as an announcement from WALGA. As you yourself noted, WALGA is the voice of Local Government in Western Australia. To the best of my knowledge Bassendean is the only Council to willingly agree to be amalgamated with the City of Swan. The vast majority of Councils both City and Shire are opposed to amalgamation. Why didn’t Pickard’s announcement reflect that fact, instead of promoting Barnett’s amalgamation policy complete with the necessary legislative changes? After amalgamation we will see even more politicising of Local Government, Councils will become polarised into voices for the Government or the Opposition. Local Government and its association is supposed to support the wishes of the majority of ratepayers regardless of their political views.

    If you doubt my quote on what Pickard said on the ABC TV 730 Report WA, I suggest you check for yourself by viewing the program which is freely available on the net.

  3. James
    April 15, 2013

    I understand the quote, but I don’t think you understand my point that Local Government Councillors and employees are hardly going to want to put themselves out of a job. I am ambivalent until I see an actual case put for or against a specific amalgamation proposal.

  4. Julie Matheson
    April 17, 2013

    Reply from Reg Kelly: I agree with your comments about Council employees, that is why Pickard made his remark about the necessity for legislative change in the current climate. Opposition is also coming from Ratepayer Groups which can see the intended disconnect between the people and Local Government. The Barnett Government does not want to consult with the people on development, that is time consuming and delays work by their supporters in the development industry. Amalgamation is a failed model, it was forced on Councils in the Eastern States and would be changed in many areas if Councils could afford the millions of dollars required to undo the damage. DAPS make decisions in secret and appear to have the power to contravene the Local Planning Scheme by approving non-compliant development against the wishes of the local Council. Kalamunda Shire Council will hold a referendum into amalgamation in May at a cost of $80,000. Planning Minister John Day has threatened to withdraw funding if the referendum takes place. He believes it will be a waste of money and he intends to ignore the result because it will be irrelevant. What price democracy John Day? We are well advanced toward a totalitarian regime in WA.
    There is no doubt we need development because of Perth’s increasing population, however without democratic protections firmly in place Perth will become a Developer’s daydream and a residents nightmare.

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2013 by in Elections.
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