Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Political Adviser

Amalgamation lies

Paul Murray on 6PR refers to Premier Barnett’s approach to amalgamation as telling lies, ref 31/7/13.

In their own words ………..

“The state government is not to go down the path of widespread forced amalgamations. We do not intend to do what Jeff Kennett did in Victoria”        Premier Hon Colin Barnett, reported POST newspaper 15-12-2012


“There has been much said about local government over recent months. I have always believed that a combined council covering Claremont, Cottesloe, Mosman Park and Peppermint Grove makes sense, however claims that the State Government will use its powers to force such an amalgamation are simply not true.”

–         Extract from the Hon Premier’s Cottesloe electorate Residents’ Newsletter, summer 2013, pre-election

 “We have no interest in forced amalgamations”       Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, reported POST 20-4-2013, post-election

 Reporter – If you don’t get agreement from the councils what happens?

Minister Simpson — Well, they’ll leave me with no choice.

Reporter – so then you will force amalgamations?

Minister: I’m hoping they can come to the table and I won’t have to do that.

Reporter – that’s a nonsense. You are dangling out this carrot that they might be able to affect some change but they’ll do what you want.

Minister: We are happy to talk with the local governments in the terms of some boundary adjustments on the side.

Reporter – but really those maps are non negotiable?

Minister: Well if they … [pause] Yep. Not negotiable.

–         THE WEST AUSTRALIAN reporter Tuesday 30th July 2013 to Local Government Minister Hon Tony Simpson after the announcement, with the Hon Premier, of sweeping Council amalgamations (as transcribed in THE WEST 31st July 2013).

If you find any document from anywhere in the world giving quantitative evidence of financial benefits to ratepayers of said amalgamations, please let me know. In about 18 months of searching I haven’t found any (except one from ACELG which was cited by Robson, but he was really clutching at straws..). Brian Dollery didn’t find any, neither did Tom Stannage.  Both Dollery and Stannage put in responses to Robson’s interim findings which are absolute corkers, and should be mandatory reading for any Councillor.  Ditto for any government Minister come to think of it.

In short, there are precious few savings, because much of local government work is in pure service delivery, and by definition there are no scale economies in pure services.  We already share plant and equipment to maximise our capital asset utilisation.” Ref. Cr Scott Arbuckle

Amalgamation of the western suburbs is another form of centralist government at a local level.  Dr Chris Back, Liberal Senator for WA appears not to like centralist governments.

I quote Dr Chris Back’s letter to Mayor Henderson “Please take careful note of the last 10 words (ref local govt referendum). They should cause grave concern for local government councillors and officials. They starkly indicate what a centralist government can do.”

The WA State Govt is acting as a centralist government with its proposal to force amalgamation “on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit”.

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