Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Political Adviser

LGAB Report lands with a thud


The Local Government Authority Board (LGAB) released its long-awaited report on abolishing councils in Metropolitan Perth.  It landed with a thud (600+pages) last week.

Ratepayers expecting to know what costs and disruption will be incurred are still none the wiser.  The report lacked any cost measures or justification.

Cr Hugh Richardson of Subiaco Council has been analysing the figures used by the Government for some time now and has not been able to find any real financial justification for the abolition of most councils.

In his most recent analysis Cr Richardson offers this conclusion:

The table (see below) contradicts the assertions that mergers are beneficial, that bigger is better, as I discuss attached. The back-up support to the Robson Report said essentially the same thing based on data to 2010, thereby making its recommendations suspect at the time.

When the proponent’s own data says there is no benefit in pursuing mergers and amalgamations, we have to ask who is pushing them and for what benefit? Various building developers and property council members appear to be the strongest promoters with residents being the opposers. It is not difficult to see who would be the winners and who would be the losers.

Experience elsewhere suggests the efficiency claims of bigger councils are specious. The amalgamation cost per council is $8-12 million based on NSW Government’s prediction of $1 billion. This is a serious number compared with current rates collected by local governments, and a number that is in no way funded by the WA State Government offers. 

If the surveys of community opinion are any guide, forced mergers are electorally catastrophic. Vasse is a long way from the Metropolitan Area, but the swing was not a pretty sight.

To read more about the Financial Sustainability Scores (FSS) for current Perth metropolitan local governments, click on the links below:

FSS Table from Western Australian Treasury Corporation: LGAB Report, page 58

An explanation of the colour coding in the FSS Table: Commentary on the FSS table


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