Julie Matheson

Subiaco Councillor | Certified Financial Planner | WA Party Convenor

The Club of Local Govt Reform

Mayor Keri Shannon from Cambridge organised an event for elected members and MPs to hear from former MP Larry Graham and his submission on the power struggle between council members elected by the electors and the CEO and their employed staff.

The issues raised by Mr Graham were compelling and caught my attention:

  • “Local government is dominated by a club consisting of the Department of Local Government, WALGA and Local Government Professionals (LGP).”
  • The club is now reviewing itself under the heading Local Government Reform.
  • Many dissenting mayors and councillors have not made a submission to the review for fear of a minor breach complaint against them. This review process does not have parliamentary privilege for a whistle blower.
  • “Both WALGA and LGP have constitutions to act in their own interests and not in the public interest” so why are they dominating this review?
  • Mr Graham reviewed the submission of the WALGA and LGP under headings “that remove or reduce democracy, reduce oversight, more convenient for administrators, expand the administrators role, and amalgamation avoidance”.
  • Most of WALGA recommended actions “either benefit administrators, disadvantage the public interest or both”.
  • From the Royal Commission into Banking, there is a clear and unacceptable conflict of interest when the club reviews itself.
  • Local Government Act 1995 has caused a power imbalance in favour of the CEO. “Unscrupulous CEO’s manipulate councillors, play favourites and selectively brief sycophants, and bad, domineering CEO’s destroy councils.” It takes years to rebuild.
  • The State removed control of planning from local governments and Mr Graham thinks it’s unacceptable. “Rigid central planning of the type we have almost always fails the public interest test but it serves the interest of central planners/bureaucrats.”
  • “Communities should be allowed to chart and be responsible for their own futures except in rare times where there may be a state interest that conflicts with local planning.”

If you would like to read more of Mr Graham’s presentation, click here>>>2019 Local Government DEMOCRACY-NOT-BUREAUCRACY-Address-by-Larry-Graham-27-February-2019 (3)

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