Amalgamation debate is a major distraction: WALGA

By Staff Writer

The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has urged councils not to be distracted by “conflicting messages” from the State Government over local government reform.

Since announcing the reform process, WA Local Government Minister John Castrilli has warned that if councils do not voluntarily amalgamate he will legislate to make it happen.

This week, however, Premier Colin Barnett issued a very different message, stating that the Government was “not going to force amalgamations”.
WALGA president Cr Bill Mitchell welcomed the Premier’s confirmation that there would be no forced amalgamations, but warned member councils not to be distracted by conflicting opinions at the state level.

“There are a lot of opinions being expressed but the Premier yesterday confirmed that State Government policy is for voluntary amalgamation,” Cr Mitchell said.

“It would be a disaster for local government and their communities if the sector looks to use divisive comments or anything else as an excuse not to work towards genuine and sustainable reform.”

He said as State Parliament debated the possibility of forced amalgamations, a number of councils “took their eye off the ball”.

WA’s 139 councils have until August to report to the Minister.

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