WA councils ‘confused and angry’ over new reform process

By Angela Dorizas

The West Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has demanded consultation with the Minister for Local Government over what it claims is a shift in the State Government’s approach to local government reform.

WALGA president Bill Mitchell said the new reform transition process, announced by Local Government Minister John Castrilli, has little to no regard for councils’ submissions.

“It is important that the Minister appreciates the frustration and confusion in the sector but also that he has an opportunity to outline the process and address concerns,” Cr Mitchell said.

Under the new transition process, nine councils will amalgamate into three new entities and 65 will be directed to form regional transition groups with a view to amalgamate by 2013. The remaining councils will join regional collaborative groups to share resources.

“There is debate that if the Minister is assigning councils to various groupings without an opportunity to explore alternatives then the voluntary nature of the process is compromised,” Cr Mitchell said.

“WALGA has maintained since the State Government’s process commenced almost a year ago that it would only support reform based on voluntary participation as local community support is vital to ensuring long term sustainable change.”

WALGA has announced a state-wide forum to be held on February 9. Minister Castrilli is expected to attend to clarify the State’s position on the reform process.

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