16/02/2009 - 13:18

Labor, WALGA oppose council amalgamation

16/02/2009 - 13:18

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The state government's plan to force amalgamations of small local councils could be blocked in parliament after Labor leader Eric Ripper said today his party would oppose the plan, a move that would be supported by the WA Local Government Association.

The state government's plan to force amalgamations of small local councils could be blocked in parliament after Labor leader Eric Ripper said today his party would oppose the plan, a move that would be supported by the WA Local Government Association.

Mr Ripper said achieving sustainability in the local government sector is far more complex than just forcing amalgamations.

"Mr Castrilli has thrown the local government reform process into disarray and more than 11,000 local government employees and elected representatives across the State are now anxious about their future," Mr Ripper said in a statement.

WA Local Government Association chief executive, Ricky Burges said the promise by the state government to legislate to force Councils to amalgamate shifts the focus on survival and away from improving services which has the potential to destroy years of work by local communities to become more sustainable.

 

A statement from Mr Ripper is pasted below:

 

Labor opposes forced local government amalgamations

Opposition Leader Eric Ripper today announced that Labor would not support legislation to force amalgamations in local governments in Western Australia.

Mr Ripper unveiled a three point plan approved by Shadow Cabinet in response to Local Government Minister John Castrilli's policy to forcibly amalgamate local governments.

"Achieving sustainability in the local government sector is far more complex than just forcing amalgamations," Mr Ripper said.

"Mr Castrilli has thrown the local government reform process into disarray and more than 11,000 local government employees and elected representatives across the State are now anxious about their future.

"At a time of global economic crisis people look to political leaders for certainty.

"It is clear that Minister Castrilli's announcement was ill conceived."

Mr Ripper said Labor's position was clear and the legislation would not pass without the support of the National Party.

"Brendon Grylls must state his party's position to prevent any more wasted effort and money into a process that may never go ahead."

Labor's three point plan includes:

1. Using Royalties for Regions, particularly the $400million local government fund, as an incentive to encourage reform initiatives. For example, linking asset management registers to five year strategic plans and sharing IT and administrative procedures.

2. Improving transparency and accountability within the local government sector.
For example, employing the Auditor General to conduct performance audits to benchmark local councils. About 19 local councils or 15 per cent could be audited on a rotating basis, with the remainder to be tendered out to the private sector.

3. Providing financial incentives to develop statewide frameworks to cut red tape for planning and building approval processes.

"This plan will allow the local government sector to achieve progress in a cooperative and sustainable way," Mr Ripper said.

"For all the tough talk, Minister Castrilli has failed to show real leadership and implement changes that would bring real reform to the sector."

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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