“I’ve failed, I’ve put up the white flag,” the premier told ABC radio today. The big question is whether this white flag relates to the entire local government reform process, or merely the LG’s which were given the right to vote against amalgamations, and duly did so.
If the latter then there is no white flag, it’s simply a case of accepting the law and the results of the polls that occurred (and are reproduced at the end of this article). If the former, well, there are negative implications for the government if this is the case.
As a recap, most LG reform centres around ‘boundary amendment’ which circumnavigated the poll provisions in the Local Government Act. The poll provisions allow residents to prevent amalgamations if at least 50% of the residents vote, and of those who vote the majority vote against the amalgamation. This is what occurred at East Fremantle, South Perth and Kwinana over the weekend and has instigated the white flag to go up.
LG’s like Bassendean, Kalamunda and Mundaring were to be merged with an existing LG – Bayswater, Belmont and Swan respectively – and hence no poll was legally required. It was a contentious and perhaps ill-advised move of the government to deny these areas the right to determine whether they be “merged”, and this was compounded by the LG Advisory Board’s obviously inflammatory decision to remove the ward system.
I am one of the four Councillors from Bayswater appointed to the ‘Local Implementation Committee’ which has been meeting with representatives from Bassendean, and more recently Stirling, in order to ensure a smooth transition process. I maintain that the City of Bayswater, Town of Bassendean and parts of Stirling offer some great synergies if they become one and I’d like to think most residents in these areas would agree.
At this late stage, and with Governor’s Orders already issued, it will be a tremendous waste of time, money and effort if the ‘white flag’ is for the entire reform process. And any Liberal backbencher who thinks that cancelling reform will bring an end to discontent are sadly mistaken. I for one will be doing all I can to get recompense for the cost that has needlessly been levied on Bayswater ratepayers. In addition the Liberal Party as a whole will be sorely tainted for wasting so much tax-payer money whilst achieving absolutely nothing. It may even be the precursor to an implosion and unraveling of what has generally been a tight team – Phil Edman MLC and Brian Ellis MLC should be more careful with what they say.
Make the white flag for the battle, not the war. The process must go on.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater.)