OPIN­ION FORMED

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Opinion -

WOULD one se­ri­ously ever be­lieve that the City of Bel­mont coun­cil has ever been iso­lated from the mal­ady of pol­i­tics in lo­cal gov­ern­ment? (City re­jects party ru­mours, Gazette, Oc­to­ber 14).

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment his­tor­i­cally has al­ways been the breed­ing ground for a coun­cil­lor to use as a spring­board into ei­ther state or fed­eral pol­i­tics, through a po­lit­i­cal party.

Un­til the Burke State La­bor Gov­ern­ment made changes in the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act in the 1980s, the only peo­ple who could vote in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions were prop­erty own­ers and business peo­ple.

Be­cause of this, coun­cils gen­er­ally were con­trolled by mid­dle-class con­ser­va­tive peo­ple with a pro­cliv­ity to­wards the Lib­eral Party.

How­ever, ob­serv­ing those who have been hand­ing out "How to Vote" leaflets in re­cent state and fed­eral elec­tions it was ev­i­dent that some Bel­mont coun­cil­lors were do­ing just that for the Lib­eral Party.

Does this im­ply that there is a Lib­eral Party clique on the coun­cil?

In ob­serv­ing the vot­ing pat­terns of Bel­mont coun­cil­lors in the past year or so, I will leave it to oth­ers to form their opin­ions, while I have mine.

The ar­ti­cle, as I read it, sug­gested there was a La­bor plot against the present chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art Cole re­ceiv­ing a 2.79 per cent salary in­crease.

While the pub­lic and more im­por­tantly, the ratepay­ers, are not priv­i­leged to ob­serve and to make any judg­ments on Mr Cole's key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors, it is the duty for elected coun­cil­lors to do that in the ratepay­ers’ in­ter­ests.

How­ever, I do find it strange with Bel­mont coun­cil­lors hand­ing out salary in­creases when lo­cal gov­ern­ment merg­ers are to be im- ple­mented very soon – merg­ers that have been ini­ti­ated by the Lib­eral Party.

With any merger, th­ese in­creases to se­nior coun­cil staff will re­sult in higher pay­outs in any pos­si­ble re­dun­dan­cies and which will af­fect ratepay­ers’ funds.

Per­haps it is this rather than pol­i­tics that Bel­mont coun­cil­lors are think­ing about. KEVIN BET­TRIDGE, River­vale.

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