Judge crushes council case
NEED A TRADIE? THE City of South Perth will bear a share of the State Government’s legal costs after losing its legal battle against council mergers last Tuesday.
Chief Justice Wayne Martin QC indicated that councils led by South Perth, Subiaco, Kalamunda and Serpentine-Jarrahdale had lost a legal battle against mergers about three hours into a Supreme Court hearing last Tuesday.
The public and council mayors and chief executives packed the court to hear the result of two legal challenges late in the day.
They had previously heard a highly technical, two-and-a-halfhour argument from the councils’ counsel Chris Shanahan SC being whittled down by Mr Martin from five to two main claims.
Mr Shanahan claimed the Government did not comply with the Local Government Act’s intention to give residents’ polls on change; that 12 Government proposals for new councils did not fit the Act; that the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) acted contrary to terms; and that LGAB members had conflicts of interest.
He withdrew the first and second claims and Mr Martin handed down decisions about 3pm, saying the argument the government chose boundary changes to avoid polls was a “strange and artificial construction”.
South Perth has spent $53,000 of its allocated $150,000 for legal proceedings but will share a portion of the State’s legal costs.
Mayor Sue Doherty said the council took part in the action because electors had been unable to exercise their right to have a say.
“Local governments, who have the opportunity to amalgamate, benefit from the capacity to trigger the poll provisions whereas those subject to boundary changes do not have this right,” she said.
Outside court, councils’ lawyer John Hammond said it was too early to appeal but fights would continue despite the cost, as people wanted their councils to stay.