Merg­ers: Par­ties sign con­sent pact

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Quick News - By JON BAS­SETT

STATE Gov­ern­ment lawyers have given no rea­sons why the Supreme Court can­not hear a re­quest for a chal­lenge to coun­cil merg­ers, ac­cord­ing to amal­ga­ma­tion op­po­nents.

“It is my per­sonal belief that this rep­re­sents a tacit ac­knowl­edge­ment by the State Solic­i­tors Of­fice that they do not have sub­stan­tial ar­gu­ments against the ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view, but it should not be read as an in­di­ca­tion of the view the court it­self will take,” City of Vincent res­i­dent and chal­lenge in­sti­ga­tor Ian Ker said.

In Au­gust, lawyers for Mr Ker, Su­bi­aco, South Perth and Ser­pen­tine-Jar­rah­dale coun­cils claimed the Gov­ern­ment breached a law by not giv­ing ratepay­ers ac­cess to polls in 12 pro­posed merg­ers, coun­cils were forced to pro­pose changes and the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ad­vi­sory Board had con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Last Fri­day, Chief Jus­tice Wayne Martin was to hear the ar­gu­ment a sec­ond time but be­fore the hear­ing the coun­cils and Gov­ern­ment signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Con­sent (MoC) al­low­ing ac­cess to doc­u­ments and set­ting dates, be­fore the court could de­cide on a trial later this year.

Mr Ker said coun­cils could now get Gov­ern­ment, bu­reau­crats and the LGAB com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and the Gov­ern­ment now had a “big span­ner” in merger plans be­cause the claim could be be­fore the court after an an­nounce­ment of the first LGAB-rec­om­mended bor­ders, ex­pected to go to Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son this week.

Mr Simp­son said he was ex­pect­ing the LGAB’s re­port after the MoC on Fri­day and he ex­pected an Oc­to­ber court hear­ing.

To­day, the LGAB meets to sign off rec­om­men­da­tions for all coun­cils ex­cept Fre­man­tle, Melville, Kwinana, Gos­nells and Can­ning that have pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on last-minute pro­pos­als un­til Septem­ber 16.

LGAB chair­man Mel Conger­ton said he ex­pected “sur­prises” in the first group of rec­om­men­da­tions, would not com­ment on a G5-G2 to solve western sub­urbs’ ire, and the sec­ond group of rec­om­men­da­tions could go to Mr Simp­son in about two weeks.

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