Mergers: Parties sign consent pact
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.