Build Local Government capacity, rather than use a blunt stick.

The Barnett/Grylls government say the state should have 15 to 20 local metropolitan councils, compared to the current 30.

We propose an alternative to forced amalgamations, that of regional service delivery and appropriate local representation. This process would see groups of local governments establishing joint provision of technical and specialist services to achieve economies of scale.

Larger councils become less representative of the communities they serve.

Additionally the Greens WA support the Local Governments in their role as a planning decision-maker, and do not support any actions of any State Government to weaken the planning powers of Local Government.

As the sphere of government closest to the community, and the one with most flexibility to engage its local constituents in local determination, the Greens recommend that Local Government be re-empowered with respect to local planning, within the context of regional frameworks based on principles of sustainability.

To further support the autonomy and building of capacity in the Local Government sector, the Greens WA oppose forced amalgamations.

Local governments themselves were undertaking significant self-evaluation and voluntary regional collaboration prior to this process being imposed, innovation which has now been stymied by the State Government imposing its own brand of reform process on the sector, and delaying making any clear decisions.

Supporting local governments to undertake a process of strategic voluntary reform and strengthening their authority and ability to raise revenue would likely have produced a far more innovative and beneficial outcome than the laborious process the current reform process has involved.

A vision that maintains local democracy, and enhances the community’s ability to engage directly with its political representatives as well as ensuring effective service delivery can only be of benefit, both to the local government sector and to the community which it serves.

The Greens WA commend Local Governments in Western Australia for their work to date, particularly in vital environmental spheres where resources have been scant and support for Local Governments’ role in this space often denuded by State Government. What Local Government can do with a dollar and a proactive team is, at times, inspirational.

Whilst the Premier Colin Barnett says he will not force local governments to amalgamate he believes they will eventually succumb to his pressure.

Barnett’s comments that only a maximum of 20 Perth councils are needed set a dangerous dictatorial agenda for the next term of Government.

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