This is the personal blog of Ian Ker, who was Councillor for the South Ward of the Town of Vincent from 1995 to 2009. I have been a resident of this area since 1985. This blog was originally conceived as a way of letting residents of Vincent know what I have been doing and sharing thoughts on important issues. I can now use it to sound off about things that concern me.

If you want to contact me, my e-mail is still ian_ker@hotmail.com or post a comment on this blog.

To post a comment on this blog, select the individual post on which you wish to comment, by clicking on the title in the post or in the list to the left of the blog, and scroll down to the 'Post a Comment' box at the foot.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

What If The Appeal Is Successful?

The issuing of Governor's Orders before the appeal has been determined raises important questions about the status of those Orders.

There is an apparent conflict between two parts of the Act here. 
9.65(2) states that Orders may be revoked (but doesn't define the circumstances).
9.65(3) states that Orders are valid notwithstanding non-compliance with the Act (ie illegality).

The latter is a very strange provision, as it almost encourages a Minister to break the law to see if he can get away with it.

One can only hope that, in the event of a successful appeal, the judgment includes a direction to revoke the Orders.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bah! Humbug! Homer's Christmas Present To Us All

What a typically cynical piece of skulduggery to have Governor's Orders issued on Christmas Eve and hope that no one will notice - especially when the Supreme Court judgement is under appeal.

It isn't often that I wish people ill, but I hope Homer (and Col Pot) have the Christmas they deserve - and that doesn't include the word 'happy'.
http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/gazette/gazette.nsf/searchgazette/DD7AD735D82AA7B248257DB70083B89D/$file/gg208.pdf
PS  By signing the Governor's Orders while the matter is still before the Courts, Kerry Sanderson has failed her first test as Governor

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

An Unlikely Event

As readers of this blog will be well aware, it isn't often that I agree with Perth Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi - indeed, this might well be a first - but whatever one might think of Col Pot's City of Perth Act proposal we should all agree that, if you're going to do it, it should be done properly.

The creation of a new enlarged City of Perth is much more complex than amalgamation (or 'boundary adjustment') of two councils, because of the special nature of a 'capital city'.

'Hurriedly-convened' meetings in January, 'background papers' that are not yet available and an 'advisory group … meet[ing] next month to liaise with relevant stakeholders' hardly sounds like a thorough and well-thought-out consultation process.

Lisa Scaffidi is not the only 'relevant stakeholder' who has organised leave during December/January. While it is to her credit that she has cancelled three weeks' planned leave, there will be many others who are unable to do so - leaving holes in the stakeholder consultation that make it look like a swiss cheese.

Organisations, in particular, will find it virtually impossible to get a view from their members at this time of year.

And if legislation is to be introduced in February, it is clear that the 'consultation' is little more than window-dressing - a sham - as any meaningful consultation would require time to digest and to at least fine-tune the legislation.

On the positive side, the sham and shambolic consultation envisaged should be yet one more reason why Labor, the Nationals and the Greens should maintain their opposition and defeat the Bill in the Upper House.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Part Of 'No' Doesn't Barnett Understand?


How many times does it have to be said: Vincent does NOT want to be part of the City of Perth.

Kate Emery is wrong when she says  ('Barnett confident on council mergers', West Australian website, 16th December 2014) that "the City of Vincent wants to be part of the City of Perth". The City of Vincent proposal for this was only made in an attempt to avoid the worst aspects of proposals from the Minister and the City of Perth.

Nearly 4 out 5 of those who voted in October 2013 did not want Vincent to be abolished.

Vincent Council has clearly stated its position to be that it:
- Recognises the local community’s first preference, based on the results of the City of Vincent plebiscite and ongoing community feedback, that the City of Vincent remain as its own local government entity;
- Remains opposed to forced local government mergers which does not give ratepayers the final say on the future of their council.
The Mayor of Vincent has also strongly opposed the vote-weighting proposed by Barnett to ensure that "residents don't control the CBD" - the effect of which would be to make Vincent residents second-class citizens.
For Colin Barnett to say, publicly, that the City of Vincent supports his proposed City of Perth Act can only be described as an astounding act of hubris - one that is compounded by his expectation that the Opposition will support it, despite statements to the contrary previously made by the Leader of the Opposition, Mark McGowan.

The hope for those of us who value democracy and honesty is that, as in the Greek tragedies, the goddess Nemesis comes to our aid as the punisher of hubris. And Barnett has, apparently, admitted that he has no Plan B.

The fact is that the City of Vincent, the Nationals and the Labor Opposition have all said they oppose Barnett's proposed City of Perth Act with its gerrymander.

And Kate Emery clearly doesn't understand that unequal wards or vote-weighting are the same - both echoes of the infamous Bjelke-Peterson era in Queensland that was maintained only with a most horrendous gerrymander.

UPDATE 8pm

Barnett, on the ABC 7pm News, when asked how he hoped to get his Act passed, said "Power of persuasion. Watch this space". Those of us who have observed his tactics throughout this process know that means he will try to bully opponents into supporting him.

Consultation Must Be Genuine

Colin Barnett has announced that he will give priority to his proposed City of Perth Act in the New Year.

Local Government Minister, Tony Simpson, says that the Act will "be drafted in consultation with both the City of Perth and the current City of Vincent as well as relevant business, tourism and ratepayer associations".

Let's hope he really means what he says for once and that 'consultation' isn't simply a fa├žade to give apparent legitimacy to what Barnett has already announced - a gerrymander to ensure that "residents don't control the Central Business District".

There are 14 Precinct Groups in the City of Vincent. I hope that Vincent Council insists that they all be part of a genuine process of consultation - not one for which the outcomes are predetermined. This means that the length and timing of the consultation process must allow representative groups, whether they be business, tourism or ratepayer-based, themselves to consult with their members.

More Doubtful Legality

The latest Local Government (so-called) Reform Update says that 'continuing councils' can call for changes to the ward structure recommended by the LGAB - once Governor's Orders have been issued.

The new local governments do not come into effect until 1st July 2015 (unless some as-yet-unannounced change has been made to the implementation timetable), so what is the legal basis for an existing council seeking changes to ward structures for a local government that doesn't yet exist?

In addition, it is surely grossly unfair for the Council of, say, Cambridge to seek a specific ward structure for the new entity of Subiaco?

UPDATE: 16th December

For a clear and informed view of this process and the information provided to Councils see http://chriscornish.info/2014/12/department-of-local-government.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Assertions Not Information

Five out of the six local government communities that have the privilege of being able to call a poll on the amalgamations being forced on them Kwinana, Cockburn, South Perth, Victoria Park and, now, East Fremantle) have now called for such a poll.

The information to be provided, along with voting papers, to electors by the Electoral Commission comes from the Local Government Advisory Board.

The 'YES' case consists of the usual unproven (and, indeed, contradicted by the evidence) categorical assertions about improved efficiency and sustainability - yet despite this are all stated without qualification.

The 'NO' case, in contrast is stated using weak language ('generally satisfied') and in less-than-certain terms ('may be'; 'may experience').

Case for YES
 The existing communities share similar social and economic characteristics.
 A larger local government has increased capacity to attract and retain specialist staff and provide greater levels of community leadership.
 The new local government will be more sustainable and better positioned to address challenges and provide services to its residents.
 A larger local government has a greater capacity to plan for the future of the communities.

Case for NO
 The existing local governments have a strong connection to their communities.
 Residents are generally satisfied with the standard and level of services provided by their current respective local governments.
 There may be some interruption to services during the amalgamation transition period.
 Residents and ratepayers may experience some level of uncertainty about how the changes will affect them.

The difference in language does not come as a surprise, as the LGAB has already determined, in its recommendation that is being tested at the poll, that, in its view, the 'yes' case is stronger than the 'no'. It is not appropriate, despite what the Local Government Act says, for the LGAB to provide this key information to voters where it has a clear conflict of interest - but then we already know that the LGAB doesn't understand conflict of interest.

Of even greater concern, however, is that none of the statements relates specifically to the people who are being asked to vote or to their local government. 

UPDATE 17th December

Published, although with some editing, in the letters page of the West Australian.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ian Britza, MLA - Missing In (In)Action

One month ago I sent an open letter (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/open-letter-to-ian-britza-mla.html) via email to Ian Britza, MLA for Morley. This letter supported his clear statement that he "upheld the truths, goals and objectives of the Liberal Party" and pointed out that the current local government so-called reform process was far from those ideals.

So far I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgment, never mind a proper reply.

This is all the more perplexing given that the Bayswater and Stirling Councils (his Morley electorate is part in Stirling and part in Bayswater) are now, belatedly, up in arms about what is being proposed (see http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/he-who-sups-with-devil.html).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Does No One Understand Conflict Of Interest?

Both Colin Barnett and Dean Nalder have continually echoed the Chief Justice, Wayne Martin, in a puzzling assertion that conflict of interest doesn't matter as long as it doesn't actually affect decisions.

To most of us, it is the potential for a conflict of interest to influence decisions that is the most important matter that requires attention.

To rely on the outcome requires that the outcome and that the person with the conflict of interest was involved in achieving it actually be known - not always easy in these days of increasing government secrecy.

More importantly, in a practical sense, is that the outcomes might well not be reversible. In the Nalder case, the Tier 3 rail lines come to mind - once these lines are closed and allowed to deteriorate it is most unlikely that they would ever be re-opened.

In the case of local government so-called reform, if ignoring the conflict of interest of some members of the Local Government Advisory Board results in amalgamations across the metropolitan area (not to mention, subsequently, country WA), the massive expenditure to implement the change makes it unlikely that there would be appetite for the additional cost and disruption of de-amalgamation - although some Queensland communities have shown that it can be done.

Blink And You Miss It

West Australian, 12th December 2014
A very important development rates only four short paragraphs in the West Australian - but at least it wasn't buried at the foot of the page as some previous local government so-called reform news items have been. I congratulate the City of Subiaco Council for continuing to stand up for the rights of their community and democracy.

There are some very serious issues arising from the Chief Justice's ruling of 25th November that have to be tested if democracy and the rule of law are to have a chance of survival in this State.

This is uncharted territory. The Local Government Act has never before been used for such a complex set of changes - indeed, it was never intended to do so.

Although there has been nothing to stop the Minister seeking Governor's Orders for those recommendations not subject to a poll, the Subiaco appeal makes this extremely problematic for Simpson as any such orders would conflict with the result of a successful appeal.

In any case, to seek some Governor's Orders would leave some awkward situations should any or all of the polls get a binding outcome to reject. There could be substantial areas of Canning, Melville and Cockburn and some other small areas not then covered by any local government.

Now that Subiaco has decided to appeal, the lawyers will need to deal with the State Solicitor's Office and the Minister with regard to timing of Governor's Orders. This would also need to cover all of the recommendations either directly or indirectly (ie by precedent) affected by the appeal, which is all of them in one way or another. How this would be dealt with will depend, to a large extent, on how the Court interprets section 9.65 of the Act - Para (2) states that orders can be revoked but para (3) states that an order is valid even if parts of the Act have not been complied with.

I would hope that the Government would see the sense in holding off on Governor's Orders until the appeal is finalised, because the alternative is a real mess - not to mention loss of face. However, it has placed such huge emphasis on its timetable to have new local government operating at 1st July 2015 that to delay pending the appeal (which I believe would be unlikely to be heard before March/April) would itself be a huge backdown.

The Government has, indeed, got itself between a rock and a hard place.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kalamunda Maintains The Rage

While the local government parties to the legal action discuss whether to appeal, the Save Kalamunda community continues to put the issue out there with a vengeance. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Follow The Rest - Like Lemmings?

There's a letter in this week's Post Newspaper that calls on us to follow the rest of Australia into larger local governments. Here's my response to that, submitted as a letter to the Post - and, for balance and context, the original letter is at the right of this post.

Robert Mitchell (Letters, 6th December 2014) thinks we should follow the rest of Australia into larger local governments, but has he looked at the reality of what has happened? Amalgamations haven't reduced costs anywhere. 

If amalgamations are such a good thing, why hasn't the WA Government been able to tell us. The Minister for Local Government has admitted that he doesn't have a business case and he doesn't know what the costs and the benefits would be.

Well, the residents and ratepayers of Geraldton/Greenough/Mullewa (now merged) can tell him. 
- Rates up 30%
- More managers and directors and fewer workers
- Lots of contractors and consultants who have no real connection with the area
- Businesses closing because they can't afford the higher rates
- Building and development permits even more problematic than previously.

And there is a very real loss of the local from local government, especially if wards are done away with as the WA Government is doing. Larger local governments will inevitably increase the cost of standing for election and local government becomes the domain of political parties and others with deep pockets.

If amalgamations are such a good thing, why are amalgamated councils in Queensland already de-amalgamating?

If amalgamations are such a good thing, why did amalgamations in Canada increase the number of local government staff by 27%?

Professor Brian Dollery, Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England (NSW) has studied amalgamations. His research shows that there are only economies of scale for about a quarter of local government expenditure and the rest is subject to diseconomies of scale - costs go up as Councils get larger.

Where's the benefit to residents and ratepayers?

WA data on council charges (rates and rubbish charge) show no difference between small and large Councils (see chart below). The logic of this suggests that (a) there is no economic or financial case for larger local governments and (b) that, since there is no systematic relationship between size and charges, communities should be given the choice of what size of local government they want.

UPDATE 12th December 2014. Letter published in Post News, 13th December 2014 - the online edition comes out a day before the masthead date!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Strange Exception

I wrote, yesterday, that the Supreme Court judgment (draft available at http://www.supremecourt.wa.gov.au/T/transcripts.aspx) appeared to be a very literal approach to the law (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/a-black-letter-day-for-democracy-in-wa.html). There was, however, one very significant exception.

The Chief Justice ruled that the Dadour poll provisions did not apply to Vincent/Perth and the G5 because the Minister had already stated that he rejected these two LGAB recommendations and that, since a poll would only be binding in the case of a vote for a rejection, a poll could make no difference to the outcome and was therefore a waste of time and money.

'Waste of time and money' is not, to the best of knowledge, a legal argument and, in any case, is a slur on the Minister (ie he would not take any notice of a strong poll that contradicted his views - okay, we know that's probably true, but it isn't a legal argument) and misunderstands what a poll would show:

- A poll with a strong (preferably binding) majority rejecting the recommendation would not be a rejection on the same basis as the Minister, who simply wants to tweak the Vincent/Perth merger to add key assets and introduce a gerrymander to ensure business dominate the new Council. The Minister still wants amalgamation but the poll result would not.

- A poll result that favours the LGAB recommendation would be a vote for a fair and equitable merger of Vincent and Perth, which is, again, totally different from what the Minister and Premier want.

The Chief Justice clearly doesn't understand that democracy isn't simply about achieving a different outcome (although, as argued above, he apparently doesn't understand the nature of the outcomes either), it's about being able to be heard.

The right to request a poll (Schedule 2.1, Clause 8, of the Local Government Act) is an absolute right, unqualified by anything other than the nature of the LGAB recommendation. It certainly isn't qualified by any Ministerial response to the recommendation or whether, in the view of the Chief Justice or anyone else, it might be 'a waste of money'.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Black (Letter) Day for Democracy in WA

In a judgment that appeared to owe more to the black letter of the law than to its intent, the Supreme Court today gave the green light to Barnett and Simpson to boundary-adjust local government as we know it out of existence in WA.

Nationals, please take note, today's decision means that Barnett and Simpson can reduce the number of non-metropolitan local governments by half, with the support of a compliant Local Government Advisory Board, simply by abolishing every second one and expanding the boundaries of the others to swallow those abolished.

And then a few years down the track, it will halve the number again.

Tom Dadour must be turning in his grave at the way the legal system has allowed the powers-that-be to get away with perverting the poll provisions of the Local Government Act that he fought so hard for.

Mind you, it's hard not to be disappointed at the performance of the applicants' Senior Counsel who, by general consensus, failed to mount the arguments effectively and abandoned two grounds of the action without consulting his clients. His doing so effectively precluded mounting the argument that the Minister's proposals, even though largely rejected by the LGAB, would have had a pervasive impact on the Board's deliberations.

I was impressed, though, with the speed with which the Chief Justice came to his judgment, segueing, without a pause, from the applicants' Counsel's submissions in reply straight into the judgment.

I always, perhaps naively, thought that the point of debate or legal argument was that what was said might have some impact on the decision reached. If this is not so, what the hell were we all there for?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bring King Puck To Perth

http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20141103-in-killorglin-irelands-goat-king-still-reigns
A goat king would have to be better than Emperor Col Pot.

With a little encouragement, perhaps King Puck would kick Col Pot's a%&e out of town so that the rest of us can get on with our lives in peace.

Pity The Poor Ranger

Have pity on the oft-maligned local government ranger, whose already-difficult job is about to become many times more complex. 

Existing local laws will continue to apply after the local government changes come into effect until 'the new local government reviews its local laws and replaces them with local laws that will cover the whole district'.

Anyone who has experience of local government knows that making local laws is not a simple process - and in the meantime the rangers will have to enforce multiple local laws. 

Take Fremantle, for example, where rangers will have to enforce the local laws of Fremantle, East Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn. Or South Park (South Perth, Victoria Park, Canning and a small piece of Belmont). Or Subiaco (Subiaco, Cambridge, Stirling, Nedlands).

And then there are the areas that will have no local Council to enforce any local laws at all.

Don't be surprised, therefore, if the Council of the 'continuing' local government (where the 'boundary adjustment' fiction is applied), which has total control of the new local government from July to October 2015 and majority control for the next two years, chooses to make its local laws apply to the whole new entity.

Still, it's interesting (in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse, 'may you live in interesting times') to wonder how many other such problems are awaiting the unwary Councils and communities that are now, belatedly, coming to the conclusion that the changes might not be such a good thing for them.

I am reminded of the words of Bob Dylan's song, I Pity The Poor Immigrant, for we shall soon be unwilling immigrants in new 'communities' that many of us want no part of.

I pity the poor immigrant
Who tramples through the mud
Who fills his mouth with laughing
And who builds his town with blood
Whose visions in the final end
Must shatter like the glass
I pity the poor immigrant
When his gladness comes to pass

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A State With No Democracy

Written about Phony Tony and the Abbotoir, but with a refrain that is only too familiar here in WA. 

As johndoejnr writes: 
Tony Abbott, who bullied his way into the position of Prime Minister, did so by harping on and on about how Julia Gillard told one big lie. And then when Abbott gained power, he turned out to be the biggest hypocritical liar of them all.
This song is to remind all Australians that while you can't really trust any politicians nowadays, it's the conservatives you can't trust the most!
Whilst the scale of Abbott's lying is truly breathtaking, it is debatable which is the more hypocritical - Abbott or Barnett.
https://soundcloud.com/johndoejnr/the-club-with-no-cheer - click this link for audio

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bill Hassell Says It Very Well

Bill Hassell, former WA Liberal Party Leader, was interviewed on West TV on Thursday 20th November. In his very measured way, he stated strongly why the current local government so-called reform (or 'deform' as I have seen it referred to recently) is anathema to him as a lifelong Liberal.

For those who were unable to watch on Thursday or would simply like to watch it again, the links are below (the interview is in two parts).

Thanks to WTV for their continuing interest in and reporting on this important issue that has been almost entirely ignored by the commercial media.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Voice Of Experience

There have been some who doubted that the experience elsewhere described so well by Professor Brian Dollery would be repeated in WA, so it is valuable to hear the voice of local experience.

Rates up by 30%.

More management and fewer workers.

Lots of consultants and contractors.

Where are the examples of merged councils where the people are happy? There are none.

If You Were Confused Before………

…just imagine how confused you'd be if you had to rely on the English translation of a Vietnamese translation (http://autimes.com.au/australia/western-australia/ratepayers-head-to-wa-parliament-to-demand-say-on-council-mergers/) of Jessica Strutt's piece for the ABC (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-18/ratepayers-converge-on-wa-parliament-about-council-mergers/5901220?&section=news).
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tony Simpson: Give Us Our Rights

Click to enlarge
This letter will be presented to the Minister for Local Government at 1pm today on the step of Parliament House (except that we have been told he won't deign be there to meet with us) calling on him to rectify irregularities: 

(a) in the Local Government Advisory Board process, in that it has not informed Vincent and Perth residents of their right to request a poll under the Local Government Act (Schedule 2.1, clause 8, subclauses (1) and (2)).

Schedule 2.1, Clause 8, subclause (1) clearly states that where the Board recommends the abolition of two or more districts and their amalgamation into one or more districts, the Board shall give notice to affected local governments and affected electors. Subclause (2) states that this notice shall inform affected electors of their right to request a poll under subclause (3) within one month of the issuing of the notice.
The LGAB has not issued any such notice in respect of its recommendation of Proposal 16 (Perth/Vincent) despite its meeting the criteria and despite its recommendation being worded identically to that for South Perth/Victoria Park, for which it has issued such a notice.
(b) in his purporting to make decisions on LGAB recommendations under which electors have the right to call a poll before such poll process has been concluded.

The Local Government Act clearly makes the right to a poll contingent upon the recommendation of the LGAB not on any purported response to that recommendation by the Minister. Since such a poll may bind the Minister, he cannot make a decision in advance of the results of any such poll being known.

He Who Sups With The Devil………

Eastern Reporter, 18th November 2014
The saying, 'he who sups with the devil should use a long spoon', means that one should be very cautious when dealing with dangerous or untrustworthy persons.

It was never more apt than for the City of Bayswater, which has consistently been enthusiastic about local government so-called reform, but now finds itself in the position of trying to defend the right of 1500 of its residents to remain in Bayswater.

At the same time, perhaps the City of Bayswater should reflect on the even larger number of Stirling residents who are being told that, like it or not, they will be living in Bayswater from mid-2015 if the Government (based on the City of Bayswater proposal) has its way.

The devil put temptation in the way of local councils that sought to aggrandise themselves and some duly sold their souls in a faustian pact.

Now the devil is calling in the price.

Monday, November 17, 2014

One More Step Forward

The additional legal action initiated by the Shire of Peppermint Grove was due to have a Directions Hearing this morning. 

The hearing was vacated by agreement between the parties, which means that it will proceed to a full hearing on 25th November with the original legal action.

And the document released by the State Government in October (below) provides clear evidence that it made 'decisions' before the poll process has run its course - despite the clear provision of the Local Government Act that the Minister can only accept or reject after the results of any polls are known.



 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vincent Council Goes For Wrong Target Again

I was critical of Vincent Council for its focus on 'One-in, All-in' last year, when I believed it would have been better to focus on the potential for not becoming part of the City of Perth. Like too many councils, many of which are now regretting what they did, Vincent allowed itself to be suckered in to presenting its own proposal for amalgamation.

Recent events appear to have proved me right, with the LGAB recommending the 'One in, All in' proposal but the Premier and, reluctantly, the Minister didn't like it so are going to deal with us by proposed legislation that is so preposterous that it now 'requires' counter-action by the City of Vincent.

Just when the focus should be on establishing our right to a poll under the Local Government Act, Vincent Council has put out a petition seeking a referendum in opposition to the proposed City of Perth Act.

Now, I agree the City of Perth Act proposed by the Premier would be an abomination and severely detrimental to the Vincent community and to democracy, but it is some way off, and the immediate priority should be to establish the right to a Dadour Poll - that opportunity will not come again and if we don't take advantage of it we can rightly be labelled as not serious about electors' democratic rights.

Frankly, there is zero likelihood of getting a referendum out of this Premier, who continues to maintain that his process is proper and above-board. He knows what the outcome of such a referendum would be and he doesn't knowingly set himself up for embarrassing defeat.

Calling for such a referendum is a purely populist device that will make Council and those who sign feel good - but will achieve nothing. On the other hand, the law is on our side with regard to a Dadour poll (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/lgab-is-wrong-wrong-wrong.html).

One councillor has taken me to task for 'confusing' electors given that the City of Vincent was running its own petition about the proposed City of Perth Act. I only heard about this petition indirectly late yesterday, by which time my Dadour petition had already been out there for several days.

That councillor was him/herself confused as (s)he wrote: We are in a different position than other Councils now who are actually going to be merged or amalgamated as a direct result of the LGAB recommendations being accepted. How are we entitled to a poll Ian?

Well, Councillor, the Local Government Act clearly states that the right to a poll is triggered by the recommendation of the LGAB not by any purported Ministerial response to it. Indeed, the Minister legally cannot respond to an LGAB recommendation that triggers a poll right until the poll process has been concluded.

I was also surprised that the councillor expressed concern about the "significantly high benchmarks required for a result", which is an incredibly defeatist attitude. Other Councils are pressing for a poll despite that and some, but probably not all, will achieve the requirements. But it won't take many successful ones for the whole house of cards to collapse.

We have been critical of the Minister's process and his attempts to bend the law, so surely we have to show faith in the democratic process - if we do not, we are no better than Simpson - effectively saying "the law won't give us what we want, so we'll change the rules".

The Communities' Action Alliance strategy of nurturing the Nationals and targeting key Liberals to encourage them not to support such an Act is much more likely to pay off as it is focussed and allows the Premier to back down in the party room, in the face of the threat of being defeated in Parliament, rather than in the public arena. We know, for example, that he did precisely that in respect of his move to remove the Dadour poll provision of the Act.

At Last - Someone Understands Community of Interest

Perth Voice, 15th November 2014
At last someone who understands community of interest - the Local Government Advisory Board and the Minister for Local Government certainly don't.

As Barrie Baker writes:

It can hardly be said that splitting Mount Lawley across three municipalities, with their separate policies, town planning schemes, traffic policies, etc will further the coherence of the suburb and foster its sense of community.

Well said, Barrie.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Power Of Networking - And The Power Of One

Just two days ago, I sent out emails to a number of people in Vincent asking them if they would collect signatures and/or use their networks to help gather signatures on the petition requesting a poll on the future of the City of Vincent.

Well, the first return just arrived in the mail - not from one of those to whom I sent my email but from someone to whom one of them forwarded it.

Just one signature - but the power of one is very great.

Petitions don't just have to be about door-knocking and walking the streets with a clipboard - although we definitely need that.

Petitions are also about giving people who may not have the inclination or the ability to do that the opportunity to contribute. Each of us has family, friends and colleagues. It doesn't need very many people to get signatures from a few of those in our close circles - and ask them to do the same - for the numbers to mount up.

If this inspires you to want to help, you can download the petition form from http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/signatures-needed-to-save-vincent.html.

Signatures Needed To Save Vincent - Petition For Poll

As noted here previously (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/not-quite-right-but-scandalous-anyway.html), the electors of Vincent are entitled to a poll on the recommendation of the Local Government Advisory Board. To get this to happen, we need 250 signatures on a petition - as some people may be unsure whether they are on the Vincent electoral roll, we need to aim for up to 350 signatures.

Can you help get those signatures - even just a few, from your neighbours and friends will be a great help. Even just your own will help. You don't need to fill the form completely for it to be valid.

You can print off the petition form by right-clicking on the image at bottom right, saving the image, then printing it.

Alternatively, email me at ian_ker@hotmail.com and I'll send you the form by return email.

We are aiming to present the petition, along with others, on either Tuesday or Wednesday next week, so please return signed forms (need to be hard copies not scans) at 92 Vincent Street, Mt Lawley or let me know where/when to pick them up Monday at the latest.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Headlines You'd Love To See

But unfortunately it's about footy.

Ah! Well! We can dream.

In any case, it would simply have Homer calling for more shark drumlines.

Thanks to Colin Latchem for alerting me to this one.

Open Letter To Ian Britza, MLA

Ian Britza, MLA, Morley
Dear Mr Britza
You have been much-quoted or misquoted in the media today on the subject of whether you might stand as an independent in 2017.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of the reporting, there was one very clear statement that you "uphold the truths, goals and objectives of the Liberal Party."
There are many in WA who currently think that would be a very good reason for standing as an independent, as the current WA Government, in particular the Premier, clearly does not "uphold the truths, goals and objectives of the Liberal Party".
For those of us who are concerned about the future of local government and of democracy in Western Australia, the past 18 months have been a time of great disillusionment with the political process in general and with the current supposedly-Liberal government in particular. I have heard many 'lifelong Liberal voters' state publicly that they will not vote for the Liberal Party at the next WA state election simply because of the appalling way that local government so-called reform has been handled.
In the case of your own electorate of Morley, whilst the suburb of Morley is in Bayswater, which sees itself as one of the winners out the chaos, half of your electorate is in the City of Stirling and a part of this (between Wellington Street, Morley Drive and Alexander Drive) has been recommended to be moved from Stirling into Bayswater. This includes the important recreation area of Dianella Open Space.
We know that the City of Stirling is very unhappy at losing 15% of its population, mainly to Bayswater, especially since there is no opportunity for residents to have a say in whether they wish to leave Stirling.
If the voters of Stirling are as unhappy as their Council, this would be a good reason for creating some distance from the autocratic and authoritarian actions of the Premier and the Minister for Local Government. 
One way of demonstrating that you do indeed uphold Liberal values would be for you to support motions in the Legislative Assembly that oppose forced changes to local governments in Perth. The Assembly has already passed two such motions 'on the voices' and the Legislative Council has passed another. A further motion in the Assembly was on the Notice Paper for today, having been adjourned from November last year - the 'chaos and confusion' have increased considerably since then.

Promoted Beyond His Level Of Competence?

WA Local Government Association President, Troy Pickard, has been elected President of the Australian Local Government Association.

In view of the unsatisfactory role WALGA has played in local government so-called reform in Perth, it is to be sincerely hoped that Pickard doesn't shaft local government in the rest of Australia the way he has in Perth.

It would be ironic if other local councils were to follow the Nedlands lead and withdraw from WALGA so that Troy is left heading up a dead duck in WA.

As I have argued in a previous post on this blog (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/time-to-scrap-walga-and-start-again.html), the WALGA model is flawed as a policy model because it doesn't (or, more accurately, can't) reflect diversity among its membership. 

It is also flawed as a business model - it might have been relevant in the 1990s but online competition between suppliers is now so great that having a 'broker' is no longer necessary or even useful and economies of scale in purchasing are disappearing in most service areas. 

WALGA is an unnecessary and expensive overhead, supporting and supported by state government in a symbiotic relationship that systematically excludes many of WALGA's members. 

Congerton Conflict Of Interest Is Confirmed

Conflict of interest is a very serious issue and one that has plagued the Local Government Advisory Board due to the scale and complexity of the Government's local government so-called reform process. This scale and complexity was beyond the ability of the LGAB to influence - although it could have stated that it was unable to consider the 38 proposals as they went well beyond what the Local Government Act envisaged as the role of the Board.

However, this latest conflict of interest is purely of the Board's making - more specifically of the Chairman of the Board, Mel Congerton.

For him to express an interest in being appointed a commissioner while the Board was still assessing the proposals creates a clear conflict of interest and, given that he knew what the Board's likely recommendations were at that time, is the moral equivalent of insider trading.

This is more that just a personal matter for Mr Congerton. It has the potential to bring down everything that the Board has done.