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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Friday, October 31, 2014

Single-Ward Fetish

Perth Voice, 1st November 2014
The Local Government Advisory Board seems to have a fetish for removing the local from local government. Not only does it tow the Barnett/Simpson line that 'bigger is better', it doesn't even like the localism inherent in having local governments divided into wards.

So we would have larger local governments that are, inevitably, more remote from local communities and then, to make things even worse, you won't have ward councillors to represent your interests.

Even with wards, larger local governments would mean more residents and ratepayers for each councillor, but at least you would have some chance of having a representative with some connection with your area and situation.

With a single ward, as Alannah MacTiernan and Bayswater Councillor, Chris Cornish, point out, election becomes the privilege of the wealthy or those with political parties or big business behind them.

Vote Needed Now Not In 2017

A few days ago, Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan, called for the Government to suspend the forced amalgamation process and seek a mandate for it at the next election.

I know it is commonplace these days for governments to claim a mandate, when it suits them, for anything they said in the election campaign - but we all know that is a very selective process these days.

There is also the huge problem that elections are won on a range of issues, not just a single issue, so it is quite possible for a party to win government despite rather than because of one or more of its policies.

So what Mark McGowan ought to be calling for is for all affected communities to be able to call a Dadour poll on the Local Government Advisory Board recommendations - and there is no point in waiting until 2017 for this as to do so would simply prolong the uncertainty.

The Minister can call a poll wherever he chooses (but he has already chosen not to do so in response to a petition from Kalamunda) and there is nothing to stop him requiring them to be on the same basis as a Dadour poll. Simpson rejects doing so because he knows what the outcome will be in many cases and he can't face the humiliation.

Conflict of Interest - Yet Again

A number of people have raised a curious aspect of conflict of interest with me recently.

On 9th June, 2014, the Minister for Local Government issued a declaration that the conflict of interest provisions relating to the Local Government Advisory Board did not apply to the deliberations of the Board on current metropolitan local government (so-called) reform proposals.

Those conflicts of interest relate to discussion of matters relating to "a local government of which the member [of the LGAB] is a member or an employee". The Minister was entirely within his rights under the Local Government Act to issue such a declaration, but I (and many others) regard him as being misguided in doing so.

This declaration, however, does not void conflicts of interest the other way - nor does it void any conflicts of interest prior to 9th June.

It is to be sincerely hoped that those to whom this applies have formally declared their interest when their local government has been discussing matters relating to the Local Government Advisory Board and its deliberations on local government so-called reform.

Stirling Does Get It

The situation of the City of Stirling has often been missing in the clamour about forced amalgamations, but not being forced to amalgamate doesn't necessarily help you. Stirling is the big territory loser out of the LGAB recommendations - and because it clearly doesn't merge (even by 'boundary adjustment') with any other local government (it simply gets a lot smaller) its community has no access to a poll.

Mayor Giovanni Italiano clearly gets it when he says that "the mergers could cost its [City of Stirling] ratepayers millions". He hasn't been conned by the Premier and Minister making vague and unsubstantiated noises about 'economies of scale' and 'efficiencies'.

Cr Terry Tyzack clearly gets it when he says "there is a perception that decisions made by government ministers cannot be challenged. This is not the case - Ministers are not all powerful or supreme".

As I wrote in an earlier post on this blog (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/wtf.html): "Barnett needs to understand or, failing that, be forcibly reminded that the power of Government is limited, in the immediate sense, by the law and by the Parliament and, in the longer term, by the people who elect it."

It is unfortunate but, as the City of Stirling has found out, true that it is necessary to go to the courts to prevent the excesses of the Executive.

Disquiet At Mundaring

On the subject of the Community Forum at Mundaring on Wednesday evening (see also previous post - http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/another-contradiction-but-pickard-gets.html), there was a lot of disquiet among the 120-or-so people who attended - although most were too polite to vent the anger that underlay that disquiet - as I found out when talking to some of them after the meeting.

Shire President, Helen Dullard, who is in the unfortunate position of also being a member of the Local Government Advisory Board, singularly failed to convince the meeting that there was nothing more to be done except work with the City of Swan to get the best deal possible. Her attempt to convince the meeting that the Shire of Kalamunda had wasted $80,000 on its poll in October 2013 and that its spending more money now on opposing the takeover by Belmont would weaken its negotiating position was a spectacular failure and, I have to say, an almost unforgivable slur on the actions of another local council.

I can only presume that Ms Dullard was unaware of criticism from the City of Belmont Mayor that his community had been denied access to the poll provision of the Local Government Act (reported in the Southern Gazette, Belmont Edition), which suggests that Belmont and Kalamunda are thinking alike at least on this critical issue. 

When I challenged Ms Dullard's statement that everything was decided, by mentioning the legal action in the Supreme Court, her only response was along the lines that "Tony Simpson says the legal challenge has no chance of success". Well, what else would he say? If he acknowledged that there was a good chance of its succeeding, he would have great difficulty justifying his continuing to defend the action.

At the end of the meeting, despite Ms Dullard's apparent reticent to put a motion to the vote (saying something like she 'had the feel of the meeting'), a resolution was carried unanimously that: "This meeting condemns the boundary change decision with respect to the Shire of Mundaring".

Another Contradiction - But Pickard Gets It (Partly) Right For Once

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-29
At his meeting with Mayors, Presidents and CEOs on Wednesday, Tony Simpson said that there would be no more money for forced amalgamations (well, he didn't use the word forced - but we wouldn't expect that degree of honesty from him on this matter, would we) but that the loans would be made available over a longer period.

That evening, at a community forum in Mundaring, Shire President, Helen Dullard (who is also a member of the Local Government Advisory Board) said that the reason for Mundaring's low financial sustainability score was that it had chosen to take out loans for much-needed infrastructure and facilities over 30 years rather than the more usual 10 years, in order to make the repayments more affordable.

So what Simpson is now saying to Councils is that the pitiful funding available as loans will now be available on a basis that makes local governments less financially sustainable than they would otherwise be!

Foot in mouth, Minister!

And Troy Pickard is undoubtedly right when he says that "in the short term rates will need to rise to help fund the cost of amalgamations".

He is wrong, however, in his implication that rates will be lower in the longer term. There is no evidence to support this, especially where amalgamations have not been voluntary, and Simpson has either been unwilling or (more likely) unable to provide evidence of savings that will result from his forced amalgamations in Perth.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This Premier Has Got to Go - And The Sooner The Better

Not content with bending the Local Government Act out of all recognition to try to achieve the result he wants, Colin Barnett is now proposing to ignore the law completely (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/wtf.html).

The legal action to be heard in the Supreme Court on 25th November is, as much as anything, about making sure that the lawmakers abide by the laws they make.

Barnett is claiming that the Government can do what it likes - never mind what the law (which he voted for in 1995) says.

Barnett has boasted that he will put in place an outrageous gerrymander for the City of Perth/Vincent, in direct contravention of all electoral laws, conventions and democratic principles.

Barnett has lost this state its AAA credit rating through his grandiose schemes.

Barnett is out of control and is dangerous. He has to be got rid of - and we can't afford to wait until 2017.

My message to all Liberals with even a modicum of concern for the future of Western Australia and its democracy is "Don't let Barnett bully you any longer".

WTF!

I don't normally use bad language - even in abbreviation form - but this latest arrogance from Barnett has me absolutely gobsmacked.

The Local Government Act states, very clearly, that the Minister can accept or reject recommendations from the Local Government Advisory Board.

The Local Government Act does not say that the Minister (or the Premier) can 'tweak' the recommendations to suit their own purposes.

So where does Col Pot get off in saying "We can do [tweak the recommendations], we are the Government … we can accept or reject, and probably will accept most of them, but accept or reject does not mean that we cannot do it in alternative way".

Barnett needs to understand or, failing that, be forcibly reminded that the power of Government is limited, in the immediate sense, by the law and by the Parliament and, in the longer term, by the people who elect it.

Time for a palace coup, methinks.

Is This Good or Bad News?

Gareth Parker in today's West Australian suggests that Barnett staying to fight the 2017 election could be good news for Labor. Did he know this announcement was coming?

I'm not so sure, though, because of Barnett's own logic he would have had to resign one year out from the 2017 election if he wasn't going to lead the Liberal Party at the election. That's (at least) one more year of arrogance and petulance from the small-minded man.

On the other hand, might Barnett's toxicity now encourage another Liberal to unseat him.

On the local government issue there would be a lot of pluses for someone to replace Barnett now, if he's going to hang around like the proverbial bad smell until 2017 and beyond.

The new Premier could offer all communities a Dadour Poll. Because the conditions for rejection are hard to meet, some amalgamations would probably get up, but some would not.

The new Premier could say he will not introduce a City of Perth Act, with or without gerrymander, but will allow electors of Vincent, Perth and the G5 to have a Dadour vote on the LGAB recommendations.

The new Premier could then say he has achieved some reform (something none of his predecessors had done) without trampling on people's democratic rights.

Mr Clean. Local government ceases to be a negative and disruptive issue for the Liberal Party.

Late Addition: On ABC radio this morning, Barnett said he "would always do what I think is best for the Government to be re-elected".

Time to go, Col - even on your own arguments!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Gerrymander

As the specific decisions on local government structure gradually sink in, there is increasing concern about the effects of 'boundary adjustment' (instead of amalgamation) on the fairness of representation.

Take the case of Swan and Mundaring or Belmont and Kalamunda or Bayswater and Bassendean or Cambridge and Subiaco, for example - in fact all of the LGAB recommendations accepted by the Minister where there is a 'continuing council' irrespective of whether a ward structure is put in place.

The 'continuing council' (Swan, Belmont, Bayswater, Cambridge, etc) governs the whole new entity from July 2015 to October 2015. The people of the subsumed entity (Mundaring, Kalamunda, Bassendean, Subiaco, etc) have no representation at all on Council for that period.

Come the election of October 2015, half the councillors of the 'continuing council' still go on, as they have two years left in their elected term. The other half of the elected positions come up for election and one might expect them to be filled with some candidates from each of the areas, even without a ward structure.

However, the fact remains that the 'continuing council' has a guaranteed majority of elected members for the first two full years, which is precisely the time when key decisions will be made about the form, functioning and policies of the new entity.

The people of the subsumed Council area will be grossly under-represented for that same period.

This might not look like a gerrymander - but the result is the same - at least for the critical first two years.

Front Page News

Not only has the West Australian come alive on the local government so-called reform issue (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/whats-happened-at-west.html), but local papers (in addition to the long-supporting Post) are also doing so. I've already reported on the front page of the Perth Voice last week (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/wa-stink.html) and now Community Newspapers, including the Western Suburbs Weekly in the Liberal heartland.











Some were content with  more or less straight reporting of the Minister's decisions, often with praise from the 'winners' - although the Eastern Reporter did give some prominence to the Mayor of Bassendean's concern that "even trying to retain representation of Bassendean is going to be very difficult".













The Southern Gazette South Perth edition couldn't resist a 'South Park' jibe, but the  Belmont edition gave prominence to criticism from the City of Belmont Mayor that his community had been denied access to the poll provision of the Local Government Act. I have to say that if the City of Belmont really wanted its community to have able to have a poll, it shouldn't have described its proposal (which was recommended by the LGAB) as a 'boundary adjustment'.











The Stirling Times drew attention to one of the forgotten stories of the whole debacle - the reduction of the City of Stirling. Mayor Giovanni Italiano says he "remains unconvinced that this decision will provide any benefits to our ratepayers whatsoever".

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where is the 21st Century Model For Democracy?

Click to enlarge
Great succinct assessment here (http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/op-ed-political-behaviour-is-largely-non-rational), from someone based in Lyon, France, that applies equally to what is happening in Western Australia right now with the state government attempting to force local government amalgamations. Legal action might actually stop this one in its tracks and community pressure has forced some splits in the ranks of the powerful, but it shouldn’t be necessary (and isn’t always possible) to resort to the courts to curb the excesses of the Executive. Somewhere along the line, the Parliament has lost its way and is now no more than a rubber-stamp for the Executive in most cases.
My own view is that conventional political parties are 19th century dinosaurs, necessary in their day to achieve some form of consensus when communication was slow and cumbersome. The disengagement of people from politics is reflected in the plummeting membership of political parties (http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21596796-democracy-was-most-successful-political-idea-20th-century-why-has-it-run-trouble-and-what-can-be-do) which, in turn, allows small groups to dominate parties and further alienates the rest of us.
In the 21st century we have much more immediate and effective ways of influencing decisions (witness the rise of petition websites such as GetUp and Avaaz) than either Parliament or political parties. Until our political system embraces 21st century technology, including social networking, it will continue to move further and further from the ideals of democracy on which western societies are supposedly based.

Leave the Defilibrator Behind, Please

Alston says it all - but the last thing we want is for Barnett's arrogance to be resuscitated.
West Australian, 28th October 2014

McGowan Challenges Barnett To A Duel

At least I hope that's what Mark McGowan was effectively doing today in Kalamunda.

Grand and statesmanlike though his challenge to Barnett to take local council mergers to an election sounds, it only works if there is clear distinction between the positions of the two major parties.

I am heartened by what Labor has said and done in the past month or so, but we need to keep a careful eye on things to make sure that the Labor policy on local government is a viable and distinctly-different alternative to Barnett's arrogance.

Thought of the Day - Drunk With Power

http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/
It isn't only the Dadour Group (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dadour-Group/1480813872146428) that is extremely concerned about the parlous state of democracy. As Eric Britton, Editor of the 'World Streets' website (sub-title: The Politics of Transport in Cities - http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/op-ed-political-behaviour-is-largely-non-rationalwrites:

"It is not easy to find a direct economic explanation of the behaviour of the people who now rule the world. The desire for pure power seems to be much more dominant than the desire for wealth. This has often been pointed out, but curiously enough the desire for power seems to be taken for granted as a natural instinct, equally prevalent in all ages, like the desire for food. Actually it is no more natural, in the sense of being biologically necessary, than drunkenness or gambling."

I guess, Eric, that's why we talk of people being 'drunk with power'.

He went on to say:

"And if it has reached new levels of lunacy in our own age, as I think it has, then the question becomes: What is the special quality in modern life that makes a major human motive out of the impulse to bully others? If we could answer that question - seldom asked, never followed up - there might occasionally be a bit of good news on the front page of your morning paper."

I'd add that the modern idiom of power is essentially self-defeating in a two-person game in which power changes periodically for reasons beyond the control of those 'in power'. If both players adopt the same approach, each change results in the new powerful overturning the decisions/actions of the previous one but going further in the opposite direction to make it more difficult for their own powerplays to be reversed in turn.

And the loser is - all of us.

Monday, October 27, 2014

More Cracks Appearing

Hot on the heels of John Day's calling for his electors in Kalamunda and Mundaring to be given the right to a poll (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/well-done-john-day.html) comes Mundaring Shire President, Helen Dullard, saying:

"Our position has always been to remain as is…"

"If forced to merge, amalgamation allowed for a fairer process with both Councils abolished (not just Mundaring), a new Council being elected by the whole district, and the community having the right to a poll".

Dullard actually goes further than Day by saying that amalgamation is the 'fairer process' and not just because it give electors the right to a poll.

This is even more illuminating than Day's statement, as Helen Dullard is a member of the Local Government Advisory Board that made the recommendations and that could, if it wished, have amended the proposal it accepted to define it as amalgamation.

Since the Minister's declaration that conflicts of interest did not apply in the LGAB metropolitan reform process came well before completion of the LGAB's assessments, she was able to mount these arguments but presumably was unable to convince more than one other member.*

* A recommendation of the LGAB requires an absolute majority. Since the LGAB has five members, that means three needed to vote for each recommendation.

Community Outrage

Photo: Brian Baynham
About 200 people from across the Perth area gave up much of a sunny Sunday afternoon and came together in Cottesloe yesterday (Sunday 26th October) to take part in a forum on local government so-called reform.

The forum passed, unanimously, three resolutions:

1. That the Premier and the Minister for Local Government be condemned for the chaos, uncertainty and waste of time and money that their pursuit of this reform agenda has created in our councils and local communities.

2. That the Minister for Local Government immediately make available the cost savings to be achieved through amalgamations and boundary changes and the costs to taxpayers and ratepayers of them.

3. That the meeting thank John Day, MLA, for his call for his electors in Kalamunda to be given the opportunity for a poll and asks that all electors in all council areas affected by the proposed changes are allowed to vote on these amalgamations and boundary changes.

Does The LGAB Know What It's Talking About?

Answer: No, if its 'analysis' of newspaper coverage for Vincent/Perth, under community of interest, is anything to go by (p108 of the LGAB report).

If I were the editor or staff of the Perth Voice, I'd be well and truly miffed at the obvious omission.

Pure Sophistry

The latest statement from Homer about why 'boundary adjustment' or 'amalgamation' almost beggars belief.

Whilst it is true that the Minister can only accept or reject the recommendations of the Local Government Advisory Board - although that doesn't apparently prevent his rejecting and then going ahead with something more to his liking, as with the proposed City of Perth Act - the LGAB can and should look at things rather more closely.

The issue should be judged, not on what the proponent describes it as but on what the actual effect is.

If I decide to bludgeon a neighbour to death without provocation, it matters not that I might describe it as an action to give me 'lebensraum' (boundary adjustment).

No! The LGAB should have looked at each proposal and described it in its recommendation as amalgamation if that was the effective outcome. Instead, the LGAB seems to have fallen for the fallacious argument that one Council is better placed to manage the transition than the other - when the resources of both Councils will be required and will be available with either approach.

So the LGAB, as well as the Minister, is guilt of engaging in sophistry to the detriment of the rights of electors and the principles of democracy.

Even worse, where there are two very similar proposals (eg Belmont-Kalamunda; Swan-Mundaring), the LGAB has recommended the one that doesn't give electors the opportunity for a vote - despite the Local Government Act, under which the LGAB operates, having as one of its stated objectives "greater community participation in the decisions and affairs of local governments". Given this, surely the LGAB should have recommended the proposal that gave electors the opportunity of a vote.

Alternatively, it could have amended the proposal, where appropriate, to ensure that opportunity was provided.

Given the Minister's timelines and process, 'boundary adjustment' totally disenfranchises the electors of the abolished local government for the initial period of the new local governments (July-October 2015) and puts sitting councillors of the 'continuing' local government in an unfairly advantageous position when it comes to the October 2015 elections - especially where no wards are proposed.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

WA Stink

The headline writers are really getting into the swing of things now - and this all helps to grab the attention of people who are time-poor or have short attention spans.

The Perth Voice picked up on my description of Barnett's City of Perth Act as a 'Bjelke Peterson Queensland-style gerrymander'.
The Post harks back to a specifically-WA time of infamy, known as WA Inc, with the term 'WA Stink'. There certainly is a stink about this whole local government so-called reform process - and it doesn't only come from what Tony Simpson described as his 'shit sandwich'.

Be There - 4.30pm Sunday - 5pm for the Forum

Post News, 25th October 2014

Submissions Tell A Story

The Local Government Advisory Board had to take account of many factors in coming to its recommendations. One of these was 'community of interests' - and who better to provide information on that than the people who would be affected by proposed changes.

So far, no one has looked very closely at the submissions made to the LGAB - apart, presumably, from the LGAB itself. When you do, some interesting features emerge.

The first is that very few proposals had more than 30% support. Many were below 5% support.

Those that did get strong support were ones for which there had been substantial community involvement - but the communities concerned (with the possible exception of Melville) were largely supporting their local Council proposal on the basis that it was better (less bad?) than any of the alternatives. We know, from the plebiscite in October 2013, that Vincent electors would have supported a proposal for Vincent to stay as it is if it had been possible to make a proposal in those terms.

The Minister's proposals fared particularly badly, with none receiving more than 30% support and only two exceeding 20%. Five of the minister's 12 proposals (ie nearly half) got less than 5% support. This shows just how badly he has misjudged things right from the start.

The only one of the Minister's proposals to be recommended by the LGAB (Swan-Mundaring) managed to get only 12% support. Compare this with the 75% support for the Shire of Mundaring proposal and one is forced to wonder why the Minister's one got the nod - other than as a consolation prize.

The answer likely lies in the Minister's proposal being compatible with the Bayswater-Bassendean proposal, rather than any other grounds, although the Shire of Mundaring proposal could have been made compatible with only small amendments.

The LGAB makes great play of the 'greater capacity' of the City of Swan to manage the transition - the Minister's proposal has Swan as the 'continuing' local government, but those resources would still be available with a straight amalgamation as proposed by the Shire of Mundaring. [Incidentally, this same issue arises with many of the LGAB recommendations, including Belmont-Kalamunda and Bayswater-Bassendean.]

One is forced to deduce that the Minister's proposal was selected here because the City of Swan one would require too much change to be compatible with Bayswater-Bassendean and the Shire of Mundaring one would actually have given people a vote.

What's Happened At The West?

It would be churlish to dwell on the prolonged silence, until relatively recently, of the West Australian on the debacle that Barnett calls 'local government reform'.

But something has happened in the past couple of months, with articles, opinion pieces and letters critical of Barnett on a range of issues - including aspects of the excellent series of articles by Gareth Parker and Kent Acott on transport and Vancouver (http://sustainabletransportcoalitionofwa.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/lack-of-transparency-in-transport.html).

But today tops them all. In addition to Paul Murray's piece mentioned in my previous post (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/the-strength-of-agreement-barnetts-in.html), there is another opinion piece from Gareth Parker (admittedly mildly critical of the Nationals for taking a stand on a metropolitan issue - albeit one that Barnett has forced them into by his duplicity), five letters, an article and even a piece in Inside Cover.

I particularly like the piece in Inside Cover, as it has John Hammond (who is also my lawyer in the action before the Supreme Court) admitting he has changed his mind over amalgamations. To the extent that I might have contributed to this, I feel extraordinarily pleased to claim that I helped change a lawyer's mind. Sorry John!

Incidentally, Simpson doesn't look very happy in the photo from the media briefing - his 'legacy' is rapidly turning to s#@t, aided by Barnett's rolling him on the LGAB recommendations on Perth and Vincent. With friends like that, Homer, you don't need enemies.



The Strength of Agreement: Barnett's In More Than A Muddle

It isn't often I agree with Paul Murray, but today I find my self in that position. This is despite Murray being absolutely true to and consistent with the basis of his previously-stated positions on this and other issues.

When two people arrive at similar conclusions, coming from very different viewpoints and philosophical/political positions, it means the conclusions are very likely to be highly robust.

Anyway, draw your own conclusions from Paul Murray's article (below) and my comments elsewhere on this blog over the past year or more.
Click to enlarge

Right On The Money, Ken.

Ken Travers was right on the money in the Legislative Council on Thursday.
Watch the video or read the transcript. Thanks to Jeremy Mowe for the link to the video.
Hon KEN TRAVERS: I remind those members on the other side who have spoken in the past about the importance of the Dadour provisions that the land we are talking about is the symbolic heartland of the Dadour provisions. It is the sliver of land that the government forgot.
Hon Adele Farina: That’s why they forgot it.
Hon KEN TRAVERS: The slither of land that the government forgot was the land that was the problem that created the Dadour provisions in the 1970s.
Hon Helen Morton: It’s not forgotten.
Hon KEN TRAVERS: Does the minister realise it is the Dadour land?
Hon Helen Morton: Not forgotten; not forgotten.
Hon KEN TRAVERS: The land that we are talking about goes along the City of Subiaco, past the hospital and around the university and is the very land that in the 1970s the City of Nedlands tried to take from the City of Subiaco, which led to the Dadour provisions being put into the Local Government Act over many years. It is the symbolic heartland of the Dadour provisions. What an absolute irony!
There is another argument that the government could take. If we were to accept the argument put forward by the minister today that it has always known about the slither of land, why would it then come up with a more complex way of doing what it is doing, rather than accept the way I outlined yesterday to accept the recommendation for the city of Riversea? There is one other conspiracy theory, and if the minister is correct that the government did not forget it and did it as a conscious act, then the conspiracy theory comes true.
That conspiracy theory is that if they had accepted the city of Riversea yesterday, the City of Subiaco would be entitled to seek a referendum under the Dadour provisions! The very spiritual land could have invoked the Dadour provisions to come to fruition. I wonder whether maybe we went for the option that those in the cabinet were stupid—maybe they are. Maybe it is a conspiracy to deny the people of Subiaco, who live in the land that created the Dadour provisions, the option of having the Dadour provisions on this occasion and that it is a grand conspiracy concocted by the Liberals—without the help of the National Party on this occasion, Hon Col Holt, I am glad to see. Maybe it is a conspiracy. But they are the choices—either the government forgot about it or, if the Minister for Mental Health is right in her protests this evening, it has engaged in a grand conspiracy to not have the creation of the city of Riversea so that the City of Subiaco can be abolished and it will deny the people of Subiaco their democratic rights under the 
Dadour provisions.
How ironic is it that the once great Liberal Party is now in the gutter, conspiring to get around the laws of this state in such an underhanded and devious way. I go back to my comments this morning that this is a case in which the government just forgot and did not get it. At the very least, if the Minister for Mental Health wants to prosecute her case, by all means go ahead, but all she raised in that case is the fact that the government is trying to deny the people of Subiaco, in the very land that created the Dadour provisions in the first place, the right to have access to the Dadour provisions.
Members may recall my final concluding words this morning: the Dadour provisions were created in the City of Subiaco and the people of Subiaco should have access to them. They should, as should everybody else in Western Australia. Instead, we have an underhanded, sneaky and devious government that cannot even do devious–sneaky well because of its complete dysfunction and chaos.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Petulant Premier

Colin Barnett accuses the Nationals, Labor and Greens of being 'silly' opposing legislation that they haven't seen. Whilst this might sound okay at first, Col really asked for this pre-emptive opposition by stating very clearly what would be in the legislation - including a gerrymander to protect the property and commercial interests of the CBD.

If Col would only listen to what people were saying, he would know this to be the case. Instead he reverts to schoolboy language and resorts to calling them silly - a meaningless term if I ever heard one.

Mind you, if Col had listened before now, he wouldn't have got himself into the chaotic mess he is now in the middle of.


Another Defeat For Col

How many times does Parliament have to tell Col Pot it opposes what he is doing to local government before he gets the message and does the correct thing and abandons his grand plans.

Yesterday, the Legislative Assembly passed the following motion:
That this house rejects the Barnett government's model for forced council amalgamations that does not allow the opportunity for a local vote of ratepayers in suburbs such as Willeton, Rivrton, Cannington, Belmont, Mundaring, Bassendean and Mt Lawley, and that the house further reject any attempts to implement forced amalgamations for regional councils.

This follows close on previous similar motions passed by the Legislative Assembly (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/cracks-becoming-chasms.html) and in the Legislative Council (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/more-cracks-and-not-just-in-facade.html).

As I have pointed out here before (http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/constitutional-contravention.html), this is not just a matter of parliamentary and government protocol, it has now become a breach of the WA Constitution.

Gerrymander or Apartheid?

Col insists that an unequal ward structure doesn't constitute a gerrymander. Perhaps a better word would be apartheid, Col, like the South Africa of old where blacks and coloureds had representation but separate and vastly less than their numbers justified.

The South African parliament, from 1984 to 1994, had three separately elected chambers:
  • A 178-member White House of Assembly, which was in effect the existing lower house of Parliament.
  • An 85-member (Coloured) House of Representatives.
  • A 45-member (Indian) House of Delegates.
The key difference is that in the case of South Africa this was an improvement in democratic representation but in the case of Perth and Vincent it would be a distinctly retrograde step.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Support For Polls?

John McGrath, MLA for South Perth, "agree[s] with the decision to use the amalgamation provisions of the Local Government Act" for South Perth-Victoria Park.

Unfortunately, he is silent on the denial of that right to the majority of the people and communities affected by the proposed changes to local government.

I challenge John to be open and honest with the people of the Perth Metropolitan area and say whether he agrees with denying them access to the same poll provision that he endorses for his own electors.

For the record, I agree with him in being more than disappointed that the arrangement for Burswood might be reviewed in five years. Local government needs stability to be sustainable - and South Perth-Victoria Park definitely needs Burswood to be financially on a secure footing. The City of Perth doesn't need Burswood except to further inflate its already bloated ego.

You Won't Get This In The City Of Perth

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TravelSmart is all about people. It's about giving people real travel alternatives to driving their cars and helping them to be aware of and to use those alternatives.

The City of Perth, with its CBD focus, is about what it sees as 'bigger' issues.

According to the City of Perth website, it's sole involvement with TravelSmart appears to be "the development and implementation of a workplace Green Transport Plan through the TravelSmart program" - an inward-looking corporate initiative rather than something that assists the people of Perth or visitors to Perth to travel more sustainably.

As one of the originators of TravelSmart in WA (and that means in the world - because TravelSmart started here and has been exported to other states of Australia and to overseas), I congratulate John Carey and the City of Vincent.

I look forward to continuing successful initiatives from the City of Vincent - and, yes, that does mean I expect the City of Vincent to survive.

Hats Off To The Nats, Too

Are integrity and principles making a comeback in WA politics?

On top of the Nationals opposing forced amalgamations in both Houses of the Parliament and John Day's supporting democracy, at least for Kalamunda (Come on John! Let us all have it!), Terry Redman has now stated unequivocally that the Nationals will not be supporting the Premier's proposed City of Perth legislation.

Typical Col, though - he is striving to convince himself that Labor and the Nationals will change their minds and he will get his way.

I wonder what sort of bullying he has in mind to make that happen?

Don't judge others by yourself, Col. It might just be that others have principles and will stick by them.

Well Done, John Day

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It isn't often a Cabinet Minister, even in his other role as a local member, breaks ranks and criticises a government decision.

I congratulate John Day on standing up for his community (as reported in the West Australian - see right).

There can be legitimate and sincerely-held differences of view on the future of local government - but there should be no dissent from the democratic principle of communities having a say in how they are governed - as, indeed, the Local Government Act requires for amalgamations. The current process has, as Day highlights, evaded the democratic principle by using 'boundary adjustments' when the reality is an amalgamation. 

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This is particularly pertinent for the Shire of Kalamunda, as the Local Government Advisory Board has not justified choosing the Belmont (boundary adjustment) proposal over the Kalamunda (amalgamation) proposal - despite their being otherwise identical. The only stated 'justification' is "greater organisational capacity to handle the merger process" - which an only mildly-cynical reader would interpret as the Belmont proposal towing the government line on 'boundary adjustment' rather than 'amalgamation'.

It is particularly relevant here that the Local Government Act, under which the local government reform process has, to-date, been proceeding, has as one of its objectives "greater community participation in the decisions and affairs of local governments" (section 2.4 (2) (b)). Surely, in choosing between two otherwise-similar proposals, the LGAB and the Minister should favour the one that gives the community a say.

There are other 'boundary adjustments' announced by the Premier and Minister Simpson yesterday that are also effectively amalgamations. These include Subiaco and Cambridge, Gosnells and Canning, Swan and Mundaring, Bayswater and Bassendean, Armadale and Serpentine-Jarrahdale, even though they may also involve some genuine boundary adjustments.

The case of the City of Vincent and City of Perth raises similar issues - the LGAB recommended the City of Vincent proposal (with minor modifications), which would have given electors the opportunity of calling for a poll. In proposing a separate City of Perth Act, the Premier has effectively removed this opportunity from the electors not only of Vincent but also of the City of Perth.

The Premier's City of Perth proposal raises another important issue of democracy, as he is clearly proposing that some electors be more equal than others. To make this ‘work’ on his terms, he will put a Bjelke-Peterson Queensland-style gerrymander in place to disenfranchise the people of Vincent - as he said last week, “you would not want residential voters to be able to control the central business district”.This is on top of the existing weighting that already allows a ‘body corporate’ to have two votes.

This would be a gross denial of democracy that I hope that John Day and other Members of our Parliament would strenuously oppose as being incompatible with our democratic society.

Col As Weaselly As Ever

Colin Barnett deigned to answer some questions on PerthNow this morning - which is more than he had the courtesy to do with the Mayors and CEOs yesterday.

He said: "we have made it very clear for the last three years that we intend to have special legislation for a capital city".


When, Premier, did you say there would be special legislation for a capital city? You certainly haven't mentioned it during the past 18 months - until a few days ago, when it became clear you weren't going to get your way through the LGAB?

If that was your intention all along, why did you not exclude the City of Perth from the LGAB process?
He said: "there's no forced amalgamation here. Vincent and the City of Perth want to come together, that's not a forced amalgamation, they agree".
There's forcing and forcing, Premier. Vincent only put in proposal because they were told that if they didn't you'd do it for them. Nearly 80% of Vincent voters in the plebiscite in October 2013 said Vincent should stay as it is.
The City of Perth, on the other hand, has consistently said it didn't want the whole of Vincent - which is why, of course, you are now proposing a gerrymander to placate Lisa Scaffidi.
He said: "There won't be vote weighting, but there may be a ward structure".
Can you guarantee that the wards will have equal ratios of elected members to electors? I thought not - after all, to quote your own words, "you would not want residential voters to be able to control the central business district". 
Sorry, Col. A gerrymander doesn't cease to be a gerrymander because of an unequal ward structure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We Are Not Second-Class Citizens

There can be legitimate and sincerely-held differences of view on the relationship between Vincent and Perth - but there should be no dissent from the democratic principle of equal representation. I congratulate Vincent Mayor, John Carey, on his strong stand on this principle. I hope that Tony Simpson is able to stand up to Bully Barnett and deliver on his "guarantee of no vote-weighting in the new City of Perth".
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-22/wa-government-announces-local-government-reform/5832900
The real question is that, if Vincent residents are such a problem, why merge Vincent and Perth at all. Even the part of Vincent that the City of Perth really wanted (for its key assets), still included a substantial number of residents.

Barnett, Scaffidi and the City of Perth need to understand that cities are nothing without people and that decisions of the City of Perth have a major impact on the residents of Vincent.

A large proportion of the car commuters to the City pound through Vincent twice a day, polluting the air and severing our town centres - and when Perth puts up the price of parking some of those commuters park for nothing in Vincent, clogging up our streets, and walk or get the bus into the city.

Confusion

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Lots of apparent confusion about the Nationals intentions in relation to Col's proposed City of Perth Act, but the West has put it up front and centre . However, Terry Redman is still saying the Nats “'reserve our right' to take a position on any piece of legislation that may or may not come before the House".

As far as local councils and their communities are concerned, an Act of Parliament that does not include a right for them to have a say, consistent with the Local Government Act, is still a forced amalgamation.

The challenge is now to keep the Nationals to their commitment to oppose forced local government amalgamations, however they are proposed to be achieved.