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 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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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Abbot Even Worse Than Barnett!

Col Pot's arrogance and disdain on Council loan guarantee fees (, is of a kind with Abbott's reported attempt to bulldoze stripping of citizenship at the sole discretion (whim?) of one Minister (Peter Dutton) through his Cabinet without it's even being on the Cabinet agenda, let alone there having being any discussion with more than a small coterie of favoured Ministers - which didn't include Julie Bishop who is the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the Foreign Affairs Minister, the minister with oversight of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, a member of the National Security Committee of cabinet and a central figure in Australia's effort to defeat the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.

Even George Brandis, Barnaby Joyce and Christopher Pyne, none of them renowned for their intelligence or social conscience, could see problems with the proposal - what does that say about Abbott, Dutton and Morrison?

In Defeat, Malice

I have previously drawn attention in this blog to Colin Barnett's love of Jim Hacker's PM's maxim from Yes, Minister: "In victory, revenge. In defeat, malice."

In yet another example of this, Col Pot has increased a charge on local governments by 600%. As WALGA President, Troy Pickard, has rightly said "the decision was contradictory to the Reserve Bank’s interest rate cuts, which were aimed at reducing the cost of finance as a means of stimulating the economy".

But more important than this is the disdain it shows for proper process and consultation. At the very least, good governance requires that there be some discussion with the local government sector before such a massive change is put in place.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who'da Thunk It? Doctors Have A View on Health Policy
WA Health Minister, Kim Hames, seems to be suffering from the same malaise that afflicts many members of the Barnett Government - an inability to acknowledge that people who work in or are affected by an area of activity might want to express an informed view on government policy - although that is probably being kind to the Government, as its version of policy appears to be a series of disconnected and often conflicting actions and changes of direction.

"Lost the plot on health? Because we're considering what may happen to Royal Perth at some stage in the future?" he said.

If only that were so, Dr Hames (ironic, really, that he is a doctor himself). I doubt it's RPH in isolation but it is the latest piece of the dogs breakfast this Government is making of the health system.

As for Dr Hames being "bothered by the AMA's commentary on Government health policy" - get over it. I bet he wouldn't be complaining if the AMA were making sycophantic comments saying everything was hunky-dory.

Devil. Detail. City of Perth Bill

The City of Perth Bill is on the Legislative Assembly Notice Paper to be introduced today.

As I have said previously, the devil is in the detail - and the limited information available from the Notice Paper does nothing to lessen my concerns. Nor does reading the Bill help very much.

In addition to matters announced by the Premier yesterday, the Bill will:
- repeal the City of Perth Restructuring Act 1993
- make consequential and other amendments to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority Act 1998, the Local Government Act 1960 Part VIA and the Local Government Act 1995

The City of Perth Restructuring Act, 1993, was the legislation that established the Towns of Vincent, Victoria Park and Cambridge - so what are implications of repealing it? In the absence of provisions in the City of Perth Bill for the continuation of those Local Governments, does this potentially disestablish them? Or am I jumping at shadows?

'Consequential and other amendments to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority Act 1998' has me really concerned for the future of Kings Park. If the bringing of Kings Park within the City of Perth boundaries was no more than a matter of its location, I doubt there would be any need to amend the BGPA Act. So what else (especially as 'other amendments') is going on here.

Section 30 of the City of Perth Bill states that 'no local law (presumably - but not specified - of the City of Perth) applies to or in respect of King’s Park', but local governments do not only exercise their functions and powers through local laws. So does the Bill give City of Perth 'open slather' in other respects?

With regard to amendments to the Local Government Act, there is no longer a Local Government Act, 1960, but Part VIA of that Act was continued by Clause 16 of Schedule 9.3 of the 1995 Act, which is surely what should be amended, not the original provision in the now-defunct 1960 Act - this is what the Bill does, but not as stated in the Notice Paper. The reference to Part VIA appears to relate to superannuation provisions for City of Perth.

But what, one wonders, are the 'consequential and other amendments … to the Local Government Act 1995' and the 'related matters' provided for.

And how on earth can a Bill that the Parliament is being asked to make an informed decision on include a map of new boundaries for the City of Perth that is labelled 'Indicative Only'. This especially worrying in the light of Local Government Minister, Tony Simpson's comment reported in this morning's West Australian that Burswood "could be reviewed, with the Government believing it belonged in the capital city'. 

Moreover, section 37 of the City of Perth Bill requires the Local Government Advisory Board to deal differently with the City of Perth. It reads: 
"In carrying out a formal inquiry into a proposal that directly 5 affects the district of Perth, the Advisory Board is also to 6 have regard to the special significance of the role and 7 responsibilities of the City of Perth that flow from Perth 8 being the capital of Western Australia." 

So a future proposal (perhaps from the City of Perth) to bring Burswood within the City of Perth would be assessed differently from the way the LGAB recently did.

Residents and Ratepayers of Victoria Park beware.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cynical Ploy - Why Does City of Perth 'Need' QEII Medical Centre?

Treasurer, Mike Nahan, has said that Royal Perth Hospital might need to be demolished but that it would be rebuilt and remain a tertiary hospital. This begs the question of where the money might be coming from, especially as he also acknowledges that the Barnett government had done too much with the simultaneous building and rebuilding of 11 other hospitals.

If we believe what he says, the obvious question is why the City of Perth 'needs' the QEII Medical Centre in order to be a world-class capital city.

Forgive my scepticism, but it seems more likely to be a ploy to get us to accept demolition of RPH after which the government would say 'no money to rebuild' and, anyway, QEII is the City of Perth hospital.

The State Government then has a prime central city landholding that it can sell to private developers in yet another asset fire sale to try to reduce the burden of public debt this government has saddled us with.

Here We Go: Time To Mobilise For People of Nedlands/Subiaco and Kings Park

Colin Barnett has announced he will introduce Bill for City of Perth Act tomorrow.
The Bill has not yet been published, so we have no information other than what Barnett wants us to have at this stage. It will be published when it has been introduced into Parliament.

According to the ABC's Jessica Strutt:

- Govt confirms City of Perth Act to be introduced to Parliament this week... It will happen tomorrow 
- New boundary changes won't take effect until 1 July next year 
- Premier will chair a new City of Perth committee but it will only be required to meet twice a year under legislation 
- No new planning powers for City of Perth
- Premier Colin Barnett says Nats won't oppose City of Perth Act but may exempt themselves from the vote
- Premier acknowledges he's likely to need Labor's support for the legislation

The last two points are critical. 

Time to write to Nats (urging them at least to abstain but preferably to vote against) and to ALP urging them to vote against - primarily on the grounds that (a) the Act forcibly transfers 1168 people into the City of Perth, (b) City of Perth has previously said very strongly (in relation to City of Vincent) that it doesn't want residential areas (and therefore it would not be very likely to have much concern with the interests of those 1168 residents) and (c) potentially compromises the independence of the Kings Park Board.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Whatever Happened to MAX?

Following Vincent Council's rejecting the Government's bus lane proposal for Fitzgerald Street, largely on the very-reasonable grounds that it provides no adequate basis for long term planning and development of either transport or land use, long-term Vincent resident Andrew Main has come to the defence of bus lanes in a letter to the Perth Voice newspaper.

As a long-time urban transport planner and former Vincent Councillor, I can't let Andrew's assertions go unchallenged.

Andrew criticises the Vincent Council for 'withholding support' from the Government bus lane proposal - apparently on the grounds that something (anything?) is better than nothing - although he admits to severe doubts about light rail anyway.

Andrew appears to consider that the only role of public transport is to get people to and from the City of Perth ("The bus lane proposal on Fitzgerald Street will benefit Vincent residents by making bus trips into and out of the city much quicker"). I, for one, would rather see public transport that created better access to and within the City of Vincent rather than simply speeding-up journeys to the central city.

What Andrew fails to realise is that light rail brings benefits beyond pure travel to a place that is already busy. Light rail has been demonstrated time and time again to encourage development, business, employment and appropriate residential density at key points along its route; bus lanes do not do so to anything like the same extent. The key reason for this is the sheer permanence of light rail infrastructure, which gives investors reassurance about the future.

Bus lanes and bus services are inherently flexible, but this apparent advantage is actually a disadvantage in a metropolitan region that is having to accommodate rapid population growth. In the absence of a strategic and selective approach to development and density in Vincent, which is better supported by light rail than by bus, we will be faced with less discriminating pressure to increase density across Vincent as a whole.

And even though the PTA states that its proposed bus lanes are consistent with implementing the MAX light rail at a later date, the danger is that when patronage is sufficient to 'justify' this it will all be too difficult - what do you do with that large number of existing passengers, who provide the justification, while you are installing the light rail.

Bus lanes do have a valuable role to play - but not everywhere. At the very least, we need to be sure that the PTA has properly considered all the issues and that this is not simply a cheap short-term fix that will make life more difficult and preclude desirable outcomes in the longer term.

And Eleni Evangel has bought into the issue, stating that "light rail is not off the table entirely". 

Well, that will give the Vincent community and Council great reassurance! 

In next to no time we've gone from a firm commitment to MAX light rail for a corridor sorely ignored by rail public transport in Perth to el-cheapo bus lanes and light rail 'not being entirely off the table'.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WALGA Supporting Local Councils

That shouldn't really be a newsworthy headline, but there were many times during the Barnett/Simpson local government so-called reform debacle that the WA Local Government Association at best didn't reflect the views and concerns of all its member councils and, at worst, was decidedly partisan in the Government's favour.

Even now, there are some councils pursuing their own individual claims for compensation, suggesting a continuing lack of faith in the Association to adequately represent the interests of all its members.

Either way, the claims for reimbursement are legitimate. If Barnett/Simpson hadn't embarked on their ill-advised ideological vendetta, local governments would not have had to incur these costs.

If there is no reimbursement, Barnett and Simpson will lose even more credibility than they already have.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cart Before Horse - Again

I doubt anyone is so naive as to think that the City of Perth is not privy, even before Cabinet, to what is in the proposed City of Perth Act, but it seems the ultimate disrespect for Parliament to assume that the Bill to be introduced into Parliament will actually become law.

On the basis of current stated positions, Labor, the Nationals and the Greens - and possibly a few Liberals - will oppose the Bill in the Legislative Council. Barnett does not have the numbers in Parliament.

Even before that, it remains to be seen if he has the numbers in his own Party room, where he was previously rolled on his attempt to remove the Dadour poll provision that so emphatically scuppered his whole so-called reform of local government.

If I were a ratepayer of the City of Perth (and fortunately that possibility, for so long a concern to many of us, is no longer a real one - at least until some politician forgets the lessons of the Barnett/Simpson debacle), I would be wanting assurances that the proposed restructure and additional jobs (and costs) were able to be adjusted and continue to be appropriate in the event that the City of Perth retains its current boundaries under the Local Government Act.

And the reported logic is more than a little bemusing, too. On the one hand: "We've streamlined the organisation so that there is a thinning of the organisation with a greater strengthening in job roles" - sounds like telling people they have to work harder. On the other hand, 60-80 new jobs are 'required' - and I doubt that Nedlands/Subiaco devote anything like that many staff to UWA, QEII, Hollywood Hospital and the immediate residential areas.

So - what new functions is the City of Perth to be granted under the proposed City of Perth Act? Or is this just another illustration of the fallacy of economies of scale so often spruiked by Barnet and Simpson when all the evidence pointed the other way.

The Council dealt with this matter behind closed doors - and the media release gives no information on this. I guess we'll just have to wait and see - once again, the community is being given the mushroom treatment.