BY CLAIMING that I proposed to a WA Parliamentary Select Committee the axing of the Shire of Toodyay and the merging five councils, last month’s editorial and other comments misrepresent my views.
Simply put, I did not propose “that the Shire of Toodyay should be axed to merge five Avon Valley local government authorities into a single new regional council” as The Herald claimed.Read more
Following my 55-page written submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government, I was summoned to give further evidence and answer questions.
That process took over an hour and is recorded in around 40 pages of transcript that can be examined at www.parliament.wa.gov.au.
Because there is nothing else relevant, the “proposition” that I think the editorial refers to constitutes one paragraph of those 40 pages.
The relevant part responded to a question from a committee member, and I stand by what I said, which was:
“The big picture issue is that the boundaries are structurally unsound, and as a consequence of the boundaries being structurally unsound, most councils are financially unsound.
“It is just silly.
“Take my neck of the woods, if we had an Avon Valley council, what difference would it make?
“In a long time in public life I never had anyone come to me and say, ‘Gee, I really want to be in that council’.
“They could not care less.
“If it was an Avon Valley council, there would be a natural convergence of interests – there are similar industries, similar town structures, similar organisations.
“What do you do?
“You probably have seven to nine councils in that area, so you probably save the equivalent of the rates of Toodyay by getting rid of five CEOs.
“You set up a corporate structure that allows things to work effectively and efficiently, and inside six months no-one would care what its name was.”
That expression of an opinion was not a proposal and anyone objectively examining my written and verbal submissions will see that; as they will see that there certainly was no reference to axing the Shire of Toodyay.
I do not resile from either what was said in that inquiry nor what I actually did propose, which was that “responsibilities for council boundaries and elections be transferred to the WA Electoral Commission”.
The Parliament extended the powers of the Auditor General to cover local governments, so why not the Electoral Commission?
As taxpayers already pay for an independent and expert body that does that job, it really is hard to see what is wrong with recommending their authority be extended to include all local governments.
(Last month’s Herald quoted a December 2019 Page 1 story ‘Call to dump five shire CEOs to form new Avon Valley Council’ which was not disputed at the time by Mr Graham when he was Toodyay Progress Association Chair – Ed.)