The Hon. Tjorn Sibma MLC Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council facilitated the hosting of the West Australian Ratepayers and Residents Association’s E-Petition “Local Government Reform” through the Councils new E-Petitions Platform.
The petition is in response to a community driven, statewide survey concerning the proposed reforms to the Local Government Act (1995).
You can download the Survey Report here: https://warra.asn.au/public/
The Local Government Act Community Survey states “The Australian Local Government Association states on its website that local governments are the ‘closest to the community and best able to identify community needs’, yet, as expressed through our survey, many members of the community - residents, ratepayers, electors and customers - believe that local government is self-serving, suffering from regulatory capture or has a misplaced understanding of what it’s community actually needs and wants. The level (lack) of Community Engagement in the Proposed Local Government Reforms process only serves to justify these community perceptions of local government.”
Community feedback revealed a strong message highlighting the need for better information about the reforms and their impacts as well as a need for local government to provide a suitable vehicle for informing and being informed by the community.
The WARRA Local Government Reform Petition can be signed by clicking here... sign the WARRA Local Government Reform Petition
One of the most common concerns brought to the attention of WARRA relates to consultation that it is not fit for purpose, be that in regard to development applications, road parking & laneway changes or mandated advertising undertaken for major strategic policy decisions that affect large sections or all of the community.
It has become clear that the current `consultation` phase of the reform of the Local Government Act offers little better in terms of transparency, honesty or accessibility, and can not underpin the claimed goal of of the reforms by Minister Carey in 2021 to “ strengthen democracy and facilitate more community engagement”
Community engagement requires engaging the community, yet the current reform effectively bypasses the community and as such attracted only 200 responses with the majority of those coming from Local Governments or vested interests like WALGA who themselves guide Local Government responses (WALGA themselves existing only by way of the Act).
Whilst WARRA agree that the Act requires urgent reform we hold serious concerns that even those parts of the Act that would otherwise prima facie support community expectations are regularly implemented capriciously and self servingly with no effective accessible or transparent oversight.
The current reform process does not attempt to address this core issue and indeed reflects it.
WARRA fully support the submissions made by the Local Government Elected Members Association (LGEMA) and highly recommend the Minister pay strict attention to the community position as represented by Local Government Reforms' community survey which by actively engaging the community gathered more responses than the State Governments own.
Simon Wheeler - Acting Chair - April 2022