Strict behaviour standards welcomed but councils need support

The WA Opposition welcomed tougher penalties for poor-behaving Councillors and dysfunctional Local Governments detailed in the McGowan Labor Government’s local government reform package.

Shadow Local Government Minister, Shane Love, said the behaviour of some councillors impacted the reputation of the entire sector and distracted from the core business of serving ratepayers.

“A few bad apples spoil the barrel and when that happens in a council, ratepayers and the community are left to carry the cost,” Mr Love said.

“The current system carries very little power to penalise or suspend rogue councillors, however by introducing a new inspectorate, the Government looks to be developing a disciplinary framework with teeth.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though, and only time will tell how effective this new regime will be.”

Mr Love said the diversity of the Local Government sector must be acknowledged, as small rural and remote councils operated with a fraction of the capacity while expected to deliver a growing list of local services.

“Many small councils are already expected to deliver more from less and it would be a shame to see these potentially valuable reforms place further burden on their ratepayers,” Mr Love said.

“Right across WA, we see rural councils step up to fill the void where the private sector or the McGowan Labor Government itself, fail to deliver for the community.

“Right now, Shire of Bruce Rock maintains and operates a temporary supermarket, so the community can avoid travelling long distances just to buy groceries.”

The McGowan Labor Government planned to introduce the Legislation to Parliament before the end of the year and Mr Love called on them not to rush the process.

“The current Act was introduced more than 25 years ago and such sweeping changes require careful consideration and scrutiny by the Parliament,” he said.

“This Government has a track record of jamming legislation through parliament to make a political point.

“While many of the reforms announced appear to be well-intended and we support them in principle, there remains a need to see all detail and the opportunity to identify any unintended consequences.

“The local government sector is too important to West Australians and these reforms must be given the methodical care they deserve.”