Tag Archives: Swan River

Proposed Local Council Amalgamations

The following is an excerpt from a speech I delivered in Parliament on Thursday 15 August 2013 regarding the proposed local government amalgamations. While I am generally supportive of the City of South Perth and Town of Victoria Park merging, it would be a great loss for the amalgamated councils to lose the Crown Casino, which generates $2.8 million in annual rates. I have discussed this with the Premier and explained that the Swan River should be the natural geographic boundary.


Extract from Hansard

[ASSEMBLY— Thursday, 15 August 2013]


Mr J.E. McGRATH: A lot has been said in recent weeks about the state government’s plan to reduce the number of councils in the metropolitan area. I must put my position on record in this place because I have made some public comments, some of which were repeated ad nauseam by the opposition. When the Robson report was released, two proposals placed the City of South Perth within the City of Perth, and the City of South Perth is the only local government area in my electorate. My electorate covers the entire City of South Perth. I said publicly at the time that I would not support such a move. I have always had the view that one day the City of South Perth could become like North Sydney with a mix of residential and commercial developments sitting right across the river from our great city. I have always believed that South Perth should retain its identity. When talk of council amalgamation began to swirl around, I became aware that the City of South Perth and the Town of Victoria Park had already begun talks about a possible merger. When the member for Bunbury was the Minister for Local Government, I guess they saw that the movement towards local government amalgamation was on, so they decided to be proactive. I was happy to support that, provided it did not impact adversely on the ratepayers of my electorate. The two councils after some discussion decided to come together and they had a vote, and they agreed to progress the amalgamation on one condition—that they retain the Burswood peninsula, which currently sits in the Town of Victoria Park. By then, it had emerged that the City of Perth had its eyes on Burswood so that it could announce to the world that it was a city with great icons like Crown Perth and the new sports stadium, along with Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park….

When the City of Perth made that claim, I made a statement that I think has been repeated by the member for Victoria Park a few times. I basically said that if Burswood comes out of the planned amalgamation between the City of South Perth and the Town of Victoria Park, all bets would be off because it would be totally unsustainable. The government has since been very strong in its insistence that Crown casino and the new stadium will stay in the City of Perth. The Minister for Local Government has been very good throughout this process. All the councils I speak to think he has been very genuine in trying to bring about the best result for them, and he has worked very hard at it. He drew up a new map that excises the Crown casino and the stadium from the Town of Victoria Park. If this amalgamation goes ahead, the boundary will go around South Perth and Victoria Park and then it will move onto the Burswood peninsula and up and around the Crown casino. Crown will keep the parking, but the parking area next to the old superdome is actually owned by the Town of Victoria Park. I do not know how that will be managed. Then, South Perth and Victoria Park will keep a bit of high-rise there at the back of the casino and then go around to Belmont Park…

It will be difficult because, as someone pointed out to me today, if the residents of the City of Victoria Park who live in the high-rise were impacted in any way by the stadium because of louts coming home at night after the footy or the casino, by traffic or whatever, who do they go to? They cannot go to the City of Perth because they are not City of Perth ratepayers. They do not have any representation on the council. It is a difficult issue and one that I will continue to talk to the minister about…

As compensation for losing the $2.8 million in annual rates from Crown casino, the minister has extended the boundary on the southern part of the two existing councils down to Leach Highway; that represents 7 000—as the minister calls them—rooftops. Some are commercial, but they are mostly houses. They have been excised out of the old City of Canning and they will come into the new council…

They have to do the cost–benefit analysis. They will put their report in to the Local Government Advisory Board by 4 October. I have to say one thing about this: I have not had anyone knocking on my door saying, “Oh gee, isn’t it great, we’re going to amalgamate.” I think the people of South Perth do not care whether they amalgamate or not. They are very happy where they are. They like where they live; the suburb is pretty good. I do not think they are in the mood for a change. The only thing they do say to me when I ask them about it is that it is their belief that the river should be the natural boundary. That is why we are South Perth and the City of Perth is the City of Perth. They say the natural boundary should be the river. I think that will be the argument they put to the advisory board when the two councils make their submission, but the minister has a tough job. I want to commend him. At least he is prepared to talk to the councils but—pardon the pun—there is still a lot of water to flow under the bridge on this matter. All I will say, and I have always said this from the outset, is that I will support my voters to get the best outcome. Hopefully, through the process we can come up with the desired outcome for both councils.

Disappointing Delay for Swan River Reparation

2012 discussion of the collapsing Swan River wallsUnfortunately, the State Government has failed to allocate the planned $1.35 million in funding in the 2013-14 Budget to reinstate the collapsed river walls on the popular South Perth foreshore.

This is especially disappointing to me as the local member as the funding was committed during this year’s State election campaign.

The City of South Perth, which plans to match the funding, had hoped it would be delivered by October so that work could begin before summer.

While I am aware that the funding has not been taken off the agenda, I have had discussions with Environment Minister Albert Jacob in the hope that it will become available at the earliest opportunity.

I accept that there are pressures on the State’s finances, but I believe this is a project which should not be overlooked.