Early August 2013 Update to “Forcing Amalgamations: How Big is the Threat?”


Does the paper “Forcing amalgamations, how big is the threat” still apply?

Yes, this paper still applies until the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) is amended.

Can the Minister or the Government suspend the poll provisions?

Yes but not under the Local Government Act 1995 as it currently stands. In order to “suspend the poll provisions” the Act will need to be changed.

It is not clear from the publically available information exactly what is meant by the “poll provisions” we are assuming that all provisions relating to the polls are intended to be “suspended”.

How does the process suggested by the Government fit into the Act – as it stands?

The process which is being suggested by the Government fits into the current version of the Act as follows:

  • the Government is suggesting that Local Governments make their own proposal to the Local Government Advisory Board under Schedule 2.1, clause 2 of the Act between 26 August 2013 and 4 October 2013;
  • if a Local Government has not lodged a proposal with the Local Government Advisory Board by 4 October 2013, the Minister will lodge a proposal;
  • if a Local Government has lodged a proposal with the Local Government Advisory Board by 4 October 2013 and that proposal does not match the Minister’s view the Minister may lodge a counter proposal;
  • the Local Government Advisory Board must consider any proposal and either recommend rejection or formally inquire into the proposal;
  • in a formal inquiry all affected parties (this includes local government and electors) are notified and have a period of time set by the Local Government Advisory Board (which is not more than 6 weeks) to make submissions about the proposal;
  • after considering the submissions the Local Government Advisory Board is to make a recommendation to the Minister. This recommendation can either be accepted and acted upon by the Minister or ignored. There is no provision for the Minister to do something which is not recommended by the Local Government Advisory Board;
  • if the Local Government Advisory Board makes a recommendation to abolish two or more districts and amalgamate them then notice must be given to the affected local governments, affected electors and the other electors of districts directly affected. NOTE this is only where districts are being abolished – note where they are being reduced in size;
  • after being provided with such a notice if the Minister receives a petition signed by at least 10% of the electors of an affected district (or 250 whichever is the greater number) then the Minister must hold a poll; and
  • if at least 50% of the electors in one of the affected districts vote in the poll it is binding on the Minister.

What about the proposed amendments to the poll provisions?

Unfortunately there is no detail available about how the Government intends to change the actual wording of the poll provisions.

Until they are changed however – they continue to apply.

What about the proposed amendments to the membership of the Local Government Advisory Board?

The Government has announced a proposal to add two members to the Local Government Advisory Board. We have been unable to locate any information on how these people will be nominated.

The current members of the Local Government Advisory Board are:

  • one nominated by the Minister;
  • one Departmental Officer;
  • two with experience as Councillors (selected from a list provided by WALGA); and
  • one with experience as a CEO (selected from a list provided by the Local Government Managers Association)

If you have any questions about amalgamations or the process to be followed, please contact Anne Wood on (08) 9321 3755 orawood@kottgunn.com.au.

The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.