The boundaries are out of the bag! The WA State Government has announced its intentions for local government reform in metropolitan Perth. But experience tells us that structure is only part of the picture (see ACELG’s Review of Current Local Government Reform Processes in Australia and New Zealand for example).
In the hoopla surrounding the announcement, some of the other aspects of the Government’s response to the Robson Report have been overlooked. Maybe they would not be seen by many as important.
But the reality is that whether there are 30 metropolitan local governments or 14, a critical ingredient is how well the local governments and state agencies work together. Silos within and between the levels of government are legendary. And this ultimately prevents the best outcomes being delivered with and for communities. So, does the Government’s response say anything about that? Well yes! Flying below the radar screen are these three heartening points:
- A shared vision for the future of Perth will be developed by the State Government, in conjunction with local government, stakeholder and community groups.
- The State Government will work with WALGA and the new local governments to clearly define respective roles and responsibilities to support better co-ordination. This will be done as part of a further stage of reform.
- A Forum of Mayors will be formed to facilitate regional collaboration and effective lobbying for the needs of the metropolitan area and to provide a voice for Perth once the new local governments are in place. Membership will also include the Directors General of Premier and Cabinet, Transport, Planning, and Local Government and Communities to ensure an appropriate strategic focus.The chair of the Forum of Mayors to be determined by the members of the Forum. Secretariat support for the Forum will be provided by the Department of Local Government and Communities.
These are the hidden gems of the reforms.