Premier Barnett moves! Dept of Local Govt merged with Dept of Communities

Monkey surprise
Monkey surprise (Photo credit: @Doug88888)  CC NC ShareAlike Flickr

You didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Following his sweeping election win, Mr Barnett stated we should view his new lineup as a new govt, with new priorities.

It’s a whole new ball game, in other words.

It can only be a matter of time before the state begins announcing decisions about council mergers, and to what degree local govt will be “reformed”.

TODAY it suddenly announced the Depts of Local Govt and Communities will merge.

How might this affect Canning?

Will we see the extraordinary level of assistance Willetton Child Care Centre (WCCC) has received for decades spread to other community/not-for-profit groups?

Established initially to provide lower-cost childcare to financially struggling families living within Canning, WCCC  has only been required to pay an annual lease of $1, despite earning $25,000/wk, with major maintenance and enhancement costs covered by Dept of Communities.

I doubt either the City of Canning or a newly merged Dept of Communities can justify keeping up this level of largesse nowadays.

Such cheap leases not only represent unfair advantage and a significant opportunity cost to ratepayers’ assets and funds, it doesn’t encourage organisations to become more self-sufficient.

In my summary of the final report in to the Metro Local Govt Review, I highlighted a key desire was to find a council model able to provide for all residents, regardless of generation or income level, especially as the costs of living rise.

You may be interested to know that our largest Council, Stirling, recently completed internal studies in to how resilient its community will be in to the future as affordability declines.

How will people cope when oil is $3/litre?  Many won’t be able to afford electric cars any more than they can whack solar panels on their roof.  What about food?  It doesn’t get cheaper.

Stirling contemplated setting aside significant areas for community gardens.  Canning has at least one community garden, in Bentley – but will it survive Dept of Housing’s regeneration project?

News of a merger between Dept of Local Govt and Dept of Communities could see many more local groups established, with the aim of providing for themselves and their immediate area – as well as improving the delivery of contemporary community services.

Might throw a Herring in to the financial assumptions of a lot of councils, though!

Government’s media release on the merger of Dept of Local Govt with Dept of Communities here