Democratically elected Councillors may never return to Canning

CanningAccountability Question Mark Graphic 2aIt is entirely possible the City of Canning will remain under the control of six Executives, and one Commissioner, until Oct 2015.

As a result, when Canning merges with Gosnells, we may find Canning’s recent losses compounded – with no developed Councillors ready to merge with Gosnells’ much more experienced Council. 

There are two reasons why this might occur:

  1. from Oct 19, 2013 seven suspended Councillors will have left office
  2. Authorised Inquiry in to City of Canning, currently underway, may request an extension beyond its planned finish date of 31 Mar 2014.

October 19, 2013 was Local Govt election day.  At that time, the term of Mayor Delle Donne, and four of his Councillors, ended.

New! City of Canning continues hiring long-term contract employees on high salaries, despite Barnett Govt’s decision to consign massive sections of its lands and operations off to other councils from 1st July 2015.  What will be the impact of redundancies of many employees on rates?
(One example of ongoing hiring at the City HERE – see more?  Let us know)

New! Ratepayers have no say on future on Page 9 of October 22, 2013 issue of Canning Times – North “Canning residents face a situation where what should be a caretaker administration is actually making key policy decisions about the future without any means of formal democratic input from Canning ratepayers.”

New! Democracy must be restored on Page 9 of October 22, 2013 issue of Canning Times – North Canning is a major activity precinct, whereas Gosnells is a “secondary centre”…. Yet there is no guarantee Canning will receive the attention it should in a newly combined council. Why?  Neither the commissioner, nor the Premier or relevant ministers can assure us [when democratic governance of Canning will be restored]

A further two Councillors have resigned from Canning.

This means that if Dr Christopher Kendall, the Barrister heading the Inquiry, does not find sufficient evidence to dismiss the Council, only four Councillors will remain, still technically within their term of office.

Despite record interest in nominating for Council this year (almost 800 bids for 300 vacancies), the people of Canning were unable to participate in local govt elections, so as to fill those vacancies.

This is particularly significant, as Minister for Local Govt, Tony Simpson, has frequently  highlighted the importance of final Councils in local govt reform:-

“Councillors elected in October will have a particularly important role to play in the metropolitan reform process. They will help determine the future direction of their local government and how their council can maximise the reform benefits for their community.”

It may be possible, but less likely, the remaining Councillors will be allowed to return to govern Canning, should the Authorised Inquiry finish on time.

One Councillor could always be appointed acting Mayor, or Chairperson, and thus have a casting vote to ensure no deadlocked voting occurs.

However, would the Barnett Govt allow this arrangement?

The other reason we may never again see a Council of democratically elected representation at Canning, as a stand alone local govt authority prior to merger, is if the Authorised Inquiry requests an extension of time to complete its investigations.

If, at the end of this time the Council is dismissed, this extension would have cut the time available to both advertise and hold a Special Council Election, and for any newly elected Council to govern, prior to the Barnett Govt’s plan to install Commissioners at all merged entities for three months from July 1, 2015, while new elections are held to vote in newly combined Councils from Oct 1, 2015.

Of course, it is always possible the Authorised Inquiry will finish on time, with no adverse findings proven against the current Council, and the Electoral Commission immediately proceeds with a Special Council Election to flesh the Council back out to standard membership.

At three months to convene a special election, the returned Council would have a solid 12 months of governance at least, before Commissioners are brought in across Perth and Canning merges with Gosnells at the governance level.

If, however, this does not happen, it is possible over 90,000 people will remain in democratic limbo, unable to influence the fine detail on actions, expenditures and merger outcomes, at and for Canning, until October 2015.

Our future [merged] fare will be determined largely by an external Commissioner, and six executives (most of whom do not live in Canning).

This is a time of historic reform in local govt for WA, but history will also show that Canning’s population was kept from being a significant part of it.

Restoring democratically elected governance to Canning, at the earliest opportunity and hopefully prior any amalgamation with Gosnells, would go a long way to ensuring Canning’s future success.

(1) Current status of Canning Councillors
(2) Timeline for Canning to 2015 (unable to be confirmed)

Status of Suspended Councillors, as at 1 October 2013
OUT OF TERM:  Mayor Delle Donne, Mary Daly,  Tim Dowsett, Robert Morgan, Lindsay Elliott.
WITHIN TERM: Graham Barry, Bev Olsen, Bruce Mason, Megan O’Donnell.
RESIGNED:  Stuart Clarke, Stephen Boylen.

*Link to Image Attribution: Zscout370 at en.wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Democratically elected Councillors may never return to Canning

  1. This blog makes a very important point. Soon millions of dollars of investigations will end, and Commissioner Reynolds has already been at Canning for a year. How much longer will councillors be kept out? Colin Barnett needs to end this and well by returning the city to its people.


    1. Hi Craig

      I agree. There is nothing to gain continuing with any more investigations, reparations, etc. Our City is not in need of intensive care, or babysitting for that matter! We have so many intelligent, active and willing people – a long overlooked and underappreciated City, actually. Our population numbers are also very significant. Yes, its time for the Barnett Govt to return democracy to Canning, and give us a chance to train up new councillors so that we are in the best possible position to face the future. Thanks for your comment.


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