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COVID-19 POWER GRAB BY THE MINISTER AND COUNCILS

The Western Australian Party has written to Parliamentarians seeking a NO VOTE to the hastily prepared Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 and its unfettered powers for the Minister for Local Government and Councils where there is no oversight by an independent umpire on decision making.  The Bill will be put to parliament on 15 and 16 April 2020.

The Western Australia Party is opposed the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020. 

Western Australians understand that COVID-19 has resulted in many changes to stop the spread of the pandemic. The most important and most successful change is restricting the entry of persons to the state and this should be maintained for as long as is necessary.

However, there are some in local government (including WALGA) and the state government who are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to conduct a “power grab” of democracy away from council elected members and the community as a whole.

POWER GRAB

Proposed section 10.3(1) empowers the Local Government Minister with discretion to issue an order to modify or suspend the operation of specified provisions of the Act or regulations made under the Act. Ministerial discretion is very dangerous and can easily be misused, as we have seen with the Planning Minister’s recent actions approving over height developments and ramming through Local Planning Schemes.

Proposed section 10.4 (Suspension of local law) is unnecessary and uncalled for.  Local governments already have discretionary powers, that are exercisable with a resolution of council, to suspend the operation of a local law or part of local law, to reduce red-tape and to quickly respond to local consequences in their district of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There is no reason why democracy in local government should be a victim of COVID-19.

NEW POWERS

Instead the Western Australia Party wants to introduce new powers under the Act to stop the power grab by a number of Council CEO’s from attempting to use the COVID-19 pandemic to conduct special meetings to increase their power by changing delegations and having only the Mayor, rather than the full Council to approve motions, without reference to elected Councillors or the community.

EXISTING POWERS

Councils are already meeting online and can continue to meet this way, as needed, until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Councillors, who represent the community, can respond quickly to any urgent matter, online.

"CEOs already have powers under Delegated Authority to respond quickly to emerging needs of the community. Parliament does not have to provide them with any more powers through coercion from this Bill. " 

Media enquiries:  Andrew Mangano, Policy Adviser 0400 899 210

Authorised by Stephen Phelan, Western Australia Party Secretary, Subiaco WA 6008

Authorised by S Phelan, Western Australia Party, SUBIACO WA 6008

© Copyright 2020 WESTERN AUSTRALIA PARTY. All Rights Reserved.

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