HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [5.20 pm]: I want to raise my concerns about the ongoing lack of elected representation for the residents of the City of Perth. I want to be very clear: I am certainly not here to suggest that there were no issues with the City of Perth, and I am not suggesting that the minister did the incorrect thing by suspending the council, but it has been over a year since the Perth city council was suspended on 2 March 2018 and the three commissioners were appointed. Of course, these commissioners have the authority to operate as the council and hold the same decision-making authority. The commissioners have been appointed for the period of suspension and inquiry. The terms of reference for the inquiry originally expected a reporting date of 2 May this year; however, on 5 December last year—that is, after the public hearings were held in November last year—this reporting date was amended to 20 January 2020. Obviously, there is a lot to unpack in the investigation of the previous council. However, I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are concerned that they currently have no elected representation on council, and are not going to look at even having an elected council until 2020.

The residents of the City of Perth are right to raise this as a concern. The commissioners have to walk a very fine line. They have to remember that, of course, they have not been elected; they have nevertheless been appointed to be the final decision-makers on all council matters. However, these residents have not had a say in electing these commissioners, and they are not going to have a say in how and when elections are finally going to take place. I think this is a really uncomfortable place for the residents to have to inhabit, especially as the city is currently working through some very large community engagement projects, such as the draft city planning strategy, which is effectively going to shape the face of the city over the next 10 to 15 years.

We know that the current commissioners are more than capable of developing town planning strategies and schemes, but it is valid for people to be concerned about the impact that these—I remind members—unelected officials will have on the city over the course of a two-year, or possibly even longer, appointment. The fact remains that our local government authorities are supposed to be run by elected representatives, so this situation needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

I am calling on the minister to provide additional resources to the inquiry to ensure that it is completed as quickly as possible, which will then open the way for council elections to be held as soon as possible and for elected officials to once again represent the people of the City of Perth. I think the current situation is highly dissatisfactory, and if this drags on unnecessarily, it raises very grave issues around the issue of democracy at the local government level.


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