Local Government- Is it Good Enough?

Larry Graham Pulls Back


Like many community members trying to improve their community, the stress of dealing with dictatorial government ministers, or in the case of David Templeman, the "worst" Local Government Minister in 50 years according to journalist Paul Murray, has led to well known reform advocate Larry Graham pulling the plug a few minutes ago and heading for some fun in retirement. 

This is a great pity, as there is so much to do to improve local government so that it serves the community, not developers and the State Government.

Here is what Larry has just posted:

Larry GrahamLocal Government Reform
14m  · 
This is a quick post to advise that I will no longer be playing any public part in any matters local government. Whilst I am still healthy and kicking, my ticker has been a tad dodgy for a while, and this stuff is not helping, so it must go; that is not the ticker, it is the stuff that must go.
My association with these matters was accidental and resulted from some local dealings that highlighted many of the major failings in the system. When I made a written submission to the local government act review, my phone melted down, and a lot of people pointed out very few people ever get to review legislation and because I had, these folks asked me to get involved, so I did.
Things began in a cooperative way but sadly the former minister turned it into a battle that it needed not to be. The incoming minister is heading down the same path, so maybe it is me that brings out the worst in them.
But it is extraordinary that neither of these ministers knew what their role under the Act was. Despite the law saying the opposite, one thought councils had no power on “operational matters”, (whatever they may be) and the other does not know he has the power to direct councils. And the department that is supposed to advise them was subject to one of the most damning Auditor General reports that I have ever seen. How can people with such poor levels of knowledge, successfully and competently rewrite laws?
While there will be substantive window dressing, there will be precious little reform in local government and in a few years’ time, folks will again be talking about the power of the club and the structural, democratic, and economic dysfunction of local government. Then another minister will charge off over the reform hill, but like the last two ministers, the next newbie will only get as far as the club allows them to.
Debating the formation of the parliamentary select committee one of the high-profile party head kickers pontificated about local government not being in the constitution; well, it is. But it is these spruikers and the apologists like them who parrot the club lines who perpetuate the dysfunction in the sector.
It is just so obvious that many of these talking heads base their input on sweeping assumptions; they obviously cannot read properly, they repeat propaganda, and have obviously never read the act, but we are supposed to take them seriously. That old saying about them being entitled to their opinion but not their own facts kicks in about here.
My hope is that one day someone in power will have the courage to examine the entrenched and systemic corruption and cosiness of the local government club and end it, but my guess is that will not happen for a very long time.
My thanks to the big mobs of people who work hard in the sector for the right reasons and also to those who have contacted me with sage advice, and those who passed on their knowledge; I needed it, it has all helped enormously and I thank them for it.
As I dust off my cameras, pack my car, and prepare for the return to my much missed hermetic life, I wish you all well. See Ya!
Farewell quote (just coz I like them) from Seneca some two thousand years ago: “He who spares the wicked, injures the good.”

The photo and news headline at the top is from a year ago when David Templeman was still local government minister and appears on the Facebook site of City of Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association with the following:

Mr Larry Graham, former MP and well known critic of WA's local government, has a lot to say on the current reform process. Larry has just authored 'A review of the review of the Local Government Act 1995.'

If you are interested in Local Government then Larry's opinion piece is essential reading. It is succinct, pithy and absolutely nails most of what is wrong with a Local Government.

'The WA Minister for Local Government, Hon. David Templeman, announced an “expert panel” to “independently assess and provide recommendations on the feedback collected during the extensive consultation on the direction and requirements for a new Local Government Act."

'The result was neither a competent, nor an independent review. It was not a rigorous and open intellectual endeavour seeking the best outcome for the public,but it was a secretive process with what appear to be predetermined outcomes.'
........... . . . . . .  
If the review of the Act continues to head in the current direction under this Government, then we can all kiss local democracy good-bye.

Interested in where this is going? Read on!

(Go to that site to read the 56 pages of Larry Graham's analysis. We dare you.)

The new local government minister John Carey is promoting what he calls Town Teams, which seem little more than another way of developers and the Labor Party getting control of the processes. Carey says there are 70 already and that they are "incredibly powerful." Read one response:

Andrew MainLocal Government Reform
20h  · 
Its a little concerning that John Carey, as the Minister for Local Government, is urging local governments to ‘embrace’ the Town Team approach as detailed in his post from last week. Having had first hand experience of the concept in the City of Vincent, I wanted to put forward an alternative to the rosy view of the Minister.
In contrast to the Minister’s view, some teams operate in an opaque manner with limited transparency and accountability, and do not seek the views, nor represent the broad community.
For example, the local TT strongly advocated for a ‘public square’ on View St North Perth. However, a community survey by the COV conducted prior to its decision to proceed with this project, indicated that only 7% of respondents wanted it in the proposed location. This opinion was ignored, and not surprisingly, it has been a total flop and a waste of $600,000.
In addition, many recent COV election candidates have come from town teams, who have been supported and endorsed by the ALP aligned sitting members. Current and former councillors have benefitted financially from events run by the town teams. The teams appear to have become a power base and breeding ground.
The emphasis that the Minister places on TTs not ‘whinging and criticising’ is also of concern. We do live in a democracy, and if people aren’t happy with decisions of government, it is essential that we raise concern. Where would Australian society be today without our ‘whingers’ in years gone by?
I strongly support civic engagement and community engagement. However, the town team concept is only one mechanism to facilitate this. And it’s not perfect.

The Fremantle Society has worked hard to improve local government processes as well as council processes, but those with the power repeatedly prove they cannot be trusted, need more oversight, and investigation.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

0409 223622
Copyright © 2021 The Fremantle Society, All rights reserved.

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