LETTERS 5.4.14

Axe the MPs?
WA has 59 members of the Legislative Assembly, one for every 42,000 people: 42 MLAs represent electorates in the Perth metro area alone, which is 40 per cent more than the number of councils now and nearly three times as many as the number of councils proposed.
This is confusing for local governments and their communities. Some share an MLA with neighbouring communities and others have more than one to represent them, but only in conjunction with other local governments/communities that are also part of their electorates.
It is also unfair on local communities as few, if any, have the undivided attention of any single MLA, and unfair on MLAs who must balance the sometimes-competing demands of different communities they represent.
So, Mr Premier, what if we were to reduce, or even remove, this confusion and unfairness, by aligning Legislative Assembly electorate boundaries with local government boundaries? We could reduce the number of metro MLAs from 42 to 30 (currently) or even to 15 (a la your proposals).
Country electorates would, of course, remain unchanged, Mr Premier, as we wouldn’t want to upset your coalition partners—just as you have exempted them from the unfair and discriminatory provisions of the Local Government Amendment Bill currently before the Legislative Council in order to buy their acquiescence in this appalling attempt to promote your ideological agenda. So then we would end up with 47 or 32 MLAs.
Would this be a good or a bad thing? I don’t know, Mr Premier, but then you haven’t given us any evidence that reducing the number of metro councils to an arbitrary half of their current number is a good thing or not. All you have done is assert, without providing evidence.
I suspect one outcome would be the business of the Executive would be streamlined and simplified but that MLAs would be less connected to their communities.
Whether this is good or bad probably depends on whether you are a member of the Executive (the WA Cabinet has 17 members) or the community (around 2.5 million).
Weight of numbers might be against you, Mr Premier.
Ian Ker
Mt Lawley

Too quick to surrender
I WOULD like to thank the Voice for publishing articles and letters on the proposed Brookman and Moir Streets’ heritage precinct undergound power project.
While Dr Roy Gilbert has been door-knocking the area, raising concerns over projects benefits, raising fears over projected costs and rallying opposition, I am unfortunately overseas and the Voice is my only opportunity to communicate the positive argument.
In 2011 the ERA (independent advisory body to the state government) commissioned a report “Estimating the capitalised value of underground power in Perth” (you can google it). The conclusion was “the value of underground power in the Perth metropolitan area is $9962 (real, 2011), or an average of 1.6 per cent of the residential property (house) price”.
The report notes caution should be exercised when applying these figures, but there can be no denying the amenity of the Brookman and Moir Streets heritage precinct would be significantly improved by the project. Property owners and residents who need convincing should take a walk down Park Street, Subiaco and see how a heritage streetscape can be transformed by underground power.  The potential investment return should convince any investor.
However, as a 20-year resident of Brookman Street, it is not about the money.  It’s about our local community and what we are prepared to give back to this wonderful precinct. As an inner-city community we meet, we chat and we entertain in our front gardens and amongst the streetscape; a streetscape that would be significantly improved by the underground power project.
In September 2013, the City of Vincent (without door-knockers rallying opposition) fairly presented the costs and benefits to the community. On November 19, 2013, Vincent council received the report and the results of the community survey and voted to proceed with the project due to most survey respondents being in favour.
Now, the council has surrendered to negative lobbyists, and voted to recycle the community consultation phase.
How will any undergound power project get approval in Vincent if the council allows positive decisions to be overturned by opponents?
Mark Greenshields
Brookman St, Perth


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