Boundary Adjustment Facilitation Panel

29 Nov 2012 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a question to the Minister for State/Local Government Relations on the subject of the Boundary Adjustment Facilitation

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I understand that the Local Government Boundary Adjustment Facilitation Panel is conducting public consultation on a submission by a small number of electors to transfer the hundreds of Mangalo and Heggaton from the District Council of Franklin Harbour to the District Council of Cleve and is expected to report in early 2013. The proposal, if successful, will result in all the assets, revenues and grants which relate to that area being transferred to the District Council of Cleve.

The panel's proposal appears to be predicated on only one of the 13 requirements of section 26 of the Local Government Act for boundary change, namely, paragraph (c)(vii)— Communities of Interest, and there has been little, if any, consideration of the impact of the proposal on the sustainability and capacity of the remainder of the District Council of Franklin Harbour and its community.

The panel, on the advice of the Crown Solicitor, has declined to address the financial and community ramifications to the whole community of both councils, including the levels of compensation which might need to be paid between the councils. In fact, the Crown Solicitor has stated there is no capacity under the act to require compensation, other than amounts agreed between the parties, which will be a significant loss of revenues and assets to the District Council of Franklin Harbour.

My question for the minister is: will he give an assurance to all of the affected parties that a gazettal of this proposal will only be made following a full and comprehensive study of the impacts on both councils, and will he undertake that the issue of compensation will be addressed if the proposal proceeds?

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:34): The Local Government Act 1999 established an independent representative body called the Boundary Adjustment Facilitation Panel. As you would see, that was under a Liberal government. That panel was established to investigate and make recommendations of the proposals for the council boundary changes. A group of eligible electors from the District Council of Franklin Harbour has made a submission to the panel seeking to have the council boundary adjusted to excise the hundreds of Mangalo and Heggaton from the District Council of Franklin Harbour and include them in the District Council of Cleve.

The Local Government Act 1999 sets outs the process that the panel must undertake when it receives a submission for boundary change. The panel deliberations in this matter are at a stage where the proposal for boundary change was released for public consultation and ended on 23 November 2012. The act gives no power to me as minister to influence the operations of the panel during the deliberations about boundary changes.

An article published in the Eyre Peninsula Tribune on 15 November incorrectly claimed that the commission had, in fact, made a decision and had advised the minister to remove the hundreds of Heggaton and Mangalo from the Franklin Harbour council. While the journalist should probably have checked this with the agency or the minister's office, she has been misled by a media release issued on 2 November by Mayor Eddie Elleway claiming this to be the case.

Given that the public consultation period only finished on 23 November, the commission had obviously not made any decision, let alone any recommendation to the minister. My involvement under the act requires me, on receipt of the panel's report on a public-initiated submission, to either accept the report or refer the report back to the panel with a request to consider the matters and to take such steps as I have specified. I am advised that there are still a number of steps for the panel to go through before a report will be prepared for my consideration.

The panel has issued a set of guidelines to assist councils and electors in the development and preparation of submissions for a review of a council's external boundary, composition or representative structure. Proposals for boundary adjustments may be made by council electors or jointly submitted by affected councils.

A submission to change the boundaries in an area can be made by a group of 20 or more electors. The submission must first be made to the affected councils. If supported, the councils may make a joint proposal to the panel. If either of the councils informs the electors that the submission is not supported, the electors may then submit the proposal to the panel for its consideration. If the panel believes that the proposal has merit, it investigates the matters and consults with affected stakeholders. A report is then prepared for my consideration.

The panel consists of four members. As Minister for State/Local Government Relations, I am responsible for selecting two people and choosing another two from four nominated by the Local Government Association. The current members were appointed to the panel on 1 January 2011 for a two-year term. The members are: Margaret Wagstaff (who is the chair), minister's nominee; Carol Procter, minister's nominee; James Maitland, Mayor of Wakefield Regional Council, LGA nominee; and Gillian Aldridge, mayor of Salisbury council, an LGA nominee. The current—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: I have actually got the dates, and I might go through them in a minute just to let you know that I have actually seen them.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: The current membership concludes on 31 December. The process for appointing or reappointing members has commenced.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: I recently wrote to the president of the LGA seeking four nominees, from whom I will select two appointees. Since 2001 there have been 14 council-initiated submissions considered and completed by the panel. These are:
•·City of Victor Harbor and Alexandrina Council to rectify a boundary anomaly at Hayborough;
•·District Council of Yorke Peninsula to facilitate the construction of the Port Vincent Marina;
•·Adelaide Hills Council and The Barossa Council to adjust the boundary due to the realignment of the Adelaide-Mannum Road;
•·City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Tea Tree Gully to rectify a boundary anomaly at Riverside Grove, Dernancourt;
•·City of Prospect and City of Charles Sturt to adjust the boundary due to the realignment of Torrens Road, Ovingham;
•·District Council of Copper Coast to facilitate construction of the Wallaroo Marina;
•·City of Whyalla to extend its northern boundary and to include the area covered by the Whyalla Marina;
•·City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect to rectify a boundary anomaly at Warren Avenue, Prospect;
•·District Council of Ceduna to extend its coastal boundary at Murat Bay to facilitate the Ceduna Keys Marina redevelopment;
•·Kingston District Council to extend its coastal boundary at Cape Jaffa to facilitate the Cape Jaffa Anchorage development;
•·City of Holdfast Bay and the City of Marion to rectify a boundary anomaly at Diagonal Road, Somerton Park;
•·City of Burnside and the City of Mitcham to rectify a boundary anomaly at Leadwood Gardens;
•·District Council of Grant and the City of Mount Gambier to transfer five parcels of land to the City of Mount Gambier to facilitate continued urban development within the city; and
•·City of Salisbury to include the St Kilda breakwater and channel into the council boundary.

To date, no public initiated submission to the panel has resulted in a boundary change. The really sad thing about this whole affair is that the Hon. Ms Lensink, who may be deputy leader but who has no portfolio, seems to be dabbling in the local government sector and probably stepping on the toes of Mr Steven Griffiths.

The Hon. Ms Lensink tried to make an issue down at Mount Gambier and fell flat on her face, mainly because she had no idea what she was talking about. Now she is getting involved in the boundary adjustment panel for Franklin Harbour when no decision has been made and the process is still underway.

I find it quite astounding that she would have the audacity to come into this place before I have received a submission and ask me how I would react, when I have told her that up until now no public-initiated system has been agreed to. I think the Hon. Ms Lensink should probably look at areas that she might know a little bit about, because local government certainly is not one of them.

The PRESIDENT: A supplementary question: the Hon. Ms Lensink.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:42): And I do thank the minister for that comprehensive coverage of a whole range of matters that had nothing to do with what I asked. Will he give assurance that the issues of the impacts and compensation will be fully investigated before he makes a decision?

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:42): I am not going to give any assurances, because I have not received a submission. How irresponsible would it be of me to start talking about giving compensation when I have not even received a report? I find that just bizarre, and it is an indictment on the opposition deputy leader, without a portfolio, to ask me to do that.

The PRESIDENT: A further supplementary, the Hon. Ms Lensink—without comment.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:42): Without comment, yes, Mr President. Is the minister saying that he is refusing to investigate all matters before he makes a decision?

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:43): The boundary adjustment committee is an independent body and answerable to the minister. I don't get involved in any process. When I finally get a report and a decision, I will then make a decision.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Mr Wade, is it a supplementary or a new question?

The Hon. S.G. WADE: No, a new question.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Well, if you can control your own side, I will let you.