Disbelief and sheep in new round of council stoush
A country MP says “a few sheep” does not make the WA Premier a farmer.
WA Nationals Upper House MP Martin Aldridge made the call as the issues continue around plans for council amalgamations.
Premier Colin Barnett was under fire from all direction in a heated debate this week, with Liberal MP Simon O'Brien launching a stinging criticism just before Mr Aldridge’s attack.
Former transport minister Mr O’Brien said the Government had gone about the council merger process in a “stupid” and ill-informed manner.
Mr Aldridge then followed, accusing Mr Barnett and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson of breaking a deal the Liberals and Nationals had struck over the proposed mergers.
The agreement was designed to protect regional municipalities from changes.
Mr Aldridge was riled by an earlier claim by Mr Barnett, who said country people had been in favour of amalgamations, and outback MPs should pay more attention.
“Having a few acres and a few sheep in Toodyay doesn't qualify you in that regard,” Aldridge said.
“Coming out to a regional community once every now and again for an open or a media opportunity doesn't qualify you in that regard either.
“We have without doubt a better understanding of our constituency than he does.
“Shane Love in Moore... Mia Davies in Central Wheatbelt, Tuck Waldron in Wagin are more connected to their community than this Premier ever will be.”
The WA Nationals appear to be taking a stand against metropolitan council mergers because of the Premier's repeated calls that regional councils will follow.
Liberal MP Simon O'Brien had slammed Mr Barnett earlier in the session, saying “there's two things in politics that are capital offences; one is saying things that aren't true and the other one is being stupid”.
“There's a couple of people in this town, associated with these tactics, who should be hung twice,” he said.
“They're not playing with a straight bat, they're not peddling the truth, and they're most certainly being stupid in the way they're going about it.”
O'Brien said the Government’s approach to the process was “insulting to the intelligence and reflect very badly on those behind them”.
“Members have to consider now what sort of message they want to send to a Government which has got one or two of its members pulling the strings and behaving in this way,” he said.
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson later declined to comment on the remarks.
The Legislative Council will next week vote on a Labor motion to officially record the criticisms of the Government's amalgamation process.