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Date:9.57 AM THURSDAY, 3 June 1999
Member:Sweetman, Mr Rod
Page:8749 / 2


MR SWEETMAN (Ningaloo) [9.57 am]: On behalf of my Onslow community I direct my grievance to the Minister for Local Government. I highlight a situation in Onslow which I do not think is a glowing advertisement for amalgamation. I know that we want to look at achieving efficiencies and rationalisation by encouraging shires to pool resources and effort to achieve greater efficiency. The Shire of Onslow amalgamated with Pannawonica, Paraburdoo and Tom Price approximately 11 or 12 years ago to become part of the Ashburton Shire, apparently on the basis that a shire town manager would be located in Onslow from then on. That situation operated quite well until about 18 months ago when the then town manager, Len Welsh, who was a very able, competent and experienced shire clerk, left the position. He was forced out because he found more and more of his authority and responsibilities were being taken from him and reassigned to management located in Tom Price. Since he has left, there has been a systematic downgrading of the shire administration in Onslow. A customer services person was located there approximately 10 or 12 months ago. That person coincidentally left the position eight or nine days after Cyclone Vance hit Onslow.

It is an indictment of the Ashburton Shire that it chose not to relocate either its chief executive officer, Mr David Carey, from Tom Price to Onslow or one of the four other managers. The residents of Onslow have criticised the local government's response to their concerns. The shire administration has shown a glittering indifference to the concerns that overwhelm that community. I could highlight several of them. I urge the minister at the earliest opportunity to visit Onslow. The residents there would convene a public meeting at very short notice. One of the outcomes of such a meeting I am sure would be a vote of no confidence in the Ashburton Shire for the way it has handled that community during the recovery period after Cyclone Vance. The community's concern initially was the effort the shire put into re-establishing the caravan park.

Peter and Christine Siviour took over the Ocean View Caravan Park only five days before Cyclone Vance hit. The park is owned by the shire and the couple only bought the business, which fronts Beadon Bay. The cyclone hit the town and the ocean surge and water inundation caused the front section of the caravan park to be washed into the ocean. Initially, I contacted the shire on behalf of the young couple who own the park to inquire when it was likely to make the area good again. I offered some assistance if the shire was unable to undertake the work immediately. The shire assured me that it had the resources and the equipment was likely to be on site on the Tuesday after Easter. That appeared to be a reasonable time frame. I was told that my offer to assist was not required.

I clarify my offer for the record. I mentioned to the Chief Executive Officer of the Shire of Ashburton that we would be able to assign equipment from outside the area to help in the recovery work if the council was unable to assign its own equipment or local contractors to the task. However, this assistance would not offset any obligation on the shire or its insurance company to pay for the works. My offer would have enabled the work to be performed quickly. The CEO chose not to accept that offer. He said that all was in hand and that the shire was content with the effort undertaken at the time.
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