Attempts to impose the costs of recovering the State’s financial mess on local communities have been dealt a blow with the reinstatement of vehicle licencing concessions for Council vehicles.

The Upper House yesterday voted to reverse a decision late last year by the former Barnett Government to remove the concessions which would cost Local Governments $10.7 million per annum.

The WA Local Government Association said the plan to remove the concession was in effect the State Government trying to meet its obligations by using local ratepayers’ money.

WALGA President Cr Lynne Craigie said the Local Government sector and in particular Councils in the Association’s central country and great eastern zones should take some credit for the reversal and appreciated the efforts of MLC Rick Mazza for taking up the cause.

“The financial mess was caused by the previous State Government, but to help fund the recovery they decided to cut support to local communities,” Cr Craigie said.

“It was nothing more than a blatant and unfair cost shift and diversion of responsibility that would have most likely resulted in ratepayers having to make up the shortfall.

“WALGA pushed for the reversal in the lead up to the State election with a public campaign with outstanding and strong advocacy from a core of country Councils in particular the Shire of Corrigin.”

During yesterday’s debate in the Upper House it was suggested that the $10.7m funding that would now be lost to the State Government could be recovered by cuts to local road funding.

Meanwhile the State Treasurer has today criticised the Opposition for going back on their own financial savings initiative by supporting the motion for the reversal from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP.

Cr Craigie said the $10.7m State shortfall created by the reversal was a consequence of the original unfair decision to shift costs to local communities and Local Government should not be now financially punished.

“I suspect everyone appreciates the financial situation in which the State finds itself and the Government will make remedial decisions but simply shifting costs to local communities is both lazy and unfair,” she said.

“Local Government wants to participate in helping to improve the State’s financial health and would welcome an opportunity to discuss options with the State Government.”