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Roberts resigns as WALGA president but replacement still not clear

WA Local Government Association president Tracey Roberts will soon step down from the role to focus on her Federal politics tilt, but it remains unclear who will take up the gauntlet, according to State council representative Philip Blight.

At a special meeting of the WALGA State council last week, Ms Roberts confirmed she would step down effective December 1.

In a statement after the meeting, Ms Roberts said she had “greatly enjoyed” her role.

“It has been absolute honour to have been provided the opportunity to represent our amazing local governments across the State,” she said.

That put an end to weeks of speculation over a perceived conflict of interest between her roles as WALGA president and Labor’s star WA candidate at the upcoming Federal election.

At a WALGA State Council meeting last month, WA’s peak body for councils re-wrote its own rulebook after Ms Roberts was named as Labor’s candidate to take on Christian Porter in the crucial seat of Pearce.

In a motion moved by Cr Blight — Shire of Wagin president and WALGA State Council Central Country representative — the council voted to include new protocols in its corporate governance to deal with presidents or State councillors who contest State or Federal elections.

Phillip Blight.
Camera IconPhillip Blight. Credit: Supplied/Phillip Blight/Supplied/Phillip Blight

The changes meant Ms Roberts would have to be accompanied by either WALGA’s deputy president or the relevant policy team chair when meeting ministers or MPs.

The deputy would also need to be consulted on media releases and responses that have State or Commonwealth policy implications as well as written correspondence with Cabinet ministers.

In the event of WALGA’s advocacy position presenting a conflict of interest for Ms Roberts, the deputy would provide public comments. By coincidence, last Wednesday WALGA issued a statement condemning the McGowan Government’s plan to introduce one vote, one value electoral reform in Parliament’s Upper House.

It said the electoral reform, which will favour Labor at future State elections, risked excluding regional West Australians from democracy. No comments from Ms Roberts were included in the media release.

Speaking earlier this week after Ms Roberts decided she would step away from the role, Cr Blight said the vacancy would be filled by a regional member.

“There is a clause in the constitution that states that it shall rotate from metro to country and country to metro,” he said.

“And then it goes to a vote from State councillors if there’s more than one candidate.

“If you like, that’s the fairness of the size of the State of WA and the structure of WALGA (that was) created from three different local government organisations into one.”

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