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Deputy Premier weighs in on council boundaries

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Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman says it’s “eminently appropriate” for her to survey residents in her safe eastern suburbs seat about shifting the boundaries of the local council area, despite neither council affected currently backing such a move.

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Chapman has written to several residents in two suburbs, saying: “As your local member of parliament, I am writing to seek your opinion on the possibility of the redistribution of the suburbs of Heathpool and Marryatville into the City of Burnside, rather than their current inclusion in the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters.”

“There would be many factors that may impact on your decision as to which Council area would be preferable, including council rates, services and the Council representatives for the ward of which you would be part,” the letter continues.

A recent change to the Local Government Act changed the criteria for such a proposal – which previously required the assent of both affected councils – instead allowing boundary change proposals to be referred to the Local Government Grants Commission by a resolution of parliament, the Local Government Minister, one of the affected councils or a percentage of eligible electors.

In her letter, Chapman told residents the previous stipulation that both affected councils must consent to a boundary redistribution had been “an impediment to change in the past”

A copy of Chapman’s letter

Norwood, Payneham and St Peters is unlikely to support losing a chunk of its territory, with Mayor Robert Bria telling InDaily he understood Chapman’s survey was initiated by an approach from a disaffected resident.

He said he had sought information about the nature of the complaint from Chapman – whose seat of Bragg is one of the Liberals’ safest, with a 17.4 per cent margin – but “despite repeated requests, she has refused to provide me any detail about these so-called disaffected residents, to give the council the opportunity to address the concerns”.

“Both myself and the council find the whole rationale very, very bizarre… it doesn’t make sense to me,” Bria said of the survey.

“I don’t understand what the motivation is, or believe that there’s a significant groundswell of public opinion to warrant such a change.”

Chapman said the area in question was “a tiny area” and “a bit of a dog leg in the Norwood council area”.

She said Heathpool residents had petitioned her about moving into Burnside when she was first elected in 2002, arguing that the area was only contained in Norwood, Payneham and St Peters in the first place because “150 years ago one of the Norwood councillors lived there”.

The affected area contains both Loreto College and Marryatville High School.

Chapman conceded Norwood council was “obviously a bit nervous about it” but said she had undertaken to advise them “about whatever feedback I get on it”.

She added she was also considering whether “part of Beulah Park” should be returned the other way, by way of compensation, from Burnside to Norwood.

“It’s state legislation – I’m the local member, and that’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing – following up on issues that are important [to constituents],” Chapman said.

“It’s eminently appropriate to work with [the councils] and keep them informed about what our mutual ratepayers want.”

But Burnside Mayor Anne Monceaux said her council did not have a position on the proposed change, and had not discussed it.

“The view is that we don’t have a view, and I don’t have a personal view,” she said.

We’ve not discussed as a council – therefore we don’t have a position… it’s not come to us formally,” she said.

“We’ve not gone to Vickie and said we want to make changes – we don’t have a position.”

She said the survey was “within the MPs’ legislative right to ask the community and at this point that’s what she’s doing”.

“I don’t believe there’s any malicious intent in any of this… she has the right to do it,” she said.

“In the end people will tell Vickie what they want or don’t want.”

Although she suggested the change might be unlikely to eventuate.

“People don’t like a lot of change, is my prediction,” she said.

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