Tag Archive | "Local"

Local Perth pollie wants $200 freebie banned for spouses of her colleagues and senior advisors.

‘No Christmas hamper for you!’

CHRIS THOMSON

A brand new city councillor has moved that a $200 Christmas hamper provided for some years to her colleagues’ and senior advisors’ spouses be cancelled forthwith.

On October 17, City of Bayswater councillor Catherine Ehrhardt rolled sitting mayor Sylvan Albert to be elected to the council’s South Ward.

Now, Cr Ehrhardt (pictured) wants to roll the $200 spent each year on hampers for spouses of the council’s 11 elected officials and its five most senior bureaucrats.

Cr Ehrardt wants the $3200 returned back to the city’s general budget so it can be spent on something else.

“It has been a practice of the city for some time to provide Christmas hampers to the spouses and partners of councillors and directors as appreciation of the support of those spouses and partners during the year,” Cr Ehrhardt explains in a briefing paper seen by oneperth.com.au.

“The city does not have an unfettered power to spend money from the municipal fund.

“Section 6.2 of the Local Government Act 1995 states that ‘money held in the municipal fund may be applied towards the performance of the functions and the exercise of the powers conferred on the local government by this Act or any other written law’.”

Council staff have admitted there are no clearly defined boundaries in the Act in relation to gifts to partners and spouses.

However, the staff have sought clarification on the provisions of gifts to councillors and partners or spouses.

“The advice indicated that the giving of a Christmas hamper to a partner or spouse of a councillor is not prohibited by … the Local Government Act …,” the officials have advised.

“However, the broader issue is whether the provision of the gift would meet the reasonableness test, taking into account the amount of the benefit received and how it would be considered objectively by a person or body as being unreasonable, whilst taking into consideration the significant community contributions made by councillors, the long hours involved and the time necessarily spent on council business away from home and family; and the generally accepted practices, across public and private sectors, of recognising the support and contributions made by partners and spouses in this context.”

Cr Ehrhardt’s Christmas hamper ban plan is slated to be debated by Baywater city councillors on December 15.

Christmas hamper photo: Neal Whitehouse Piper, flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-sharealike 2.0 generic licence.

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Colourful candidates enter Australia's most diverse local government arena.

Perthonalities run for council

CHRIS THOMSON

A former keyboardist with Eskimo Joe, a onetime commander of the WA Police tactical response group, a bush lawyer who single-handedly beat a traffic fine in the Supreme Court, and two reporters who have done time at Perth’s six-day monopoly tabloid are among a record 1021 candidates vying for a local council position across Western Australia.

KEYBOARDIST COMES IN FROM THE COLD

Dan BullOnetime keyboardist with Perth pop band Eskimo Joe, Dan Bull, argues he is well placed to “promote a cultural and vibrant neighbourhood” in the West Ward of Bayswater.

“As a commercial lawyer I consult with and advocate for my clients and I will do the same for our community,” Mr Bull pledges.

If elected, I will be the only person with a legal background, bringing new, invaluable skills and experience to council.”

BUSH LAWYER

Bret BusbyFrom formal legal qualifications to a layman who personally dragged the police and State Solicitor through WA’s highest court over a $250 traffic fine – and won, perennial council candidate Bret Busby promises to make Armadale a “nicer, safer, and, healthier place”.

“I have tried to increase public participation in council decision making , including planning of developments and facilities, and, I have tried to improve the provision of council services to residents,” says Mr Busby who also comments on oneperth.com.au from time to time.

BUSH GENEALOGIST

Kent AcottAnother failed candidate from the 2013 council elections, and a reporter at Perth’s six-day monopoly tabloid, Kent Acott, spices his campaigning up with a bit of bush genealogy.

“Acotts have lived in Midland-Guildford for more than 100 years,” he claims in a manifesto he has not bothered to update since his last unsuccessful campaign to get on Swan city council.

“I am the latest.

“I am proud that Midland-Guildford is in my blood.”

ANOTHER JOURNO

Sarah QuintonWith morale at the six-day monopoly tabloid at an all time low, it’s heartening to hear another journo who did time there is having a crack at a new career.

Sarah Quinton wasn’t at the tabloid long, and hasn’t been there for a while, but it’s clear she developed a reasonable turn of phrase.

“I want kids off their ipads and outdoors,” she asserts.

“As a kid growing up in Bassendean, I enjoyed a freerange childhood and as councillor, I will work hard to fund council plans for a nature-based playground at the river, where kids can get dirty and learn about nature.”

TACTICAL RESPONSE

Bob BrownOne man who stands between Ms Quinton and a free-range political career is onetime Midland Workshops boilermaker and former WA Police tactical response group commander Bob Brown.

“Leadership, courage to engage and achieving results are hallmarks of my life and it is these traits, supported by tertiary management qualifications, that I will bring to Council if elected,” Mr Brown boldly boasts.

With a whopping 30 councils, and Premier Colin Barnett‘s mooted council mergers crashing and burning last year, Metropolitan Perth has by far and away the most local governments of any capital city in Australia.

State electoral commissioner David Kerslake said he was very pleased such a large number of candidates had thrown their hats in the ring.

“This represents a massive increase on the last elections, where we received less than 800 nominations,” Mr Kerslake said.

The City of Canning takes top billing with 56 candidates contesting 11 vacancies, including 11 candidates for the vacant mayoral position. Other local governments with large numbers of candidates are Wanneroo with 31 and Gosnells with 29.

Voting in the local elections is far from compulsory.

Photos: WA Electoral Commission

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Spotlight on fiddling with electronic devices during city council meetings.

Plan to police councillor iPad use

CHRIS THOMSON

A Cockburn city councillor has hatched a plan to police the use of iPads and iPhones by the council’s elected officials during council meetings.

Last month, Councillor Lee-Ann Smith proposed that an ‘electronic equipment usage policy’ be prepared and presented to a future Council Meeting.

Cr Smith’s wish became the command of city governance director Don Green who has now recommended such a policy be referred to a council committee to develop.

“Council issues electronic equipment to all elected members and executive staff for use at council and committee meetings,” Mr Green has penned in a report to his political masters.

“These devices are primarily provided for the purposes of accessing documentation forwarded to them by the city`s administration.

“One important document is the council meeting agenda, which is downloaded for viewing purposes and referral during the council meeting.

“However, Council does not have mechanism in place to regulate the usage of such devices (i.e. iPads and iPhones) during formal meetings, either by way of policy, or by reference in the standing orders local law.”

Mr Green’s recommendation is scheduled to be considered, probably with the assistance of a few iPads, at the city’s next council meeting on August 13.

Photo: ‘Tnvols2’, Wikimedia Commons

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Kalamunda seeks city status

STAFF REPORTER

The Shire of Kalamunda has announced its intention to become a city.

Recently, Kalamunda shire councillors unanimously endorsed a move to pursue city status, along with a possible change of name and popular election of the mayor.

Council CEO Rhonda Hardy said outcomes from the state government’s now abandoned local government reform process highlighted the need for the shire to beef up its credentials as a big player in local government.

“In terms of population we have double the required population, of 30,000, to be considered large enough for a city,” Ms Hardy reasoned.

“Our projected housing growth and infrastructure projects like the Forrestfield railway link will ensure we will grow even more.

“We want everybody to have their say about these ideas and we begin by sending surveys to all households, with the rates notices, for an overarching community opinion.”

Ms Hardy said it was time for Kalamunda to “regroup and reposition itself as a vibrant and viable local government with a great future ahead”.

“We will be asking all members of the community to tell us what they love about the Shire of Kalamunda, how they describe it and what they would like our name to be,” she continued.

She said that any move for city status, to trade in the name ‘Kalamunda’ for a shiny new moniker, and to popularly elect the mayor would be subject to community consultation.

Of the 30 local governments in metropolitan Perth, only four remain as shires – Peppermint Grove, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Mundaring and Kalamunda.

Photo: ‘Moondyne’, Wikimedia Commons

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‘Merge western suburbs cottage councils only’

CHRIS THOMSON

The middling eastern suburbs council of Belmont will this week debate a strongly worded motion that the state’s tortuous local government reform process be slashed back to include only Perth’s leafy western suburbs.

At Tuesday night’s Belmont council meeting, newbie councillor Patrick Gardner (pictured), a University of Notre Dame trained accountant, will argue that the government’s “proposed local government ‘reform’ be limited to the western suburbs to address the isolated problems of cottage councils and inefficient service delivery”.

Cr Gardner will contend that the problems of “cottage councils” and inefficient service delivery are restricted to the western suburbs only.

He will claim that: “The City of Belmont is a sustainable local government which represents a discrete and unique community of residents [which] should not be abolished simply for the sake of ideology or misapplied economic theory”.

Belmont council officers have chimed in with comment of their own, advising that the local amalgamation process “appears to be driven more by ideology than any evidence-based economic or financial justification”.

The officers advise that Cr Gardner’s suggestion that Perth’s west would benefit from forced amalgamations while the rest of the metropolis would suffer from them is a contentious proposition which itself has not been backed by evidence.

A oneperth.com.au population check confirms that four of the five least populated Perth councils – Peppermint Grove, Cottesloe, Mosman Park and Claremont – are in the western suburbs. The next three least populated councils – Bassendean, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Perth are not.

Belmont, with about 36,000 residents, is the 16th smallest council of Perth’s 30. The city has resisted recent merger overtures from the larger Shire of Kalamunda (population 57,000).

Cr Gardner was elected late last year on the back of his opposition to: “the forced amalgamation of the City of Belmont, which will destroy our sense of local community”.

Posted in East, WestComments (1)

Mayor avoids public censure

CHRIS THOMSON

A ruling that Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins be publicly censured over his intervention on behalf of a 91-year-old who had been staring down the barrel of a $12,000 council fee has been overturned by a state tribunal.

In a decision delivered verbally in January but not published until today, State Administrative Tribunal senior member Peter McNab quashed a 2012 ruling by the Local Government Standards Panel that Mr Hipkins be publicly censured over an allegation he had breached rules of conduct regulations.

The allegation followed an email from Mr Hipkins (who was then deputy mayor) to a constituent, Teri Burridge, in September, 2009 which had advised her not to pay a bill from the council for the cost of documents Ms Burridge had requested from the city.

Earlier, the council had told a 91-year-old Mr Burridge he would need to pay about $12,400 to obtain the documents – which he needed in order to fight a neighbourhood legal dispute.

It had been alleged that Mr Hipkins (pictured) had improperly used his office as a Nedlands city councillor to confer an advantage on Ms Burridge.

But Mr McNab determined that, viewed in their proper context, Mr Hipkins’ actions did not amount to an improper use of his office.

“The context, based upon these assertions made by Mr Burridge, was his plea that this sum was ‘outrageous’, combined with a request for Councillor Hipkins to have the account ‘cancelled’,” Mr McNab noted.

“Further, and importantly, the day before the email was sent, Council had carried a specific resolution that various documents – presumably including some or all of those included in the third-party discovery that led to the disputed bill of costs – should be made available to Mr Burridge ‘free of charge’.”

Mr McNab also noted that in December, 2009 a resolution was carried at a general meeting of ratepayers calling upon the council to abandon the Burridge invoice altogether.

” … it is clear beyond any doubt that Councillor Hipkins, in a brief exchange on the telephone and in a follow up confirmatory email, conveyed the impression that he intended to take steps to investigate the question of whether Ms Burridge should have to pay all or some of the invoice that she had received,” Mr McNab concluded.

“That was the result that he was plainly seeking to achieve in the particular circumstances that I have set out above.

“This is not, viewed in its true context, a case of seeking to bestow an indirect advantage through the improper use of one’s office.”

Mr McNab considered Mr Hipkins’ conduct to be “understandable”, “reasonable” and “appropriate”.

“It is true, as Councillor Hipkins properly conceded during the hearing …, that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, he could have chosen his words in his email somewhat more carefully,” Mr McNab opined.

“But he is not, in my view, to be reprimanded or censured because of that error – if that is what it was – arising out of a quick email exchange following a telephone call from a constituent that he was helping in a longstanding matter.

Photo of Nedlands council sculpture: ‘Orderinchaos’, Wikimedia Commons

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South Perth/Vic Park merger plan

CHRIS THOMSON

CLICK HERE FOR JULY 2013 PERTH COUNCIL MERGERS ANNOUNCEMENT – CITY OF PERTH TO ANNEXE BURSWOOD, UWA, KINGS PARK, LEEDERVILLE AND MT LAWLEY CAFE STRIPS.

Seeing the government’s ‘MERGER’ writing on the wall, City of South Perth and Town of Victoria Park officials have recommended that the councils form a joint taskforce to plan for an amalgamation that looks increasingly likely.

With the recently re-elected Barnett government making no bones about its appetite for council mergers, most of Perth’s other 27 councils are burying their heads in the sand and refusing to agree to any amalgamation with their neighbours.

By contrast, globetrotting City of Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi last month launched a pre-emptive strike by proclaiming her council wanted to annexe South Perth, Victoria Park and the City of Vincent.

The lord mayor’s foray into geopolitics was immediately rejected by the mayors of South Perth and Victoria Park which sit across the Swan River from Ms Scaffidi’s capital city.

South Perth mayor Sue Doherty and her Victoria Park counterpart Trevor Vaughan argued a City of Perth takeover would see the interests of their suburban residents sacrificed to the demands of the state capital.

Both mayors have said they would rather a South Perth/Victoria Park merger than any amalgamation with Ms Scaffidi’s skyscraper-strewn capital. They say the Swan River is a natural boundary that the City of Perth should not cross.

Now, oneperth.com.au can reveal that Ms Doherty, Cr Vaughan and the chief executive officers of both councils have met to discuss a South Perth/Victoria Park merger.

No position was reached at that meeting.

But in two virtually identical reports, officials at both councils have advised that if the councils remain entrenched in their staunch opposition to any merger, their positions will be weakened in the likely event that the state government intervenes.

This Tuesday night at a special meeting of South Perth council, and a regular meeting of Victoria Park council, both municipalities will vote on their officers’ plan to form a joint-council merger taskforce.

The officials advise that the taskforce would be set up to “undertake scenario planning with a view to join both local governments”.

A joint sitting of both councils has been mooted to discuss findings of the taskforce report which would be due no later than July 31.

Photo of South Perth: Gnangarra, Wikimedia Commons

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Second Nedliaco survey planned

CHRIS THOMSON

Every Nedlands resident will be asked to complete a second survey on whether their city should merge with Subiaco, if a plan hatched by four Nedlands councillors gets up on Tuesday night.

The survey will be additional to the seven-page one currently doing the rounds which both cities have asked their residents and anyone else who may be interested to complete by this Thursday.

Under the second survey conceived by councillors Ian Argyle, Ken Collins, Max Hipkins and Bronwen Tyson, all Nedlands residents would be asked one simple question:

A special meeting of Nedlands City Council has been convened for Tuesday night to decide if the extra consultation step is needed.

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Mayoral wall of fame

CHRIS THOMSON

WA’s largest local authority is running out of wall space to honour past, present and future mayors.

A report by City of Stirling bureaucrat Aaron Bowman says the council’s mayoral wall of fame is only long enough to fit photographs of four more mayors.

Currently, 18 mayoral photographs occupy the wall of fame in the city’s garish council chambers.

Luckily for future mayors concerned about their visual legacy, enough space exists for photos on a second wall (pictured) that stands across an alcove from the existing photographs.

Stirling Wall of FameThe carpet at the entrance of the alcove has a mysterious stain – but that is beside the point.

Rather than taking a punt on whether to continue the photos across the alcove, Mr Bowman has penned a five-page report so the city’s elected officials can decide.

In an impeccable display of corporate governance, the report generates two options for the placement of future photos and recommends the second-wall scenario.

Already, current mayor David Boothman, his predecessor Terry Tyzack and the rest of the council’s House Committee have debated the weighty matter.

The full council will get its chance to deliberate on Tuesday night.

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All hail the City of Vincent

CHRIS THOMSON

The Town of Vincent has launched its bid to become a city, claiming the supersized status will help it defeat any planned takeover by bigger councils.

Vincent mayor Nick Catania today confirmed that a secret council session held last night had agreed to demand city status from the state government.

“It’s just telling people that we’ve reached a certain population over the past 10 years, that we’ve grown and reached a state of maturity,” Mr Catania told oneperth.com.au.

Mr Catania said that when a town reached the population of 30,000 it could apply to become a city.

In 2009, the ABS estimated Vincent’s population as 30,870 – up from 26,878 at the 2006 Census.

The 10.4sqkm town was created in 1994 when the City of Perth was split into four local authorities including Vincent.

Mr Catania said achieving city status would deter any larger council neighbours that might wish to annexe Vincent in the state government’s drawn out council reform process.

“Anyone that’s got designs on Vincent will now have to know they’re dealing with a city – we’re not a village,” he said.

“We’re a viable, well managed and run town that’s soon to be a city.

“We’re flexing our muscles to say we’re a city.”

In 2007, the plucky municipality pinched territory from the bordering cities of Perth and Stirling.

If the state government agrees, Vincent will become the 17th of metropolitan Perth’s 29 councils to be declared a city.

Mr Catania said the council would defer implementing its decision to replace its ‘Nuclear Free Zone’ entry signs until the government signed off on its city status application.

He said this would save ratepayers $60,000 in the production of ‘City of Vincent’ signs.

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CBD bureaucrats keep their jobs

CHRIS THOMSON

The boss of Perth City Council and his right-hand parking man will be reappointed after a city committee secretly endorsed their performance last week.

In line with a November 16 recommendation put by council officers – and only published this afternoon – Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and her political ally Councillor Janet Davidson will negotiate a new contract for council CEO Frank Edwards.

Mr Edwards (pictured left) was appointed CEO in April 2002 and now earns more than $230,000 a year.

Before the committee meeting, he put his hand up to stay on beyond his contract’s April 2012 expiration date.

The committee also decided to hold on to Business Units Director Doug Forster for three years after his contract expiry date of October 7 next year.

Mr Forster (pictured right) has held his position since October 1997.

He is one of four directors at the council earning more than $150,000 each a year.

A report with Mr Edwards’ name at the top described Mr Forster as a “highly competent and effective director of business units” with “significant expertise” managing the city’s lucrative parking operations.

“The City of Perth parking business is its most significant business operation and operates in an environment where there are few senior managers with strategic management skills in a highly-competitive marketplace,” the report noted.

“Mr Forster has significant expertise in this area.

“Ongoing attempts to groom management expertise below director and manager level have been a high priority for some years now, however they have not produced results to date mainly due to the significantly higher salaries paid by other car parking operators at this level of business revenue across Australia.”

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‘Person A’ handed keys to the city

CHRIS THOMSON

Someone identified only by his sex and as ‘Person A’ will soon join the late Michael Jackson in receiving keys to the City of Perth.

In a confidential decision ‘published’ today, Perth City councillors unanimously agreed Person A should receive the honour.

Previous handlers of the city keys include Jackson, the West Coast Eagles, and Nobel Laureates Barry Marshall and Robin Warren.

The city administration today refused to reveal the identity of Person A, or when he will receive his keys.

However, a council paper says the mystery man should be recognised for his contribution to the City of Perth.

The defunct Western Reds Rugby League side, Hey Hey It’s Saturday and 1980s Irish band The Hot House Flowers have also received keys in the past.

Posted in Inner PerthComments (0)

Joondalup deputy stands aside

CHRIS THOMSON

Joondalup deputy mayor Kerry Hollywood has resigned one year into the job in line with a “gentleman’s agreement” with her councillor colleagues.

Cr Hollywood’s resignation will be effective from 7pm on Tuesday night – the starting time of a council meeting where a vote of councillors will be called to choose her replacement.

She told oneperth.com.au that her resignation was part of a “gentleman’s agreement” among councillors made four years ago that each deputy mayor would stand down after 12 months in the role.

“It’s so a lot of us can have a chance as deputy mayor,” Cr Hollywood explained.

“It’s been a great opportunity and I have loved it dearly.”

Cr Hollywood’s councillor peers elected her deputy mayor on October 20 last year.

She said that she and her husband, John Hollywood – also a former deputy mayor of Joondalup – were the only husband and wife couple ever to be voted in as deputy mayors in Western Australia.

The reign of the new deputy mayor will last until this time next year when the next council elections will be held.

Cr Hollywood’s term as councillor expires in October 2013.

She says she would like to be deputy mayor again some day, after other councillors have “had a go”.

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Gosnells children scrooged

CHRIS THOMSON

A much-hyped free family day at Leisure World in Perth’s east has been postponed indefinitely because the $650,000 upgrade to the centre has ground to a halt.

City of Gosnells chief executive Ian Cowie said the open day – initially spruiked for today – would be postponed after a Victorian supplier delivered the wrong tiles.

Mr Cowie said this made it impossible to apply strict safety standards to refilling the pool.

“This is very disappointing and we apologise to the public for the delay,” he said.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience but this is beyond our control and safety is our key concern.”

For a second time, Mr Cowie stressed that the tile supplier was from east of the Nullarbor.

“The work was on schedule until an eastern states supplier sent the wrong materials,” he said.

“These have now been replaced there will be no time to run the stringent tests required on the newly refilled pool before Sunday.”

As late as October 1, Mayor Olwen Searle had promoted the open day, after $653,792 was spent on a 10-week overhaul of the swimming centre.

“This extensive upgrade of Leisure World’s main pool and leisure pool is progressing on time and on budget and will give pool users a better facility for many years to come,” Ms Searle said at the time.

The project was partially funded by a $250,000 Federal Government grant to ensure the centre complied with new Australian Standards.

Leisure World’s two pools were to be tiled with Agrob Buchtal brand tiles which Ms Searle said assisted in decomposing bacteria, algae and germs.

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