Tag Archive | "Travel"

Windy harbour tractor parade

Easter ex-tractor-ganza

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS, CHRIS THOMSON

It’s Easter Sunday afternoon, and the inaugural Windy Harbour tractor parade starts rolling out along the streets of the remote Southwest holiday spot.

Most of the tractors stick to the modest 15kph speed limit as they wind into Windy on the settlement’s new S-shaped bitumen entry road.

Together, the 27 rumbling tractors might be exceeding Shire of Manjimup noise regulations by a dB(A) or two.

But nobody’s counting.

Windy is an old-school holiday resort, loved by locals of the Warren District, many of whom have long used onetime farm tractors to tow their fishing boats to the beach.

The settlement is surrounded by D’Entrecasteaux National Park, and there’s no place like it in the world.

Most people stay in rustic huts built from scratch, and from a range of improvised materials, by their forebears, lots of whom had worked at timber mills in the district.

Local lore has it that when old man Bunning drove through Windy some decades ago, he wryly observed that most of the jarrah weatherboards sheltering the huts from Southern Ocean gales more than likely belonged to him.

With old man Bunning and any statute of limitations having long since passed, several of the jarrah-clad huts will eat tractor dust today.

But as the tractors round Windy’s barbecue area, and enter Mitchell Way, none of the holiday-makers who cheer the parade from the front decks or steps of their huts seems to mind.

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And around the corner, in a line down to the boat ramp, a Praetorian Guard of tray-backs stoically waits for the procession to arrive.

As the tractors round the bend and chug into the boat ramp car park, the question on everybody’s lips is: “Which one’s your favourite?”.

Rather randomly, the prize for best tractor goes to Robert Trevorrow’s 1960 Ford-Ferguson, a machine he picked up from the Pemberton Mill in the mid-1980s.

“It cost $300 to buy, $60 to do up, $360 for engine parts and $130 to $140 for a water pump, radiator and gaskets,” Mr Trevorrow tells oneperth.com.au.

“It would probably cost $4000 to $5000 to buy one now in this condition.”

Mr Trevorrow, an electrician by trade, has been holidaying at Windy since 1979.

He is a life member of the Windy Harbour Volunteer Marine Rescue that put today’s Easter ex-tractor-ganza together.

In announcing Mr Trevorrow as winner, Windy Harbour Volunteer Marine Rescue Commander Nigel Kelly says the two judges, who he declines to name, think the Ford-Fergy is “cute”.

Mr Kelly enigmatically adds that the Windy Harbour tractor parade is a “first time ever, and a one-off, maybe”.

Mr Trevorrow wins a pizza for his troubles.

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TRAVEL: Getting to the bottom of the windmills of Montmartre.

They might be giants

CHRIS THOMSON

I’m on hols in chilly old France. And after a week roaming the galleries of Paris admiring paintings of windmills atop the city’s highest peak, I thought it might be time to learn a bit more about les moulins de Montmartre.

My apartment is on Rue Caulaincourt, in a residential part of Montmartre. It’s behind and down the steep hill from Sacré-Cœur Basilica rather than at the Paris-facing front where most other tourists, and hawkers selling selfie sticks, take advantage of the 180-degree view.

Over here on the northern side of la Butte, I’m one of the few tourists to be seen.

And that’s the way I like it.

La Butte Montmartre is well past its bohemian heyday – when Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso drew inspiration from the earthiness and liveliness of the place – but it’s still pretty arty. Parisians think of Montmartre the same way many Perth people think of Fremantle – less rustic than in the past but with some remnant charm, and not a bad old spot to linger on a Sunday afternoon.

Thanks first in the 1890s to the flamboyant posters of Montmartre’s favourite adopted son, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and then in the early noughties to a movie by blow-in Baz Luhrmann, everyone knows about the Moulin Rouge. The famed red windmill is the spiritual home of the Cancan. But despite occupying a site on Boulevard de Clichy, at the eastern base of la Butte, Moulin Rouge is only a copy of the original that burned down in 1915. It’s not one of the former working windmills that for centuries have punctuated parts of Montmartre.

I learn that there are only two Montmartre windmills that fulfil this criterion of authenticity. Bloggers say these are the only two windmills remaining in a metropolis once dotted with hundreds of them. But the onetime windmill at Longchamp racecourse gives lie to that.

My morning hike up Montmartre starts after I find out that, like me for the past week, Lautrec stayed on Rue Caulaincourt for several years from 1887 to 1893.

Toulouse-Lautrec's likely home in MontmartreHe had a studio at No.27, which is now No.21, where he lived with a doctor who’d been a childhood friend. I’ve no reason to believe that the bloggers who’ve posted photos of the building at No.27, pictured left, are wrong when they say this is the same building Lautrec lived in, rather than a replacement one. But there’s no historical marker of an artistic past on the front of the building, as is common around here. And the building looks to me a little modern for Lautrec’s era. But adding weight to the bloggers’ case are that real estate websites list the construction date in Lautrec’s time, there’s still no shortage of doctors in there, and the windows up top look like they’d be ideal for a studio. If writing this article were my day job, I’d call an art scholar or local official to confirm.

Van Gogh's house MontmartreBut it’s not my day job, so onward and upward to my next stop, just around the corner from Lautrec’s home. It’s the white apartment building, at 54 Rue Lepic, pictured right, where van Gogh’s art dealer brother, Theo, put him up for two years from June 1886. The building does have a plaque attesting to much of this. Vincent and Lautrec were associates, with the latter sketching the former in Montmartre with a glass of absinthe, a potent spirit that they both drank too much of in the bars of la Butte.

Vincent’s time in Montmartre and his personal exposure to some of the Impressionists up here transformed the way he painted, bringing out the vivid colours and more abstract style for which he would become posthumously famous. From the apartment, he painted views of the city. And from outside he rendered more than 20 images of the Montmartre windmills.

From Vincent and Theo’s pad, I embark on the steepish, but not long, walk up along Rue Lepic toward the two remaining windmills.

Moulin Radet, one of two remaining Montmartre windmillsFor a traveller ascending the cobblestone streets near the top of la Butte, the most obvious of the Montmartre windmills is the second one reached along this route – Moulin Radet. Confusingly, for the uninitiated, a French restaurant called Moulin de la Galette is located in front and lower than it, on the corner of Rue Lepic and Rue Girardon. Pictured left, Moulin Radet can easily be seen from either of the streets, particularly in the Parisian winter when a potentially obscuring tree is bereft of leaves.

Moulin Blute-Fin, one of two remaining Montmartre windmills.About 100 metres back down along Rue Lepic, the other original windmill is the Moulin Blute-fin, pictured right. The name Blute-fin comes from the French verb bluter which roughly means “to sift”. As pictured below, left, the windmill is visible from the fine Rue des Abbesses cafe strip that winds around the eastern base of Montmartre like a contour on a topographic map. But it’s easily missed from higher up on the hill because it’s well above street level. And in summer Blute-fin is obscured by dense foliage.

Moulin Blute-fin is one of the two remaining Montmartre windmillsBoth Montmartre windmills are on private property, meaning a street view is as good as it gets for the public.

From the 1830s, the two windmills and the area they occupy have collectively been known as ‘Moulin de la Gallette‘. Hence the name of the restaurant in front of Moulin Radet. Moulin de la Galette was a popular dance and drinking venue. Renoir’s painting titled ‘Dance at Moulin de la Galette portrays general shenanigans in the area in 1876. It is one of the best-known images in the world. You can see it, along with many other Renoirs, in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. A ‘galette’ was a brown bread made by the millers here that was popular with peckish Parisians.

The local tourism office says there were once about 15 Montmartre windmills, mainly along the ridge of la ButteThis does not include Moulin Rouge, which it must be ceded is not technically ‘on’ Montmartre. In this regard, residents of the top of the hill are quick to stress the stratification between the village atmosphere of their lofty, leafy neighbourhood and the bawdiness of the red light district below.

Moulin Blute-Fin is one of the two remaining Montmartre windmills.Legend, relayed by a scholarly source, has it that in 1814, during the siege of Paris at the end of the Napoleonic wars, three sons of the miller who owned Moulin de la Galette were killed when trying to defend the mill against advancing Cossacks. The miller himself was purportedly hacked into quarters that were hung from the sails of one of his mills.

The miller’s family vault at Montmartre’s Petit Cimetiere du Calvaire has a little windmill on top. The now-faded windmill was once red, to represent the blood that dripped from the sails at Moulin de la Galette. Another legend is that the little red windmill inspired the name of the now-famed Moulin Rouge.

When it comes to the authenticity of Montmartre windmills, what spins around comes around.

Photos: Chris Thomson

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... to a city mentioned in four of her alleged 45 breaches.

FIFO Scaffidi plans another China trip

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi, embroiled in a monumental travel fiasco, plans to jet off on yet another trip to a city named in four of her alleged 45 breaches of the Local Government Act.

Mrs Scaffidi, who the Department of Local Government this week accused of breaching the Local Government Act 45 times, after the CCC last year published opinions of serious misconduct after she accepted a free trip from BHP-Billiton for she and property developer husband Joe to the Beijing Olympics, now wants to use $4000 of ratepayer money to shoot off to Nanjing and Chengdu.

If approved, Mrs Scaffidi’s fly-in-fly-out visit will occur next month – between June 21 and 25.

Four of Mrs Scaffidi’s 45 alleged breaches relate to travel she undertook to Nanjing in 2009 and 2010.

Her next trip is purported to support promotional activities of a business alliance called StudyPerth, formerly known as Perth Education City, whose partial funding of her 2009 trip to Nanjing was also cited in one of the four Nanjing-related allegations.

Mrs Scaffidi has also been invited to participate in the ‘Innovation Forum for Mayors on International Sister Cities of Chengdu’ on June 24.

Chengdu and Nanjing are sister cities of Perth, and council Economic Development supremo Steven McDougall has recommended that Mrs Scaffidi be allowed to go.

Whether the jetsetting mayor gets to chalk yet another Chinese stamp up on her well-worn passport has not been considered by a council committee, as would normally occur.

Instead, Mr McDougall’s recommendation will on Tuesday night be considered only by the full city council, due, Mr McDougall advises, “to limited time being available to consider this matter”.

An unsigned invitation from the foreign affairs office of the Nanjing Municipal People’s Government “warmly” invites Mrs Scaffidi “to Nanjing again as out most welcome guests [sic] and dearest family members [sic]”.

In another invitation, the Mayor of Chengdu prematurely ejects that he is: “very happy to hear that you will lead an education delegation to visit Chengdu”.

The Department of Local Government has recommended that consideration be given to commencing disciplinary action against Mrs Scaffidi over her 45 alleged breaches of the Act.

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Typo-prone Fremantle official recommends UK trip – for himself.

Sister city turns Fungal

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: In a report penned by himself, a Fremantle council official has recommended he be funded to travel to the UK, and revealed that Mayor Brad Pettit wants to attend “the 20th anniversary of the sister city relationship with Fungal in Portugal”.

In his report to Fremantle council’s elaborately named Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee, City Business Director Glen Dougall has recommended that Dr Pettit be allowed to tack a visit to Birmingham onto his planned trip to ‘Fungal’.

Mr Dougall’s self-prepared report also recommends the committee endorse him to travel to Birmingham to attend the so-called Regional Waste Management Conference between September 13 and 15.

Mr Dougall has recommended that Dr Pettitt join him in Birmingham.

Regardless of the merits of Mr Dougall’s self-initiated trip, one thing on the nose about his report is that Fremantle has no city agreement with ‘Fungal’.

In fact, there is no such place as ‘Fungal’, Portugal.

Fremantle does however have a mutual admiration arrangement with the picturesque Portuguese city of Funchal, in the semi-autonomous Atlantic archipelago of Madeira, off the west coast of Morocco.

Perth’s port city consummated its relationship with Funchal in 1996.

Dr Pettit plans to breeze in to Funchal in early September to celebrate the relationship’s 20th anniversary.

Birmingham is a lazy 2500km flight from the azure waters of Funchal, and Dr Pettit reasons he may as well stay in Europe and join Mr Dougall at the Regional Waste Management Conference.

The committee is slated to debate Mr Dougall’s self-recommended sojourn on May 18.

In Portuguese, ‘Funchal’ means ‘a plantation of fennel’.

There’s nothing fungal about it.

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Perth ratepayers again expected to foot the bill.

Scaffidi charged $3075 to speak in Sydney

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from revelations here that Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi is planning a ratepayer-funded visit to chic Bunker Bay to covertly caucus with property developers, oneperth.com.au can now reveal that after a trip to Texas next month she wants a sojourn in Sydney to speak at an event at which ratepayers will be charged $3075 for her to register.

As one of its focus-detracting, non-editorial money-making measures, which includes operating a noodle market, the troubled Fairfax newspaper company will in June run a ‘national infrastructure summit’ at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.

Mrs Scaffidi, embroiled in a travel scandal first exposed by this reporter back in 2009, is the only non-Sydney mayor planning to speak at the event, on June 15 after she returns from a ‘world energy cities partnership’ gig next month in Houston.

If Mrs Scaffidi’s participation is approved next week by a pow-wow of Perth councillors, Fairfax Media will charge her $3075 to be what it calls a “key speaker”, but Perth ratepayers will foot the bill.

Ratepayers will also have to cough up $4000 for return flights, and $400 for Mrs Scaffidi’s accommodation in Sydney.

A report from the office of Perth council CEO Martin Mileham says Mrs Scaffidi’s attendance “provides an opportunity to gain insights from key stakeholders regarding Australia’s infrastructure priorities and associated strategies”.

“This could enhance Perth’s capital city status in a federal election year,” the report continues.

Despite the lofty title of “key speaker”, the $3075 registration fee will only secure Mrs Scaffidi a seat at a panel discussion chaired by a Fairfax journo, at which she will have to compete for attention with long-serving Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Real speeches will be reserved for political heavyweights including New South Wales Premier Mike Baird, and Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Photo of Sydney: ‘Diliff’, Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons attribution sharealike 3.0 unported licence.

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... to rub shoulders with crème de la crème of Perth's property industry.

Scaffidi plans exclusive Bunker Bay trip

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi, under the cloud of a state government probe into her mining and development industry-funded travel, is planning a new trip – this time funded by ratepayers to exclusive Bunker Bay to rub shoulders with the crème de la crème of Perth’s property industry.

The Property Council of Australia has invited Mrs Scaffidi to a ‘Property Council Leaders’ conference at the upscale Pullman Bunker Bay Resort nestled in bushland behind the azure waters of Geographe Bay between Busselton and Dunsborough.

The conference is slated for May 19 and 20, and the office of Perth council CEO Martin Mileham has recommended ratepayers foot the $2100 bill to keep Mrs Scaffidi fed, watered and luxuriously lodged for two nights.

A City of Perth briefing paper explains that the conference is “an exclusive forum (invitation only) that brings together prominent industry leaders of the Western Australian property industry, senior government representatives (key decision makers) and CEOs from the wider business community”.

Contradictorily, the council paper says: “Only property developers, investors, owners and managers are invited to attend”.

Mrs Scaffidi has been invited to speak at a session on May 20 that will explore the property industry’s priorities ahead of next year’s state election.

The council briefing paper says: “The participants in the Leaders Conference are important stakeholders of the City of Perth”.

“The current downturn in the Western Australian economy has resulted in high vacancy rates in the CBD commercial property sector and the property market faces significant challenges in the coming years,” the paper continues.

“The Leaders Conference provides an opportunity to share knowledge and discuss the issues they are facing.

“The attendance of the Lord Mayor will provide an opportunity for participants to understand the City of Perth’s priorities and for the Lord Mayor to hear first-hand the issues facing the industry.”

The invitation to the conference, from Property Council boss Joe Lenzo, stresses that information disclosed during the high-powered get-together may be reported outside by those present, but the source of the disclosed information must not be revealed.

After this reporter in 2009 revealed that BHP Billiton had funded an all-expenses-paid trip to the Beijing Olympics for Mrs Scaffidi and her property developer husband Joe, the Corruption and Crime Commission last year published opinions of serious misconduct about the Perth mayor in relation to her Beijing and other trips.

A Department of Local Government probe into the travel scandal still hangs over Mrs Scaffidi’s head.

The city’s Finance and Administration Committee – comprising Mrs Scaffidi’s closest ally on council Janet Davidson, her arch political nemesis Reece Harley, and lawyer Lily Chen – is on April 19 slated to debate whether Mrs Scaffidi gets to go to Bunker Bay.

Background Bunker Bay photo: ‘Gnangarra’, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence.

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He wanted to attend an offshore wedding. But Child Support had other ideas.

$117K child debt keeps dad at home

CHRIS THOMSON

A father who owes more than $117,000 in child maintenance was yesterday blocked from attending his brother’s wedding in India.

In Brisbane yesterday, Administrative Appeals Tribunal senior member Bernard McCabe rejected Frank Botel’s plea to overturn a Child Support Registrar decision of January 22 not to let him go while the massive debt hangs over his head.

The Registrar referred to several matters which, if true, might indicate Mr Botel was an unacceptable flight-risk.

Mr Botel insisted he was not a flight-risk, and still called Australia home. While acknowledging he has a French passport, he said most of his family live in Australia and he would not leave them behind.

In a written decision, Mr McCabe said he was not satisfied Mr Botel was unlikely to return to Australia within a reasonable timeframe.

“He appears to retain a strong connection with family members, most obviously his elderly mother, who almost all reside in Australia,” Mr McCabe noted.

“The applicant has a significant child support liability, and he was unable to explain how that liability would be discharged given his limited means.

“While his means are limited, it is unclear whether the whole amount of that liability would be completely irrecoverable.

Mr McCabe added that Mr Botel continues to make periodic payments, and he has indicated he has the capacity to make a lump-sum payment, albeit not for the full amount of the debt, out of funds provided by family members.

Mr Botel offered $15,000 to be paid by his mother as security that he would return.

But the Registrar said a payment in that amount was not appropriate security.

“I agree with the Registrar,” Mr McCabe concluded.

“Mr Botel’s child support liability currently exceeds $117,000.

“He says he is taking steps to challenge that assessment, although that process has taken longer than he hoped because of limited resources and mental health issues.

“Unless and until he successfully challenges the assessment, it must be accepted he continues to owe a significant amount, and that amount is growing.

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Former council CEO who helped camouflage Beijing freebies seeks public financial support.

Scaffidi travel advisor wants public to pay his CCC legal bill

CHRIS THOMSON

NOVEMBER 23 UPDATE: ON NOVEMBER 17, PERTH CITY COUNCIL’S FINANCE AND BUDGET COMMITTEE, COMPRISING REECE HARLEY, LILY CHEN AND JENET DAVIDSON UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSED AN OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATION THAT FRANK EDWARDS BE REIMBURSED LEGAL EXPENSES INCURRED DURING HIS GRILLING BY THE CORRUPTION AND CRIME COMMISSION OVER THE LISA SCAFFIDI TRAVEL SCANDAL.

THE FULL COUNCIL WILL TOMORROW NIGHT (NOVEMBER 24) DECIDE WHETHER THE MAN WHO ADVISED MS SCAFFIDI TO “CAMOUFLAGE” THAT BHP BILLITON WAS TO PAY FOR HER TRIP TO THE BEIJING OLYMPICS GETS HIS LEGAL EXPENSES REIMBURSED OR NOT.

EXCLUSIVE: The council supremo who helped Lisa Scaffidi camouflage BHP Billiton’s funding of her all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Beijing Olympics has asked to have legal expenses associated with his grilling by the Corruption and Crime Commission reimbursed by Perth ratepayers.

An explosive CCC report released last month into the lord mayor’s luxury travel revealed that in February 2008 then Perth City Council CEO Frank Edwards (pictured) drafted an impartiality notice that would, in his words, “camouflage” from Mrs Scaffidi’s city councillor colleagues that BHP Billiton was to pay for the $36,826 trip.

The public and the city’s councillors remained unaware BHP Billiton had shouted Mrs Scaffidi and her property developer husband Joe to an all-expenses paid trip to the 2008 Olympics until I reported it in November 2009.

Five years after my report, BHP Billiton was ordered to pay a $US25 million penalty pursuant to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over its sponsorship of about 60 guests, including the Scaffidis, to the Olympics. US authorities informed the Australian Federal Police who told the CCC, and the Scaffidis’ Beijing sojourn became news once more.

NOTICE WAS MISLEADING

The CCC considered the impartiality notice drafted by Mr Edwards to be “misleading in that it does not speak of the Olympics”.

During a private examination by the CCC, Mr Edwards said the notice was “an attempt to try and accommodate a lord mayor’s desire to keep certain information to herself about her intention, so as not to give her political opponents opportunity for attack”.

Now, Mr Edwards has asked that Perth ratepayers contribute $2860 toward legal expenses associated with his examination by the CCC.

In a report to the council’s Finance and Administration Committee, city officials have recommended the funding be approved.

When Mr Edwards retired from the council in 2012 after a decade at the helm, he was earning more than $230,000 a year.

The Finance and Administration Committee, comprising Councillors Janet Davidson, Lily Chen and Reece Harley are slated to debate the officers’ affirmative recommendation tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

After the CCC published three opinions of serious misconduct about Mrs Scaffidi in the lead up to last month’s council election, Crs Davidson and Chen signed a letter of support for the embattled lord mayor. Cr Harley, who was Mrs Scaffidi’s only rival at the election, was the only Perth councillor at the time who did not sign the letter.

On October 17, Mrs Scaffidi was elected Lord Mayor of Perth for a third consecutive time.

OLYMPIC FREEBIE

In February 2008, only a day after the council approved a new set of rules for prohibited gifts to elected officials, BHP Billiton’s Ian Fletcher made an appointment to invite Mrs and Mr Scaffidi on a free trip to the Olympics.

The CCC heard that Mr Edwards had advised the lord mayor that under the recently ratified gift rules she could accept the Beijing trip because the council had not been required, nor would likely be required in the near future, to make a decision in regard to the global mining giant.

However, in December 2007, just two months before Mr Edwards’ advice, a contractor for BHP Billiton had asked the city to approve a live telecast of the Olympics on a big screen at Forrest Place.

In its report last month, the CCC stated: “this information would have been available to Mrs Scaffidi or Mr Edwards on reasonable enquiry by them in February 2008”.

“No such enquiry appears to have been made,” the report continued.

“A reasonable person in the position of Mrs Scaffidi or in the position of Mr Edwards, who at least on this matter had assumed an advisory role, would have undertaken enquiries to see whether BHP Billiton was intending to undertake an activity involving a local government discretion.

“No evidence has been given to the Commission that any enquiry was made, either of City officers, or of BHP Billiton through Mr Fletcher, as to any interaction between BHP-Billiton and the Council.”

INADEQUATE STEPS

The CCC considered it would have been “reasonable” to have asked Mr Fletcher.

“An enquiry to the appropriate City officers would have discovered the application for the use of Forrest Place,” the report added.

“Mr Edwards gave evidence that he took to his meeting with Mrs Scaffidi a copy of the relevant rules.

“He did not mention that he had made any enquiries with staff.”

Nor was there any evidence that Mrs Scaffidi or Mr Edwards “properly considered possible future interaction between the city and BHP Billiton on a potential range of matters”, the CCC noted.

“Although the Commission accepts that Mrs Scaffidi took some steps to satisfy herself by seeking Mr Edwards’ advice, those steps were inadequate,” the report concluded.

“She may have honestly believed that seeking advice was sufficient but the principal responsibility rested on her.

“A person who made proper enquiries would have formed the view that it was reasonable to believe that BHP Billiton was intending to undertake an activity that would require the exercise of a local government discretion.”

BHP Billiton is one of the largest office tenants in the Perth CBD, with its world headquarters occupying most of the big, blue Brookfield Place skyscraper on St Georges Terrace.

RECKLESSLY INDIFFERENT

The CCC considered that “at best” Mrs Scaffidi was “recklessly indifferent to the possiblity that BHP Billiton might be intending to seek Council authorisation for something”.

“There is no satisfactory explanation as to why it never occurred to either Mrs Scaffidi or Mr Edwards … that aspects of the Olympic Hospitality Package may be a prohibited gift,” the CCC opined.

“Either Mrs Scaffidi did not turn her mind to the nature of the gift or she decided to proceed in any event.

“Far from Council knowing about the trip, the suggested impartiality notice prepared by Mr Edwards did not mention the Beijing Olympics and was misleading, whatever the motive may have been in providing ‘camouflage’.

“Mr Edwards said that he was asked to keep the trip confidential when Mrs Scaffidi asked for advice.

“Neither Mrs Scaffidi nor Mr Edwards could explain why they did not reconsider the position when [BHP Billiton’s Forrest Place] application was made.

“Mr Edwards certainly did not tell Mrs Scaffidi at any stage that the gift might be a prohibited gift.

“Mr Edwards at all times knew Mrs Scaffidi was travelling to Beijing on an all-expenses paid trip provided by BHP Billiton.”

 

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... to push for compulsory training of mayors and councillors.

Official uses Scaffidi as an example

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: The human resources manager of a council in Perth’s western suburbs has invoked the example of beleaguered Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to argue that training should be mandatory for all elected local officials.

In a report to her political masters, Town of Mosman Park HR Manager Cindy O’Dea opines: “It is often said that the people who most need professional development and specific training do not recognise that it is needed”.

“In itself this is a factor leading to problems,” Ms O’Dea continues.

“As recently as October 6 the Lord Mayor of Perth, Ms Lisa Scaffidi, is quoted as saying that when elected as Lord Mayor in 2008: ‘I was a brand new lord mayor and I was entitled to rely on the guidance offered by people far more experienced than me in terms of governance.’”

Ms O’Dea adds that: “According to sources on the internet, Ms Scaffidi had previously served for eight years as a councillor of the City of Perth”.

“This is offered only as an example that even after eight years of experience an elected member can be well served by training and development,” Ms O’Dea explains.

“In fact, the Minister for Local Government, Hon Tony Simpson said (in relation [to] Ms Scaffidi) that the issue was evidence that greater training of councillors was needed.

“He also said, ‘What we have here is a classic example of not knowing the rules, which tells me we need more training of councillors so they understand the rules of the Local Government Act.'”

Last month, Ms Scaffidi became the subject of Corruption and Crime Commission opinions of serious midsconduct over her failure to declare luxury international and domestic travel and accommodation, for she and her property developer husband, that was funded by BHP-Billiton and property development company Hawaiian.

Ms O’Dea advises that limiting training to newly elected mayors, shire presidents and councillors “may be condemning it to failure”.

“It is clear from the public record that it is not only new elected members who require development,” she advises.

“For example the dismissed council of the City of Canning had many members who could not be described as new or inexperienced.

“A casual review of the council members at (the relevant time) of Carnarvon, Cockburn, Joondalup and South Perth (all of which have had the council dismissed) will show that experienced elected members were on those councils.

“Inexperience in terms of years on the council could not have been the factor that caused the council to fail.”

In response to a WA Local Government Association discussion paper which canvasses a range of training options for elected officials, Ms O’Dea recommends that Mosman Park council support mandatory training.

WALGA has asked Mosman Park and Western Australia’s other 138 councils to respond to its discussion paper by November 13.

South Australia has been the only state to mandate the training of local elected officials.

Cropped photograph of Lisa Scaffidi by Gnangarra … commons.wikimedia.org under creative commons licence.

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Lord mayor passes buck for her serious misconduct as overseas trips come back to haunt her.

Scaffidi blames staff, shoots messenger

CHRIS THOMSON

OPINION: When this afternoon I received a text from Channel Nine asking if I’d like to “chat” about the Corruption and Crime Commission’s opinions of serious misconduct about Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, I warily thought: “why me?”

Except for the occasional appearance on a late night 6PR talkback show, I tend to keep my distance from the handful of national and international conglomerates that now dominate Perth’s media landscape.

However, the text message had me intrigued.

Lisa Scaffidi CCC serious misconduct findingsI called Nine back, and learned that Mrs Scaffidi had blamed me for her avoidance of my question to her in 2009 on whether she had declared on the Perth council gift register her attendance at the Beijing Olympics which had been paid for by global mining giant BHP Billiton.

Back then, when I revealed that BHP Billiton had paid for Mrs Scaffidi’s trip, I was not to know that six years later the company would be ordered to pay a $US25 million penalty pursuant to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over its sponsorship of about 60 guests, including Mrs Scaffidi and her husband Joe, to the Olympics.

After BHP Billiton’s prodigious penalty, the Australian Federal Police told WA’s Corruption and Crime Commission about the company’s gift to Mrs Scaffidi, and a local investigation ensued.

‘FURTHER FUEL’

During a private CCC hearing, Mrs Scaffidi admitted it looked like she had avoided my question, but added: “I probably was just not wanting to give him any further fuel because of the way he had treated me in the past”.

The CCC investigation report reveals that in an email to BHP Billiton’s Ian Fletcher, while Mrs Scaffidi was on another of her many offshore odysseys, she’d claimed that “someone” was “doing me over back home”.

“It’s been nasty media request after nasty media request,” Mrs Scaffidi stressed.

“Purely FYI in case you get a call.

“Of course it’s been registered.”

Problem is, I was merely trying to determine, on behalf of the people who elected her, whether the lord mayor had been following the rules.

The CCC says that even after its grilling of Mrs Scaffidi it has no idea what she was talking about when she told Mr Fletcher the Beijing trip had been “registered”.

“As Mrs Scaffidi had completed her annual return a few weeks earlier, without referring to the Olympic hospitality package, it is difficult to understand what she meant by: ‘Of course it’s been registered’,” the CCC report asserts.

“Mrs Scaffidi was given many opportunities in examination to explain this statement.

“She was unable to do so.”

SHOOT THE MESSENGER

Over the past decade, I’ve received gushing praise, and copped venomous sprays, from Mrs Scaffidi. Less than a year before I’d asked if she’d declared her Beijing freebies, she’d called to me from the back seat of her chauffeur-driven limo’ as it glided to a halt in Hay Street. She summonsed me over and, with a hug delivered from the back window of the big black car, wished me a “Happy Christmas”.

Ten months later to her BHP benefactor, then earlier this year to the CCC, she saw fit to shoot me as the messenger of her serious misconduct.

As a journalist who takes accountability of public officials very seriously, I’ve long recognised this kind of thing as an occupational hazard.

But I was also once a senior public official. And one thing that turns my stomach is when a style-over-substance pollie confronted with the premature death of her high-flying political career uses professional council staff as scapegoats for her serious misconduct.

At the CCC, Mrs Scaffidi accepted responsibility for not declaring relevant elements of the $36,826 Beijing sojourn she and her hubby had received for free. She also claimed ignorance and blamed council staff for not giving her more guidance.

“Because of the number of inconsistent explanations that Mrs Scaffidi has proffered, the Commission is unable to be satisfied that her motive and purpose for accepting the Olympic package was to advance the interests of the city,” says the CCC report.

“It is more probable than not Mrs Scaffidi became aware she should not accept, or alternatively should withdraw from, the trip but chose instead to avail herself of the opportunity of an all-expenses paid trip to the Olympics, followed by a side trip to Shanghai, where she paid for her own accommodation.

“Attempts to blame others and systemic weaknesses within the City of Perth ignore the fact that Mrs Scaffidi at all times knew where she had travelled.

“In failing to disclose, she signally failed in her duties as lord mayor.”

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

The $36,826 BHP Billiton hospitality package gave Mrs and Mr Scaffidi luxury hotel accommodation, business class airfares, and tickets to events.

“Notwithstanding her explanations that she forgot or overlooked her obligation or that there were systemic failings, the Commission is more than satisfied that the decision not to disclose the Olympic hospitality package was deliberate,” the report opines.

“At best Mrs Scaffidi was recklessly indifferent to the possibility that BHP Billiton might be intending to seek council authorisation for something.”

For failing to disclose a gift from Hawaiian property developers of three night’s accommodation at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Broome for she and her property developer husband, the commission formed a second opinion of serious misconduct about Mrs Scaffidi.

After she accepted the accommodation, Mrs Scaffidi, as chair of a council meeting, voted with the council to approve a grant of $180,000 to a consortium including Hawaiian to conduct a feasibility study.

“The acceptance of accommodation and incidentals at a time when Hawaiian was part of a consortium seeking $180,000 from the city was a prohibited gift which was never disclosed,” the report states.

“Mrs Scaffidi did not even make an impartiality declaration.

“It should have been obvious to Mrs Scaffidi that Hawaiian … would benefit from the city’s approval of $180,000.”

For failing to declare accommodation, tickets and hospitality she received in relation to a Chris Isaak concert at Leeuwin Estate winery in 2009, again courtesy of BHP Billiton, the CCC formed a third opinion of serious misconduct. The cost of accommodation for two people was $490. The meal cost $135 dollars a head.

No findings of corruption were handed down.

BRAND NEW MAYOR

At a hastily convened press conference just before deadline for tonight’s TV news, Mrs Scaffidi claimed, by way of mitigation, that she was a “brand new” mayor when she accepted the Beijing and other trips.

To claim she was a babe in the woods, I think, is disingenuous. Before her 2007 election as lord mayor, Mrs Scaffidi had been a Perth city councillor since 2000 and head of a prominent industry lobby group of which BHP Billiton had been, in the CCC’s words, “a very strong member”.

After she refused to stand down as lord mayor this afternoon, a Channel Nine reporter asked me if I thought Mrs Scaffidi should fall on her sword.

I said something to the effect of: “No. The people who put her there will soon get the opportunity to decide if she stays there.”

City of Perth residents and ratepayers, by the council voting deadline of October 17, I urge you to exercise your democratic right – in droves.

URBAN TRAWL: NO VIEWPOINT TOO BIG, NO OPINION TOO SMALL. CONTRIBUTE YOUR OPINION PIECE TODAY.

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Watch what happens next at historic park in a bustling Chinese city ...

Shanghai goldfish girl

CHRIS THOMSON

With a population of 24 million people, Shanghai is a socialist metropolis that’s crawling with capitalists.

Amid all the humanity, materialism and ideology, a solitary young woman approaches a pond in a popular park.

From a plastic shopping bag she releases dozens of goldfish.

Watch what happens next at a historic reserve in a bustling Chinese city …

 

 

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Vasto saves itself for Perth

STAFF REPORTER

Unlike Perth, which has consummated 11 relationships with cities from Taipei to San Diego, the Italian city of Vasto has resisted multiple foreign affairs since first falling for the Western Australian capital 25 years ago.

This week, a tour led by Vasto mayor Luciano Lapenna popped into Perth’s Council House to mark a quarter century of faithful social intercourse.

Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, whose real estate developer husband Joe has an Italian background, delivered a brief welcome in the language of his forebears before returning to her native Westralian tongue in a speech to a room packed with Vastese diaspora.

“If this relationship is going to last another 25 years, it will be up to our young people to uphold the importance and foundations of this long lasting and historic friendship,” Ms Scaffidi melodiously mused in a media release today.

Ms Scaffidi (pictured, left) said Perth’s sister city pact with Vasto was based on cultural ties, with many migrants from around Vasto having settled in WA.

Mr Lapenna, whose last Perth sojourn coincided with the Australia Day fireworks of 2010, arrived back in the great sandy state yesterday.

This time ’round, Mr Lapenna and his continental entourage will tour the Aquarium of Western Australia, peruse Parliament House, visit the Italian Consul, take in the emerging Treasury Hotel, and inspect the city surveillance centre which apparently is not to be missed.

While Vasto saves itself for Perth, Perth continues to enjoy multiple bilateral relations – with Vasto, Kagoshima, Houston, Rhodes, Megisti, San Diego, Nanjing, Taipei, Chengdu, Perth (Scotland) and Seocho City (in the Republic of Korea).

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Councillors squabble over sister city trips

CHRIS THOMSON

Newer councillors at the City of Cockburn have arced up at a pecking order that favours their longer-serving colleagues when ratepayer-funded trips overseas are handed out.

A briefing note penned by long-serving city bureaucrat Don Green explains that some newer Cockburn councillors are disgruntled with a council policy that says more experienced councillors get first dibs on much-prized sojourns to Cockburn’s three overseas sister cities.

Mr Green has himself been on at least one offshore trip with the council – to service Cockburn’s sister city relationship with scenic Split on Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

He concedes the existing policy may well skew the balance of which councillors get their bums on the seat of a jumbo and which councillors have to cool their heels back at Spearwood.

Mr Green notes there are arguments for and agin the seniority-based selection, but that ultimately the selection process for council jet-setters is subjective.

So he has recommended that the council approve a new policy that mandates if more than three councillors put their hands up for the same odyssey then those councillors must vote on who they want as travel buddies.

Under the proposed policy, a register of elected officials who trip overseas would be established.

The planned solution to the councillors’ sister city squabbling was floated by first-term councillor Stephen Pratt who comes up for re-election in October next year.

Cockburn has consummated sister city partnerships with Split, Mobile in Alabama and Yueyang in China.

Photo of Split: ‘Darwinek’, Wikimedia Commons

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Island ‘undiscovered’

STAFF REPORTER

A University of Western Australia geologist has helped ‘undiscover’ a mysterious South Pacific island recorded on world maps for more than a decade.

Sandy Island has been shown on weather maps, Google Earth and in scientific publications going back to 2000 as sitting between the Australian mainland and the French island of New Caledonia in the eastern Coral Sea.

But when scientists on a research expedition aboard the RV Southern Surveyor sailed into the area last week, they were surprised to find nothing but empty ocean.

A team including Steven Micklethwaite, of UWA’s Centre for Exploration Targeting, was on a scientific excursion to collect submarine data and rock samples from the little explored part of the Coral Sea.

When the ship’s navigation charts showed a depth of 1400m in an area where scientific maps and Google Earth showed the existence of a large island, the researchers became suspicious.

They decided to investigate and found the charts were correct:  the island shown by Google Earth as a black blob (at the coordinates 19˚14´S, 159˚56´E) simply did not exist.

“We all had a good laugh at Google as we sailed through the ‘island’,” said Associate Professor Micklethwaite, pictured.

“Then we started compiling information about the seafloor, which we will send to the relevant authorities so we can change the world map.”

He said nobody knew how the mistake had found its way into the databases used to produce maps.

“One of the sources of that map, ironically, is actually the CIA in the US so of course when we discovered this error we had lots of conspiracy theories floating around the ship,” Associate Professor Micklethwaite said.

“It certainly caused us to have a good giggle.”

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