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Perth ratepayers again expected to foot the bill.

Scaffidi charged $3075 to speak in Sydney


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, 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


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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$60,000 fix for epic eco-fail at Northbridge Piazza.

Green wall 2.0


A $60,000 injection of ratepayer funds is needed to fix a big green wall that did not take, in the face of vandals, sprinkler bans and the setting sun at Northbridge Piazza.

In August 2014, revealed that because of sprinkler bans, vandalism to low-sitting plants, and less-than-perfect orientation, plants in the 2009-built wall had either died or become woody.

Subiaco green wall

Subiaco shows Perth how to do it properly.

Now, City of Perth planners have recommended that a modular vertical garden be erected to replace the defective green wall.

The planners say the vertical garden will save water – an important consideration because the Water Corporation has refused to give the council a watering exemption until all water saving measures have been tapped.

The council is slated to debate the planned vertical garden on March 15.

If the vertical garden is approved, the council planners reckon it should be up and growing by June 30.

The garden will cost $60,000 to erect, and $4500 a year to maintain.

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$174.45 million project imperilled because it's an apartment block.

South Perth skyscraper kicked to kerb


EXCLUSIVE: South Perth council has recommended that a 38-floor skyscraper planned for Mill Point Road be refused largely because it is an apartment block.

The council reasons that the pictured tower is a “predominantly residential use which is inconsistent with [a] guidance statement … that any comprehensive new development should consist of predominantly non-residential uses to ensure the precinct consolidates its role as an employment destination”.

South Perth skyscraperThe $174.45 million project, designed by Hassell architects, is set to be debated by a state planning panel on March 14.

The plans include 163 apartments and a 29th-floor ‘sky lounge’ for the EXCLUSIVE use of residents.

During a 21-day public consultation period, six objections and two supporting comments were received.

The objectors made all the usual noises about increased traffic, overshadowing and purported excessive building height.

And, as usual, the supporters murmured something along the lines of how the skyscraper would help activate South Perth.

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The local landmarks the city's planners think are plug ugly.

Nine eyesores on Perth council sh!tlist


EXCLUSIVE: City of Perth planners have declared war on nine urban eyesores they say have blighted the state capital for too long.

A council briefing paper seen by reveals the Top 8 eyesores, in order of appearance on the planners’ sh!tlist to be the:

1. Mounts Bay median strip, just east of the Hackett Drive intersection in Crawley, which the planners say provides a poor entry to the city;

2. Swan River Foreshore, between Point Fraser and Victoria Avenue, which the planners believe could be improved with more plants to link the park at Point Fraser and the landscaped area to the west of Victoria Avenue;

3. three-kilometre long Thomas Road median strip that forms the western edge of the city. The planners say areas of the median’s patchy, unirrigated grass should be replaced with “under-planting to create a strong and striking definition of the city’s edge”;

4., 5.,6. and 7. freeway bridge abutments and areas under bridges at Murray Street (near the George and Elder Street intersections), Wellington Street, Market Street, and the West Perth railway underpass at Sutherland Street – which the planners advise are “hostile environments in which any planting often fails to thrive” but which “present great opportunities for engaging and unique artwork” and show “significant potential for creative lighting projects”;

8. Railway Street shared path, between Thomas Road and Sutherland Street, for which the city has designed a new pedestrian and cyclist path with 80 new trees on the south side of the street, with construction to commence by July; and

9. Roe Street shared path, between Sutherland and Fitzgerald streets, where art is planned to cover an ugly retaining wall near the freeway bridge to the west of the Fitzgerald Street intersection.

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Grog shop versus boutique distiller in the WA Liquor Commission.

Liquor Barons’ Hippocampus tavern stoush


An attempt by a Liquor Barons grog shop to stop a boutique West Perth distillery operating as a tavern has been smashed out of the ballpark.

In early 2014, revealed that the boutique Hippocampus Metropolitan Distillery was to open as a small-scale wholesaler and liquor-tasting venue at Gordon Street in West Perth, under a producers licence.

Not long after, Hippocampus applied to operate as a tavern catering for a maximum of 50 patrons. The tavern application was eventually granted in May last year.

But in June, the licensee of the adjacent Liquor Barons Perth grog shop, All Night Long Pty Ltd, somewhat ironically appealed the decision to approve the Hippocampus tavern licence.

All Night Long contended the evidence presented by Hippocampus was not compelling and should be given no weight. The grog shop licensee further purported that the Hippocampus tavern application was “motivated by self interest, not the public interest”.

Hippocampus hit back, claiming its tavern was positive for Western Australia’s wine industry, and increased the diversity of licensed premises in West Perth.

WA Liquor Commission member Helen Cogan concluded that Hippocampus’ tavern was is in the public interest, and that any negative impacts were sufficiently outweighed by positive impacts.

Ms Cogan refused All Night Long’s appeal, and Hippocampus lives to distil another day.

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Design committee underwhelmed by half-billion-dollar, 64 and 55-level Northbridge phallic symbols.

‘Meh’gascrapers fail to raise a pulse


New plans to erect massive 64 and 55-level phallic symbols on the former Megamart site in Northbridge have drawn a ‘meh’ from the City of Perth’s Design Advisory Committee.

The committee comprising David Karotkin, Andy Sharp, Warren Kerr, City Architect Craig Smith, and Government Architect Geoff Warn has unanimously recommended the developer of the pictured $488 million project, comprising 64-level and 55-level apartment blocks, and an 11-level hotel not be granted the bonus plot ratio they are after because, among other reasons:

  • megamart plans perth“the overall design of the ground plane seems to misunderstand the character of the surrounding precinct and the established city geometry, with the public plaza appearing more like ‘left over space’ rather than space with a considered public purpose and benefit;
  • the pedestrian desire lines, building footprints and orientation, and the dimensions and amount of public open space need to be reviewed to improve the quality of the public plaza, with a demonstrated understanding of the intended use of the plaza and its place within the hierarchy of public spaces in the locality; and
  • concern about the number of undersized apartments and balconies within a development of this scale and the missed opportunity to provide daylight into the lift lobbies and corridors to improve the internal amenity of these common areas”.

The pictured renders are the latest of several drawn up for the site since revealed the first ones in August 2013.

The new 64 and 55-level buildings are the tallest so far planned for the site. The highest of the earlier planned skyscrapers maxed out at 52 levels.

The project has earned the ire of onetime Penthouse pet Bree Maddox over fears the operation of her Court Hotel across the road might be curtailed if new residents start lobbying for noise restrictions on the popular venue.

If the skyscrapers are eventually approved, the 64-floor one will be the tallest apartment block in Western Australia.

Renders from documents submitted to City of Perth by TPG Town Planning

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Scaffidi travel fiasco makes more waves as neighbouring mayor plots accountability protest.

Vincent mayor plans WALGA boycott


EXCLUSIVE: The Lisa Scaffidi free travel fiasco continues to make waves, with the Mayor of Vincent looking to pull his council out of the WA Local Government Association for refusing to make transparency training compulsory for mayors and councillors. can reveal that at a council meeting this coming Tuesday night Vincent mayor John Carey will move that his council’s staff prepare a report on the pros and cons of pulling out of WALGA.

After former industry lobbyist Mrs Scaffidi told the Corruption and Crime Commission she was a babe in the City of Perth woods when in 2008 she accepted a free trip for two to the Beijing Olympics courtesy of BHP-Billiton, Mr Carey started pushing for compulsory transparency training for mayors and councillors.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson agrees, and wants to make training compulsory in the wake of the Scaffidi free travel affair.

But in December, WALGA’s state council resolved to oppose mandatory training.

“In recent times, WALGA’s position on key policy and political matters (as set by the majority of its local government members) has been very different to the positions adopted by the City of Vincent, particularly in relation to the introduction of improved transparency and accountability measures across the sector,” Mr Carey will tell his councillor colleagues on Tuesday night.

“In those important instances, the position adopted by WALGA ‘on behalf the local government sector’ has not been representative of the City of Vincent’s views.”

Mr Carey says that many services provided by WALGA are available from other suppliers.

In 2014/15 the council’s WALGA membership cost Vincent ratepayers $52,000.

Almost all of Western Australia’s 140 councils are members of WALGA. In metropolitan Perth, the City of Nedlands is not.

Photo of Vincent council HQ: ‘Orderinchaos’, Wikimedia Commons.

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How council boss was sacked secretly after Lord Mayor said a prayer.

Perth CEO dumped in 14 minutes


EXCLUSIVE: The secret career assassination of Perth council CEO Gary Stevenson took just 14 minutes to execute last week, a City of Perth document reveals.

Minutes of a special meeting of the council show that at 9.21am on January 20 Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi said a prayer, and declared the forum open.

Mrs Scaffidi’s political nemesis Reece Harley, the mayor’s only opponent at the recent council elections, moved that the meeting go behind closed doors. This was seconded by veteran councillor Judy McEvoy, onetime vehement critic of the secrecy of Mrs Scaffidi’s contentious overseas trips, who is now a political ally.

The motion was carried, and City of Perth staff, and the public, were asked to leave – except for one official, Angela Smith, who was appointed minute taker.

The day before, another secret meeting – of the council’s CEO Performance Review Committee – had recommended that Mr Stevenson be axed.

At the full council meeting, Mrs Scaffidi’s closest ally on the council, Janet Davidson, moved that the committee’s recommendation be approved. Real estate agent-cum-councillor James Limnios seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously by the city’s full complement of elected officials.

At 9.35am Mrs Scaffidi reopened the meeting to the public and told those in attendance that Mr Stevenson had been sacked.

Mr Stevenson lasted just over three years at the council, after his appointment and one-way air fares from Queensland were unanimously approved by Mrs Scaffidi and her then city councillor colleagues in September 2012.

Mr Stevenson’s predecessor, Frank Edwards, who helped Mrs Scaffidi camouflage BHP-Billiton’s funding of a free trip for she and property developer husband Joe to the Beijing Olympics, served a decade at the council before retiring. Mrs Scaffidi’s failure to disclose the BHP-Billiton funding was slammed recently by the Corruption and Crime Commission.

She is still under investigation by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

Mr Stevenson and Mrs Scaffidi are pictured above, during happier times, not long after his appointment.

Mrs Scaffidi and the council have refused to elaborate on why, exactly, Mr Stevenson was fired, claiming only in a four-paragraph press release that the city needed a “new direction”.

The council’s chief town planner Martin Mileham has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer, and will sit at the left hand of Mrs Scaffidi at the next council meeting on February 2.

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Purple Commodore passenger no match for police dog Freddie.

Woman bitten after ‘booze bus drive-thru’


The passenger of a purple Holden Commodore was bitten by a police dog this morning after the driver of the car allegedly absconded from a police booze bus.

Police spokesman Samuel Dinnison said that just before 2:00am in Northbridge a purple Holden Commodore with two people aboard entered the queue for a booze bus and the driver completed a breath test.

Mr Dinnison said that when the driver was asked for his driver’s licence he allegedly accelerated away at speed.

The Commodore was found abandoned in John Street, Perth.

Police Dog Freddie was deployed and a track was picked.

Freddie followed the scent towards Bunning Lake, and indicated that someone was nearby.

Mr Dinnison said that repeated challenges were issued for anyone in the area to identify themselves lest Freddie be released.

After hearing no response, Freddie was released and found a person in scrub near the lake’s edge.

The person was identified as a woman, 38, who was a passenger in the Commodore of interest.

St John Ambulance was called to provide treatment to a dog bite injury.

Inquiries are continuing into the whereabouts of the driver.

The Commodore has been identified as previously being involved in an incident where the driver allegedly failed to stop for police.

Freddie was not the only police dog to bite someone overnight. In Como, a an alleged member of a graffiti crew was bitten by Freddie’s canine colleague Santos.

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Consumer Protection could not be any more blunt.

‘Don’t deal with Barrack Street jeweller’


The State consumer watchdog is warning Western Australians not to deal with a Perth city jewellery store that is under investigation for allegedly failing to provide services and refund deposits.

Superfold Pty Ltd, trading as Exclusive the Gallery, operates out of the Bon Marche Arcade off Barrack Street.

The store is managed by Chris Tsoutsoulis, and his father Bill Tsoutsoulis is the store’s jewellery designer.

Consumer Protection has received numerous complaints from consumers who have paid for jewellery that Consumer Protection alleges has not been delivered.

Information has also been received that consumer property may allegedly have been misappropriated, with claims that the company has allegedly failed to return jewellery that has been left at the store for creation of new items or for repair.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said attempts to resolve the complaints had been unsuccessful despite numerous enquiries with Exclusive the Gallery.

“We warn consumers not to deal with the store until these outstanding complaints have been resolved,” Mr Hillyard said.

“Consumers who have issues with Exclusive the Gallery and have yet to contact Consumer Protection should do so immediately, so that advice can be provided as to their rights under the Australian Consumer Law.”

Photo: Khalid Mahmood, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons, attribution sharealike 3.0 unported licence.

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Officials refuse to subsidise pasta diversification plan of Australia's oldest media company.

Thumbs down for Fairfax noodle market


EXCLUSIVE: The noodle diversification plan of embattled media giant Fairfax has taken a hit with City of Perth officials recommending their political masters refuse a $50,000 handout, and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority declining another sponsorship request flat out.

Fairfax Media wants to shift its night noodle markets from Northbridge to Elizabeth Quay, and has asked Perth council for a $50,000 grant to do so.

The noodle markets rolled into Perth for the first time last year, with a $50,000 cash handout from the council.

The markets attracted coverage from Fairfax’s arch rivals Channel 7, the Sunday Times, and the West Australian but not from which had earlier revealed the noodles were coming to town.

This year Fairfax plans to boil its noodles at Elizabeth Quay from March 30 to April 10.

In its funding application, Fairfax said the markets would cost $518,788 to put on. can reveal the company has also been knocked back by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority which is scrambling to complete Elizabeth Quay by its scheduled opening day of January 29.

The MRA refused cash and in-kind support for the noodles on the basis that Fairfax is a commercial venture.

Fairfax has told the council that if it fails to secure sponsorship from the city it will explore all possible revenue streams to enable the noodles to proceed.

The council’s marketing committee is scheduled to consider the officials’ recommended refusal on January 19.

Fairfax is Australia’s oldest media company. It first hit the skids in the early 1990s when MBA graduate Warwick Fairfax, then aged 30, took the reins and the company collapsed. Fairfax made a minor comeback, but was slow to adapt to the internet age. A former editor of the company’s Sydney Morning Herald has observed the firm’s four major newspapers are rapidly growing broke.

In Western Australia, Fairfax juggles its emerging noodle interests with the operation of 6PR, 96FM, The Australian Financial Review, and a ragbag of websites and country newspapers.

Noodle photo: Uwe Aranas, Wikimedia Commons

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Equus apartment owners arc up again - this time about amended hotel plans.

‘Council treating us like illiterate knuckleheads’


Owners of flats in one of Perth’s biggest apartment blocks have expressed anger at a 20-storey hotel planned by the owners of the Rydges and QT hotel chains for the site of the defunct Greater Union cinema on the corner of Murray and Barrack streets in the CBD. can reveal that a lawyer has been engaged to complain on behalf of the owners of Equus apartments about the pictured hotel, proposed by landowner Amalgamated Holdings Limited for the corner of Barrack and Hay streets.

In 2013, Amalgamated, which operates Greater Union cinemas, and the Rydges and QT hotel brands, had the pictured hotel approved. However, with Perth in the grip of an extended property slump, the approval was set to lapse and in August the company received the okay from a state planning panel to extend the original approval until August 15, 2017.

greater union skyscraperNow, Amalgamated has requested amendments including a larger number of smaller dwellings on levels 15 to 17, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Perth City Council believes the windows are “an improvement from the previous design”.

However, when the project came up for approval in 2013, obstruction of views from Equus had been raised as an issue by objectors.

Glen McLeod of Glen McLeod Legal claims to represent the owners of Equus, and opines that Amalgamated’s statement to the council that the windows will allow better views from the new building to be “evidence of a selfish intention to benefit the hotel at the expense of the amenity of the Equus building.”

In a separate submission, Equus resident Mathew Fry disputes the amendments are minor.

“I don’t believe that the major window openings for the proposed development set back of 3.6m is far from adequate privacy for residents,” Mr Fry says.

B and J Potulski also claim the amendments are not minor.

“From our perspective it is very disappointing to see our council treating us like illiterate knuckleheads,” the Potulskis lament.

“This is extremely disrespectful.”

One apartment owner, Jeff Robson, CEO of Access Analytic, disagrees with the naysayers.

“… I wish to express my full support for this,” Mr Robson has submitted to the council.

“Living in an inner city location as we do, the other owners should expect that other high-rise developments will occur and that some of these will be near Equus.

“The existing [Greater Union] building is such an eyesore.

“I think everyone would be far better off if there were a beautiful hotel there instead.”

In the past, Equus owners have been vocal opponents of both the planned hotel, and Ambar night club’s mooted move from Murray Street to Barrack Street which never ended up happening.

The council has recommended that Amalgamated’s amendments be approved. A state panel will decide the hotel’s fate on January 14.

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26-year-old stood down from duties after Northbridge and Mitchell Freeway incidents.

Cop charged with stealing, criminal damage


A police officer has been stood down after being charged with aggravated assault, stealing with violence and criminal damage in Northbridge and Osborne Park in December.

Police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said the male constable of the cops’ central metropolitan regional office had allegedly committed the offences while off duty.

Ms Weatherall said the offences allegedly occurred in Northbridge and on the Mitchell Freeway in Osborne Park on the evening of December 18.

The officer has been charged with criminal damage, two counts of unlawful common assault, committing an act likely to cause harm or injury, attempted stealing with violence, three counts of aggravated common assault, and assaulting a public officer.

The officer was charged on January 6 and will appear in Perth Magistrates Court on January 27.

Ms Weatherall said the officer has been stood down from all duties.

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