JUST months ago WA councils — including the City of Perth — rejected transparency suggestions from Vincent mayor John Carey.
Now, the Barnett government plans to write similar measures into the City of Perth Act.
Mr Carey says “they’re being dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century”.
At this year’s WA local government association conference he’d asked councils to sign up to transparency reforms including an online gift register where any ratepayer could see what freebies had been given, along with reports of all travel by councillors and staff.
It went over like a lead balloon, with Perth delegate Rob Butler (ousted in the recent election, shortly after it was revealed he hadn’t declared a trip to Malacca paid for by the Malaysian government) amongst the critics. When we asked lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi what she thought she ducked the question.
Now, the Barnett government has agreed to Labor’s plans to stuff more accountability into the City of Perth Act. The new provisions require councillors to disclose all gifts or travel within 10 days to be put into an online register, and come after Ms Scaffidi failed to declare a $50,000 trip to the Beijing Olympics paid for by BHP Billiton, despite the company having business with the city.
Last time the Voice asked to see Perth councillors’ annual returns (which record gifts) we were told by CEO Gary Stevenson to lodge an FOI request—a lengthy and expensive process compared to clicking a few buttons online.
Mr Carey says “this is a major win for the City of Vincent advocacy and campaign to bring in greater transparency and accountability across the sector.
“The City of Perth [delegates], as we know, voted against the package reforms despite everything that’s happened with the recent crisis at the City, there’s been no online gifts register, they continue this smokescreen …that says the current act is adequate and the current procedures are adequate.
“I get the sense that some local governments are embarassed by the decision about how they spend their money, about which councillors are sent overseas.”
Mr Carey says they’re pressing forward with an alliance of councils who are down with his reforms, including Victoria Park and Bassendean.
Meanwhile Vincent council’s gift register is online. The most recent item was two bottles of wine, total value $28, gifted to the mayor by the Square Dance Association of WA for opening its 37th state convention at the Loftus Recreation Centre.
by DAVID BELL
CORRECTION: Last week we reported Vincent councillor Ros Harley was the only one who wanted fully protected bike lanes the whole length of the new Bulwer Street strip. Three people have now let us know that councillors Matt Buckels and Dan Loden were keen on them too, for the record.