PERTH lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi is to hold her position as chair of the council’s audit and risk committee.
Following the scandal surrounding her lack of disclosure of gifts and travel, the council had looked into replacing her with an independent member of the committee as a way of boosting transparency.
But the committee itself looked into the issue and decided the membership arrangements (three councillors and an independent) satisfied the guidelines, while there was concerns an independent chair mightn’t have enough local government experience to do the job properly.
The issue sparked a fiery debate at the council meeting this week, with councillors Reece Harley, Jemma Green, and James Limnios spoke against casting aside a transparency measure already accepted in 5 out of 7 capital cities.
“As an audit committee, we should have an independent member that’s chairing the committee,” Cr Harley said.
“If we want to be number one in WA…I believe that the City of Perth needs to look to other capital cities.”
Cr Green disagreed with the council’s governance manager Mark Ridgewell that independents mightn’t have the skills: “Perhaps with other committees experience is more valuable but with auditing it’s independence,” Cr Green said.
“We’re certainly not pursuing best practice with the way this motion is structured.”
Cr Limnios said the motion was “taking a step forward and two back” in terms of transparency.
Committee member Cr Janet Davidson, a staunch Scaffidi ally, was the lone voice in defence of the officer’s recommendation.
“It was discussed robustly and it was concurred by all there and the independent member,” Cr Davidson said.
“We have a very solid independent member in that committee already.”
Although the reformists dominated the debate, they lost out 5/3 in favour of the status quo.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM