Billboard catches Labor’s attention

THE WA Opposition has linked a billboard promoting Perth Liberal MLA Eleni Evangel to an investigation into lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s failure to declare gifts and travel.

Using Parliamentary privilege, Girrawheen Labor MLA Margaret Quirk queried whether the billboard space, provided free of charge on an East Perth building part owned by Ms Scaffidi, created a conflict of interest for the Barnett government.

“Does this not now create a significant conflict of interest for the Liberal government that is in charge of overseeing the case against the lord mayor whilst, at the same time, it is receiving endorsement and resources from her free of charge?” Ms Quirk asked local government minister Tony Simpson shortly before his resignation from Cabinet.

“No I was not aware,” Mr Simpson replied on whether he knew about the building and “no” he didn’t think it was a conflict of interest.

Ms Evangel was a councillor on Ms Scaffidi’s council prior to her elevation to state parliament.

• Ms Evangel’s billboard on a property part-owned by Lisa Scaffidi.

• Ms Evangel’s billboard on a property part-owned by Lisa Scaffidi.

A day earlier local government shadow minister David Templeton questioned Mr Simpson over why a state solicitor’s case against Ms Scaffidi was taking so long to work its way through the state administrative tribunal.

“The corruption and crime commission’s report into Perth lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi… was released almost a year ago,” Mr Templeton said.

After the CCC’s report, which found Ms Scaffidi had “signally failed” in her duties by not reporting and travel freebies, the local government department held its own investigation and in May director general Jennifer Matthews instructed the state solicitors office to prosecute the case on her department’s behalf through the SAT.

“Has the minister requested from the SAT when a final resolution to this saga is likely, and if not, why not?” Mr Templeton asked.

“Why has this saga, which has damaged the reputation of the office of the lord mayor and the City of Perth, not been resolved considering that the premier stated in February this year that he expected a quick resolution to this issue?”

Mr Simpson told him the timing was out of his hands.

“I do not have any input into this process”, he said.

Over the din of interjecting members across the aisle he said it was rightly in the hands of the SAT.

by DAVID BELL

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