Clothing allowance faces axe

THE kingly clothing reimbursement for Perth councillors is again in the crosshairs with councillors Reece Harley and Jemma Green calling for it to be dumped.

The council’s gag on elected members prevents them speaking publicly, but they oppose councillors being allowed to spend up to $13,360 on clothes, hair, shoes and the like.

So it was a rare opportunity to air their views at this week’s finance and admin committee.

Power dynamic

The three member group is usually made up of Councillor Harley, councillors Janet Davidson and Lily Chen, with the latter both supporting the clothing allowance.

But with Cr Chen away she was replaced by Cr Green, and under a new power dynamic a slew of contentious items were passed.

“I think the council needs to revisit the elected members expense policy, with a view to removing the clothing allowance,” Cr Harley said.

It was one of the platforms he ran on when taking on Lisa Scaffidi for the spot of lord mayor, losing 2,266 votes to 1,872.

Former local government minister Tony Simpson agreed clothing allowances were left over “from a bygone era”. Labor’s Ben Wyatt told parliament there was no problem with councillors using their allowance on training, conferences and professional development, but it was an embarrassment to see tens of thousands spent on clothes and grooming.

Reimbursement

At the committee meeting corporate services director Robert Mianich said “I can tell you right now, my understanding is very few, if any, of the local governments in WA are allowing elected members to claim reimbursement on clothing”.

CEO Martin Mileham declared his “personal view, is my personal view”, but said he’d direct staff to review the policy and prepare a report on what other councils are doing.

Cr Davidson voted against the review, saying: “I’m not going to vote for it, we’ve reviewed the policy more than enough,” but with the usual balance of power upset she was out voted.

by DAVID BELL

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