Labor closing in on Perth council

LABOR leader Mark McGowan is taking legal advice on whether he can sack the “dysfunctional” Perth council.

Last week one of Mrs Scaffidi’s long-time allies Judy McEvoy handed around statutory declarations asking councillors to swear they hadn’t talked to the media about council CEO Martin Mileham’s contract.

Mr McGowan described that as “unacceptable”.

On Tuesday afternoon, fractious councillors unanimously agreed to spend $500,000 on a thorough independent audit of the city’s operations, carried out by Deloitte.

The audit was first approved last October, but last week Mrs Scaffidi said it would show everything was running smoothly in the wake of negative press and Mr McGowan’s threats of dismissal.

• Perth Lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi in happier times. File photo

At the meeting Cr Reece Harley said he was “extremely disappointed” that the lord mayor had given the impression that the audit would show the public everything was running fine in light of recent PR troubles and the new premier’s promise.

“I was extremely disappointed to hear the lord mayor discussing this organisational assessment live on radio last Friday morning…reannouncing this audit right in the middle of a political maelstrom about her actions and actions of her council allies”.

Mrs Scaffidi interrupted twice, saying they were only there to discuss the terms of reference.

Cr Harley insisted he was speaking to the terms and continued: “The purpose of an audit of this nature is to identify holes, weaknesses, gaps and areas for improvement in the way the city operates…the purpose of this audit is not to assure any concerned ratepayers that the city is operating well as the lord mayor said on radio, but rather to objectively, independently determine where we can and must do better.

Waste

“The purpose of this audit should not be viewed by any city ratepayer, resident or stakeholder as a process to prove that nothing is wrong here at the city because there evidently are many areas for improving the way we go about our business.”

Deputy mayor James Limnios, who’s had many disagreements with the lord mayor of late, tried to make clear that the audit “has no administrative connection between the lord mayor and Deloittes”.

Mrs Scaffidi interjected: “You will retract that statement. This audit has absolutely nothing to do with me.”

“… that’s what I said,” Cr Limnios replied.

“You inferred it did by even making such a statement,” Mrs Scaffidi insisted.

Meanwhile, Mr McGowan, who this week said the audit was a “waste,” is due to be briefed on the situation and whether he can legally sack the council.

Under the Local Government Act, he can call a three-member enquiry panel to look into the city’s issues and if they declare the councillors should be dismissed then local government minister David Templeman can endorse that recommendation.

In that case appointed administrator’s would be brought in to run things until October’s elections.

Mrs Scaffidi told the media this week that things were running better than ever at Council House.

by DAVID BELL

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