A MAJORITY of Perth city councillors have released a statement pointing the finger at lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi for local government minister David Templeman’s decision to suspend the council.
“The majority of council do not believe that the lord mayor should get the outcome she wants,” read the statement, which was publicly released on Wednesday by councillor Jemma Green, who says colleagues Lexi Barton, Lily Chen, Reece Harley, Steve Hasluck and James Limnios are also on board. Cr Green was acting lord mayor while Ms Scaffidi stepped aside for a partially successful challenge to a disqualification for not declaring travel and gifts.
Mr Templeman announced on Wednesday his plans to suspend the council, saying the situation at city hall was “untenable”. He says he may simply suspend them on Friday, but could give them 21 days’ grace to argue why they should be allowed to stay.
Cr Reece Harley, who’s called on Ms Scaffidi to resign and has previously run against her for the top job, claimed she was “hell-bent on burning the house down”.
“She said in a meeting I attended this afternoon with the minister that she was “satisfied” with the minister’s intention to possibly suspend the council. This is exactly what she wants,” Mr Harley posted.
“Since losing her majority on council she no longer has any power over the affairs of the council. She’d prefer we all went down with the ship.”
Ms Scaffidi is still facing a possible disqualification by the State Administrative Tribunal over breaches of disclosure rules she failed to beat in her challenge, but has told the ABC there’s no substance to the group’s claims: “No, that is absolutely a spin and is not correct,” she said.
The statement from the councillors says they’re unhappy with how the city has been run.
“The majority of councillors call on minister David Templeman MLA to work with us to deal with the serious issues the council is currently facing.
“We call on the minister to provide the majority of council the opportunity to demonstrate that we can manage this city and meet the expectations of ratepayers.”
Mr Templeman’s announcement came after a tense council meeting Tuesday night where Crs Barton, Green, Limnios, Harley and Hasluck fought tooth and nail to have CEO Martin Mileham’s preferred stand-in while he’s on stress leave replaced by someone of their own choosing.
Council rules gave the pick to Mr Mileham, who chose corporate services director Robert Mianich, but Cr Harley told the meeting that councillors should ultimately determine who got their delegated power.
Despite opposition from Ms Scaffidi and her staunch ally Jim Adamos, director Annaliese Battista was appointed acting CEO. Mr Mianich has also now gone on stress leave.
A day later a letter leaked to the ABC showed Ms Battista criticising Ms Scaffidi and other councillors for poor behaviour and asking Mr Mileham to “take action” over an unsafe workplace.
It was “critical to address these conduct issues prior to Mrs Scaffidi’s return to duties on Monday, 8 January 2018, given her poor conduct is clearly the most sustained and persistent and therefore presents the highest risk to staff safety and well-being,” Ms Battista wrote on December 23, 2017.
Her letter said the Executive Leadership Group (the five directors and the CEO) all considered the workplace as “unsafe, and the administration would be best served by the implementation of commissioners in place of council”.
On Tuesday night Ms Scaffidi questioned the motive of the councillors who’d called the meeting: “I have been informed that last week the acting CEO [Robert Mianich] lodged with the [local government] department complaints concerning various councillors,” she said.
Ms Scaffidi asked whether there was a connection between the complaints and the meeting being called, but Cr Harley assured her “there is not”.
by DAVID BELL