FORMER Bayswater mayor Dan Bull has been ousted from an influential state government committee following a narrow and controversial vote from fellow councillors.
The vote reflected a shifting balance of power since October’s election, with councillor Elli Petersen-Pik describing it as an unprofessional and “unprecedented” politicised vote.
Cr Bull previously represented Bayswater on the DevelopmentWA Midland Land Redevelopment Committee that’s overseeing massive changes to Bayswater as part of the state government’s urban renewal plan.
After October’s election the council was due to refresh the three nominees it puts forward to state lands minister Tony Buti, who’ll chose one to sit on the committee.
Mayor Filomena Piffaretti and deputy mayor Catherine Ehrhardt were the first two nominees due to their positions, but tense debate erupted at the December meeting over filling the third spot, which was contested by Cr Bull and newcomer Josh Eveson, a supporter of the new mayor.
Cr Bull said his past experience on the committee would serve him well and he was a councillor for west ward, the area most impacted by the changes.
Cr Ehrhardt suggested Cr Eveson get the spot since he was a representative on another state body, the joint development assessment panel.
A narrow majority voted 6:4 in favour of Cr Eveson, who won support from Crs Piffaretti, Ehrhardt, Steven Ostascewkyj, Michelle Sutherland and Assunta Meleca.
The three nominees are all widely perceived as more pro-development than Cr Bull, and all were in the camp favouring Cr Piffaretti to take over the mayoral spot from Cr Bull.
Cr Petersen-Pik said at the meeting: “I am embarrassed for this council. I have never seen such a political vote like I’ve seen tonight.
“It was not professional. I am embarrassed to see what I saw. This is unprecedented. I don’t recall any previous example where we’ve had a committee or a working group where we excluded ward councillors from that committee.
“I have never seen something like this during the last four years on council and I think it is a shame to see this.”
Cr Bull said it was “highly disappointing” that a councillor representing the ward most affected by the project wasn’t nominated (though Cr Eveson, a north ward rep, said he is a long-time west ward resident).
“It is disappointing that this council has discounted the amount of work I have put in,” Cr Bull said.
“The choice that councillors are making here is: Not nominate someone who’s put a year’s worth of hard work into this and has the corporate knowledge to see the project – that’s halfway through completed – [and nominate] someone who has been on council for two months.”
Cr Piffaretti said Cr Bull being a west warder shouldn’t be a big factor in deciding who to nominate.
“The decision that this committee is responsible for impacts the entire City of Bayswater,” the mayor said. “It impacts our local economy, it impacts our growth, it impacts our environment, it impacts our infrastructure, it impacts our road networks, it impacts our housing options and housing affordability, it impacts out jobs.
“Future generations will be impacted by these decisions. To say that the nominee is only appropriate due to them living in the area I think is a very flawed rationale.”
by DAVID BELL