Mayor fights back

PROBE INTO COUN­CIL VOTE ON ZON­ING

Kalamunda Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

KALAMUNDA Mayor An­drew Wad­dell is one of four coun­cil­lors the De­part­ment of Lo­cal Govern­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing over al­le­ga­tions they failed to dis­close fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests when vot­ing to in­crease hous­ing den­sity across the City, in­clud­ing on their own prop­er­ties.

The Re­porter un­der­stands coun­cil­lors Dy­lan O’Con­nor, Tracy Destree and Al­lan Morton are also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Kalamunda coun­cil adopted Amend­ment 82 to its lo­cal plan­ning scheme last year to al­low dual den­sity codes for res­i­dents and landown­ers in parts of For­rest­field, Kalamunda, High Wy­combe and Maida Vale.

Coun­cil min­utes show when the amend­ment first came to the coun­cil in Oc­to­ber 2015, Crs Wad­dell, O’Con­nor and Destree and then-coun­cil­lor Si­mon Di Rosso de­clared a di­rect fi­nan­cial in­ter­est as they owned prop­er­ties which would be re­zoned un­der the plan.

Cr Wad­dell said sug­ges­tions he had acted cor­ruptly were ‘hurt­ful and mis­chievous’.

“There was confusion up front and be­ing cau­tious, my­self and sev­eral other coun­cil­lors de­clared an in­ter­est and left the room be­fore the vote,” he said.

“The man­ager of gov­er­nance later sought ad­vice on our be­half from the De­part­ment of Lo­cal Govern­ment and said be­cause the amend­ment cov­ered 25 per cent of the City, it was con­sid­ered an in­ter­est in com­mon.”

Cr Wad­dell said when Amend­ment 82 re­turned to the coun­cil on June 27, 2016, the coun­cil­lors, with the ad­di­tion of Cr Morton, de­clared an in­ter­est in com­mon and stayed to vote on the pro­posal.

“The De­part­ment of Lo­cal Govern­ment gives very spe­cific ad­vice and we fol­lowed that ad­vice to the let­ter,” Cr Wad­dell said.

“We went out of our way to de­clare our links and for some­one to sug­gest we’ve been act­ing cor­ruptly is hurt­ful, un­fair and mis­chievous. This amend­ment is part of the State Govern­ment’s push to en­cour­age lo­cal gov­ern­ments to curb ur­ban sprawl by al­low­ing more in­fill de­vel­op­ment, so to sug­gest there is a per­sonal gain is ridicu­lous.”

A De­part­ment of Lo­cal Govern­ment, Sport and Cul­tural In­dus­tries spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment on the case.

How­ever, she said un­der Sec­tion 5 of the Lo­cal Govern­ment Act, an elected mem­ber who had a fi­nan­cial or prox­im­ity in­ter­est was re­quired to dis­close the na­ture of the in­ter­est and not par­tic­i­pate or be present in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing re­lated to the mat­ter.

“The de­part­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing a com­plaint in re­la­tion to the City of Kalamunda, there­fore it would not be ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment fur­ther,” she said.

With lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions next month, Cr Wad­dell said he was con­cerned at the length of time it was tak­ing the De­part­ment to com­plete its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“In May we re­ceived a let­ter from the De­part­ment say­ing there had been a com­plaint,” he said.

“The De­part­ment gave me 28 days to put a re­sponse in which I did. De­spite my re­peated re­quests for the mat­ter to be closed they are still work­ing through it. I find it dis­turb­ing it could take so long.”

Crs O’Con­nor, Destree and Morton were con­tacted for com­ment.

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d473170

Kalamunda Mayor An­drew Wad­dell is un­der scru­tiny.

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