Mayor fights back
PROBE INTO COUNCIL VOTE ON ZONING
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.
Kalamunda Mayor Andrew Waddell is under scrutiny.