OUR SAY

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - OPINION -

I DON’T think I have spent more than $13,000 on clothes in my en­tire adult life. I have never owned a suit or more than three pairs of shoes at one time, and I wait un­til my hair is al­most shoul­der length be­fore get­ting it cut. But up un­til last week, City of Perth coun­cil­lors were able to claim back cloth­in­gre­lated ex­penses, in­clud­ing dry clean­ing and hair­cuts, up to $13,360 per financial year. An at­tempt to scrap it al­to­gether was un­suc­cess­ful and it is now capped at $3000, a huge de­crease. A re­port re­vealed the claims were rarely above $6000, but that still sounds ex­ces­sive. Out of eight coun­cils can­vassed by Com­mu­nity News, the City of Man­durah had a pol­icy that al­lowed coun­cil­lors to claim up to $500 and the City of Joon­dalup was capped at $1160. To be fair, Perth coun­cil­lors at­tend more func­tions and events than me and meet more in­ter­na­tional dig­ni­taries than me. But pam­per­ing to the tune of $13,000 each would put a Hol­ly­wood film set hair and makeup bud­get to shame. Peo­ple are becoming more aware of what coun­cils are spend­ing ratepay­ers’ money on and this fig­ure is likely to en­rage. Why are we pay­ing for coun­cil­lors to get a reg­u­lar cut and blow dry, a tuxedo or a ball gown? They are sup­posed to rep­re­sent our best in­ter­est, not stock their wardrobes. How­ever, coun­cil­lor James Limnios made an ex­cel­lent point dur­ing dis­cus­sions last night - coun­cil­lors are ex­pected to be at their best and most pre­sentable when shak­ing hands with the Rus­sian or Amer­i­can am­bas­sador and some coun­cil­lors sim­ply can’t af­ford el­e­gant clothes for each oc­ca­sion. And with­out a level play­ing field, there is the po­ten­tial that peo­ple from lower so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds, stu­dents or sin­gle par­ents may be dis­suaded from run­ning for coun­cil, re­duc­ing the di­ver­sity in de­ci­sion mak­ing. Julian Wright Re­porter

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