THIRTY Melville ratepayers—including WA’s finalist for senior Australian of the Year—were told Tuesday by council CEO Shayne Silcox they weren’t behaving like good Australians.
He told the group, who were being noisy in the council’s public gallery, that he had the authority to call the police and fine people $1000 for disruptive behaviour if they didn’t pipe down.
Former state Labor MP Judyth Watson, 74 (who’s in line for the senior Australian gong) led the group, which was asking the council to re-open consultation regarding the Roe 8 extension.
They were hoping the council would abide by a vote of a special electors’ meeting last month that called on the council to abandon its $50,000 in advertising support for the project, part of the Perth Freight Link.
Three residents asked the council for permission to talk about opening public consultation.
“They were not asking for the Perth Freight Link itself but for public consultation regarding it,” council candidate Peter Best told the Herald. “The interventions went for 15 minutes and then the councillors made comments and questions to basically tell the speakers that there had been lots of consultation already.
“However, I think that there’s been little consultation considering the advertising by the council about Roe 8.”
It was when councillors started adding their two-cents that the gallery got uppity.
Deputy mayor Nicole Foxton—defined as “passionate about community consultation” on the council website—was chairing the session.
Several times she told residents to be quiet and asked Dr Silcox to remind them about the penalties for disruptive behaviour.
“Democracy allows people to have opinions on both sides,” the CEO said. “I find it quite disappointing that some opinions, some views, some research is not deemed to be appropriate if it doesn’t concur with someone’s views, so they continue to express their views as opposed to being—what I would have thought good Australians would do—which is to hear all views.”
He cited the rules for disruptive behaviour, pointing out he could call police to remove anyone from the chamber and have them fined $1000 if they continued.
Cr Nick Pazolli tried to get up a motion for more consultation but only Crs Duncan Macphail and Susan Taylor-Rees supported him.
“I think it’s a bit extreme and ironic since people asked for consultation and it was denied,” says Mr Best, who is contesting University ward.
“The council has received awards for their consultation. Open public consultation meetings should be normal rather than a special occasion.”
Melville Community Association member Lisa O’Malley says the council’s treatment of residents was offensive and unjustified and a request for a a public apology and retraction of Dr Silcox’s comments has been issued.
Mayor Russell Aubrey had to wait outside because he’d already declared his support for the PFL (councillors aren’t supposed to pre-decide on issues they vote on).
by MARTA PASCUAL JUANOLA and DAVID BELL