Cashed-up council secures state grant

MELVILLE council, which has $199 million sitting in its piggy bank, has been given $20,000 from a state government Covid-19 relief fund to help needy citizens, but neighbouring Fremantle got zip.

Melville, which consigned more than 150 casual staff from its leisure centres and other community facilities to the unemployment queue when Covid-19 restrictions kicked in, was in the first round of recipients for a $159 million Lotterywest Covid-19 relief fund announced on Tuesday by the McGowan government.

Ironically, Melville’s latest published accounts show the Citizen Relief Fund’s $219,651 sitting directly below its fattened Municipal and Reserve Funds, which combined have almost $200 million between them.

The relief fund is administered by an incorporated charity, headed by Bull Creek councillor Clive Robartson and the council acts as an auspicing body.

Bicton Labor MLA Lisa O’Malley said it was a “fantastic organisation with a long history of doing some really important work in helping our local community through times of need”.

Ms O’Malley defended giving the wealthy council a cash grant, saying it also made regular contributions to the Citizens Relief Fund and had “a substantial Covid-19 stimulus package being planned”.

Premier Mark McGowan said WA was lucky to have Lotterywest, the only state-government owned lottery in Australia which had the ability to quickly turn around money for the community.

“We can all contribute to WA’s recovery of this pandemic because every profit from every ticket will go into the $159 million Covid-19 Relief Fund and ensures vital funding goes directly to the people who need it,” Mr McGowan said.

By STEVE GRANT

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