Electors hit Freo with vote of no confidence

FREMANTLE’S electors have passed a vote of no confidence in the council after a spirited general meeting on Monday.

The usual quiet evening of shuffling papers before a handful of souls was replaced by 40 fired-up council watchers peppering staff and councillors with questions about a raft of issues.

Transparency was high on the agenda, following on from the Herald’s story last week about former MP Adele Carles being told she couldn’t attend a committee meeting (“Too secret,” Herald, June 19, 2021).

Ms Carles was at the meeting and later told the Herald she was unsatisfied with the council’s answers about the unfinished Walyalup civic centre and how it would progress following the collapse of builder Pindan.

She said a walk around the perimeter of the site after the meeting made her question city infrastructure director Graham Tattersall’s assurances that the interior was about 90 per cent complete.

“The building is not yet watertight, with open windows and doors and the roof not yet finished.

“The ceilings were unfinished with piping visible and wires etc hanging down.

“Bags of insulation were visible on the floors, yet to be installed,” Ms Carles said.

A former government auditor and bankruptcy trustee, Ms Carles said she was surprised the council hadn’t lodged a claim with Pindan administrator Ernst and Young, saying it had lots a chance to claim back funds.

“Council also appeared unfazed that its insurance for the build was set to expire next week on June 30, with the acting CEO stating that replacement insurance has not yet been arranged.

“Given that the site is currently sitting abandoned, insurance and liability are critical issues to be dealt with ASAP, before the current insurance expires,” she said.

At the meeting chartered accountant Craig Ross picked apart the council’s finances with forensic detail, saying there was so much obfuscation the city would be hauled over the coals by regulators if it tried the same thing in the corporate world.

But he claimed he’d been able to calculate the overall cost of the Walyalup centre’s construction at $56 million, almost $20 million above the council’s own claim. 

South Freo resident Sean Hefferon raised a motion about the council’s purchase of a site in Jones Street for a new depot, which turned out to be contaminated and unsuitable and is now sitting idle. A previous rent-paying tenant had moved out and the site was recently devalued by millions.

Former councillor Georgie Adeane also queried why the council put her beach markets concept out for tender, when it was a model she had devised and spent years developing into a successful business.

by STEVE GRANT

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