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Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes

Hughes says City acknowledged potential breach

KALAMUNDA MLA Matthew Hughes has accused the City of Swan of using democracy as a shield against blind determination, claiming he has proof council staff were aware land acquisitions on The Crescent were a potential breach of the Local Government Act.

Speaking at the Special Elector’s Meeting on Monday night Mr Hughes, a City of Swan councillor from 1991 to 1993, said that confidential documents from a council meeting on March 21, 2012 contained proof council was aware the acquisition of six properties on The Crescent would be in breach of section 3.59 of the Local Government Act.

Section 3.59, which was introduced just a year earlier, requires any local government acquiring more than $10 million in land for a commercial development to prepare a business plan prior to acquisition.

In the minutes of the ordinary council meeting of March 21 2012, two confidential items – item 3.1, Property Acquisition Opportunity (commercialisation) and item 3.2, Land Development Opportunity (commercialisation) – were discussed behind closed doors at Council.

Mr Hughes says a confidential report, which has made its way into the public domain, proves council knew they may be in breach of section 3.59 and that City staff deliberately made an attempt to circumvent that section of legislation.

“That’s my interpretation,” he told Echo News after the meeting.

“In document 3.1, which made its way into the public domain, in considering the key issues it says in order to progress the Midland Oval Redevelopment, the acquisition of six properties, 35-43 Midland Crescent, is considered important as these properties provide a link from City owned land to Midland Gate.

“That’s an acknowledgement…that they needed these properties to progress Midland Oval.

“The document acknowledges point 3.59 of the local government act and states that it might be argued the acquisition of those six properties would exceed $10 million and a business plan should be advertised.”

However the officer’s report ultimately elected against advertising a business plan and Mr Hughes said the reasoning was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the intent of the legislation.

“Given their strategic intent was always to acquire six properties, what they choose to do at that point is to absolve themselves of a clear responsibility under the act.”

Mr Hughes said he had provided this information to Local Government Minister David Templeman, who confirmed last week his Department was looking into the matter.

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story in 2013 and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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