SWAN councillors have approved the release of a report outlining the progress and financial health of the New Junction development, with only one councillor voting against the item.
In a statement on Wednesday the City of Swan said the 11ha New Junction precinct was estimated to contribute $990 million to the local economy and $2.2 billion to WA.
The New Junction development’s progress through the council has been controversial with some ratepayers and councillors against the proposal, which now includes a proposed nine-storey expansion of the Swan Valley Fresh Markets.
In December last year four of the councillors who voted for the release of the financial report at last Wednesday’s ordinary council meeting tried to revoke a decision by the council about one month earlier.
Two of the four councillors – Midland Guildford ward councillor Ian Johnson and Pearce ward councillor Tanya Richardson, are now running for mayor in the October 21 local government elections along with a number of sitting councillors, including Pearce ward councillor Cate McCullough.
Back in November, Cr McCullough had moved a successful motion calling for the council to acknowledge the approved Midland Oval redevelopment masterplan (MORM), as adopted by the council in April 2018, and the WAPC approved November 2020 subdivision plan for the eastern side of the New Junction precinct, as well as the results of the Midland Oval redevelopment precinct business plan survey showing overall community support for the plan of 65 per cent.
Last year in the lead up to trying to have Cr McCullough’s motion revoked Altone ward Cr Jennifer Catalano was one of the five councillors along with Cr Johnson, Cr Richardson, Whiteman ward Cr Dave Knight and Midland Guildford ward Cr Sarah Howlett who took out a full page ad in Echo News they felt so strongly against the city pushing on with another part of the Midland Oval redevelopment.
Cr Catalano said at last Wednesday’s ordinary council meeting she wanted to make it clear she did not accept the figures that were going to be put out to the public.
“In fact these figures are pretty much available on the public record already and even before I came on council in 2019 I’d already worked out that this council had almost spent $45 million of ratepayers money on this New Junction project to be built over Midland’s historic 120-year-old oval,’’ she said.
She said $33.1m had been spent on buying private property around the oval.
Pearce ward Cr Aaron Bowman, who is also running for mayor, called a point of order more than once, when Cr Catalano said it had been done without public knowledge and in 2015 one property alone on The Crescent was bought for $4.5m.
Mayor David Lucas, who is not running for mayor in October, upheld his points of order and asked Cr Catalano to stay on track with her debate and to keep it to talking about releasing the financial report.
Cr Catalano said the council was back to the same old New Junction plan, which was rejected by many ratepayers and councillors because it did not provide enough public open space for Midland central park.
Another point of order was called and Cr Lucas asked her to resume her seat and she was prohibited from talking again during the item.
Cr Johnson said the council had voted in favour of the financial report about two years ago.
He said while a lot of the information in the report was available in the public domain not all of it was.
“Importantly it places in the public domain the financial information in a standard accounting format and does not really release any confidential information to the detriment of anybody.
"It was always intended to be released and in this standard accounting format.
"It contains valuable information for the community and it demonstrates this council’s governance over this project.”
The city’s statement said the New Junction Project Report 2011-2022 highlighted a $21.7m appreciation of the city’s net asset value.
“That appreciation, which was measured from June 2013 to June 2022, pushes total project equity to $44.2m,’’ the statement said.
“Overall asset value is $84.6m, with $64.5m in land, $6.7m in buildings and $13.4m in other infrastructure.
“The city has invested $18.7m of municipal funds and $13.8m of reserve funds in the precinct.’’