Minister withheld information: MLA

Holding a stack of FOI documents, Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly poses with concerned citizens Odette Bird, Yvonne Caldwell, Anne Maddsley, Kevin Rainbow and Margaret and Bob Ashby. Picture: Marcus Whisson d418235
Holding a stack of FOI documents, Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly poses with concerned citizens Odette Bird, Yvonne Caldwell, Anne Maddsley, Kevin Rainbow and Margaret and Bob Ashby. Picture: Marcus Whisson d418235

The sites were made public in June last year after proposed sites in Kenwick and Herne Hill were abandoned eight days after they were announced in 2012.

Disability Services Minister Helen Morton said Cabinet made the decision about the final location of the two centres in June and announced it the same month.

‘The main difference was the Caversham and Kiara sites were not on land zoned residential,’ she said.

‘Nevertheless, the same approach was taken to inform residents at the time of the announcements.

‘Communications have included phone calls, letters, information sessions, private and public meetings, sector consultation, the formation of a Local Community Liaison Group, and established partnerships with police, the Department for Child Protection and the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board,’ she said.

However, Mr Kelly said Ms Morton announced the new sites at 9am on Wednesday, June 12 but the FOI documents showed the decision was made well ahead of that time.

He said there was an email dated April 26, 2013 with an attachment of draft documentation needed by the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) to declare a planning control area over the two new sites.

‘The draft WAPC documents are 10 pages long and they identify the two new sites,’ he said.

The document states that ‘following consideration of the nominated sites it has been determined that the two preferred sites are a partial redevelopment of Bennet Brook Hostel in Lord Street, Caversham, already operated by the Disability Services Commission and the WAPC’s surplus regional open space at Kiara presently permissively used for grazing as part of the Lockridge Farm School’.

Mr Kelly said it proved that some time before April 26 last year the Disability Service Commission had evaluated all 11 sites and that the Minister for Disabilities had decided on the two sites.

‘Given the State election was on March 9, 2013, it was fast work if it was all done after the election and in sufficient time for the WAPC to prepare the documentation prior to 26 April,’ he said.

‘And yet the community were not told until the afternoon before the public announcement by the Minister.’

Ms Morton said the WAPC identified the most appropriate sites to be considered for the centres.

‘Work has already commenced for the Lord Street, Caversham centre which is expected to open in mid-2015,’ she said.

‘The future development of other disability justice centres will be guided by the operational outcomes at the Caversham centre.’