Tensions increase over merger

Councillor Portelli had asked his fellow east ward councillor to step down from the Local Implementation Committee at a special council meeting earlier this month.

At the meeting, council voted to back the Cockburn-Kwinana Community Steering Committee’s proposal over its own after failed attempts to re-enter negotiations with Kwinana Council about an amalgamation between the two cities.

During the meeting, Ms Smith questioned two steering committee speakers over their proposal for a merger, which Cr Portelli appeared to take exception to.

A few weeks on and Cr Portelli said his position had not changed. He said Cr Smith should volunteer to step down because she did not support a Cockburn-Kwinana merger.

‘She does not support Cockburn and Kwinana uniting, so why be (on the LIC),’ he said.

‘The LIC is about paving the way to a smooth transition from two cities into one city.

‘I requested she step down at the special council meeting, which was procedurally incorrect, as Mayor (Logan) Howlett pointed out. So I put my request in writing to Cr Smith to reconsider her position. I believe her position is untenable.’

Cr Smith was adamant she would ‘definitely not’ be stepping down from the committee.

‘Council has made a stand (to back the steering committee’s proposal) and I can’t go against the council’s recommendation. I stand by it,’ she said.

‘That night we had a decision to make and it was important we had the right information before making it. That’s why I was asking questions.’

Cr Smith said she was looking forward to the State Government making a decision, so the LIC could get on with the job.

‘Until the State Government gives us an answer, we’re all wasting our time,’ she said.

Mr Howlett said he supported Lee-Anne Smith’s position on the committee.