CITY of Kalamunda chief executive Rhonda Hardy will prepare a detailed report on the merits and risks of launching a judicial review in the Supreme Court to challenge the State Government’s decision to revoke planning changes that would have paved the way for an aged care facility in Wilkins Road.
Last year Planning Minister Rita Saffioti revoked planning approval to rezone the 11ha site in Kalamunda citing numerous problems, including native title, bushfire mitigation, commercial viability and sewage.
Nature Reserves Preservation Group president Tony Fowler said any action in the Supreme Court would be a ‘fruitless waste’ of ratepayers’ money.
“The recommendation by the Kalamunda Aged Care Advisory Group is a half-baked recommendation based on nothing more than the urge to be seen to do something to solve the aged care crisis,” he said.
“While commendable it shows lack of knowledge of Supreme Court.
“A cost of $20,000 to $40,000 to take the matter to the Supreme Court is hopelessly optimistic and is much more likely to be $120,000 should this become a full blown hearing.
“Should the City be unsuccessful, the Minister, having been dragged through the courts by the City, may consider seeking costs from the City and if so, the above figure would, at the very least, double.
“Is it really worth setting up the City for a conceivably embarrassing rejection by the Supreme Court and, potentially ruinous costs, all to no good effect?”
Gooseberry Hill resident and WA Labor Zig Zag branch vice-president Nigel Dickinson said any legal action was unlikely to succeed.
“The officers report sets out in stark terms that picking the scab on Wilkins Rd isn’t a very good idea,” he said.
“While I was in favour of Wilkins Road MRS amendment because we desperately need more aged care, this is unlikely to ever succeed.”
However aged care advocate Neil Pember said the City should continue to fight the decision.
“For seven years we have been pushing for an integrated aged care facility to be built there,” he said.
“The City has already spent more than $200,000 on Wilkins Road and this will be wasted if we don’t continue on.
“The City’s own advisory committee has made this recommendation and if we have such a committee and then disregard their suggestions, then why have a committee?”
Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes said he would rather the City focus on the strategic work being undertaken by the State Government through the recently established inter-governmental agency Aged Care Availability Working Group.
“The group will identify need now and for the future, suitable land, and engaging directly with aged care providers in both the not for profit and commercial sectors,” he said.
“The aim is to establish high needs aged care facilities in localities where existing and projected provision of bed places falls short of demand.
“The local authority is of course free to resolve on any course of action relevant to the business of the local authority as it sees fit, whether I agree or not.”
The report, which is expected to cost around $3000 to prepare, is due in May.