City of Kalamunda mayor survives calls by Wattle Grove residents to stand down

Gail Sharman, front left, Elena Parke, Maria Kelly, Bev and Charles Dornan.
Rosie (9), rear left, Finn (10) and Ronan (6) Kelly. Residents living in the semi-rural suburb of Wattle Grove are opposed to a possible plan by the City of Kalamunda to make parts of the suburb zoned for industrial development. Photographer: David Baylis.
Gail Sharman, front left, Elena Parke, Maria Kelly, Bev and Charles Dornan. Rosie (9), rear left, Finn (10) and Ronan (6) Kelly. Residents living in the semi-rural suburb of Wattle Grove are opposed to a possible plan by the City of Kalamunda to make parts of the suburb zoned for industrial development. Photographer: David Baylis.

The annual electors' meeting was delayed as hundreds queued

THERE were cheers and jeers at the City of Kalamunda’s annual general meeting of electors tonight as hundreds of ratepayers gathered to have their say on a motion calling for Mayor John Giardina to stand down.

The motion, which expressed no confidence in Mayor Giardina and requested that he immediately stand down, was lost 87-163.

Reject Industrialisation in Wattle Grove Action Group spokesman Charles Dornan, who moved the motion, criticised Mayor Giardina for failing to publicly intervene in the proposed rezoning of 310 hectares of Wattle Grove over the past seven months.

“The proposed industrialisation of Wattle Grove would have to be one of the most significant matters before Council at the moment,” he said.

“It impacts on hundreds of people directly and many more, indirectly and it also impacts on a beautiful part of the City and its developing reputation as a green tourist destination.

“There is genuine concern about Cr Giardina’s capacity to properly represent the views of over 91 per cent of affected residents who have rejected industrialisation as a future land use option for Wattle Grove.

“The whole process has left many residents feeling frustrated and disenfranchised.
“The Mayor has explained his refusal to engage by stating that he has declared an impartiality interest because he has a cousin who lives in the area.

“I have no issue at all with the fact that the Mayor has declared an interest on account of this family relationship, as it is right and proper for him to do so, according to legislation by the Department of Local Government.

“However, the department makes it quite clear that a councillor who has declared an impartiality interest then stays in the room, participates in the debate and votes.

“If the Mayor feels that he cannot take on a leadership role with respect to this issue, he should stand down from his mayoral position.”

Mr Dornan added Mayor Giardina should accept some responsibility for the turmoil in the City over the past year including his failed bid to oust chief executive Rhonda Hardy over concerns about her performance.

“The City needs a Mayor with the temperament and ability to heal the fractured and untrusting relationships within Council, between Council and City staff; and between the City and the community,” he said.

“It cannot be disputed that the increasing dysfunctionality of the City has occurred on the Mayor’s watch.

“In my view he ought to stand aside to allow the City the best chance of restoring its tarnished reputation.”

The motion was seconded by Robert Prew.

Amongst the residents speaking against the motion, Geof Irvin said the debate was ‘disgusting’ and frivolous’.

“”I have been involved with the Lesmurdie Club, the RSL, Clubs WA and fundraising here and never have I ever seen a council that is so good and helpful to the people,” he said.

“The CEO, councillors and staff at the City are the best we’ve had in a long time and I hope any difference between councillors and the CEO gets sorted.

“We need to settle down, take a breath and have a cold drink.”