CONCERNS about complying with the Local Government Act have prompted Wanneroo Council to defer a decision on sending a delegation to Japan and Singapore in July.
Councillors considered a report at their May 9 meeting that had recommended chief executive Daniel Simms, Mayor Tracey Roberts, Deputy Mayor Dianne Guise and planning and sustainability director Mark Dickson go on the three-day trip.
According to the report, the delegation would meet the Yanchep Beach Joint Venture (YBJV) board, including board members from the Tokyu Corporation, regarding development of the Yanchep-Two Rocks area.
Discussions would include initiating a review of the 1999 strategic co-operation agreement, which also involved the State Government, and the 2003 memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The report said the trip could cost $4000 to $8000 per person, with the delegation meeting the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority on the third day.
During discussion on Tuesday night, Councillor Brett Treby raised concerns about whether it was appropriate for elected members to be involved.
Cr Treby, who declared an impartiality interest on the item due to his friendship with YBJV employee and former Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly, referred to a 2009 Corruption and Crime Commission report into the council of the day.
He said the then-deputy mayor was found to have breached the Act and that elected members should refuse any invitation to attend meetings between a developer and staff as it “inhibits free and frank discussion”.
“If we don’t learn from these things, we would be doomed to repeat them,” Cr Treby said.
The Central Ward councillor said the council should adopt a “benchmark that would withstand scrutiny of any independent review process”.
He also raised concerns that the trip involved negotiations about the MoU, saying the recommendation did not set out the council’s position for those negotiations.
“The objectives are of a strategic nature; there will be no decision making until such time as council has had an opportunity to review the MoU,” governance and legal manager Mustafa Yildiz said.
Mr Simms also said the revised MoU would come back to the council for endorsement, but Cr Treby said the report did not detail how the chief executive would deal with any fall out if the council did not accept the MoU terms.
Cr Treby raised concerns about the appropriateness of the City discussing the strategic cooperation agreement if the State Government, as a third party to the original agreement, was not represented.
“The option proposed here is to first start the discussions with YBJV,” Mr Simms said.
Councillors unanimously supported Mrs Roberts’ procedural motion to refer the report back to the chief executive to address the concerns.
Earlier in the discussion, Cr Domenic Zappa asked what the delegation procedure was if both the mayor and deputy mayor were unavailable to perform council duties.
Mr Yildiz said the council would nominate an elected member to act in their capacity once dates were confirmed.