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State to probe Scaffidi to sort out squabbling council

Squabbling among City of Perth councillors, controversy surrounding Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and the performance of the chief executive will be scrutinised as the new McGowan Government decides if it will sack the council.

New Local Government Minister David Templeman said the Local Government Department had classified the council as being “at risk” because of “issues associated with the Lord Mayor’s situation”.

He said it was a “legitimate question” whether the Government would just deal with Ms Scaffidi individually or whether councillors aligned with her were part of the problem.

“They are all legitimate questions and they are part of the considerations we will be having over the next week or so,” he said.

Mr Templeman and Premier Mark McGowan will meet the Local Government director general Jennifer Mathews this week for a confidential briefing on the council’s future.

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says there is a ‘witch-hunt’ going on in the City of Perth Council.

Infighting among councillors has seen a consistent voting block where Deputy Lord Mayor James Limnios and councillors Jemma Green and Reece Harley are pitted against Ms Scaffidi and five other councillors.

Mr Templeman said the chasm within the council was putting its premium city status and reputation at risk, impacting on staff morale and affecting relations with ratepayers.

“The division that’s been clearly on display is not a good look for the City of Perth,” he said.

Mr Templeman said one option was to wait for the outcome of the State Administrative Tribunal, which has six more weeks to decide whether to penalise Ms Scaffidi for numerous alleged beaches of the Local Government Act.

Ms Scaffidi faces a substantial fine and/or suspension or disqualification.

Mr Templeman said controversy engulfing the council had been “drawn out for far too long”, starting with the Corruption and Crime Commission process which kicked off in April 2015.

He said the performance of council chief executive Martin Mileham would also be considered.

In a statement, Ms Scaffidi said the City of Perth and council was “functioning very well”.

“We continue to make decisions on behalf of stakeholders and ensure the city is attractive to investors, residents, owners and visitors,” she said.

“While the Minister is entitled to his opinion, as the Lord Mayor, I will not be drawn into speculation on the future of the council. Speaking for myself I know I continue to put my best into the role and serving our community. There is a lot of positive work to do and it is best done collectively.”

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