Canning Mayor Patrick Hall’s proposal to turn the mayoral dinner into a charity dinner has been passed by council after some heated debate, with Mr Hall threatening to silence a councillor who spoke out against the dinner.
The civic dinner, last held in 2013, will essentially be repurposed as a charity dinner with ticket sales offsetting the event cost and funds raised from corporate sponsorship and auction items donated to charities.
Traditionally local governments hold an annual dinner reception to bring together community leaders, Honorary Freeman, elected members and other dignitaries to discuss community matters and celebrate achievements.
Mayor Patrick Hall said Canning’s approach to the event would allow council to foster relationships between the business community and local charities to give back in uncertain economic times when many in the community are doing it tough.
While the proposal had the support of most councillors, Cr Craig Sweeney said comments from other councillors supporting the dinner were out of touch with community sentiment.
“I think the Mayor’s civic dinner would be more of a nightmare and should be scrapped,” he told council.
“It’s certainly not a responsible way to spend the ratepayers’ money at the moment.
“Last month you all voted to increase the rates to sustain service delivery, deliver projects and restore the city’s financial position.
“There was nothing mentioned about throwing a party for the mayor paid for by the ratepayers.”
This comment drew the ire of Mr Hall, who demanded Cr Sweeney retract the comment, a demand that Cr Sweeney initially refused.
However, when Mr Hall threatened to ban the councillor from further debate over what he deemed an objectionable comment, Cr Sweeney reluctantly withdrew the comment and apologised.
“Ratepayers will see this as nothing more than a rort,” Cr Sweeney continued.
“It’s very easy to spend someone else’s money, especially when they don’t know about it.”
Councillor Lindsay Holland also objected, with his major concern being perceived conflict due to the sponsorship aspect of the dinner.
“When you’re accepting sponsorship, it opens up a real can of worms in my opinion.
“It does worry me how it can be perceived, some members of the public will be going, some others can’t so who’s going to choose that?
“Who’s going to choose the charities?”
Despite the objections of Cr Holland and Cr Sweeney, the officer’s recommendation to hold the dinner was supported 8/2.
The charities are yet to be decided but will be assessed by criteria which includes a requirement that they are headquartered in the city and directly contribute to the local community.
The event will go ahead if a minimum number of ticket sales are sold by late September.