A routine policy adoption has erupted in debate after a “bombshell” revelation that a Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale councillor with an application affected by the policy had not declared their interest.
On Monday evening, the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale council was asked to consider and adopt a suite of changes to the shire’s Local Planning Policy concerning outbuildings, placement of fill and development exemptions.
Councillor Michael Dagostino suggested the second point of the recommendation regarding placement of fill be postponed until the July council meeting to allow the council to review the matter, but shire president Michelle Rich asked if he was certain he wanted to move the amendment.
Following a brief pause, the shire president revealed councillor Dagostino had recently filed a retrospective application with the shire regarding fill on his property that had the potential to be affected by his own amendment.
Councillor Dagostino then attempted to source advice from the shire’s development services director about how the application would be assessed if the amendment were to pass.
Councillor Rob Coales intervened, describing the revelation as a “bombshell” and insisting that standing orders be suspended to allow the council to discuss the matter.
“I am not comfortable with this,” he said.
“I am concerned about the fact that we’re amending and workshopping a motion based on the presiding member’s comments about a councillor’s own application.
“I do not wish to be implicated in anything improper.”
Shire president Michelle Rich defended her decision to raise the matter, stating that she did not want the council to be seen to be ‘hiding things’ and wanted to remain open and transparent.
Councillor Dagostino apologised for the oversight and insisted he had put the amendment forward in good faith.
He later withdrew the amendment, declared an interest in the item and excused himself from the vote.
The officer’s recommendation was carried unanimously.