Murky Money and Conflicts of Interest

Mark McGowan MP kicks off Mangles Bay Marina Canals in 2003

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) show:

  • On 4 December 2003 the then Minister for Planning Alannah MacTiernan wrote to Mark McGowan MLA (now Leader of the Opposition) committing $250,000 of Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC)  funds for a study into the proposed Mangles Bay Marina, before the WAPC had even considered the request!
  • On 16 December 2003 the WAPC Executive, Finance and Property Committee resolved to ‘consider’ contributing $250,000, subject to various conditions including the requirement that “should the project proponent achieve planning and environmental approvals to conclude the feasibility of the Cape Peron Marina Implementation as a commercial venture, then the amount contributed by WAPC will be repaid by the proponent”

On 11 May 2016 the current Minister for Planning, Donna Faragher stated in Parliament that:

  • $250,000 was paid out from the Metropolitan Region Improvement Fund to support work on the proposed Mangles Bay canal estate and marina proposal
  • the decision to make the $250,000 available was made by the Executive, Finance and Property Committee of the WAPC
  • “the $250,000 is to be repaid by the proponent of the project, once planning and environmental approvals have been given to conclude the feasibility of the Cape Peron Marina as a commercial venture”

However, contrary to what Minister Faragher said in parliament, the documents show that the appropriation of the $250,000 was not authorized by the Executive, Finance and Property Committee of the WAPC. The Committee only decided to “consider” making such a contribution.

It appears therefore that the money was paid without valid authority. This raises serious questions about the conduct of the WAPC, the planning minister at the time, and the planning minister today.

There are also serious questions about the probity and legality of allocating $250,000 from the Metropolitan Region Improvement Fund (which is supposed to be for “improving” the metropolitan region) towards a project that at that time (and still now) was contrary to the MRS and which would destroy “bush forever” and excise land from a regional park.

The probity of this funding is all the more dubious given that the allocation was made in extreme haste as a result of pressure from the then minister and without any due diligence or formal decision on the part of the WAPC to approve the payment.

An urgent investigation is needed into the allocation of this money.

The above history does not permit any community confidence in the WAPC’s objectivity and fairness in relation to the MRS amendment because:

  • The provision of the $250,000 under pressure from the Minister and without due process shows that the WAPC is simply a puppet of the government in relation to this government initiated and promoted project, only too willing to support the Point Peron marina proposal concept despite not having conducted any due diligence in relation to the proposal.
  • The WAPC has a vested interest in granting planning approval because approval would pave the way for the reimbursement of the $250,000 to the WAPC. So how can the WAPC be seen as impartial with such vested interest?

This is just one of the many conflict of interest issues swirling around the project and the MRS amendment process. Find documents obtained under Freedom of Information here

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