Comments from Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas made tonight at Perth City Council Meeting (23 February 2021)
I want to take this opportunity to update you all regarding our discussions with the WACA in regards to an aquatic facility at the ground.
You will have heard me say this before and I want to make it clear again – I speak on behalf of all nine elected members when I say – we would welcome an aquatic facility within the City of Perth and indeed in East Perth – but not at any cost.
And right now we simply do not know enough and do not have all the facts to be able to make a properly informed decision.
And this falls into two key areas – the design of the pool or aquatic facility and the costs associated with the aquatic facility.
We have to be sure it is a good deal and a good pool – and right now we are conducting our due diligence on both – as I know from the ratepayers who have reached out to me, is exactly what they would have me and this council do.
A six lane pool, wedged between a light tower and the last row of the seats at the cricket, surrounded by concrete and with no shade – may not be the best we can do. It’s our job to explore the best design possible.
And it’s our job to explore the best financial model possible too.
Clearly the City’s involvement precedes this current Council’s tenure. We need to be certain any commitments given – both formally and informally – are based on the facts and are financially sound.
We have written to the WACA asking for more detail to some key questions.
What is the written agreement the WACA has with both the State and Federal Governments?
Can we have some visibility to any relevant signed funding agreements?
Are there any proposed delivery milestones, and if so, what are they?
As yet the City of Perth has not prepared a business plan – this was not undertaken by the previous administration. A business plan is necessary to satisfy section 3.59b of the Local Government Act 1995.
We are regularly reminded, and remind ourselves, the recent inquiry into the City of Perth (which the City of Perth is required to pay for) implored us to employ prudent financial management, transparency, accountability and good governance at all times – and on all matters.
The nine elected officials you see before you tonight take this responsibility very seriously, we heard the message and we are acting with the integrity expected and demanded of this office.
We won’t be rushed into a decision which involves a $30 million dollar capital outlay by the City of Perth – and based on the information we have before us at present, on-going running costs of $1.4 million per year for 40 years. All up, that’s a $86 million commitment from the city – more than the combined commitment of the Federal and State Governments.
This is a big deal, a big commitment for our ratepayers, a big decision for the new council to take – we have to get it right – and we won’t be rushed into making a decision until we know we are doing the right thing by our City and by our ratepayers.