07/01/2009 - 12:15

Cockburn mayor quits but wants job back

07/01/2009 - 12:15


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Defiant Cockburn mayor Stephen Lee has heeded a state government request for his resignation, but has vowed to contest the mayoral elections in March this year.

Defiant Cockburn mayor Stephen Lee has heeded a state government request for his resignation, but has vowed to contest the mayoral elections in March this year.

At 10am today, Mr Lee ended his tenure as mayor, with deputy mayor Kevin Allen to assume mayoral duties until elections which are scheduled for March 5.

In his resignation letter, Mr Lee said while he did not want to resign, he decided to do so to save the council from being sacked, an option that Local Government Minister John Castrilli was considering.

"This is not something I wish to do, but I feel I must to prevent the suspension of the entire Council and the imposition of considerable cost on the citizens of Cockburn," Mr Lee said.

"I understand there will be an extraordinary Mayoral election early in March 2009 and it is my intention to contest that election.

Mr Castrilli today welcomed the news, saying he had requested Mr Lee's resignation in a conversation last night.

Mr Castrilli said he had advised Mr Lee that the Cockburn council would be suspended if the resignation was not received this morning.

"Clearly, the actions of Mr Lee will not result in the State Government to resort to the need to suspend the entire council," Mr Castrilli said.

"I would have preferred this outcome to have occurred earlier, but the process of the CCC and the review by the Parliamentary Inspector took longer than expected.

"Having said this, however, Mr Lee's resignation today has been too long in coming. He had the opportunity to restore integrity to the Cockburn City Council in September last year when I called on him to resign."

Last year, the Corruption and Crime Commission found Mr Lee had failed to declare up to $40,000 of funding from his election campaign in 2005 from property developer Australand, which has links to lobbyist Brian Burke.

In October, Mr Lee stood down as mayor after lodging a complaint with the Parliamentary Inspector to review the CCC report.

He returned to work at the start of this week following the review which rejected the watchdog's findings.

"I received the Parliamentary Inspector's report on December 24 and it identified some concerns with the CCC report," Mr Castrilli said.

"Despite the concerns raised by the Parliamentary Inspector's report, the CCC maintains that it did in fact take into consideration all such circumstances when reaching its opinion.

"As a result, I sought legal advice which I received yesterday afternoon.

"That advice indicated the divergent views between the CCC and the Parliamentary Inspector relate more to the process of the CCC forming an opinion of misconduct and whilst open to argument, could not be interpreted as an exoneration of Mr Lee."

Mr Castrilli also voiced concerns over the council's plans for a "rushed" election, which he said failed to give potential candidates adequate time to consider nominating and putting together an effective campaign.


The announcement by the City of Cockburn is below:



City of Cockburn Mayor Stephen Lee has resigned from his position of Mayor of the City of Cockburn. His tenure ended on receipt of his resignation letter effective 10am Wednesday 7th January 2009.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Allen will assume Mayoral civic duties until the position of Mayor is elected. The City hopes Council will be able to better focus on their work as Elected Members without the constant speculation regarding the tenure of Mayor Stephen Lee.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Littleton applauded the actions of Mayor Stephen Lee in putting an end to recent speculations. After receiving the Mayors' resignation the City will write to the West Australian Electoral Commission in order to host an extraordinary election for two vacancies on Council, to be held on Wednesday March 5th 2009.

"The City welcomes an election and the opportunity for the Cockburn community to democratically elect an East Ward Councillor and position of the Mayor."

"Once again I would like to thank Council for their commitment to the Cockburn community and for their resolve in maintaining a professional outlook despite recent scrutiny. Good governance at the City of Cockburn will continue to be the major focus."

"With the matter now effectively closed the City looks forward to the elections come March 5."


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