06/08/2009 - 00:00

One-term Hardy sees need for corporates on council

06/08/2009 - 00:00


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THIS year's City of Perth council election is looking like an increasingly open race, with current councillor Chris Hardy bowing out of contention after one term.

THIS year's City of Perth council election is looking like an increasingly open race, with current councillor Chris Hardy bowing out of contention after one term.

In revealing his move to WA Business News, Mr Hardy said he felt he should give plenty of notice regarding his decision in order to give potential nominees more time to consider their position.

His decision will create a second vacancy among the four positions up for grabs when the election occurs on October 17, with former councillor Michael Sutherland having already moved on to state politics as the Liberal MLA for Mount Lawley.

Eleni Evangel and Judy McEvoy currently hold the remaining two seats that will be declared vacant.

The past four-year period has been one of the most harmonious at the City of Perth for some time, with the 2005 election paving the way for a more consensus-driven approach after years of a council split between former lord mayor Peter Nattrass and his deputy, the late Bert Tudori, who passed away earlier this year.

Dr Nattrass did not seek re-election when his last term ended in late 2007. Lisa Scaffidi won a hotly contested election that year, further distancing the council from the factional period of the past.

A city resident and CBD architect, Mr Hardy said he has enjoyed his time on council, describing his 20 hours a week - on top of his full-time position with HASSELL - as demanding, yet rewarding.

However, he said that he had to refocus on his work.

"I had aspirations to bigger and better things, but the reality set in last year," Mr Hardy told WA Business News.

He said he was pleased with the role he played in trying to encourage changes to the city's planning scheme and getting a better deal for the arts.

He has also been encouraged by the success of strategies such as opening up the CBD's laneways to become viable and vibrant areas.

Mr Hardy said he had long been involved in community organisations - including a period with the Royal Perth Yacht Club - and hoped he would be able to continue that, possibly in a role with an arts organisation board.

As for who might take his place, while numerous names have already been put forward as potential candidates, Mr Hardy said he would like to see better representation on the council from corporate Perth.

"We need people from the terrace," he said.

"They contribute 70-80 per cent of the rates."

The issue of business representation on the council is a long-running one because of rules favouring residential voters, due to the way the voters are registered.

The result is that lobbying for votes, which are voluntary, is weighted against business, despite its dominance of the total revenue the City of Perth receives, giving the corporate sector less of a say than would be expected from its financial clout.

Mr Hardy hopes there will be a long-term change from his involvement in helping shift the city towards the adoption of taller-yet-less-imposing buildings to provide greater density without the loss of amenity.

City of Perth is currently reviewing the planning scheme that governs plot ratios and building heights to determine whether a more restrictive regime, introduced in 2004, would serve the city adequately for the next 20 years.

But Mr Hardy is disappointed that this role caused him angst last year after the city opted to seek external consultants for advice and his firm HASSELL, a leading national architect with a major office in Perth, pitched for the business. He originally understood outside consultants would not be used, which meant he would not have had a conflict of interest.

Another disappointment for Mr Hardy is burdensome local government rules, which appear to reflect the past digressions of councils and shires around the state.

"The system got to me a bit," he said.

"The Local Government Act was written on the basis that all local councillors are vagabonds and thieves."


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