A long-running public feud between Albany MP Peter Watson and City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington was reignited last week after Mr Watson renewed calls for the State Government to launch an inquiry into the local government.
Mr Watson and Mr Wellington were seen in a heated exchange at Anzac Peace Park, just before the start of a public march against domestic violence on Friday in which the pair took part.
Both have hit out at each other in recent interviews with the Albany Advertiser, fuelling the bad blood.
Last week, Mr Watson blamed the City’s current predicament on Local Government Minister John Castrilli’s refusal to investigate the local government.
He argued an inquiry should have been ordered in 2010 after the departure of then chief executive Paul Richards, who made claims he was bullied and is believed to have received a payout of about $250,000.
Following her contentious departure from the City in June, former chief executive Faileen James has launched Supreme Court action against several councillors and staff, making allegations of behaviour such as bullying and harassment.
“A parliamentary inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of the problems that have plagued the City of Albany for the past three years … 137 people have left the City and now the CEO is suing the City,” Mr Watson said.
Mr Wellington hit back, accusing Mr Watson of “running off at the mouth” and engaging in cheap political point-scoring.
“Peter Watson has not been anywhere near us to find out the situation with the City of Albany, yet he’s prepared to run off at the mouth and denigrate the City,” he said. “I talk to the minister regularly and it would be my opinion that the minister would know more about what’s going on in the City than our local member, which I think is a shame.”
Mr Castrilli said there were not enough governance issues within the City to warrant an inquiry.
Mr Watson questioned why Mr Castrilli had been prepared to intervene in other local governments, such as City of Canning and Shire of Ashburton, but repeatedly refused to intervene in Albany.
Canning City Council was recently suspended after an eight-month inquiry, and a probity audit was conducted into Ashburton Shire Council which recently sacked its chief executive.
Mr Watson said he was responding to concerns in his electorate.
“I’ve had people coming in to my office saying ‘if they can have an inquiry in Perth why can’t they in Albany’,” he said.
Mr Watson has previously used parliamentary privilege twice to accuse the Mayor of an inappropriate connection with Mr Castrilli through the Liberal Party, claims rejected by Mr Wellington.