Vasse MLA Troy Buswell has rejected any suggestion his friendship with Nigel Satterley has benefited the developer’s property holdings to the south of Margaret River.
Satterley’s staged Weightman Farm subdivision won informal support at last week’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting on a split three-all vote decided by tiebreaker.
Columnists including The West Australian’s State political editor Gary Adshead said a recently reported private incident at Mr Satterley’s home raised important questions about the relationship between Government and developers.
“There is the valid question of whether Mr Buswell should be overindulging at long lunches-cum-evening drinks with wealthy Perth businessmen, regardless of whether he considers the gatherings to be private affairs with friends,” Adshead wrote last week.
Mr Buswell declined an interview this week and did not respond to specific questions raised after the close friendship with Mr Satterley was publicised.
However, in a statement to the Times Mr Buswell said he’d had no direct involvement in how Mr Satterley’s land holdings in Margaret River had become tied to the perimeter road project, which was a Liberal Party election commitment.
“The suggestion that I am using my position to effect a specific commercial outcome for Mr Satterley is rejected outright,” Mr Buswell said.
“Furthermore, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of local government approval processes which lay wholly beyond my remit both as the local MP and the Treasurer and Minister for Transport.
“The Shire of (Augusta)-Margaret River identified the perimeter road as a priority and future decisions around land development in that vicinity properly rest with them and without influence from me, on behalf of Mr Satterley, or indeed any other individual seeking a particular outcome.”
Mr Satterley also declined an interview or to respond to questions from the Times, though last week hedefended Mr Buswell against claims the Treasurer acted inappropriately at the private function.
The WA Opposition has called for Mr Buswell to be sacked over the alleged incident at Mr Satterley’s home in Peppermint Grove and Mr Buswell’s former partner, Fremantle MLA Adele Carles, is being sued for her comments.
In a news report, Ms Carles said it was “interesting” Mr Buswell chose Mr Satterley to defend him, despite dealing with the developer as a minister and Treasurer.
Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Ray Colyer, a Liberal Party candidate at the March election, said he could not comment on the relationship.
As shire president, Cr Colyer said there was “no issue” with developers and last week’s decision to grant the Weightman Farm proposal in-principle support was a decision based on long-term planning.
“You could read into any Government decision that implication (about ties between industry and members),” he said.
Cr Colyer said the Satterley development was relegated to future staging because the perimeter road had been expected to start to the north, but it made sense to open Satterley’s development investigation areas with the start of the route’s southern leg.
“As shire president I’m confident as can be (the full road will be built) because a half-built road going out to Rosa Brook Road to Sues Road is a waste of money.”