The City of Joondalup's decision to spend $574,000 on "entry statements" at the council's borders has sparked a rancorous email feud between aspirants for the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Hillarys.
The fuse was lit on January 10 when first-term North Metropolitan MLC Peter Katsambanis issued a press release criticising the council for funding the "vanity project" instead of shade cloth over play equipment in local parks.
In response, Joondalup mayor and long-term Liberal Party member Troy Pickard accused Mr Katsambanis via email of "unconscionable conduct" for issuing the statement without first raising his concerns with the council.
Mr Pickard sent a copy of the January 17 email to eight Liberal MPs, including ministers Peter Collier, Michael Mischin and Albert Jacob, so they could provide the Victorian-born MLC "guidance and counselling" on how to deal with the council.
"I accept that you are a recent arrival to WA and a newly elected member of the Legislative Council and may not be aware of the standard protocol," Mr Pickard wrote.
He warned that an unnamed MP who adopted an "adversarial relationship with the City" during Mr Pickard's eight-year tenure lost their seat when voters "passed the ultimate judgment". In reply, Mr Katsambanis said his calls and letters to councillors over shade protection had gone unanswered.
Mr Katsambanis accused Mr Pickard of being "angry, aggressive and abusive" to him on the phone after the MLC asked how much the council intended to spend on last year's proposed constitutional referendum recognising local government.
He also lampooned the mayor for "the cheesy grins you and Gary Gray exchanged for the cameras (and) the syrupy sweet press release from Anthony Albanese praising you for rushing to get your hands on Federal Labor's stimulus money". Mr Pickard and Mr Katsambanis are considered frontrunners for Liberal preselection in Hillarys in anticipation that Rob Johnson, who will be 73 at the 2017 election, will retire or be disendorsed.
In September, Joondalup's capital works committee described the entry statements at Marmion, Kinross and Joondalup as comprising signs, "interpretive poles", lighting, safety barriers and landscaping to provide a "memorable gateway" to the City.
Mr Pickard said yesterday it planted 401 trees to provide natural shade at playgrounds during the past year. He said the entry statements were a form of public art.