Descending into self-parody, a Nedlands councillor has led the City’s opposition to WA’s first children’s hospice by implying the facility for dying kids could be bombed by a hostile foreign power.
The hospice will include seven patient beds for children and teenagers who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
But Cr Andrew Mangano said the proposed hospice on the Swanbourne foreshore was a few hundred metres from an army barracks.
“Because of the site’s proximity to the army base, if that base gets attacked, guess what? This site will also suffer damage,” Cr Mangano said.
“From the air, how much different does it look (from the barracks)? It’s a target.”
Cr Mangano also addressed recent comments by Local Government Minister John Carey who accused the council of “preying on people’s worst fears” and “pushing NIMBYism” due to comments regarding the hospice, including by Cr Mangano who had described the hospice as a “white elephant”.
We are here to represent the ratepayers. Not the state government. We’re not here to listen to John Carey’s infantile comments
The councillor went on to say the minister “thinks it’s fun” to attack the council.
Earlier in the meeting and during her reflections on her first year as Nedlands’ Mayor, Fiona Argyle also addressed the Minister’s NIMBY-jibe.
“NIMBY is an acronym for not in my backyard. But tonight we are talking about class A-reserve. This shaming is a symptom of a lack of integrity in government, it is not leadership,” the Mayor said.
The City of Nedlands staff had recommended the children’s hospice be approved with conditions but the recommendation was rejected by council.
Cr Managno was previously the sole vote against additional funding to upgrade the Swanbourne surf club and developing a reconciliation action plan, but this week he was joined by a clear majority.
Mayor Fiona Argyle and eight councillors voted to object to the hospice, with only deputy mayor Leo McManus, Cr Olinka Combes and Cr Ben Hodsdon voting against the motion to object.
Cr Rebecca Coghlan — seemingly reacting to previous reporting by this newspaper which reported on her claim the hospice would be the “coastal arm” of Perth Children’s Hospital — seconded Cr Mangano’s motion and said: “I don’t want to be criticised in the media for making a sensible rational argument as an elected representative”.
Cr Coghlan claimed a palliative paediatrician had told her “the children may not die at that facility”.
“There are seven respite beds for a $25 million facility. That in itself is a travesty,” she said.
Cr Coghlan said she was speaking “on behalf of the children who don’t have a voice” and wanted more beds in the hospital system.
“I’m not supporting it because of its footprint on an A-Class reserve. But I’m also not supporting it on behalf of the children of Western Australia and the fact that it will be owned by the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation,” she said.
While the Foundation has fund-raised for the hospice, it will in fact be operated by the Child and Adolescent Health Service.
Deputy Mayor Leo McManus said while he had issues with the initial consultation, that was “history” and council needed to get behind the project.
Cr McManus said the seven-bed model had been researched from hospices around the world, including in Sydney where the State’s population was much bigger than WA’s.
The deputy mayor said many residents in Swanbourne were in favour of the hospice and said the ultimate referendum was the last State election.
She said the poll delivered a “crushing victory” for WA Labor, which supports the project and whose Government excised the land for the hospice.
The SDAU will soon make a final decision on the project.
The Nedlands council also voted to advise the SDAU that it objected to the Tawarri Hot Springs.