South Perth City Council is failing to hire an independent project manager to develop leisure and water facilities

The South Perth City Council will forever be known as the team that “killed” its recreation and water supply project, said Mayor Greg Milner.

The city council on Tuesday recommended that the commission approve a tender from Donald Cant Watts Corke Pty Ltd to take on the project management of the city’s RAF development.

But the council voted against the move that Mayor Greg Milner said “was equivalent” to killing the RAF project.


“This council will forever be known as the council that killed the RAF project without even waiting to see the state government’s funding decision,” he said.

The municipality had to appoint an independent project manager by July 1 this year, or it risked losing a $20 million federal government grant. This was a required step of the financing agreement signed by the city in April 2019.

“Failing this, the city will fail to meet requirements for a $7 million milestone payment and risk losing $20 million secured by the federal government for the RAF project,” a city report said.

Milner said a “no” to hiring a project manager for the RAF’s development meant there was a “high probability” that the federal government would terminate its $20 million funding deal.

The city has also submitted a formal funding proposal to the state government and hopes it will match the federal government’s funding commitment to ensure the economic viability of the $80 million project.

It has already approved $20 million and secured a $2 million to $3 million commitment from Curtin University.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Mr. Milner told his council that only one choice – a “yes vote” – represented “good governance”.

“The yes vote does not commit the city to additional expenditure, and a yes vote does not expose us to any additional risks,” he said.

“A vote no means that we knowingly, knowingly, and intentionally violated the term of the federal government’s $20 million financing agreement.”

Cr Stephen Russell begged his fellow councilors not to jeopardize the RAF project by voting against hiring a project manager.

“If I did that, it wouldn’t live up to the community’s expectations, as it would happen in a secret or clandestine matter,” he said.

Cr Glenn Cridland said the council was asked to do what was necessary not to violate its “contractual obligations”.

“This item is about appointing a project manager to ensure we fulfill our contract with the Commonwealth,” he said.

But not all councilors shared the same feelings. Cr Blake D’Souza said it seemed strange for the city to continue to spend “huge amounts of taxpayers’ money” on a project that was not a “deal done”.

South Perth City

“We are asked to approve a tender for a project manager if we are not sure we have a project,” he said.

“The August 2021 council meeting approved the continuation of the project, subject to a report presented at a December 2021 meeting that would note progress on further funding – no concrete progress has been made.”

Cr D’Souza said the council’s decision should be based on the economic reality it found itself in, not the economic fact it desired.

“It has been said that the city will suffer reputational damage if a project manager is not approved,” said Cr Ken Manolas.

“The bigger reputational damage will be the city going ahead with the RAF, signing contracts, and having to cancel them because the RAF is not going ahead due to lack of funding.”

The proposed RAF would become a water, fitness, leisure, and wellness center for the city and surrounding area, located on Collier Park with the golf course in the background.

The most recent community engagement process for the RAF was from August to September 2020 and revealed a high level of community support for the project.

The city currently has no public water supply.

John D.Mayne
I love to write. When I wasn’t writing for my school newspaper or college blog, I was writing personal essays and journal entries. Then I discovered I loved to write. In college, I wrote for my school paper and my campus radio show. I started doing freelance writing for the Huffington Post in 2009. Then, I joined the team at Newsmyth as a writer/editor. Now, I spend most of my time writing for Newsmyth and as a guest blogger on a handful of other blogs. When I’m not writing, I like to read, travel, cook, and spend time with friends.