EXCLUSIVE: Aubrey retires from politics but plans to keep Melville to account

Russell Aubrey has warned he will still be holding the City of Melville to account as a regular citizen as he retires from local government politics.

Mr Aubrey said he was taking a step back from public life but he wanted to ensure that the new council in Melville was “making good decisions.”

The former City of Melville mayor lost his position during the October local government elections, defeated by challenger George Gear.

Speaking to WAMN News, Mr Aubrey said he had “moved on from my position of mayor.”

“(But) I will obviously keep a very careful eye on what’s happening in the city and make sure that as best I can, that the council is making good decisions.”

“If they’re not, then I obviously will make that as public and I’m more than happy to make my views public.”

Mr Aubrey said that during his 12 years leading the City of Melville, the council made significant improvements.

“I believe that we’ve put the good, good financial support in, and recovered our funds, and there’s over $200 million now $200 million in allocated savings,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate our wider community on the way they’ve been embraced the FOGO waste management system.”

He said the improvements led to the city setting the “benchmark” by winning the World’s Most Liveable Community Award and Business Excellence Award.

He hoped Mr Gear would continue to keep up the standard, despite continuing to express concerns about the new mayor’s election campaign and community engagement.

However he said he would not be returning to council.

“I will never look to be a councillor again,” Mr Aubrey said.

“I know few former mayors have done that but I’ve certainly moved on from that role.”

Melville inquiry still major “Gripe”
Mr Aubrey said an inquiry into complaints against his council remained his biggest frustration.

More than 300 complaints were made about the council to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries since 2014, sparking the inquiry in 2017.

A report was tabled in State Parliament in June containing 17 findings and seven recommendations including regular review of public question time policy and engaging an independent person to act on complaints.

Mr Aubrey said at the time that the report vindicated the way Melville dealt with a small number of “unreasonable people” in the community.”

However, he added that Local Government Minister David Templeman did not support the council.

“The minister himself did not respond by saying this in the city of Melville has come out of this with flying colours, it is a high performing local government, with contemporary methodologies,” Mr Aubrey said.

“The minister for local government didn’t support his, his own industry, by saying positive things about the City.”

Aubrey’s Sounds of Silence
As Mr Aubrey walks away from the job he held for the past decade, he did so with a song.

He sung his own version of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit song “Sounds of Silence”, in response to Mr Templeman’s parliamentary year ending version.

In the song, he talked about the election of Mr Gear, introduction of high-rise buildings, the move of the wave park and his fight for Roe8.

He maintains the song was in the spirit of the holidays.

“It’s all in the seasonal spirits of fun and frivolity,” Mr Aubrey said.

“Maybe if people like mine or get enough likes on that one, then maybe I’ll do another one for next year.”

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