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Wyndham Council’s Theatrical Clash Over Affordable Housing Motion

Drama in the chambers

Wyndham City Council’s seemingly routine meeting took an unexpected turn on Tuesday night as a motion on affordable housing ignited a heated debate between councillors. The proposal, initially put forth by councillor Robert Szatkowski in April, focused on utilizing council-owned land for affordable housing and recommending it as a fundamental principle for future land discussions within the council.

During the meeting, council officers presented a report highlighting the potential benefits of using council-owned land for affordable housing, such as attracting state and federal investments and expediting housing developments. The motion aimed to underscore the council’s commitment to addressing housing issues in the community.

However, the meeting took a dramatic turn when, after passionately moving the motion, Cr Szatkowski closed with a minute’s silence for victims of domestic violence—a poignant issue he linked to the shortage of affordable housing and crisis accommodation. This move raises questions, especially considering an earlier incident in the same meeting where Heather Marcus was shut down by Cr Mia Shaw and Mayor Jenny Barrera while discussing the council’s struggle to reach most residents for feedback.

Deputy Mayor Josh Gilligan didn’t hold back, commencing his counterargument by congratulating Cr Szatkowski on his ‘theatrical performance.’ He strongly opposed the motion, asserting that using council land for housing would jeopardize core council services. Cr Gilligan emphasized pressing issues such as the lack of access to kindergartens, immunization challenges, and shortages in aquatic and sporting facilities, arguing that addressing housing falls outside the council’s mandate.

In response, Cr Szatkowski defended the motion, asserting that housing, particularly affordable housing, was indeed a crisis compared to other infrastructure concerns. The debate concluded with the motion passing, albeit with only Cr Gilligan and Cr Mia Shaw voting against it. The meeting revealed not only the complexities of addressing affordable housing but also the theatrical dynamics that unfolded within the Wyndham City Council chambers.

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