Phillips, Y. ‘MPs Back Retirees in Village Bullying,’ The West Australian, June 21, 2008, p. 65

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Elderly residents of a Perth retirement village have been the victims of long-running threats and bullying from a WA-based property developer, according to a parliamentary inquiry which found residents were misled and construction timelines were not met.
The inquiry was launched into the Karrinyup Lakes Lifestyle Village earlier this year after Liberal MP Katie Hodson-Thomas used parliamentary privilege to expose allegations of bullying, improper conduct and flouted building approvals by Moss Glades Pty Ltd. Ms. Hodson-Thomas claimed the company’s directors, Eoin Martin and Leonard Whyman, had thwarted planning approvals and building conditions while one 80-year-old woman had been verbally abused and another had taken out a violence restraining order.
This week, the Lower House committee charged with investigating the matter revealed Mr. Martin, a former City of Stirling councillor who had improper conduct findings made against him, had been “evasive and uncommunicative at best, and aggressive and abusive at worst.”
Committee chairman Independent MP Bob Kucera said Mr. Martin had been threatened with contempt of Parliament if he did not uphold his commitment to withdraw from the day-to-day running of the retirement village in Gwelup.
Mr. Kucera commended the bravery of the residents. “Essentially the report is a chronicle of how not to undertake and manage a retirement village development,” he said.
About 20 residents left the public gallery of Parliament relieved their concerns had been recognised.
Bob and Elizabeth Ascot have spent the past four years fighting to gain access to all the services they were promised when they paid $300,000 for one of the units.
“When you’ve got an elderly lady crying herself to sleep, you know there’s something wrong there,” Mr. Ascot, 73, said. “But the whole point is that it’s taken this long to get Parliament to do something about it when the government departments should be doing it.”
The report has recommended changes to the existing legislation to protect retirees and ordered the Planning and Infrastructure Minister to provide a penalty when a person offers false or misleading information in support of a building proposal.
The Department of Consumer and Employment Protection will also conduct an audit of the village and review its role and possible conflicts in its regulation, prosecution and dispute resolution practices.
Consumer Protection Minister Sheila McHale said the department was expected to complete a comprehensive review of the retirement villages’ legislation.
Mr. Martin could not be contacted for comment.


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