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Aaron Bunch

WA premier lashes Perth mayor as women's shelter closes

Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas is rumoured to be lining up a run at state politics. (Philip Gostelow/AAP PHOTOS)

A critical Perth women's shelter has closed amid a high-profile and heated war of words between Western Australia's premier and the city's mayor.

The political rivals are bickering over East Perth Safe Night Space, which provided inner-city emergency accommodation for more than two dozen women until Wednesday night.

In a colourful spray, Premier Roger Cook on Thursday blamed City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas for the facility's closure.

Roger Cook
WA Premier Roger Cook has taken a swipe at City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas. (Aaron Bunch/AAP PHOTOS)

The Labor premier said the council had refused to allow it to continue operations despite the state government's offer to provide funding.

"This is an unacceptable situation," he told reporters on Thursday.

"There are 30 more vulnerable women, many who are homeless, many who are facing family and domestic violence circumstances, who will be on the streets of Perth tonight because of the decision.

"It's regrettable. It's unfortunate."

Mr Cook also took a swipe at Mr Zempilas for jetting to a water conference in South Africa, saying he was "overseas at the time that this homelessness and support service crisis is happening".

"It's the very thing he critiqued the prime minister for just a fortnight ago when the prime minister went to an APEC summit," the premier said.

The mayor, who holds prominent media roles and is rumoured to be weighing up running for the Liberal Party at the 2025 state election, fired back via a statement.

Mr Zempilas said the Safe Night Space was a two-year trial and that its service had been extended by six months and the state government had been told multiple times during the past year that it was closing.

"The premier's statements are undermining our collective efforts to transition vulnerable women to other available services," he said.

The tit-for-tat spat has made headlines in recent weeks with Mr Zempilas using his media platform to criticise Labor.

Former Fremantle mayor-turned-Greens MP Brad Pettitt has also joined the verbal stoush while calling on the Labor government and the City of Perth to work together to help women seeking refuge. 

"The Cook government has known for months that this space would likely close," he said.

"If they'd invested as much energy into finding a solution as they have in pointing the finger at the lord mayor, they would have found an alternative space by now."

He said there were other local governments that were willing to host a shelter with state government funding and support.  

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