To be fair, to be fair…..I received the legal advise on Kings Square from the City of Fremantle lawyers Jackson McDonald today. The firm acknowledged that the delay in sending the requested information to the Fremantle Society was their responsibility and not that of City of Fremantle’s officers.
We’ll read the report carefully and take it from there.
A query from a Curtin University student, and the Police criticising the City of Fremantle‘s new graffiti laws made me contemplate if graffiti, or street art, has any value for society. I first need to say that I don’t consider so called tagging street art or graffiti, it is mindless vandalism, akin to bored, inconsiderate people scratching names and messages into trees and rocks.
I believe street art is important because it does what art should do, but mostly doesn’t, and that is to challenge people. A large percentage of public art is representational and easy on the eyes, it is non-confronting and non-challenging, has no social or political messages, and does not question, it is art created mainly as pretty decoration rather than as a reflection of society.
It is difficult for graffiti art to get shown in established galleries, so young creative people need an outlet outside the commercial gallery circuits to show their work to a larger public. Street art, assigned or unauthorised, does that. Local councils have to accommodate that need and that important interaction with the community.
I love the quirky graffiti of Banksy, the stunning murals of Roa and to a lesser extend that of Vhils, all artist are represented here in Fremantle. Roa’s large Numbat in Henderson Street makes me aware every time I walk by that this beautiful native animal is nearly extinct and that is a very important message to us all
The world changes from street/grass roots level and hardly ever from the top, and so street art is important in making valid points, to protest, upset, even disgust. We need this alternative, challenging and sometimes confronting way of expression because when youths remains silence there is no change in the world. That is why I consider graffity important. It is an in your face way of communication that we should not underestimate.
The City of Stirling, Western Australia’s biggest council, wants to introduce new laws to stop Demolition by Neglect. Owners would be given 60 days notices to do repairs and if that does not happen officers of the city would be allowed to enter the buildings and order repairs for which the owners would have to pay.
The Greens have proposed similar laws against the practice of letting buildings, which are often of heritage value, rot and fall into disrepair.
But how would it work here in Fremantle with the state-owned Henderson Street Warders Cottages, the federal government-owned Married Quarters cottages at Cantonment Hill, and the privately owned Woolstores? Could a local government force a state or federal government to do anything? I doubt it.
We have two major eyesores in the centre of Fremantle, and whatever action the City might have taken in the past has not had any effect at all. Cruise ship passengers still disembark looking at the ruin of the Woolstores and the neglected International Backpackers, while tourists visiting Fremantle Markets are confronted with the fenced off shambles of the Warders Cottages.
It is shameful neglect we should not tolerate!
Mount Lawley is planning to introduce a Demolition By Neglect legislation in its Local Planning Scheme no 3 Amendment 27. “The purpose of these provisions is to prevent heritage buildings falling into disrepair and subsequently necessitating demolition”
This is a lead the City of Fremantle and other local governments and the state government should follow, to prevent what has been happening all over Western Australia. The neglected Woolstores building in Fremantle and the Guildford Hotel in Guildford are two examples of how owners let heritage buildings rot and fall into disrepair.
I urge Fremantle councillors to introduce a similar legislation!
Fremantle council last night voted in favour of a ban on single-use plastic bags. This is an Australian first as Fremantle is the first city in Australia to ban non-degradable plastic bags at supermarkets, retail stores, markets and fast food outlets. Retailers will have to charge their customers 10 cents for alternative shopping bags, that have to be biodegradable or reusable with a thickness of more than 60 microns.
Retailers who do not comply with the new law could be fined up to $ 5,000 and if they continued to ignore the law a fine of 500 dollar per day would apply.
The no plastic bags law will be implemented over the next six months.
Dear Father Christmas,
It is not often I write to you because I realise other people need you more than I do, but this year my wish list is not just for myself, but also for all people who live on planet earth. It is something we all desperately need and from my memory we once had. What I want for Christmas is Common Sense.
You see, Father Christmas, for some reason people have stopped taking responsibility for their own actions and instead blame others for their stupidities and wrong decisions. They believe someone else is responsible when they behave like fools, and society is paying for it.
Nowadays, dear Father Christmas people jump off bridges or mountains or balconies and when they end up in a wheelchair they blame the fact that there were no signs warning them that if they behaved irresponsibly they might get hurt or even die.
We now even need signs at beaches to warn us that when we get dumped by waves, we might hit our head on the ocean floor and get hurt. We enter the territory of sharks and crocodiles and when, once in a full moon, a human-being gets eaten by one, we want to kill them, and the media calls them rogue animals.
It will not be long until the authorities will force us to have signs near the exit doors of our homes warning us that leaving home can be a health hazard. If they don’t enforce that law they could well be sued for duty of care neglect by a drunken fool who only tried to cross a train line when a speeding train was approaching, gates were closed and bells were ringing, because it wasn’t his fault that he got badly hurt. He’ll probably also take the pub to court for allowing him to drink too much, the poor victim he is.
You see, Father Christmas, when I was brought up I was taught to look after myself, to take responsibility for my own actions, and to say sorry if I messed up, but in this modern world everyone else is responsible instead of the individual, so THEY should be doing something to stop THEM from behaving like idiots.
I believe common sense for all this Christmas would be the solution to get rid of many problems in our society. It’s a great gift I recommend to everybody.
The City of Fremantle revised GRAFFITI POLICY is out so click on the link to read it and participate in the community consultation process by voicing your opinion.
What might be ugly vandalism for some is important public art for others and somehow as a community we need to get the balance right. While tags should be removed asap, other graffiti art can have artistic merits that needs to be considered. Of course the rights of property owners to remove any form of graffiti also needs to be respected.
Go to the link above and participate in the community debate!
The HUMANINSIDE exhibition at Fremantle Prison is a confronting one for sensitive people. It is a show of photos, video and sound about the imprisonment of Aboriginal people. Ni Djininy Kadidjiny Wangkiny (Listen, Look, Learn & Talk) is very moving as it makes us deeply aware of the unacceptably high rate of indigenous incarceration in Western Australia. The Aboriginal imprisonment rate in W.A. is 3,991 per 100.00 which is almost double the national rate! Last night one in every 14 adult Aboriginal men would have spent the night in prison in this state.
Standing in front of a large wall with excellent photos by James Kerr I felt a deep sense of sadness, but also one of immense powerlessness and frustration. Aboriginal people looking at me from these photos, standing in a tiny cell arms crossed, almost asking what I am going to do about making it better. And I felt ashamed that we white people started the plight of Aboriginal people and their culture. We displaced them, took their children away, rejected their culture and belief, used them as cheap labour and many in our care were abused and all that often in the name of God.
Many Australians say we spend millions of dollars on Aboriginal issues and that it is time they themselves took responsibility and moved on, but moving on when white people took your kids for no other reason than that you are black must be extraordinary difficult.
How can we change the expensive programs that are not working into ones that will help and support our indigenous people. How can we make the millions of dollars work instead of being wasted. How can we get society to respect Aboriginal people, their culture and belief. How can we get rid of racism.
I love the T-shirt artists Tanya Ferrier was wearing yesterday. ERACISM it read. She mentioned that she had done sound recording of Native American people confronted with very similar issues as our Australian indigenous people, and I am sure she would encounter the same in South Africa and other countries where patronising white Christian settlers invaded and absolutely ignored the culture and laws of the indigenous people there.
Moving on is very important as we are fast seeing Aboriginal culture, law and languages die and that is beyond belief for me. Aboriginal people need to take more ownership of the problems, as many of their own leaders say, but there also needs to be far more sensitivity for the plight of the indigenous people from the non Aboriginal community.
I still have hope that together and with great respect for one another we can make the right policies which will make the changes needed.
The artists who created this excellent exhibition are film maker Glen Stasiuk, visual artist Tania Ferrier and photographer James Kerr. Don’t miss it!
The idea by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and Member for Fremantle Adele Carles to make Fremantle a bicycle helmet free city is not a bad idea, but will probably never get off the ground. It is unlikely the Western Australian government will change traffic laws for a single municipality, as this could been seen as discriminating against other cities and towns.
The reason for wanting the change is that it will get more people using bikes and research shows that to be true. A documentary I watched about the city of Kopenhagen showed that when they abandoned helmet laws over 30% more people, especially women, started to ride their bikes again.
There is also no doubt that more bicycles on the roads would create better awareness of that we are sharing the roads and they don’t belong to cars only. However it is dangerous to use European examples for supporting non helmet laws, as European drivers are far better than the Western Australian ones. They know how to share roads, they are more courteous to pedestrians and bike riders, and don’t have the selfish attitude drivers around Freo and Perth display.
Creating better and safer bicycle lanes for Fremantle people should become a priority. South Terrace could become one way traffic, thus allowing for two way bicycle lanes on either side, to start with. The city needs to be more innovative and creative, instead of hoping state laws will be changed to accommodate the green council philosophy. Creating more and safer bike lanes is the way to go.
Around thousand people watched the Fremantle ISAF 2011 sunset concert by the new Perth Symphony Orchestra on the Esplanade on Saturday, while a few hundred metres away many people enjoyed the sunset and the last sailing race of the day from Bathers Beach and the Kelp @ Kidogo Art House bar.
Today is the last day of ISAF 2011, so I hope the residents of Freo took advantage of the relaxed liquor licensing laws while we had them, as from tomorrow we will be going back to nanny state normal, as our decision makers believe the people of Western Australia are brain dead morons who can’t drink alcohol while standing on their feet. The success story of ISAF, Kelp on Bathers Beach, will also have to close its doors, unless someone can convince Premier Colin Barnett and his government that we are as mature as our overseas visitors.