Freo's View


In what no doubt will be a very controversial decision the Full Council of the City of Fremantle this evening decided to stop the Australia Day fireworks immediately and find alternative ways of celebrating the national public holiday in January.

I believe it is a very brave and the right decision by Fremantle Council that acknowledges that Australia Day is not a day of celebration or reconciliation for our indigenous people. The time for European immigrants to say that Aboriginal people should just suck it up and get used to it is well and truly over, and Fremantle Council is showing great leadership on this divisive issue.

There were very passionate speeches by indigenous people who pointed out the massacres and rapes, the atrocities at the Rottnest Island Quod gaol and the Roundhouse, and as one of them said “We should all be proud of belonging to an ancients culture.”

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce board member Ra Steward was quite outraged that the fireworks might be stopped saying it showed blatant disregard for businesses and it would be a disaster if shops closed on Australia Day.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said the end of the fireworks would be a great opportunity for a new event and that we can get a better bang for our buck. He said that we could benefit culturally and socially as a community and move forward.

Councillor Jon Strachan pointed out that the fireworks on Australia Day are the single most expensive day on Fremantle’s events calendar and that stopping them would help us move further down the path of reconciliation.

Councillor Sam Wainwright paraphrased author Richard Flannagan that a worst day could not be found to celebrate Australia Day.

Councillor Dave Hume was the only Elected Member who spoke who did not agree with cancelling the fireworks. He said that Australia Day was a public holiday by the Federal Government and Fremantle as the festival city should celebrate it. “We do things on public holidays!”

I have no doubt the debate about this will continue and what alternative event(s) the COF might want to put up during the long weekend in January, but showing real respect for our indigenous culture and realising the hurt the British invasion has caused, is in my opinion a significant step forward, so I congratulate Fremantle Council!

Roel Loopers

27 Responses

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  1. Jon said, on August 27, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Of course people will not bother participating when they know council just does want it wants and ignores the residents,
    This MO is clear from this council

  2. freoview said, on August 27, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Your argument is wrong again Jon. The community elected the people on Fremantle Council and if the majority of the community can’t be bothered to vote you can not blame the Elected members for that and say their decisions are “the ravings of a monority is dictating to the majority.
    You wrote you don’t live in Australia so your opinion is just third-hand from what you read on line forums.


  3. Jon said, on August 26, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Completely unaware of me making any statements about 2.5million.
    Your arugement about voters and the majoralty means little when less than
    28% of electors vote in local elections

    Further meaning less than 18% actually voted for council

    Not to mention less than 12 % vote for these loons nation wide.

    What you have established in Fremantle is the ravings of a minority is dictating to the majority

    Best thing is this national outrage may, Stimulate the majority to participate in local elections

  4. Andrew Priest said, on August 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    My apologies Lionel for typing “Jon” instead of “Lionel” which was a genuine error on my behalf.

    I can assure you it was neither deliberate nor an attempt to attribute some imaginary statement to you or mis-represent anything you said.

  5. Andrew Priest (Aushiker) said, on August 26, 2016 at 7:43 am

    I agree Roel. Whilst I do not support mandatory voting I would like to see an education program to develop greater participation in Council activities and most important elections.

    On the other hand one could possibly argue that those choosing to not participate in elections are indifferent because they do not feel that strongly either way to vote, i.e., they are okay overall with what their respective Council is doing.

    If individuals or groups are strongly opposed or supportive for that matter of their Council’s decisions then there is in my view also a roll for them to engage with their community to increase voting participation.

    As you reminded me, Claudia Green of the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association stood in my ward, the City Ward and I think this was a good thing. That she did not get elected also shows in my view that those choosing to vote didn’t support her position and by implication that of the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association. Maybe the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association is not as representative as it name suggests.

    This is in contrast to the Town of Cambridge elections in 2015 where the local “residents and ratepayers association” ran a more successful campaign to put their view forward. I would suggest a great case study in local democracy.

  6. Suzanne said, on August 26, 2016 at 7:40 am

    National Press, Headlining today 26/8. Warren Mundine, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Aboriginal Affairs condemns Freo Council for citing as ‘cultural’ the cancellation of Australia Day Fireworks.

    Freo Council, that little media making machine, at last gets national press coverage for all of the wrong reasons, by insensatively using the Indigenous excuse to save funding the Australia Day Fireworks.
    First made famous when Lord Mayor of Perth, Peter Nattrass called it a ‘Cracker Night’. Fremantle’s venture into giving those outer suburbs their own celebration.
    Council, if you have an attack of the shorts, check some of your little ‘greenie’ investments for the lucky few.
    Incidentally, why not chuck some of your ‘cracker’ savings to the Round House Volunteers you continue to totally ignore in more ways than financial.

  7. Lionel said, on August 26, 2016 at 7:39 am

    At least get my name right

  8. Andrew Priest (Aushiker) said, on August 26, 2016 at 7:29 am

    “Seriously does anyone believe the majority of rate payers in Fremantle want to stop a celebration on Australia day, outside an narrow political agenda the council runs.”

    I guess we’ll find out at the next elections Jon, but a few posts to a blog and/or the odd letter to a local newspaper is hardly a measure of views of the “majority.”

    As to the actual City of Fremantle community members views of the Council, I believe at the last Council elections only one current Councillor was removed [Roel maybe to confirm this or otherwise] which suggests that that those interested enough in their Council to vote seem reasonably happy with it. That is the problem with elections they don’t always go the way we wish … whoops.

    On a related matter, I now understand that Ms Claudia Green of the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association didn’t get elected to the Council. This is despite the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association apparently in your own words participating in “consistent community engagement and leadership.” [1] –

    Looks like the pesky voters of in the City Ward had a different view Jon from you … whoops.

    [1] For the record I didn’t vote for the incumbent Councillor who was standing in the ward and who subsequently got elected.

  9. freoview said, on August 26, 2016 at 6:58 am

    You can’t blame councils for people being too apathetic to vote at local elections.


  10. Jon said, on August 25, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Seriously does anyone believe the majority of rate payers in Fremantle want to stop a celebration on Australia day, outside an narrow political agenda the council runs.

    Its been clear for anyone who objectively looks at this council, that the average rate payers interests are far from mind.

    I recall on a blog some time back that less than 30 % of the people vote at council elections and that candidates for several elections were not even voted for and still go tin,when they where voted for as little as 12% of the electorate voting for you, got you in.
    Hardly a council that represents even a poor minority.

    Clearly for those with an ounce of common sense, Australia day is Australia day and councils wacky anti-aussie issues are just that, a wacky council in action.

  11. Andrew Priest (Aushiker) said, on August 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Jon please don’t worry about the request for any further details on the claim of $2.5 million. I have found a reference to it in an WA Today post at where it states:

    “The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the cancellation of the fireworks, claiming the event injected $2.5 million into the local economy each year.”

    I wonder where the Chamber of Commerce is getting this figure from so have dropped them an email requesting the details.

  12. Andrew Priest (Aushiker) said, on August 25, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I don’t believe I made a comment on any statement in the agenda Lionel so I am not sure why you what you are trying to suggest here, but given my words are right there in black and white, given they shouldn’t be too hard comprehend and given it shouldn’t be that difficult to quote me I am going to have to leave you to your rather amusing comments.

    In summary Lionel I have no issues with what I actually said and if you want to make things up, so be it.

    That said, your comment on the agenda piqued my interest so I thought I would have a look at what was written and this is what I found on page 98:


    Community sentiment is calling for an alternative to the recent tradition of celebrating Australia Day with fireworks on January 26. We also need to consider the ongoing cost and environmental impact of the fireworks event. The budget for this event has been reduced for 16/17 so the city could not deliver the same level of event as in previous years.”

    Which it seems comes from the Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee, August 10, 2016 committee meeting minutes where it states on page 12:


    Staff did receive feedback post the 15/16 event from members of the public expressing an interest in alternative Australia Day celebrations.”

    You may know the details of this feedback Lionel, but I don’t so I am not going to comment on the veracity of same unless I am appropriately informed. In the meantime I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to the staff until such time as I don’t believe it is appropriate to do so (and to date I haven’t seen anything to question this claim] and so I guess you can take that as my response to your allegation of “spurious claims.”

    Have a nice night …

  13. Andrew.L said, on August 25, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Social engineering at is best! Surely we have more immediate local issues to address in our community.
    One would think the Mayor is jockeying for the next State election in March. It’s all about politics and exposure.

  14. Lionel said, on August 25, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    “Community sentiment is calling for an alternative to the recent tradition of celebrating Australia Day with fireworks on January 26,”

    From the agenda last night

    They are saying the community want this without actually checking. Are you concerned about these spurious claims Andrew, or just the ones you don’t agree with?

  15. Lionel said, on August 25, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    “The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the cancellation of the fireworks, claiming the event injected $2.5 million into the local economy each year. ”

    Why don’t you contact the FCOC and ask them?

  16. Andrew Priest said, on August 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Are you able to point to the source of this claim? I also would like to see how this is substantiated as I prefer to reach an informed view and not one based on nothing more than potentially spurious claims.

    A quick check of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce website has produced anything that supports such a statement.

  17. freoview said, on August 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    would love to see detailed figures on this ambiguous claim.


  18. Andrew Priest said, on August 25, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I thought by voting in the Council elections one participated in a democracy to elect a Council to make decisions; well that is why I voted at least and despite my preferred candidate not getting up I respect the decision of the wider community and hence the Council as elected.

    Whilst it is important the Council engages in wider consultation on relevant matters and as required under the Local Government Act 1995 on all other matters it should show leadership and lead in my view. Wether one agrees or not agrees in this instance, at least it has shown leadership and of course one can participate in the next applicable election and vote accordingly if it is a matter of serious concern.

    The above notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see how this develops and if there is really any strong opinions either way from a wide perspective of the community.

    Personally I am indifferent. I don’t bother attending the fireworks in Fremantle or the City but may wonder out to the verge for few glimpses. I may take a more active involvement if there is a broader range of activities on the day but.

    It sure makes no difference to my support or otherwise of local retailers … their products and customer services is what wins my business or not, not the actions or otherwise of the Council.

  19. Lionel said, on August 25, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce claims the fireworks inject 2.5m into the local economy. Not anymore.

  20. Mark said, on August 25, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I think Lionel and Jon have summed it up nicely.
    Amazing with the crap they waste money on to say that this is a cost saving exercise is a joke.LOL

  21. martin said, on August 25, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Has the Council properly consulted the community before making this decision? The simple answer is NO!

    Since when did a handful of local Councilors get granted the right to make a decision about whether the entire community should celebrate Australia Day WITHOUT PROPER COMMUNITY CONSULTATION.

    Our Council is voted to represent us on local decisions, not to step onto the National stage. They have totally lost the plot, and disappeared up their own self-important Facebook pages…

    Will the Mayor and Councilors now cancel the Citizenship ceremonies and all of the other official duties for the day? It would be hypocritical to cancel the fireworks on the grounds that they do not want to celebrate Australia Day and then attend other Australia Day functions. Let’s see whether their actions support their words, or is this just another case of shameless self promotion.

    Perhaps it is as simple as: – Citizenship ceremony = photo opportunity; Fireworks = too dark for photo; cancelling Firework announcement = photo opportunity

  22. freoview said, on August 25, 2016 at 8:55 am

    There are not yet definite plans on what event(s) to replace the fireworks with, just some initial ideas. That process will now start in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and Noongar people, so let’s wait and see.

    There are plenty of people, including myself, who don’t like fireworks, so new events might well attract a lot of people who are looking for alternative entertainment on Australia Day and the long weekend.


  23. abetterbeacy said, on August 25, 2016 at 8:51 am

    In my view the cancelling of the fireworks was all about cost and little about cultural insensitivity. The decision to end the fireworks was made when the council slashed the budget for them but it looks good if you then cite cultural reasons. The whole process was rushed, the alternative proposed of a middle of the day picnic in January i feel will be poorly attended by families.

  24. freoview said, on August 25, 2016 at 8:30 am

    No one is anti Australia, Jon and the present Fremantle council has been doing a lot to revitalise the economy and many new office, residential and tourist accommodation buildings are going up and others planned and ready to go soon.


  25. freoview said, on August 25, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Most people arrive for the fireworks in Fremantle after 5pm when most retailers have closed, so only those in the food industry might suffer a little.
    My observation has been that the large majority of people only drive/ride in for the fireworks with many still looking for parking at 7.30 pm. Once the fireworks are over 90% leave Fremantle straight away, and huge traffic jams occur.


  26. Jon said, on August 25, 2016 at 6:18 am

    It’s really no big deal.
    Australia Day will remain Australia Day.
    Fremantle councils cancelling fireworks doesn’t change the meaning of Australia day, as long as they run any event on Australia day it’s celebrating Australia Day.
    The celebration will continue, families will just choose to celebrate it somewhere else.
    Other councils will show they aren’t anti Australia and people will choose to spend their money in those areas
    So another suburb will benefit, nothing new about that council has been running down the city business opportunity for so long it’s just an expectation now surely.
    I suppose the only ones really upset will local businesses

  27. Lionel said, on August 24, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    It is the retailers who suffer from this. People who want to watch fireworks will just go watch the Perth ones. Once again Freo business loses out to new age feel-goodery

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