To have integrity one needs to avoid all spin and bending of the truth, but disappointingly the Fremantle Society prefers to ignore facts, as a letter in today’s Fremantle Herald by FS president John Dowson shows.
Dowson claims the announcement a few weeks ago by WA Heritage Minister Albert Jacob of the West End Conservation Area listing on the State Heritage list was a “secret event”. It was so secret that all the media were there, and the Fremantle Society president was also there, and even I was invited to Kakulas Sisters for the announcement. I don’t believe it qualifies as a secret event when it was on the TV and radio stations that night and widely reported in the print and on-line media.
Dowson does not like the boundaries of the WECA gold rush period and blames Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt for reducing the West End Conservation Area to accommodate developers, but as a former councillor Dowson well knows that council makes democratic decisions and not the Mayor on his own.
The lament by the FS president that Arthur Head is not included is irrelevant because Arthur Head in its entirety, including Kidogo Arthouse(the former kerosene store) is already on the State Heritage list, so adding it to the WECA would make no difference.
To have a semblance of credibility one should not manipulate the truth.
At last night’s AGM the Fremantle Society members decided to go back to the past by electing former Fremantle Councillor and former FS president John Dowson as their new leader. Dowson received about 80% of the votes while the other candidate Chris Lewis received just a fifth of the votes.
It was packed house with over one hundred members attending the meeting, so at least a presidential vote pulled them our of their lethargy.
I believe that the vote for Dowson is one for going back to negativity and anti just about everything and the attitude that Fremantle Council is the enemy. As one disappointed member said “It is like lemmings off the cliff.”
While we might have expected spin from former PR guru Chris Lewis it was John Dowson who did the spin and name dropping when he addressed the members and claimed to have single-handedly rescued the Warders Cottages because he had written a report for “Colin” Forget all the efforts Freo Council put in, all the presentations they made and forget also the submissions about it by the Fremantle Society and other members of the public, including I here several times on this blog.
So Dowson plays tennis with “Colin” but what good has that done for Fremantle? Did “Colin” support Freo Council when Dowson was an Elected Member, I think not.
Dowson will do what Dowson does best and that is make FS a narrow-focus organisation that will get a kick out of negativity and will oppose any major development in Fremantle. Like a political party that opposes anything the opposition proposes, the Fremantle Society will treat Fremantle Council as the enemy and the Brad bashers and Council kickers now have another organisation that will basically be about negativity, unwillingness to compromise and unwilling to collaborate with Council. That in my opinion is not the way forward and it is bad for Fremantle.
The negativity, the smear campaign and the conspiracy crap used by the Dowson supporters paid off, so it is still true in Australia that more people vote for those who run a negative campaign.
While FS members might live the dream that under JD the Society will save Fremantle from modernisation I should remind them that at the October election the voters did not ditch six sitting members to show their unhappiness with Council, and I remind them also that major development is not approved by Council but by State agencies DAP and SAT.
I sincerely hope that my fears are wrong and that the Fremantle Society under JD will try to remain progressive, pro change, willing to collaborate with Council and be a positive force in our city, but I fear the worse. Time will tell, and no doubt so will all the nasty comments that will be posted and attack me.