Freo's View

FREMANTLE PORT POLITICAL FOOTBALL

 

The news that the Maritime Union of Australia-MUA have pulled out of the Westport Taskforce process, that was established to identify if, where and when a new container port is needed in WA, is as disappointing as it was predictable.

Unfortunately the process has been kidnapped by political and self interest and that makes it near impossible for Westport Taskforce chair Nicole Lockwoood and her team to remain independent.

The very first meeting I went to at the Fremantle Townhall had a commercial expert on the panel who predicted tens of thousands of job if a new port was built at Kwinana. It turned out he is the husband of the Mayor of the Town of Kwinana, so hardly an independent expert.

WA Premier Mark McGowan no doubt can also clearly see the economic benefits for his electorate of Rockingham if an international port is built just down the road from it, and the MUA is really only interested in the short-term retaining of jobs for the wharfies and worried about a largely automated new port at Kwinana, or elsewhere.

While the Labor government has promised to not privatise Fremantle Port it has not made similar promises for a new Kwinana port, and neither have the Liberal opposition.

The environmental impact on Cockburn Sound has not been investigated thoroughly and it is wrong to say that dredging would only happen at the start of the process because future dredging in the sound and Gage Roads will be needed as the size of container vessels grow.

The political argument that the Roe 8 option was excluded and therefor the process is flawed is wrong. The Labor party made the election promise not to build Roe 8, so that was clear from the start. It is also clear that the former Liberal government totally messed up the Perth Freight Link project because it could not find a solution to extend the new freight link all the way to the port, and it stopped at the Swan river.

Traffic congestion in North Fremantle and along Leach Highway are mainly caused by private cars as freight trucks to and from the port account for only 10% of the traffic volume.  The same number of trucks come to Fremantle Port as it did ten years ago, so while container import has increased it has been better handled and not resulted in more truck movements.

The Westport Takforce have stated that port related freight at Kwinana would mainly be road based, so traffic issues at Kwinana and surrounding areas need to be investigated first because it would be unfair to simply shift the traffic problems further south and away from the Fremantle area.

Moving the port from Fremantle to Kwinana would have an enormous impact on the Fremantle economy and while development along the river mouth would no doubt make partly up for that the loss of the working port would be immense and negative for our city.

While I believe the Westport Taskforce process is very thorough it is probably not helpful that they prematurely release findings and everyone jumps on the bandwagon to criticise everything they are doing. Transparency is great but appears to have become a hindrance in allowing the process to continue without political grandstanding.

First and foremost we need to see a very detailed environmental impact report for Cockburn Sound and the impact a new port at Kwinana would have on the local communities there and the traffic issues and solutions.

We should then also get to see a report on how/if Fremantle Port operations can continue and grow for 20-30 years without and increasing negative impact for North Fremantle, Melville and people living along the rail corridor.

A new freight bridge has been promised but what actually will it do to help solve all the issues we are all aware about, and would a tunnel be a better and realistic option?

There are still so many questions and not enough solutions, and it is not helpful that politicians, the MUA, the Town of Kwinana and other self interest groups are now kicking the political football around, that is going to kick a lot of goals but will probably have no winners.

My suggestion to everyone of them is to stay out of the process and allow Nicole Lockwood and her team to do what they get paid for. Once we see the final recommendations we can scrutinise the outcome and the process and accept or criticise it. No matter what the recommendations are, not everyone will be happy with it, but doing nothing is not an option as the future of Fremantle Port is not infinite.

Roel Loopers

GET READY FOR WILD WEATHER FREO!

Posted in city of fremantle, maritime, photography, rain, Uncategorized, weather by freoview on October 4, 2019

 

watercolour 1

 

We are expecting pretty wild weather in Fremantle today with heavy rain and storms, so baton down and stay dry and safe.

I took this ‘watercolour’ of the Maritime Museum early this morning when a big shower hit the South Mole, so I photographed it through the wet windscreen of my car.

Roel Loopers

CHALLENGING FREMANTLE PORT FUTURE

Posted in city of fremantle, city planning, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, traffic, Uncategorized by freoview on September 19, 2019

 

The protest yesterday by the MUA-Maritime Union of Australia in front of Minister Simone McGurk’s office in Fremantle made me wonder why the union is not engaged in finding solutions.

It is by now well known that Fremantle Port can easily handle many more containers and could remain a working port for another 20-25 years, but that the issues are with how freight gets to and from the port, so has the MUA offered any ideas on how to solve that?

Why does MUA’s Chris Cain not sit down with Fremantle Ports, the trucking and stevedore companies and try to find solutions so that they get the people in North Fremantle and near Leach highway on their side?

I am always skeptical about a layperson offering quick solutions, so my suggestions are merely meant to be the start of a discussion among the experts.

Why not demand, or even enforce, 24/7 freight on road, more after business hours movement, so that there is less congestion during the day time?

Why not encourage or enforce that trucks can not arrive empty to pick up containers, but also have to deliver on the same trip? That might require more computerised collaboration between trucking companies, but it would make freight by road more efficient and hence more cost efficient. A win win for all.

Trucks that can only transport one single container should be banned as it is inefficient and clogs up roads. Coming back from the dentist yesterday I was at a North Fremantle traffic light where I saw nine trucks coming through and all of them just carrying one container. That is silly.

More freight on rail is also helpful but there is an issue with noise and vibration for people in the west end of Fremantle, and the current line cannot handle double stacking, so growth is limited even when a new bridge is built.

Fremantle Port is one of the most efficient ports in Australia so the MUA members clearly know what they are doing, so they should put their considerable experience toward trying to make the freight part of the operation more efficient and less of a burden on the local community.

And one more word to Chris Cain and his threat that the Member for Fremantle will be gone at the next election. Do you really believe that Lisa-I should think before I speak-Harvey and Bill-I must have been absent when God handed out brains-Marmion will be more supportive of the MUA than the current government?

Simone McGurk is a very hard working and excellent minister who has some very challenging portfolios, such as child protection and domestic violence. She does not deserve the MUA threat.

I love the working port and hope it will remain for a very long time, but consideration must also be given to the residents in North Fremantle and along the road and rail freight corridors, so it is a much bigger issue than just jobs for wharfies.  The MUA should be pro-active in investigation which kind of new jobs a new port might have to offer and assist in retraining some of their members.

But there is no need for panic as a new port if built at Kwinana will be a very slow and long process, and Chris Cain will long have retired by then and I will be long dead.

Roel Loopers

MUA WANTS FREMANTLE PORT TO STAY

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, maritime, state government, Uncategorized, unions by freoview on September 18, 2019

 

MUA 6

 

The Maritime Union of Australia-MUA protested early this morning outside the office of Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk in Fremantle’s Market Street.

The MUA is not at al happy that the state government has been investigating through the Westport Taskforce what the future of Fremantle Port will be, with the preferred option a move to a new port at Kwinana.

The loud protest heard MUA branch secretary Chris Cain warn Simone McGurk that she will be gone at the next election.

The MUA is clearly worried about wharfies losing jobs at an automated new port, but the reality is that even if the state government decides to build a very expensive new port in Cockburn Sound it will take at least 15 years for it to be realised and replace our Freo port.

Roel Loopers

 

THE FUTURE OF FREO’S FISHING BOAT HARBOUR

 

The Strategic Planning and Transport Committee of Fremantle Council will on Wednesday consider the City’s position on the Fishing Boat Harbour and probable future development in the precinct.

The Officer’s Recommendation for Councillors to consider is:

OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATION

Council:

1. Adopts the following as a statement of its current position in respect of the future of Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour:

  1. The Council recognises the Fishing Boat Harbour as a vital part of Fremantle City Centre, both in terms of its function as an employment and activity centre and visitor destination, and is supportive of investment and appropriate new development to sustain the harbour into the future. This can be most effectively achieved through the preparation of a comprehensive up-to-date plan for the whole of the Fishing Boat Harbour to guide investment, activities and development.
  2. The harbour should be recognised as a component of the Fremantle City Centre, and as a part of the state’s marine network. It should not be treated as an isolated precinct.
  3. The harbour should continue to operate as an authentic working harbour with fishing fleet-related and other marine industries.
  4. Landside infrastructure and services to support ongoing use of the harbour by a range of commercial and recreational vessels (including boat lifting facilities with no less lifting capacity than current facilities) should be maintained, or suitably replaced if existing facilities/services are affected by development proposals. Review and redefinition of necessary infrastructure in collaboration with the fishing fleet industry should occur.
  5. Management of land uses within the harbour to minimise conflict and contain non-marine uses (such as entertainment and tourism uses) should continue. The harbour ‘zones’ defined in policy DGF10 should be used as a starting point for guiding land use locations, but with some flexibility.
  6. Any proposal to introduce noise sensitive land uses (e.g. short or long stay accommodation) should acknowledge the primacy of the working harbour function, and demonstrate provisions to manage any potential conflict (for example built form noise mitigation measures, management arrangements, title/lease notifications).
  7. Employment-generating uses not directly related to maritime industries and/or needing a harbour location should complement, not draw away, investment in the Fremantle City Centre core. Specifically, retail and office uses should only be supported where they are directly related and/or incidental to the primary marine or tourism related use. Convenience retailing should not be supported.
  1. Built form in any new development should respond to existing context and sense of place, and harmonise with the traditional low profile coarse grain industrial character of the area (whilst still making adequate provision for pedestrians and passive surveillance). Views to and connection with the water from the public realm should be provided. Some additional height beyond the typical height of existing harbour buildings could be entertained on a single key site if a development could demonstrably deliver significant public benefits and amenity in the vicinity.
  2. Any substantial new development proposal (particularly anything large scale) should be subject to formal design review (potentially by the State Design Review Panel).
  3. Coordinated improvement of the public domain to establish a more coordinated and amenable pedestrian and cycling environment is supported. Any redevelopment of the public domain should avoid a net loss of parking (incorporating nodal parking provided at the entrance).
  4. Key connections and vistas should be retained and reinforced. Connection to the Esplanade, Bathers Beach and to the waterfront should be improved and made more legible. Extension of Norfolk Street should be pursued as the primary entrance to the harbour.
  5. Establishment of public infrastructure necessary to facilitate improvement of the harbour and funding and contribution mechanisms to achieve these should occur as a priority to ensure a coordinated and equitable approach. This should involve contribution to Norfolk St extension/relocated railway crossing, public realm enhancements and waterfront access.
  6. Car parking provision and management should recognise the different needs of different harbour user groups. Day tourists and visitors to the harbour should be provided with a consolidated parking venue/s at or near the entrance/s to the harbour (potentially supported by cash in lieu payments for new development) and encouraged to walk into it rather than seek parking within the precinct. Conversely the operational requirements of marine industries and maritime activities need to be accommodated within the harbour.
  7. Any significant expansion of tourism function or introduction of residential uses should incorporate or facilitate a high quality area of open space including green elements.

2. Notes continued officer participation in the process of Fishing Boat Harbour visioning and policy review and in doing so officers will advance Council’s position outlined in (1) above.

Roel Loopers

 

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THERE ARE NO SIMPLE PORT SOLUTIONS

 

 

About one hundred people turned up at the North Fremantle community hall on Tuesday evening to ask questions about the future of Fremantle Port, which were answered by Nicole Lockwood, the chair of the Westport Taskforce, Ports CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter, Curtin university professor Peter Newman and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

In the audience were also members from the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association and Fremantle Society president John Dowson, as well as Fremantle Councillors Jones, Archibald and Sullivan.

Nicole Lockwood told us that the so-called Blue Highway of putting containers on barges to ship them to Kwinana was very common all around the world. It is option 3 on the  shortlist.

It does not matter if the government selected the Roe 8 or Leach Highway options because both are flawed as the problem of the last mile to cross the river and getting freight into port was the problematic one that has not been resolved.

But it will take at least ten years to do anything new at all, and in the meantime we should be getting a new traffic bridge with a dedicated freight rail line on it.

Chris Leatt-Hayter said that Fremantle Ports is supportive of the Westport Taskforce and that it is a rigorous, fair and sound process. Fremantle Port could handle ships of up to 350 metres long and that were the biggest ones coming to Australia currently.

Leatt-Hayter said that the same number of trucks came to the port now as they did ten years ago, because many more containers were transported by rail and fewer trucks came or left empty.

The Port do not take the community for granted and try to minimise the impact of their operations. It has 78% support from the community to continue the Freo working port!

Mayor Brad Pettitt said that the working port is very much part of Fremantle’s identity and who we are and that it is good for our economy and provides thousands of port related jobs, but what happens on land needs to be managed as it impacts on the community. The shift onto rail is the key. “We want to keep the working port as long as we can.”

Professor Peter Newman wants the ASAP solution of having a new port in Kwinana as soon as possible because he believes litheum exports will substantially increase the number of containers.”We need a new technology port.”

The Q&A did not have many specific North Fremantle questions but Leatt-Hayter said that freight on rail had issues because it goes right past the Roundhouse and close to residential apartments.

Nicole Lockwood said a tunnel is far more problematic in the Perth region and even more so at the river mouth and that putting trains through a tunnel would mean they end up somewhere near Rottnest because of the gradient. Cost efficiency was also a major factor.

Aboriginal woman Corina Abrahams said that there was not enough concern for the cultural heritage and that we should not ruin Cockburn Sound. Common sense needs to prevail.

One community speaker said the solution was a dedicated lane for autonomous trucks that could run 24/7 and would create a lot less noise than the diesel trucks.

Nicole Lockwood said the state government needed to do two things at once; planning for the long term and improving for the short term. Significant investment would be needed in the next ten years with at least six major projects to improve the Fremantle Port operations, including widening Curtin Avenue. “Perth just does not have enough river crossings.”

North Freo resident Anne Forma said there had been a lot of talk and a lot of plans but nothing had happened and that the 2010 plans could have been implemented by now. “Investment in Fremantle Port is not a long term solution.”

Roel Loopers

THE FUTURE OF FREMANTLE PORT INFO SESSIONS

 

69318722_1706807602785338_5849285625068388352_n

 

There are two events about the future of Fremantle Port and the Westport Taskforce process, so go listen for yourself.

The first one on September 10 is specifically for North Fremantle and will be at the community hall at Thompson Road from 6-8 pm with Westport chair Nicole Lockwood, Ports CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter and Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt.

The second one on September 18 is an community information event by the Westport Taskforce at the Esplanade Hotel from 7.30-9pm.

Whatever the outcome of the taskforce findings they will have a severe impact on the future of Fremantle Port and on Fremantle in general, so have your say!

Roel Loopers

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HISTORY FOR FATHERS DAY

Posted in city of fremantle, dutch, family, fathers, fathers day, history, maritime, seafarers, Uncategorized by freoview on September 1, 2019

 

Shipwrecks 40th

 

HEY KIDS! Take your dad out to the Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum that is celebrating its 40th anniversary and teach dad a bit about the Dutch history of Western Australia.

There is part of the Batavia shipwreck in the gallery and even a ghostly skeleton.

It is a great museum with fantastic displays and just over the railway line from the Fishing Boat Harbour, so buy dad a fish&chips lunch after all that history.

Happy Fathers Day all you bonza dads out there!

Roel Loopers

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WESTPORT TASKFORCE RESPONDS TO UNFAIR CRITICISM

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on August 30, 2019

 

The Westport Taskforce has received a lot of criticism from the Liberal party and its PR agency the West Australian and Sunday Times, plus from interest groups, so it is good to see that the chair of the taskforce Nicole Lockwood has responded and rejects criticism that was often not based on facts, as she points out.

Read it all here: https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ehq-production-australia/55a2a28b14ce22b742f8e9aff4526a6ae746b60f/documents/attachments/000/114/622/original/FINAL_Westport_Project_Update_15.pdf?1567142690?utm_medium=email

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE PORT BUSINESS AS USUAL

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on August 29, 2019

 

port crane

 

The old Patrick’s crane on North Quay in Fremantle Port is being dismantled to make way for a larger crane. A new ZPMC-brand crane will arrive early next year and that will be an impressive sight to see it floating into the harbour.

Fremantle is the most efficient of the five major container ports in Australia and it is not going anywhere for a long time. Think about putting a child into primary school and watch the transition to high school, and then watch it to decide if university is for them. That is the minimum time Fremantle Port will remain a working port, so no need to panic for those who love the port and believe it is significant to Freo’s unique character, as I do.

It is most likely that I will be rotting in hell well before Fremantle stops being our major working port in Western Australia.

Roel Loopers

 

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