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

WA GOVERNMENT DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT

 

It is unacceptable that the WA State Government neglects Fremantle’s significant heritage, which is a huge tourist attraction for the port city and WA.

World heritage listed Fremantle Prison needs more than $ 13 million to do conservation work as the roofs of several cells have collapsed, but all it will be getting from the State Government is $ 3.5 million and that is not good enough!

The Fremantle Roundhouse, and Arthur’s Head on which it is built, need stabilisation works worth $ 1.8 million but so far the State Government has shrugged their shoulders as if it is of no great concern to them.

The WA Labor government spend millions, if not billions, on getting sport stars and rugby and soccer clubs to Perth to help increase tourist numbers, but two of the state’s major and most significant tourist attractions get F… All from our government.

We have millions to spend on a Quokka Birthday Party on Rottnest Island but let the state’s oldest public building the Roundhouse and it surroundings just fall apart and rot away.

Demolition by neglect is unlawful in Western Australia, so who is going to prosecute the State Government?

Roel Loopers

I AM SHAKING MY ARTHUR’S HEAD

 

When the City of Fremantle many years ago evicted the long-term residents and Port Pilots at Captain’s Lane on Arthur’s Head to create the Bathers Beach Art Precinct I warned they would be creating a ghost town at night that would attracts vagrants, homeless people and anti social behaviour, and I was right.

Fremantle Council is now finally acknowledging that the BBAP does not work in its current conception, so one has to wonder what will be coming next.

The J Shed artists have been stressed for far too long about their future at Arthur’s Head, with having to fight the ridiculous decision by Fremantle Council  to lease the shed for a tavern and outdoor music venue to Sunset Events. That madness was only stopped by the WA Planning Commission after years of protests from residents .

Now the J Shed artists have not got their four-year leases renewed because Council is dreaming about an Aboriginal culture centre there, so what is the future for Greg James, Jenny Dawkins, Janet Nixon, Lesley Barrett, Jina Lee, Peter Zuvela and others?

Fremantle Council has been talking for years about activating Arthur’s Head and the West End of town, but have spent very little money on the area. The tavern nonsense would have given them sewerage and public toilets, paid for by others, and they have neglected one of our state’s and the city’s most significant historic precinct for yonkers.

The City should have built public toilets, a small cafe at J Shed, and extend the boardwalk from the Bathers Beach House to J Shed, but instead they have been living in LaLa land in the hope that commercial investment will do what the city does not want to finance.

Arthur’s Head is falling to bits with rock fall forcing the fencing off of large areas. It looks terrible!

For twenty years Fremantle Council has shown no interest whatsoever in the management and running of the Roundhouse. The oldest public building in Western Australia receives no annual funding from the city, it does not get financial and in kind support for marketing, or uniforms or anything, and it is a struggle for the volunteers to get the smallest repairs done.

The Roundhouse receives around 150.000 visitors a year so it is a significant tourist attraction, but the City says when the volunteers started they wanted to be autonomous, so what?! That does not mean Council should not show a very close interest in how it is working out and if the volunteers might just need a bit of help and TLC now and then. The mainly senior guides definitely deserve it, as they keep the old goal open seven days a week throughout the year. That’s a massive effort!

When the Crookes family, the Fremantle Society and the Port Pilots were still up on Arthur’s Head there was 24/7 activation. The kids brought friends home from Lance Holt school. They played on the grass, had lemonade stands to sell drinks to tourists, the Society held Bocce nights, heritage festival and Australia Day events, etc. And there was a lot of interaction from the verandas with passing visitors, but all that was not good enough for our elected members.

The place has now become an eyesore after many artists failed to succeed in the residential former pilots’ cottages, and even the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre does not have a big impact there.

Fremantle Council wants more activation, but closes the Whalers Tunnel at 7pm, which is well before sun set in summer. It could have made the pilots’ cottages into B&B to guarantee activation of Captain’s and Mrs Trivett Lane, but instead they added them to the artist studios program of the Fremantle Arts Centre, which means that many don’t even have to, or are allowed to, open to the public.

Arthur’s Head is shambles, it brings shame on Fremantle, and it is a sign of very bad governance of the area. And of course the State Government conveniently states that the cliff was vested in the City of Fremantle so it is not their problem to stabilise the cliff face, do urgent repairs and beautifications, and show a serious interest in the historic Roundhouse. All that while Fremantle Prison and the Shipwrecks and Maritime museums are getting all the financial support they need from the state government.

It is not good enough Fremantle Council and Premier Mark McGowan!

Roel Loopers

IS VICTORIA QUAY DEVELOPMENT GOOD FOR FREMANTLE?

 

Fremantle Council wants the working port to continue for as long as possible but it also wants development all along Victoria Quay, and those South Quay plans are now investigated by the WA government, but will development on Victoria Quay benefit Fremantle or compete with inner city development?

A working port means that the buffer zones around the port do not allow for residential development or a hotel, so all we would be getting at VQ is commercial development of office, retail and hospitality space, as the three suggestions by CODA showed, when this went through a lengthy community consultation process some years ago.

Will it really be good for Fremantle to have competing development at the port when it will be a challenge to fill the new commercial accommodation that will come on line soon in the CBD, and will the City of Fremantle receive council rates from any development within the Fremantle Ports boundaries, or will we have many more buildings that don’t contribute to the City’s coffers?

Any new development at VQ will no doubt have a substantial hospitality component where people can enjoy harbour views and sunsets while dining out or having a drink, and that will mean that the City’s safety rangers will have more work, or would the Port have their own security to police that?

I believe that any development at Victoria Quay should come under the jurisdiction of the City of Fremantle and building owners should pay council rates, as our city needs the extra income much more than Fremantle Ports do.

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

 

MEMBER FOR FREMANTLE ABSEILS FOR CHILDREN’S CHARITY

Posted in charity, children, city of fremantle, disability, parliament, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 16, 2019

 

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We all know that Freo people are very special, even our maligned politicians, and the WA state member for Fremantle Simone McGurk proved that by abseiling the huge Central Park building in Perth to raise money for CAHOOTS.

CAHOOTS runs programs for children and youth with a disability and our Minister for Child Protection went above-well above!- and beyond to support them.

Well done Simone!

Roel Loopers

I can’t post a photo credit unfortunately as it was not supplied on the Facebook post of Simone McGurk.

HIGH STREET PROJECT SECURITY WASTE OF MONEY

Posted in city of fremantle, freight, fremantle port, state government, traffic, Uncategorized by freoview on September 13, 2019

 

One has to wonder why Mainroads is wasting so much money on having 24/7 security guards at the Fremantle High Street Upgrade project. They are now ‘protecting’ bare soil as the homes have been demolished so there is nothing to vandalise or steal.

The formers occupants have stated they will not protest as a deal was done about planting thousands of sapplings to compensate for the loss of trees.

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

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR SENIORS AWARDS

Posted in city of fremantle, community, seniors, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 9, 2019

 

Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray has led the call for nominations ahead of the 2019 WA Seniors Awards.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate the State’s most remarkable seniors, while acknowledging organisations working to improve the lives of older Western Australians.

The awards will recognise both the metropolitan and regional WA Senior of the Year, as well as the WA Age Friendly Local Government of the Year and the WA Age Friendly Business of the Year.

Entries can be lodged by members of the general public or by organisations, with nominations closing at 5pm on October 4, 2019.

The 2019 WA Seniors Awards are presented by the Council on the Ageing (WA) in partnership with the McGowan Government and are promoted as part of WA Seniors Week celebrations, which run from November 10-17.

For more information and to nominate an outstanding senior, visit https://www.cotawa.org.au

 

Roel Loopers

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HIGH STREET UPGRADE DEMOLITION

Posted in city of fremantle, freight, fremantle ports, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 9, 2019

 

 

It did not take long to demolish the service station, houses and Fern along Fremantle’s High Street to make way for the High Street Upgrade project that will see a new roundabout at Stirling Highway and a widening of the road. It will allow for a smoother journey for freight trucks to and from Fremantle Port.

Roel Loopers

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