Freo's View

PROPER TRAINING FOR LOCAL COUNCILLORS A GOOD IDEA

Posted in city of fremantle, local council, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on July 22, 2018

 

Good to read that WA Local Government Minister David Templeman wants local Councillors to get a proper induction. New members would have to complete thorough training for the new job to learn the Local Government Act and financial literacy.

I have expressed my dismay in the past that people nominate to become local Councillors without ever having attended council or council committee meetings. I can not understand at all why people would not do their basic homework on local government before they nominate to manage our cities.

Templeman told the Sunday Times that there have been new Councillors in the past who did find out on the job that it was nothing like they expected, presumably because they did not go to council meetings or read the often very extensive agendas on line before nominating.

It is also a very good initiative by the WA Government that they want to put new legislation in place where they can sack individual council members and do not have to sack all elected members because there are some duds on council.

Roel Loopers

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GIFT DISCLOSURE NEEDS TO BE BETTER IN FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, council, events, fremantle, local government, western australia by freoview on July 18, 2016

I don’t engage in conspiracy accusations about Fremantle Council, but since the declaration of gifts to Elected Members and COF staff is on the F-POL committee meeting this Wednesday I decided to check out the Register on the COF website.

The gift declarations I could view were for the period of July 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 and in that period not a single Councillor has declared they received tickets to concerts. That is even more remarkable since two Councillors; Pemberton and McDonald declared a conflict of interest on the recent Sunset Events/J Shed item because they had received free tickets.

The Mayor and former CEO declared they had received tickets to AFL matches. The Mayor also declared travel and accommodation gifts to seminars.

So who at COF actually monitors the Gift and Travel Register? Is the CEO responsible for it and why are Councillors not reminded about their duty to declare gifts?

This is just another lack of transparency and accountability the community gets so irate about and hence the perception remains that something is not right. Surely this can be improved with an email from the CEO to all Elected Members and staff and someone being made responsible to check that the declarations are made and entered on the Register immediately.

My question to the CEO: How many complimentary free tickets to events were given to Fremantle Councillors in the last 12 months? Who were the Elected Members concerned and why are these gifts not on the Register?

Let’s put a stop to gifts. If Elected Members and staff are required to attend events to monitor and report on them the City of Fremantle should pay for it. That way no one can ever accuse anyone at COF of repaying favours to event organisers.

Roel Loopers

 

GIFTS NO LONGER A GIVEN IN FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, concerts, events, local government, western australia by freoview on July 17, 2016

The Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee-FPOL will on Wednesday debate a new Attendance and Events policy for Elected Members and staff of the City of Fremantle.

Reading the agenda item I am not sure why there is a need for it as Regulation # 12 of the Local Government Regulations of 2007 clearly state what a gift is and what Elected Members are required to do.

The Act states that a Notifiable Gift is one between $ 50 and $ 300 over a six months period and that a Prohibited Gift is one of $ 300 or more by the same person/organisation to an Elected Member over a period of six months. Reading this I wonder why not more Fremantle Councillors have declared a conflict of interest dealing with Sunset Events related items, as two tickets each for two concerts within a six months period clearly would have exceeded $ 300.00 and also is classified as a prohibited gift.

I also believe there is a loophole that needs to be addressed, as legally it could be argued that if events promoter sign a deal with the City of Fremantle that includes free tickets and tickets are distributed by officers to community organisations, Councillors and staff members, those tickets are not directly gifts to Elected Members or staff and hence do not require disclosure and registration on the Gift Register.

That would only create more conspiracy innuendo and  not help transparency and accountability.

Stopping free tickets for Councillors would be the best to stop community suspicion, so why not rotate two elected members per event to monitor what goes on and report back to council or committees. The City pays for these tickets and the community can no longer argue that members get influenced by event operators by getting gifts in the form of tickets.

Roel Loopers

 

SAY G’DAY TO THE COMMUNITY, COUNCILLORS

Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government by freoview on April 5, 2016

There has been quite a bit of argy bargy on social media sites and this blog about the lack of mutual respect between member of the public and Fremantle Councillors. I am sad to observe there is so much real anger in the community toward our elected members by people who feel ignored and taken for granted.

So I want to make a suggestion that is only tiny but I believe very relevant. While the public gallery at Full Council and Council Committee meetings is not often very full with people, it would still be a nice gesture by the Elected Members when they arrive at Chambers to say hello to those in the public gallery. Some Councillors always do, while others never do and ignore the public. It would help to get rid of the perception that some Councillors are arrogant. This is even more important when the gallery is jam packed on the odd occasion.

And when items are debated where the public have made oral submissions on the night it would be nice if those concerns were addressed by the Elected Members, as often they are met with silence as if no one has addressed the Councillors, and those who made the submissions feel ignored. It’s all about courtesy.

From little things big things grow, and that hopefully applies to more mutual respect.

Roel Loopers

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CONCERT JUNKETS FOR COUNCILLORS A NO NO!

Posted in city of fremantle, concerts, council, local government by freoview on March 2, 2016

It appears that Fremantle Councillors were offered free tickets for the Missy Higgins concert at J Shed last Friday. I know that generally the City of Fremantle will make free tickets for one-off events part of the approval process and that those tickets are also offered to charities. All fine and good so far.

I would however disagree if free tickets are given for all concerts at J Shed, as they will have 12 events a year at that venue and there is no reason Councillors need to check out every time how it is run. The first one was fine, but from now on elected members will just have to pay, like the rest of us, and not accept VIP treatment either.

I doubt they get free tickets to all Spareparts Puppet Theatre events or for other venues where regular concerts are being held.

The perception is bad, so get rid off it. I can’t afford buying concert tickets so I miss out on great music, but that is just the reality. Junkets for elected members are basically a bad look, so stop the practice!

Roel Loopers

BRAD VERSUS BROWN FOR FEDERAL FREO?

Posted in elections, fremantle by freoview on February 19, 2016

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone in Fremantle that the West Australian reports today that Freo Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt is contemplating nominating for the federal seat for the Greens if Maritime Union of Australia organiser Chris Brown gets the nod of the Labor Party. Pettitt would not contest the seat if Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson gets the Labor party’s approval.

I believe it would be extremely foolish for the Labor party to believe they will win the seat with just anyone and that the quality and profile of the candidates does not matter. A strong campaign by the Greens and a very good Liberal party candidate will threaten the seat and will make it very hard for the Labor party to hold on to it. Brad Pettitt has a very large supporter base in our city and while it seems unlikely the Greens could win the seat they might just get enough votes to make Labor lose the seat

Fremantle demographics have changed considerably and even a weak candidate like Matthew Hanssen received a substantial percentage of votes for the Liberals at the last election, so the warning lights should be flashing at Labor HQ and they should be very careful to not let internal factional wins become party losses.

With the threat of an early election as early as July it is questionable if Labor would manage to improve the brand awareness and raise the public profile of the largely unknown Chris Brown, while Josh Wilson has been a household name around town for many years and is very well known and respected.

Roel Loopers

 

IS CITY OF FREMANTLE SUPPORTING SITTING COUNCILLORS?

Posted in city of fremantle, elections, local government by freoview on September 15, 2015

pulse

I received the very first City of Fremantle PULSE magazine in the letterbox this morning and am wondering about the timing of it. Only two weeks ago we saw a huge wrap around in the Fremantle Herald spruiking all the great development Fremantle is getting.

Call me a cynic anytime, but is it really coincidental that the City is heavily promoting its achievements and virtues so short before the Local Government Elections, or is this an underhand way of supporting the sitting members by letting the community know how much they have achieved? Maybe the Electoral Commision should have a good look at it.

A recent personal experience where I was talked into not opening a public forum by an Elected Member who lied me straight in the face does not give me much confidence that there is no manipulation going on behind the scenes to keep and support the sitting members, and that would be unacceptable manipulation of the democratic process in Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO!. Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

Authorised and written by Roel Loopers. 5 Maxwell Street. Beaconsfield 6162.

NO PARTY POLICIES ON FREO COUNCIL PLEASE!

Posted in city of fremantle, elections, local government, politics by freoview on August 7, 2015

Interesting to hear another active Greens party member will be standing for the North Fremantle Ward at the October Local Government elections, where long-serving Councillor Robert Fittock’s seat is up for grabs and we don’t know yet if Robert is standing again.

Down Hilton way we also have not heard if Bill Massie will put his hand up again, but already two candidates have announced they will be in the contest. Jeff McDonald and Franc Acocella are both running in that Ward.

I am very much against political party policies and ideologies entering local councils and would hate to see the day when Councillors would vote on party preferences and against proposals put up by Councillors who are members of opposing parties.

Many in the Freo community believe the present Council has too much of a Green ideology and often lacks reality, and it is a worry indeed when sometimes Council acts as Team Freo with Councillor Jon Strachan once applauding the fact that every decision made on the night had been unanimous. Fremantle Council does not have many passionate debates where Councillors attack each other, unlike Melville, Subiaco, Vincent, etc. where there can be a lot of aggression between elected members.

Local Government Elected Members should not bring party policies to local council. I don’t want my Council to be Labor, Liberal, Green or National, but individuals who represent their voters.

To hear North Freo candidate Roslyn Drayton say she will be closely aligned with Brad Pettitt and Rachel Pemberton, worries me, when Simon Naber already votes with those two, and so do David Cougan and Andrew Sulivan. It would only take one more Green member on Freo Council for them to have the majority and should Jon Strachan remain on Council that would be the case.

My concerns are not against the Greens, but in general about any political preference having a majority on Council. I believe to have true community representation and democracy we need truly independent people on Freo Council, who are not aligned with political parties of any colour. Most of all we need people who will deeply listen to community opinion and concerns and who do not treat community consultation as tokenism.

Roel Loopers

ESSENTIAL FOR COMMUNITY TO TAKE PART IN COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on June 17, 2015

In four months from now the Local Government elections will be held, so it is time for committed Fremantle residents to step up and nominate in September because it is not acceptable that some wards went uncontested at the last elections

We have the situation that Councillors have not been voted for and simply continue after their four-year-term is over just because no one opposes them. That should not be mistaken as an endorsement for their efforts, as it is basically community complacency. We can’t blame the Councillors who get elected by default for that, but a large section of the community who don’t care who will represent them.

Local Government is real grassroots democracy where the community can have a direct influence on where the city is going. That requires Elected Members to take community consultation serious and act upon it instead of satisfying their own agendas, as they rightly or wrongly often get criticised for.

We often hear in politics about mandates but with just 40 per cent of eligible voters participating in the last Freo election that mandate for Fremantle, and other Councils with even less voter participation, is on shaky ground.

Politicians sometimes claim to represent the silent majority, but how do elected members know what the silent majority wants when that alleged majority never participates in community consultation sessions, or attend Council and Committee meetings?

If the silent majority can’t be bothered to participate in the democratic process, and if they are too complacent to even vote, where does that leave our Councils? They don’t represent the majority of the community when only the so-called noisy minority send in their ballot papers and vote for the people they believe will best represent them. I find that a quite uncomfortable and unacceptable situation, because more than any other form of government Local Councils need community input to represent us best and stand up for us to State Government.

As someone who was too young to vote while in the Netherlands, and not allowed to vote for thirteen years as a foreigner in Germany, I was very keen to become an Australian resident in 1985 and receive the privilege and responsibility to vote. While I often find governance at all levels puzzling and very frustrating, I believe we should all take the opportunity to vote and hope to get the best possible governments.

Only we the voters can force the changes we want by replacing those Elected Members we have not been impressed with and replace them with people we believe might do a better job. It’s our chance to make a difference!

Voting is a privilege so embrace your democratic right in October, or better even, nominate for Council!

Roel Loopers

I AM NOT THE CITY OF FREMANTLE’S ENEMY!

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on March 11, 2015

The very likeable City of Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie was a bit upset with me after the Transformational Moves info session last night, so I’d like to make a few points.

I have no personal agenda against the COF officers or elected members and do not set out to be negative about them and engage in City bashing. I am not the enemy of the City of Fremantle. All I want is the best for the city I love.

I started this Freo’s View blog to make a difference and be part of the problem solving and solution creating. I wanted a forum where the community can connect and where I can publish information about events and businesses and provide commentary on Council issues.

I probably agree with Graeme that it is unrealistic to expect perfection in a large organisation such as the COF, but I don’t think it is unrealistic to expect professionalism and the right aptitude. The large majority of COF staff do good work but, as in other organisations, there is some dead wood who think it is just good enough to turn up for work, and that needs to be trimmed or told to lift their game. I don’t believe it is unreasonable, aggressive or negative that this blog points that out now and then.

I never ever deliberately put wrong information on this blog and if I get it wrong I acknowledge and correct that as soon as I have been made aware of my mistakes. Everyone has the opportunity to post comments to this blog as long as they are not defamatory or racist. I am a strong believer in the principles of fairness, balance and integrity, and while I might attack the professional position and decision-making I do not intend to unfairly attack individual officers. All I ask for is better integration, communication and coordination between departments at the COF, were one hand sometimes does not know what the other hand is doing.

I like Freo’s CEO laid-back persona, sense of humour and have absolutely nothing against him as a person, but I do believe the City’s administration can lift their game a bit and it’s the CEO’s job to initiate that. Go Graeme! ; >) (Coffee on me for a nice chat soon!)

Roel Loopers

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