Fifteen years ago today on November 7, 1999 over 10,000 people engaged in the big beach towel wave at Leighton Beach. The event was organised by the Leighton Action Coalition that had Fremantle people such as Paul Gamblin, Sue Harrington and now councillor Andrew Sullivan on its committee. It was a great spectacle that I remember fondly because it was such a great display of community passion and people power.
State Government subsequently changed its plans for the area and we were promised a large public park and the realignment of Curtin Avenue, but nothing has eventuated since and we now hear the project has been delayed till 2017 because the Barnett government has mismanaged the State’s finances.
It is a real shame nothing has happened as there is a great opportunity to make the area an outstanding destination for locals and tourists alike, but sadly we have a government that is Perth CBD centric and Fremantle appears the last place on earth they want to invest money in.
The way people take part in the democratic process intrigues me. I can understand the cynicism about federal and state parliaments, as the immature kindergarten behaviour of elected members is certainly not something that instills confidence. Oppositions say no as a matter of principle to anything the government proposes and vice versa.
At local level in Fremantle and other councils, where it is not political party orientated, it is more of a NIMBY democracy, and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. It is just that most people only turn up at council and committee meetings when items are on the agenda that concern their own backyard. Rarely do people turn up who have an interest in the common good and want to participate in making Fremantle a better place for all.
This often results in comments and questions which are based on ignorance, as the process of local governance is not understood, and more or less the same questions are asked and the same accusations are made time and time again.
For example, some people who oppose the planning scheme change for McCabe Street in North Fremantle claim that the City would never allow buildings of such height in the CBD. Where were they just about two years ago when the local papers were full of people protesting against Planning Scheme Amendment 49, that allows for substantially higher buildings in the inner city? Do people care so little about the rest of the City that they can’t be bothered to inform themselves about what goes on in other parts of town? Have we become so self-centred that what happens in the west end is of no concern to those who live in the east, north or south of Freo?
I enjoy going to council and committee meetings and listening to the discussions. I want to see for myself how elected members reach conclusions and why they vote for or against them. I am impressed to see how well-informed most of them are and how hard they try to make what they believe are the right decisions. None of them are flippant or pretend to have all the knowledge, and often Councillors will seek last minute clarifications from officers who attend the meetings.
Local government is very complex and it is also very difficult because the councillors who make the decisions live in our community. They are our friends, acquaintances and local business people. It’s impossible for them to please all and they have to rely on the expert advise officers give them. One can detect the frustration sometimes for the unthankful task, but the process is fascinating and I recommend to observe it for yourself. Take part, because democracy is all of us!
Ten years ago today, after a massive community campaign that we all played a part in, Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop went to Coral Bay and announced that the marina resort proposed for Mauds Landing at Ningaloo Reef would not proceed.
It was an historic win, not just for Ningaloo and WA’s marine life, but also for ordinary folk taking action together and prevailing against the odds. I well remember the thousands who marched through Fremantle on a sunny day, the passionate speeches by Freo author Tim Winton and the strong desire by the community to not allow the destruction of this pristine part of our natural heritage.
Community actions like the Ningaloo campaign the Save Our Beaches and many others have always inspired me personally to stand up and speak out.
Congratulations to all who were involved in saving Ningaloo!
Great work by Fremantle MP Melissa Parke resulted today in Environment Minister Tony Burke announcing in Canberra that the Dutch supertrawler Magiris, recently renamend to Abel Tasman, will not be allowed to hunt for fish in Australian waters for at least two years, until a scientific study has been conducted on the impact of the huge fishing vessel.
There were protests all over Australia against the supertrawler, two recently in Fremantle and one in Perth. People power and community outrage demanded that our politicians would not allow the trawler to operate in Australia, and they listened.
The Perth Gatekeepers remain busy protesting against the Perth Waterfront Project, one of Western Australia’s Premier Colin Barnett‘s monuments for his own grandeur, so here a message from architect Linley Lutton about the next action this Saturday:
We are starting our campaign to re-empower the community by demanding a better waterfront plan.
Our first public gathering will be held this coming Saturday morning.
The aim is to let this government know that our community does not support their plan and they continue at their peril
We will all meet in the Supreme Court Gardens near Riverside Drive at 10.00 a.m. We only have a short walk to the target site where we will be for 1 – 2 hours. We will be sitting on grass. I will advise the media the day before.
There will be no speeches. We will walk in silence, not obstructing the traffic and if the police ask us to move on we will do so. We will not be breaking the law so this can be a family gathering. We will be making our point simply by our presence in large numbers.
You are welcome to bring your own banners and placards. We will have some large banners announcing our major community rally at Parliament House in June and inviting people to join our fight. Please make sure you wear your red T shirt, jumper or jacket.
If it is raining heavily, then assume the gathering is cancelled.
We also have a further gathering planned for the week after but in a different and very strategic location in the city.
I am convinced we can get this government to stop and rethink this awful plan but we need numbers to show that the majority do not support their actions. Our numbers will grow from the publicity we gain from these gatherings.
Now that the fight for sane and sensible development in Fremantle has been lost, we can try to get sanity back in the Perth foreshore development, by demanding the Barnett government changes the plans for that part of the city.
Join the rally against the foreshore development tomorrow, Sunday February 26 at 11 am on the Perth Esplanade!
Join the People’s Rally against the Perth foreshore development this Sunday February 26 at 11 am on the Perth Esplanade Reserve. organised by the CITY GATEKEEPERS, a group of prominent Perth architects and city planners.
We in Fremantle know all about crap planning, which is what our council is doing at present by trying to force Planning Scheme 49 down our throats, although the majority of Fremantle residents are against it. So much for democracy!
The People’s Rally is not only against the Perth foreshore plans, but against all the unacceptable development plans by our State and Local Governments. Too much of it is proposed and too much of it will destroy the character of our suburbs and cities. It needs to be stopped!!
Please join me and members of the Fremantle Society at the rally!!
Work started this morning on resurfacing Captain’s Lane, the path that leads to the Round House and is being used by hundreds of tourists daily. I believe it is a sign the City of Fremantle listens and acts when residents contact them about issues they have.
We up here in the West End and also the Fremantle Society had asked for necessary upgrades, even more so when one of the committee members broke a leg due to the unevenness of the pathway. The existing surface is being removed and Limecrete poured during the next days, which will create better access to weddings near the Round House for wheelchairs and women wearing high heels.
I’d rather report on positive things like this than pointing out what is amiss around town, so well done Freo!
Forget Egypt and the overthrow of Mubarak. People power is strong here in Fremantle as well. 3>)
When my friend Mark Randell told me some weeks ago there was no on/off ramp for his gopher and wheelchairs near the new Tasty @ B Shed cafe on Victoria Quay, I thought to let the people at Fremantle Ports know that there was a problem, and contacted External Affairs manager Ainsie de Vos. She promised to pass it on to the relevant department.
What a lovely surprise then to see yesterday that the port has now put a small ramp next to the cafe. I reckon that is good corporate citisenship, and it also shows we can change the world, if only little by little. From small ramps big ramps grow.