It is interesting to read Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s call in the media today for the State Government to introduce cut off boundaries for development to stop urban sprawl, which Brad Pettitt says is unsustainable. The WA government already has an infill policy but that is contested at almost every local council.
The Cambridge Mayor who supported infill was defeated at the recent local government election by someone strongly opposing it, while the City of Nedlands also believes it should be exempt from infill to preserve it’s character and identity.
The Property Council claims that infill development is more expensive and that stops it from building affordable housing in established suburbs. That contradicts what the Fremantle Mayor is claiming about Freo’s inner city development and that “It is about offering real good housing choice.” There is no proof though that Fremantle is doing any better at providing more affordable and social housing than other councils.
I agree that urban sprawl is not sustainable, but the Great Australian Dream of a house with garden is still very much alive and part of our culture, so who is going to force people into inner city apartments when most of them are not suitable for families, or for couples who want to have children, and most apartments don’t allow pets either.
New development on the periphery should also include medium and high density and not just blocks with single or two-storey homes, as that would start helping reduce the urban sprawl. At the end of the day we are all paying for the infrastructure to the outer suburbs, so maybe people willing to live in inner city apartments should get cheaper housing or rates, or those who want the Great Aussie Dream need to pay a premium to live the dream.
I am expecting the Fremantle Mayor to give us a detailed, and hopefully factual, account on how well Freo is doing with affordable housing soon, as he promised to do it by the weekend in response to a previous blog post here earlier this week.
It is bewildering to me and extremely disappointing that so few people voted in the Fremantle local government election and I wonder what the reasons are. Do people believe democracy and politics are only relevant at State and Federal level or are they even more cynical about local politics than they are about the bigger leagues?
In the Beaconsfield Ward I stood for there were 3,539 eligible voters but fewer than 900 bothered to vote and I don’t believe that is acceptable and the State Government needs to change the rules.
What mandate do the successful candidates bring into the Council chambers around Perth when only a few hundred people supported them but the majority did not vote? How relevant does that make Local Government and who are the Councillors representing when the much larger part of the community did not vote for them?
People say that at least those who vote will have an informed view, but I believe that is unfair to those who did not vote. Most people in our society have political views and they write letters to editors and call talkback radio and many are members of political parties, so those who don’t vote are not the stupid uninformed silent majority, so why their complacency?
It was suggested to me that local councils should give people incentives to vote by giving them a rate reduction, but I don’t believe that buying voters is a good idea. Is postal voting supporting laziness, should the State make voting for councils compulsory? I don’t have the answers but I hope there is a way of getting many more voters to participate in two years from now.
And to Dour Johnson who told me it is now time to get back into my small box, and who find this blog irritating, and no doubt other who are rubbing their hands in glee that I did not win last night, let me assure you that I will not go away but will continue to make a positive contribution to my community.
Those who sit on their arse and never step up, but criticise people like me who selflessly give many hours a week to our community, are as pathetic as those people who could not be bothered to vote.
I am very proud of what I do for Fremantle and my personal endeavour to make Freo and even better place to live and work in, and to visit will continue!