Freo's View

REPORTING KINGS SQUARE REALITY IS NOT NEGATIVITY

Posted in city of fremantle, sirona capital by freoview on June 25, 2015

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My request for a statement from Sirona Capital about the Department of Housing not moving to Fremantle’s Kings Square has received a surprisingly negative reaction from Managing Director Matthew McNeily. He texted that his comments were not for publication and while I don’t have to I will respect that. McNeilly does not seem to want to accept my assurances that I am all for the Kings Square development. I participated in all the community workshops and citizen jury about it because I wanted the best possible outcome for Fremantle.

Surely it is my right to express my concerns about the delay as that is also a deep concern for the Freo community and business sector. The Kings Square development is vital for the economic recovery of our city, so I and many others take a deep interest in it because we want a positive outcome for Fremantle.

So let me quote from the ABC article I based yesterday’s blog post on and ask what is negative about what I wrote.

In the Legislative Counci at a budget estimates hearing “Housing Minister Colin Holt backed away from the Government’s previous commitment to relocate the Department of Housing to Fremantle.”

“The Department currently occupies four different buildings in the CBD and has expressed its desire to consolidate into one.”

“Officials said a move to new premises was not expected in the next three years.”

So what is negative and not factual about the blog post I wrote after last night’s Council meeting? Shooting the messenger won’t get Sirona’s partnership Kings Square project with the City of Fremantle off the ground, so why don’t Sirona and COF now tell us what your Plan, B, or C, or D is for the Kings Square development.

McNeilly and the Fremantle Mayor have told me in the past that there are alternative plans, so give us the chance to write something positive, because I would dearly and sincerely love to write a really good and positive article about exciting greatness that is going to happen at our civic square. The Freo community has been waiting a long time for it.

Claiming I am negative about the development is factually wrong. I am excited about the Kings Square development but it can’t be on hold indefinitely because Fremantle needs revitalisation NOW, not in ten years when it will be too late for many businesses in town.

Roel Loopers

MUA JOINS PERTH FREIGHT LINK PROTEST

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on June 25, 2015

The first of many protests against the Perth Freight Link Roe 8 highway was held at Pioneer Park yesterday afternoon to coincide with Fremantle Council officially opposing the PFL at full council meeting. It is interesting to note that the powerful MUA(Maritime Union of Australia) has joined the more than twenty community groups who are now all collaborating their actions.

Elected Members expressed their concern about Premier Colin Barnett’s statement in the Sunday Times that Fremantle Council should not bite the hand that feeds it, with Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson calling it outrageous. Councillor Dave Hume warned that “Colin may come down upon us” whilst Mayor Brad Pettitt said there were better options than the proposed PFL.

Councillor Sam Wainwright who had organised the protest march to the Town Hall said “To its credit this council is unified on sustainable transport solutions”

The next protest will be held this Sunday morning at 9.30 am on the corner of Stock and Winterfold roads in Cooolbellup.

Roel Loopers

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING NOT MOVING TO FREO’S KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, sirona capital by freoview on June 24, 2015

W.A. Premier Colin Barnett was not bluffing when he told the Sunday Times the City of Fremantle should not bite the hand that feeds it, in response to the City’s opposition to the Perth Freight Link. Today the Minister for Housing announced that the government was no longer committed to moving the Department of Housing to Fremantle.

This is a huge set back for the essential Kings Square development that is the heart and soul of the revitalisation of the CBD. The Fremantle community can now only hope that Sirona Capital has got a great Plan B for the Myer building and that they can make a start on it very fast, as the delay of the Kings Square development has been a worry for some time now.

Mayor Brad Pettitt promised to give me the City’s response to the announcement tomorrow and I have also contacted Sirona Capital to find out their reaction to the disappointing, but not surprising, announcement. Of course the Fremantle community would love to know what other plans Sirona has got in the pipeline for Kings Square.

Like many of the Councillors who spoke at Council tonight I am hugely disappointed about the bully behaviour of the Premier of this State, who appears to have forgotten that Fremantle Council was democratically elected and represents our community. They have every right to speak out against piecemeal proposals such as the PFL, and it is highly inappropriate for the Premier to behave like a dictator and tell Fremantle to shut up or we wont support you.

Premier, Western Australia is still a democracy and if you don’t like it you might like to migrate to South America or somewhere on the African continent where dictatorial bullies still roam around.

Roel Loopers

CARBON EMISSION SHOULD BE PART OF FREIGHT LINK DEBATE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, perth freight link by freoview on June 24, 2015

fremantle port

There are optimists who believe Fremantle and the other affected southern suburbs can win the fight against the proposed Perth Freight Link, but I believe we should not just concentrate on that. As regular comment writer on this blog Diana Ryan suggested to me we should also push our State Government to set Carbon Emission Standards for trucks, as other port cities in Australia are doing. It is also big on the agenda of US President Obama to reduce residue from trucks and make them more fuel efficient.

There are so many opinions on the PFL and if it will be road or tunnel or both, and if it will be for trucks only or for general traffic as well, that it is quite confusing, even more so because some people want to get political mileage from it while others push their ideology.

For me the City of Fremantle commissioned $ 20,000 report on the PFL was a bit disappointing as I read it that the authors want freight to go on rail and hence found reasons why the PFL can’t work. I would have preferred a report by engineers pointing out alternative solutions instead of an ideology driven one.

Tell the people along the western corridor of Fremantle that we should drastically increase container transport to Fremantle Port by rail and double stack and they tell you to stick the idea somewhere, because they like the noise and inconvenience as much as those in the east of the city like the noise and fumes of trucks.

Even if we achieved to get 30 per cent of container transport on rail we would still have to cope with and find solutions for the 70 per cent that will continue to come on trucks by road. Setting carbon emission standards and reducing pollution would be a start. We then have to start pushing our state and federal governments to stop the idiocy of spending billions on roads when freight rail and public transport needs to be prioritised. Didn’t Bill Shorten announce yesterday that Labor have colluded with the Abbot governments so that many many billions of dollars can be spend on country roads? What about spending a lot of that money on rail instead, so that products from the country to the cities don’t have to go on trucks and roads!

Yesterday a truck full of grain flipped on its side in suburban Perth and that shows we are increasing the likelihood of road carnage with more and more trucks on their way to and from the port. Common sense needs to prevail and that is more likely to happen if we don’t politicise the issue and not make it an anti Liberal, anti Barnett, and anti Abbott campaign.

Will Labor’s Mark McCowan scrap the Perth Freight Link and the sale of Fremantle Port should he win the next election?

Roel Loopers

FREO CITY DISCUSSION PAPER ON SALE OF PORT

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports by freoview on June 18, 2015

The following discussion paper about the sale of Fremantle Port and the impact of the Perth Freight Link by City of Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie is very long for a blog but I believe the issue is extremely important for Fremantle and surrounding cities, so it is well worth reading what the CEO of our city will present to Council next Wednesday:

CITY OF FREMANTLE

Sale of Fremantle Port Discussion Paper

IntroductionThis discussion paper looks at the issues that arise from the recent announcement by the state government that it will sell the Fremantle Port operations to a private sector operator through a competitive process. Whilst the City of Fremantle may have views on the merits or otherwise of public sector versus private sector operators of key state infrastructure, this paper does not make comment on this point, but rather focusses on the local implications for Fremantle.

This paper is also prepared on the understanding that improved transport infrastructure is planned and will be built in the next 2-5 years to improve the landside transport capacity and therefore longevity of the port of Fremantle as a working port. The decision to sell the port to a private operator is likely to be predicated on a much increased dockside operating capacity, supported by the increased transport capacity, in order to attract the best possible return to the state government through the disposal. Therefore the proposed Perth Freight Link project is integral to the discussion about the proposed sale of the port.

Background and ContextThe City of Fremantle’s vision for the future of Fremantle includes the retention of the Fremantle inner harbour as a working port. Projections for growth port container trade expect a doubling by 2028 to 1.4 million TEU’s, which is estimated to be the maximum capacity of the Fremantle port to handle container trade. The port also handles other bulk cargos such as motor vehicles and livestock.

Perth Freight LinkThe state government, with the assistance of the federal government, is proposing a “Perth Freight Link” (PFL) to increase the road capacity into and out of the Fremantle Port by the creation of a freeway standard road between the port and the Perth Airport, and ultimately linking to a larger road network of similar standard. The PFL as currently articulated by the state government has a project budget of $1.6 billion.

A major flaw in the PFL plans as currently articulated is that there are no planned or funded works on the north side of the Swan River or for the Canning Highway intersection to improve the efficiency of either rail or road transport functions into the inner harbour. This creates a major congestion point at the Fremantle end of the PFL at the Stirling Highway/Canning Highway intersection. This is a major community amenity issue for the City of Fremantle and the Town of East Fremantle which can only get worse with the projected growth in trade and the lack of alternative options to support the inner harbour.

Whilst, there have been statements that the government is currently working on plans to complete the PFL into the inner harbour to resolve the river crossing and North Fremantle issues, the state budget makes no provision for further funding beyond that which has already been allocated.

The construction of improved freight transport infrastructure (in any form) to the port should have positive implications for the longevity of the inner harbour as a working port – a position that the City at the highest strategic level would currently support. However, how that infrastructure is designed impacts local amenity and the local economy of Fremantle to varying, mostly negative, degrees and is therefore problematic. In fact, Council may ultimately reconsider its long term strategic vision of maintaining a working port in the inner harbour. The City’s position on the PFL is currently being considered and is subject to separate reports.

Sale of the Port

It is well known that the state government budget position is weak, running a significant deficit budget and record levels of debt. In an attempt to bring the budget into a more positive position the government announced in May 2015 that it would sell (read long term lease) the Fremantle Port operation to the private sector, with a sale price expectancy of $1.5 – $2.0 billion.

This announcement came as a very big surprise to the City of Fremantle and to the community. In fact, earlier that very same week the Council had met with the Board of Fremantle Ports who stated that they were not the subject of a government sell off, suggesting that even the Board of Fremantle Ports were unaware that this announcement was coming.

Subsequently, the announcement was not supported by any detail as to the scope of the sale or the process for the sale to occur.

Immediately following the announcement, the City wrote to the state Treasurer seeking a meeting with relevant state government Minister/s to clarify a number of questions that immediately came to mind. The City is yet to receive a reply to that correspondence.

Given a little more time and now with the benefit of input from elected members and staff, further questions and issues have been identified which this paper will address. In order to bring this paper together in a coherent manner, the issues have been grouped together and should therefore assist in focussing discussion on the important issues.

Discussion

The Disposal Process – Key Issues

  • Sale or lease? If a lease what term of lease is the government considering?
  • Is it only the operational areas of the port being considered for sale/lease? Is there an opportunity to review the ports operational area?
  • Is the Fremantle Ports Administration building part of the sale/lease?
  • What happens to the non-operational areas of the port?
  • Will the State consult and involve affected regional local governments in the development of the approach and process for leasing Fremantle Port?

 The question is asked whether the government intends to sell the port with all its assets including freehold land, or whether it is intending to lease. It is presumed that the transaction will be a leasing transaction, since this has been what’s occurred in other states in Australia but the point needs to be clarified.

The key questions then relate to lease scope and conditions. In terms of scope – is this a lease of container operations only, all port operations (including other bulk trade, passenger and naval visits), or all current Fremantle Ports responsibilities including non-operational activities? The implications are quite different under each scenario.

The next key question for Fremantle relates to the term of a lease. Any lease would commit the state government to utilising the inner harbour as a working port for at least the term of the lease. Clearly the longer the term, the greater the certainty for Fremantle that it will have to live with and manage port impacts, positive and negative, across the city. This then influences the City’s thinking on current and future transport links, particularly the PFL.

It is expected that the lease will be for all port operations, but will exclude non-operational areas, which leads to questions about development, management and control of those non-operational areas (dealt with separately).

 Stakeholder Relationships – Key Issues

  • Relationship between Fremantle Ports and the City of Fremantle
  • Continuation of the Inner Harbour Community Liaison Group
  • What provision in the lease contract will be made for ongoing and formal consultation between the State, local government and the lessee on community and interface issues?

It is recognised that Fremantle Ports is a quasi-government agency that operates within a commercial framework set out in legislation. Fremantle Ports is viewed in the community as a public sector agency, not a private sector agency, and as such has a degree of social responsibility that is not always evident in private sector companies.

This status provides the City of Fremantle with a level of comfort that it can negotiate and influence to some extent the manner in which the port interacts and integrates with the city. Over time, the City and Fremantle Ports have built a very strong relationship that will be put at risk when the port operations are devolved to a private operator, which in turn puts at risk the City’s influence over how the port interacts and works with the City for mutually beneficial outcomes.

It is also recognised the FP has a long established “Inner Harbour Community Liaison Group” which meets quarterly with senior port officers to discuss issues of importance to the broader community on port developments and operations. This may also be at risk under privatised arrangements.

Strategic Plans – Key Issues

  • How will the development of the outer harbour be pursued/planned/controlled under any lease arrangement? Will the lease place any rights or obligations on the purchaser for the construction and/or operation of an outer harbour? What is the timeframe for the construction of an outer harbour in Cockburn Sound?
  • To what extent will the State’s current strategic plans for metropolitan ports and associated land and access arrangements be maintained by the State and applied in the lease negotiations? Will the State continue its responsibility to plan, facilitate and fund the necessary land assets and service infrastructure to support metropolitan port operations?

To quote from the Newman and Hendrigan report on the PFL – “there has been a long range bipartisan strategic plan to manage growth in freight involving a transition to the outer harbour.” The proposed lease of the inner harbour together with the PFL places uncertainty on this strategic path.

There is a significantly greater risk of a private operator stretching the throughput capacity of the Fremantle port causing a delay in the construction of an outer harbour. Whilst estimates of the capacity of Fremantle port are 1.2 – 1.4 million TEU’s (predicted to be reached by 2028), it is not unreasonable to think that capacity could be increased to 2 million TEU’s with improved technologies in container handling and improved portside logistics. Unfortunately this could be done but without due regard to community impacts, unless the lease terms set clear parameters or limits on trade.

One would expect it would be in the government’s interest to allow this stretch in capacity as it could to provide a greater financial return to the government through the ability to offer a longer term lease.

The key long term future of the inner harbour as a functional working port that does not unduly have negative impacts on community amenity and lifestyle is the opening of a second port to serve the metropolitan area of Perth.

Planning and Development Controls – Key Issues

  • Which agency becomes responsible for planning over non-operational port areas, either within or outside of the lease?
  • What happens to the proposed commercial development on Victoria Quay? Who takes control of progressing that and other developments?
  • Will the City be given any planning control over the non-operational port areas?
  • To what extent would a lessee be required to consult with local government for development approvals?
  • What are the implications for the planning buffer zone and for the future development of the disused tanks area in North Fremantle?

Whilst the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is currently the responsible planning authority for development decisions on non-operational areas of the port, and it is expected that agency would retain that authority, there is an opportunity to “normalise” planning controls to the City of Fremantle. This of course depends on the extent of exclusion/inclusion in a lease of non-operational areas.

There exists a window of opportunity for the government to transfer planning controls of the areas of the port that are excluded from the lease to the City and the City should advocate to government for this to occur.

In the event non-operational areas are not included in a lease, the key question for the City is who “owns” those areas and who drives development of those areas? Without Fremantle Ports working with the City to develop non-operational areas for commercial and community uses there is a strong likelihood that those areas will remain undeveloped for years to come and all of the City’s desires for development of that precinct with strong links to the city centre will be put indefinitely on hold.

There is also concern about the “tanks” area in North Fremantle. The WAPC, Fremantle Ports, and the City have cooperatively initiated a structure planning exercise over this area. Fremantle Ports owns land in this precinct also and has been a willing partner in the exercise. Fears again exist about this potential redevelopment area falling away as a priority.

Transport Infrastructure – Key Issues

  • Will the lease terms impose a maximum number of containers for the inner harbour and if so what will that be?
  • Is the government going to maintain its commitment to 30% freight on rail, and will that be included in lease terms?
  • Will the lessee be obligated to fund any access infrastructure as part of the lease contract?

Without going into the merits or otherwise of the Perth Freight Link, there are a couple of key questions that relate directly to the proposed sale/lease. The City has long advocated for more freight to be moved by rail in preference to road, and despite not reaching much more than 50% of the target rate, the government remains committed to transporting some of the freight by rail. This is being achieved through a financial subsidy from the government.

The current percentage of freight on rail varies monthly between 13% and 17%, averaging close to 15% per annum against a target of 30% total freight on rail. The City needs assurances that the government will require as much freight as possible to be moved on rail through contractual requirements in a lease. Without this, there is a potential for rail to cease operating with all freight being moved into and out of the port on road. This exacerbates a range of problems identified in the PFL Report prepared for council.

As identified above, the City is absolutely clear that the outer harbour construction is the best solution to minimising the impacts of freight transport into and out of the inner harbour as it allows a capping of throughput in the inner harbour at a manageable level. That cap needs to be set by government within the lease reflecting the volume of freight that can be moved by road. Total throughput may be increased if the quantity of freight moved on rail is increased, providing of course that the level of rail disruption is managed.

Tourism – Key Issues

  • What happens to the collaborative approach to cruise ship passenger management between the City and the Port?
  • Are the ferry terminals and E-Shed Markets impacted by the sale/lease?
  • Who takes over the parking contracts at the port?
  • Is there still a commitment to the Maritime Museum?

 The cruise ship industry has grown significantly in the past decade to a point where over 100,000 passengers went through the passenger terminal in the 2014/15 season. During this time the City and FP have worked together to provide the best possible visitor experience for embarking and disembarking passengers. For Fremantle this means easy movement into and out of the city centre, access to visitor information and generally a better visitor experience. This in turn provides a reputational benefit for Fremantle and evidence indicates local businesses benefit by having more passengers staying in Fremantle instead of taking day trips into Perth, the Swan Valley or even Margaret River.

This benefit is at a very high risk of being lost in the move to a private port operation. In fact, even the work that FP has done to attract cruise ships and manage the competing demands for space between cruise ships and the vehicle imports at the terminal is at risk. FP has done a lot of work with the cruise ship industry to attract these visits, and it is understood the terminal fees for these are much less than the fees for commercial shipping. Where does a private operator put their priority for visitation?

Recently the City lost the management contract for parking at Victoria Quay. The contract was awarded to Wilson Parking because they offered a significantly better return to FP than the City was able to offer. Whilst that is accepted, in discussions with FP they were acutely aware of maintaining a fee regime in line with City policy, including fines which are particularly important for Fremantle’s reputation as a visitor destination. The potential for a future contract to be awarded without regard to these factors and being purely for best financial return could be damaging. This is a matter that needs attention.

 Other Issues

  • What arrangements will be made for visiting defence vessels?
  • Will the operator be obligated to pay council rates?

It would be expected that the government would ensure that visiting naval ships were managed with appropriate security and that appropriate civic arrangements were in place for each visit, but it is something worth raising with government because Fremantle is a destination that many international sailors value as a port for R&R. Again, if not managed properly Fremantle reputation suffers.

Finally, there is the key question of whether the City will benefit directly by having the operator being required to pay council rates. Fremantle Ports as a government agency is exempt from rates for land it occupies, although it does pay rates for land it leases for commercial purposes as part of port operations.

There are many other issues for the state government to consider in preparing for a lease of the Fremantle port to a private operator. Whilst many of these issues may be of general interest, it is not the purpose of this discussion paper to address those issues that are a responsibility of the state and have little or no impact on Fremantle. There needs to be a level of trust that the state government will, if a lease is awarded, have protected its interests in the transaction. The following links to information about proposed lease of the Ports of Melbourne and Darwin provide a lot of information on such matters.

Melbourne Port

Norton Rose Fulbright have a 2014 document on privatisation of the Melbourne Port at http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/publications/116595/privatisation-of-port-of-melbourne-australia .

 Darwin Port

A recent document (April 2015) for the privatisation of the Port of Darwin is at http://www.nt.gov.au/lant/parliamentary-business/committees/pod/Port_of_Darwin_Report.pdf .

 However, of note are a couple of interesting comments from the ACCC about disposal of government assets to the private sector.

“Benefits from privatisation will be maximised where there is strong potential for competition or where, in the absence of competition due to monopoly or near monopoly characteristics, there is sufficient regulatory oversight to ensure that competition in upstream or downstream markets is not hindered” (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Privatisation of State and Territory Assets and New Infrastructure, p.4) and

“Without an adequate regulatory regime (covering access and/or pricing) monopoly infrastructure service providers would be capable of earning monopoly profits or foreclosing competition. Benefits would therefore flow to investors, at the expense of users of the asset and, ultimately, end consumers. Inadequate economic regulation can also dampen investment in markets that depend on access to the monopoly asset, thereby denying at least some of the benefits the community could obtain from greater competition.” (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Privatisation of State and Territory Assets and New Infrastructure, p.4)

Similarly, a quote from Infrastructure Australia is also very pertinent:

“As a maritime nation, Australia’s ports are an important gateway for goods and for our defence. Consequently, ports and associated infrastructure are of the utmost economic and social importance to Australia” (Infrastructure Australia, National Ports Strategy, Australian Government, Sydney, NSW, 2011, p. 6)

Recommendation

There are clearly a range of implications for Fremantle that should be addressed by the state government as it establishes details of its disposal process for the port of Fremantle. It is recommended that a workshop be held with elected members and key staff to facilitate the preparation of a submission for government on agreed matters following adoption of the council’s position on the PFL at the June Council meeting.

Graeme McKenzie. CEO City of Fremantle

FREIGHT LINK COSTS MORE BUT TAKES LONGER

Posted in city of fremantle, perth freight link by freoview on June 18, 2015

The ad-hoc, piecemeal shambles Perth Freight Link was on the City of Fremantle agenda last night and at next week’s Full Council no doubt will make an official stand against it, because the impact on Fremantle would be horrendous with walls of up to 30 metres protecting the community from noise that will separate whole suburbs and might even involve cutting-off direct access to Fremantle from the east at Canning Highway.

The PFL is an absolute planning disaster that is supposed to start in March next year, but there is still no agreement on the route it will take, if parts will be tunnelled, if the traffic bridge will be duplicated and doubled and how they are going to avoid huge traffic congestion in North Fremantle.

Councillor Dave Hume said “it does not solve ONE problem” but “This is not unstoppable!” and he pointed out the ridiculousness that the trip on the toll road would actually take half a minute longer than trucks using Leach Highway for free, according to the report by CUSP’s Peter Newman and Col Hendrigan. Why would truck drivers pay for the privilege of using a toll road that will not make their journey faster and then end up in a bottleneck in North Freo where they might be stuck for long periods? It beggars believe that the State Government, with financial support from Canberra, even entertains the thought of the ridiculous plan.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the tollroad will not just be for trucks but also for the general public, so traffic jams will occur and trucks will get delayed, so what is the use of it all when it is supposed to speed up the trip to the, privately operated, port?

The Barnett government should be ashamed of considering a toll road before spending money on increasing freight by rail and the Federal Government should not waste taxpayers’ money on the PFL but Stop the Trucks!

Roel Loopers

HOW CAN WE IMPROVE OUR GREEN URBAN SPACES?

Posted in city of fremantle, esplanade, nature by freoview on June 15, 2015

Friends and I were talking on the weekend about the Fremantle Esplanade reserve draft Masterplan and the problems associated with accommodating people enjoying it, allowing for events to be staged on the reserve, and looking after the grass and trees. We wondered if large green open spaces are still sustainable in our changing climate where we receive a lot less rain than in the past and have a dryer and hotter climate to deal with.

Most people don’t want more concrete in parks but designated walkways on the Esplanade, which will protect the grass, and extending the mulched areas under trees, seems to me to be a sensible proposal. It would also require less water for reticulation, so that would be an added bonus.

We have a fast increasing population in WA and plans for thousands more residents in the Fremantle inner city, and that means more people will need access to outdoor facilities, but can our society still afford to look after large green grass open spaces that require extensive and expensive watering and maintenance?

Most of us probably believe that densely populated cities need more green open spaces to allow those who live in apartments access to grassed areas to play on and have a picnic, etc, but is that still practical and realistic, or should we look for alternative ways to create public spaces, and what would such new spaces look like?

In a state where there is water shortage we can no longer afford to waste drinking water on the reticulation of vast lawns, so can we recycle water and use grey water instead, and where to take it from? The Esplanade Masterplan draft suggests an underground tank to take used water from Little Creatures to water the reserve, and that might be a practical solution, depending on what the costs would be to install and maintain the system.

I am not a greenie, but there is no doubt in my mind that climate change will force us to do things differently and better, and that could mean fewer private grassed gardens and green verges and quite different public open spaces that recognise the need to reduce water consumption.

No one likes to see more concrete, but paths throughout parks that protect the grass, and mulched areas under trees, are acceptable compromises to make sure our urban nature remains healthy for all of us to enjoy longer. Paved paths are also easier to use than grass for disabled people and wheelchair and gopher users, and for parents with prams.

To assist with reducing water use we should also call for our governments to implement a law that requires new residential buildings to have a water tank for the collection of rainwater. When many thousands of household collect their own water, even if what they collect would only lasts for a month or two, would make a significant impact and create less strain on our water supply.

Gardens and parks are beautiful and we need those green lungs and many more trees in our cities, but native vegetation that requires a lot less water needs to be considered more and we will probably have to accept that huge grass areas are no longer sustainable in our present climate.

I am not a big fan of artificial grass, but is it something our governments should consider as an option? What do you think we could change and improve when designing new public open spaces?

Roel Loopers

ON THE PISS LONGER MIGHT BE PUBLIC INTEREST

Posted in alcohol, fremantle by freoview on June 13, 2015

National Hotel

One of the major gripes in Western Australia is that no matter how hard state and local governments try to fight crime and anti-social behaviour it is not backed up by the justice system that is seen as often being too lenient. A report in the West Australian about extended trading hours for the Fremantle National Hotel appears to confirm this once again.

When the National applied in 2013 to extend trading hours on Thursdays and Fridays to 1 pm and on weekends to 2 pm, the Police Commissioner objected to it, citing alcohol-related violence and crime in Fremantle with more than 500 people a year submitted to Freo Hospital because of issues related to alcohol.

Subsequently the Liquor Commision rejected the application by the National Hotel, but now Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Allison has ruled that the Liquor Commission made a mistake in its ruling because it had not sufficiently considered if the application for extended trading hours was in the public interest.

Anyone walking or driving through Freo in the early hours knows that it can be a bit of a mine field where one hopes to get through without being attacked by drunken or drugged fools, and shop owners have to clean up the mess next day of broken glass and people having urinated on their premises, but our Supreme Court believes there might be some “public interest” in allowing people to drink more and longer on four days a week.

People in the West End of Freo can start to be seriously worried about the proposed tavern and live music venue at J Shed where no doubt operators Sunset Events will also want extended trading hours once they are settled in. The City of Fremantle will leave it to the police to deal with the mess they have created by granting permission for the establishment of a pub in the most historic area of our city.

Roel Loopers

COUNCILS SAY NO TO PERTH FREIGHT LINK

Posted in city of fremantle, perth freight link, TRAFFIC by freoview on June 13, 2015

The City of Fremantle, Town of East Fremantle and City of Cockburn are going to make a collaborative stand against the proposed State’s Perth Freight Link that will see suburbs destroyed through separation and would create a traffic bottleneck in North Fremantle.

The new toll road would speed up the high volume of trucks that deliver containers to Fremantle Port but the communities it affects are worried about noise, pollution, safety and loss of amenity and demand the State puts more money toward container freight on rail. Many homes would have to be destroyed to make way for the new truck road.

The reaction from Transport Minister Dean Nalder so far has been that the Western Australian government is committed to the Freight Link, with financial support from the Federal Government in Canberra.

Optimists believe they can change that and point out that the W.A. Government was also committed to Local Government reform but that fell down in a big heap because of the shambles the process was.

I fear that the stubbornness of the present government will mean that they won’t compromise and that traffic in the greater Fremantle area will become an even bigger mess and that especially North Fremantle will suffer from it.

Roel Loopers

GOOD GOVERNANCE IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

Posted in colin barnett, fremantle, western australia by freoview on June 10, 2015

Inconsistent decision-making, piecemeal and ad-hoc governance is what people get irate about and it does not matter if that is at federal or state level or at local councils like Fremantle.

I had to laugh out loud this morning when I read a comment by Premier Colin Barnett  on why SCITECH does not want to move to Burswood. “They would prefer better transport than Burswood and that makes sense” the Premier said.

This is the same premier who insisted on putting the new stadium at Burswood so his mate Packer can benefit from it and who will build a new train station there, and who just announced a $ 54 million footbridge from East Perth to the Burwwood peninsula. But that is not enough for Scitech. You must be kidding me!

On another note, did anyone in Fremantle Council try to get Scitech to move to Freo? Did Sirona consider and approach them to set up in the MYER building? Fremantle needs more things to do for tourists so what is the Economic Development Department actively doing about it, apart from supporting a wave power gimmick at well-visited Port Beach?

Roel Loopers

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