As anticipated residents of East Fremantle today rejected the amalgamation with Fremantle. From 5178 eligible voters 2145 voted no, 680 yes and 6 informal. The Dadour Act provided the democracy and community feed-back that should be essential for major government changes.
If there is to be one consequence out of the shambles the so-called Western Australian local government reform has been it is the resignation of Local Government Minister Tony Simpson. It matters little that Simpson appears to be a nice bloke because the way the reform process has been handled was an unmitigated fiasco.
The Dadour Act election has shown how passionate-and parochial-people are about their councils, and that they were willing to forget all the previous criticism of those councils and the elected members and rather hold on to a far from perfect status quo than embrace reform and enlarged councils.
One of the major victims of the reform has been Subiaco that was swallowed up by the City of Vincent, but the purpose of the reform was to get rid of ineffective and expensive small councils like Peppermint Grove, Mosman Park, East Fremantle, etc. That has not been achieved because the democratic process showed a severe lack of community consultation before the government embarked on trying to force the amalgamations through.
Will Minister Simpson and Premier Colin Barnett now pull their head in and forget about local government reform, or will they try to merge East Fremantle with Melville and Fremantle with Cockburn? Stubbornness and stupidity are close friends!
The reform has been a shameful and unprofessional exercise in incompetence and heads should roll in the department. The process has set back councils by many months and halted development and planning and it wasted an enormous amount of time and money for councils to try to come to agreements about the future of the to be amalgamated cities. There will no doubt be a backlash from investors and developers who would have embraced larger councils in the hope for a more streamlined and faster planning process.
There were communities like Fremantle who were hopeful that local government reform would give them the chance to vote a whole new council in and start afresh with new energy, and the hope that better and more sincere community consultation might be the outcome. All over W.A. communities have been bitterly complaining about no longer being heard by their elected members.
Having said all that it was special to watch democracy at work and we should never underestimate what privilege it is. That also applies to local councils where a majority vote is required. There are always losers and winners in that process.
It is now highly likely that the amalgamation between the City of Fremantle and the Town of East Fremantle will not take place, so what does that mean for Fremantle?
I believe an amalgamation would have been an inspiration for both Councils and a fantastic move forward to embrace progress, development and economic recovery, but it appears East Freo parochialism has won the day and that is disappointing for all involved.
Negativity is not a solution but a curse, a curse that stops change, halts progress and denies people taking ownership of their communities and become part of the solution. One-eyed and blinkered negativism is what opposition leaders in parliaments are good at, but all it does is to get rid off one government to be replaced with one that also does not have the solutions and that will stop listening to the voters.
Local government is about perfect for true democracy, but sadly the massive Dadour Act vote, when compared with the traditionally low local council vote, shows that most residents are not interested in the good governance of their councils, but will come out to support a negative vote. That is pretty sad in my books.
Fremantle will now have to move on without East Fremantle and it will need support from the Barnett government. We need a clear YES on the development of Kings Square and a guaranteed starting date on it. Promises are no longer good enough. State Government need to make an urgent move on with the renovations of the Warders Cottages and the Department of Housing need to get off their backsides and refurbish the Married Quarters cottages at Cantonment Hill.
Fremantle cannot afford more procrastination and inconsistent Council decisions and personnel changes are required at Council and within the administration.
Developers and architects have asked for better and faster planning processes at local councils, so maybe Freo can become a front runner. Good collaboration between developers, community groups and Council would also speed up the process and get rid off all the negativity that surrounds development in our city.
Fremantle is at a crossroads, and a good chance to move forward together with East Fremantle seems to have been lost, but there is no use in crying over spilled milk and we need to grow and learn from the very good experience the Fremantle Forever campaign was. Democracy is an absolute privilege so it is unfortunate that the residents of Fremantle had no say, and that the amalgamation of the two councils was rejected by East Fremantle voters. I believe that will be regretted in a few years from now.
I call on the Colin Barnett government to now show their appreciation for the very positive-amalgamation embracing-attitude of the City of Fremantle and to give us some serious financial support, move a substantial government to Fremantle, invest in infrastructure like the railway bridge, etc. Fremantle deserves that support!
It looks like ‘emperor’ Colin Barnett could well be in deep trouble with his local government reform with an unprecedented number of voters having their say in the Dadour Act election. There is the likelihood that the proposed amalgamation of some of the councils will not go ahead. Already more than the required 50% of Kwinana voters have voted and East Fremantle is nearing 49%. One can assume that most of these are NO votes and it requires only half of the votes to be against the amalgamations for them to be stopped.
I still strongly believe that the best outcome for East Fremantle and Fremantle would be an amalgamation and becoming a bigger, better and stronger council with new councillors and a new administration, so I hope that East Fremantle votes look to the future and embrace the new enlarged City of Fremantle.
Residents of Freo and East Freo should be aware that if the amalgamation does not go ahead they will continue with their present councils and only half of the Elected Members would be up for election in October. Those who are unhappy with their council and want to get rid off it should vote for amalgamation and an all new start! We will know the outcome on Saturday evening.
About 30 people protested this morning against the closure of the Emergency Department of Fremantle Hospital. Labor Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk was there, as was Shadow Minister for Health Roger Cook and MP Melissa Parke.
The department closed at 7 this morning, the same time as the new emergency department at the Fiona Stanley Hospital opened in Murdoch. Strangely at 11 am one sign to the emergency department there was still covered and roving reporter Gideon Digbey told me there were no significant signs to Emergency on South Street and Murdoch Drive.
The word arrogant is one of the most (over)used words when the public is asked for an opinion about politicians, be that local, state, or federal.
John Howard and Kevin Rudd were considered to be arrogant, as was WA formerPremier Alan Carpenter and present Premier Colin Barnett.
In Fremantle the entire Council gets accused of being arrogant because residents believe Elected Members no longer listen to them and run their own agendas.
I have met many local, state and federal members and have yet to meet one whom I would classify as arrogant. Aloof, self-righteous, blinkered, one-eyed, out of touch, yes, but arrogant they are not.
Lessons need to be learned though from what happened in Queensland on Saturday and Tony Abbott’s lack of consultation with backbenchers and the community. When voters believe elected members have stopped listening to them they get very irate and abandon even the parties they prefer.
P.S. Interesting to read State Government is investing some $ 40 million on a new Mandurah Bridge when all the Fremantle railway bridge is getting is a few venders to stop ships from bumping into it. Not happy, Colin!
There has been quite a bit of misleading and factually wrong information going out to support the No vote against East Fremantle amalgamating with Fremantle, so let’s read what Freo’s Mayor Brad Pettitt has to say about it:
As of Monday morning 46.27% of East Fremantle residents have voted on the poll around amalgamation with Fremantle Council. To put this another way – just another 193 more people are required to vote by Saturday for the poll to be valid. As this vote steadily heads towards the 50% required I can’t help but wonder where this all might end up. Assuming it makes the 50% the odds would suggest many of those who voted did so to oppose the amalgamation and as a result the whole amalgamation will be off.
While I’d be disappointed after so much community time and effort has gone into getting a sensible merger plan up for a new greater Fremantle, I’ve ultimately got no problem with this result so long as people did vote with the correct information in front of them.
Unfortunately the ads in Fremantle Herald in recent weeks certainly aren’t providing that accurate information for East Fremantle voters. So this blog post aims to correct the record so people can vote with the facts in front of them.
Fremantle and East Fremantle councils have been working well together for many months to get an outcome that is good for both. I’ve been pleased with the level of collaboration.
Mayors (along with possibly the deputy mayors and an independent chair) as interim commissioners is the most sensible way of keeping a continuity of representation and decision making going. No conflict of interest that I can see given many of us were elected to 2017 anyway. But ultimately this is the Minister’s call not ours.
Fremantle Council’s finances are in a very strong position. You may have seen last week in The West that Fremantle’s cash reserves increased more than any other local government’s over the last few years. Our debt is smaller than this and Fremantle’s finances are strong by every empirical measure.
Fremantle has won a number of awards for it town planning (amongst other things) in recent years and this council has recently ushered in some major changes to our town planning scheme to kick off the revitalisation of the Fremantle CBD. It is pleasing to see these changes now gaining momentum on the ground.
The apparent quote from me “that the reason the Barnett Government wanted Fremantle to take over East Fremantle was because [Fremantle Council is] “pro-development”” is simply incorrect. I have publically said “At the heart of [Fremantle not been forced to merge with Melville] was demonstrating the Fremantle was committed to substantial population growth, economic investment and keeping Fremantle as Perth’s second city. The pro-development approach whilst controversial for some in the community was undoubtedly important to demonstrating to the local government advisory board and the State Government that Fremantle could be a sustainable local government area by itself into the future”. This is quite a different and it is been missed used in this context.
As for the silly idea that Fremantle Council can’t wait to build “massive high-rise development” on East Fremantle oval or View Terrace or Leeuwin Barracks. Again this is just wrong and just plain old scaremongering. Fremantle Council have always said we respect the existing East Fremantle town planning scheme.
Finally, all I’d say to East Fremantle residents is: it is entirely up to you as to how you vote and I have no desire to influence this important decision other than to say please don’t take what is written in these ads as accurate. Instead, dig a little deeper and see what both options might mean for you going forward. Here is some Freo info that might also help: http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/cityoffremantle/Local_government_reform
The downgrading of Fremantle Hospital and the closure of the Emergency Department is in full swing today. A fleet of ambulances are transporting patients to the new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch all day today. Motorcycle police are doing the traffic control on the corner of Hampton Road and Ellen Street and South Street and Solomon Street and all along the route to Murdoch.
East Fremantle residents are voting in high numbers in the Dadour Act which will determine if the Town of East Fremantle will amalgamate with the City of Fremantle.
Some people have been spending a lot of money on full-page advertisements in community newspapers to promote a NO vote against an amalgamation, and some Fremantle Elected Members claim that untrue and non-factual statements have been made in these ads. The City of Fremantle has deliberately stayed out of the debate and not try to influence the vote, or even set straight some of the facts.
The proposed amalgamation between our two communities in not a hostile take-over bid by the City of Fremantle. I believe it is common sense to amalgamate and make us into a bigger city, and I personally have never seen East Freo as anything less than being a part of Freo.
The arguments I hear against the COF council and the administration might well be true but they are also totally irrelevant, as there will be a whole new Council for the amalgamated Fremantle. There will also be a huge shake-up in the administration because an amalgamation would mean duplication of staff, directors and CEO. So many of the present Councillors will not be on the new greater City of Fremantle council and a high number of staff will also have to find jobs elsewhere.
The fear that East Fremantle would get a less efficient administration is as unfounded as the fear is that sitting Fremantle Councillors would continue. There will no doubt be new candidates like Mark Woodcock and Matthew Hansen and many sitting East Fremantle Councillors might also want to join the new council, so new brooms will sweep through Townhall at every level
I get parochialism, but sometimes it stops progress because of fear of change. I believe that is happening at East Freo. A larger and progressive Fremantle will have more cloud, more money, and more opportunity to implement change, attract developers and move forward in cohesion and collaboration. To oppose the amalgamation is in my opinion short sighted and has a bit of a NIMBY attitude.
I urge East Fremantle voters to vote YES and embrace the amalgamation and modernisation of our communities together!
P.S. Stay tuned for a public forum-probably in March-on what candidates the community would like to have for the next Council election.