Make Fremantle a place that cares for people and planet

I have been returned as a Councillor for Hilton Ward, winning 55.61% of the vote.
A special thanks to all the active supporters of my campaign. It was about making Fremantle a place that cares for people and planet. I hope the win can serve that purpose.

These supporters include: activists from the campaign to stop Roe 8/PFL, Frack Free Future, Bike Freo, Hilton Harvest and Refugee Rights Action Network; my Socialist Alliance comrades; my fellow Hilton and Beaconsfield councillors; and many residents doing great work in and for our community.

Congratulations to Hannah Fitzhardinge, Andrew Sullivan, Doug Thompson, Adin Lang, Jenny Archibald and Mayor Brad Pettitt who were also elected last night.

I also want to thank Uncle Ben Taylor (who met with the Mayor and me to talk about Australia Day in 2016) and traditional owner Corina Abraham. Their support is an inspiration.

The decision to replace the Australia Day fireworks with more appropriate and inclusive activities might only be a small step, but some serious money and commercial media air time was spent to unseat progressive councillors because of it. The decision was the right one and it represents some of what is good about Freo.

It's a privilege to represent the people of Samson, Hilton and O'Connor; and to work for all residents of the Walyalup/Fremantle region.

Samson Park not for sale...nor are the moon and the stars!

In a recent flyer authorised by former councillor John Dowson, Hilton Ward candidate Catherine Hammond states her opposition to the supposed sale of Samson Park and Samson Recreation Centre. On her Facebook page she suggests houses might be built over the park.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there is not and never has been a proposal that the City of Fremantle sell Samson Park, and it’s not possible anyway.

The park is crown land vested in the City as a public reserve and registered as a State Bush Forever site. I believe its status can only be changed by an act of parliament.

Raising a scare campaign about something that is simply not on the cards is really reckless. I don't know if it's a breach of the electoral act, but it's dishonest and irresponsible.

What about the Samson Recreation Centre?

The City’s ten year budget does propose that the council consider selling some or part of the land that the Rec Centre sits on in order to pay for significant upgrades to the Leisure Centre at Shuffrey St.

However no decision has been made and this is very unlikely to happen any time soon. The land in question has a conditional title on it which means it can only be used for community purposes. Changing this would require state government approval. I expect that the new ten year budget will drop the idea.

At last! Improvements to the Hilton Town Centre

At long last we can begin work on improving pedestrian safety and the street-scape in the Hilton Town Centre!

Councillors and staff met with Main Roads (who control South St) about five years ago and discussed a range of options and how we might co-fund them. Then everything stalled and we never heard from them again.

In September 2016 councillors met our new Director of Technical Services on the site at about 4pm on a weekday afternoon to show him just how dangerous the environment is for pedestrians. Nine cars sailed through a red light at the pedestrian crossing in the space of twenty minutes! He was left shaking his head in disbelief.

In another twist, last year Main Roads turned off the facility for vehicles trying to exit Paget and Victor Streets. You might know that cars queued at these intersections for a sufficiently long time would trigger a synchronised red light at South/Carrington and the pedestrian crossing, creating a gap in the traffic to allow people on these side streets to access South St.

This facility was introduced after extensive negotiation with Main Roads a few years ago, so we were shocked to discover they had just turned this off without even telling the City of Fremantle, let alone consulting with us.

Verge collections, expanded depot drop-off and resource recovery

Traditionally Fremantle has done one bulk waste collection per year. Over the last couple of years the City trialled two collections per year. While this provided an obvious convenience it has a downside - the vast majority of the material does not get recycled and goes to landfill.

The contractor picks out the most valuable pieces of metal and people scavenge some of the stuff. However the level of resource recovery is actually really low. This is a problem environmentally and adds to the cost as unlike Cockburn, Fremantle does not have its own landfill facility so has to pay someone else to take landfill material.

This year the City will be combining the bulk verge collection with an expanded depot collection facility to be open more days per week and taking a larger range of materials. This would effectively be our equivalent of the “tip pass” and only open to Fremantle residents.

Not everyone has access to a vehicle that can get things to the depot, so it will be complemented by a dial-a-van service to pick up things like bulky white goods all year round. It should be up and running in a couple of months time.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this combination of verge collection, expanded depot drop-off and personalised pick up to see how it works in terms of convenience, cost and environmental outcomes.

Rates and Gross Rental Value explained

The 2017-18 budget includes a 1.9% increase which while never welcome is less than many other local governments have imposed.

Rates are based on a Gross Rental Value which is calculated by Landgate and reviewed every three years, including this year. For this reason some properties’ rates bill will increase by more than the percentage increase imposed by council and others have decreased, depending on the fluctuation of property prices.

The state government has has reduced the rebate for seniors and pensioners. However unlike some of our neighbouring councils, Fremantle does not charge a separate levy for waste and recycling but combines it in the overall rates bill. This means the pensioner rebate applies to the whole amount.

History denied is justice delayed

Thanks to a passing reference a week ago about statues and other monuments featuring colonial "founding fathers" that participated in massacres of Aboriginal people and other wrongs, I got lumped into Andrew Bolt's collection of "statue haters".

Others in the corporate media suggested that even having the discussion was like Nazi book burning. Right. And I'm the one disrespecting history!

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took the prize for idiocy by saying that some alternative signage attached to the Captain Cook memorial in Sydney would amount to "Stalinism". Logically then, people in Eastern Europe who took down statues of Josef Stalin after his death are also Stalinists.

The discussion about how we remember some of these colonial figures, while prompted by the battle over Confederate statues in the US, inevitably flows from our own debate about January 26. If you accept that celebrating the date as Australia Day is hurtful to many Indigenous people because it marked the beginning of their violent dispossession, then it follows there are some important people who sanctioned or participated in that violence.

Conservatives do not want to have that discussion, it is they who seek to deny Australia's history. They want to put all the bad things in a steel box and throw away the key so we can just get on with celebrating how great we are.

Repurpose your Rethink sign to Frack Free Future

Do you have a Rethink PFL corflute sign at home? The Fremantle Frack Free Future Local Action Group is repainting them to promote the state wide ban on fracking.Drop me a line if you'd like yours swapped over.

Green streets are cool streets

It’s well established that suburbs with lots of trees are much cooler that those without. This image is a thermal imaging map showing the average temperature across Fremantle in January 2015. Obviously places next to the coast are the coolest. But some areas with very few street trees are nearly 5° hotter than greener areas nearby. If you want a verge tree in front of your place then get in touch. While it’s free, new trees must be planted during the winter rains.

Pocket Park for northern Hilton

At its April meeting council voted to endorse the proposed "pocket park" at the end of Clarke St. For over a decade residents in this part of Hilton have wanted a park within safe walking distance. At last it's going to happen! Many thanks to the residents for sticking at it for so long and for all their creative input. Thanks also to Gavin Giles (Strategic Projects Officer) for running such an inclusive community design process. There is more detail on the City website. Construction will begin in October 2017.

Perth Freight Link: How a community beat the freeway

I wandered down to the Roe 8 freeway construction site after the March 11 state election that swept the Colin Barnett Liberal government from power. I'd heard Labor Premier-elect Mark McGowan on the radio calling on Main Roads to wind down construction immediately.

It was deserted. The hundreds of police were gone. The place where 200 of us had been arrested as we slowed the progress of the bulldozers was eerily silent.

A light sprinkle of rain made it cool, damp and still — in contrast to the heat, dust and tension of the preceding months. Some of the passionate pleas to save the bushland handwritten on paper hearts and tied to the fences were lying on the ground.

The struggle to stop the Roe 8–Perth Freight Link freeway project had gripped Perth's south-western suburbs for more than two years and defined the lives of many activists for even longer. The campaign was at fever pitch through 2015, only to quieten down in December after the Supreme Court ruled that the environmental approvals were invalid. It kicked off again late last year after the state government successfully appealed the court decision.

With the new Labor government committed to cancelling the project it is time to reflect on what happened and what happens next.

Community opposition

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