And so it begins - an offensive on behalf of the billionaires and corporate interests, to steal the future from the majority of Australians, to dismantle what remains of our social welfare system. Take this comment from Shelley James, a single mum with two kids in Hilton:
“$70 is the amount of money I will be losing every week IF this budget goes through. For me that's three pairs of kids' shoes, it is one third of my weekly food bill, it is 2-3 weeks of petrol. For Abbott and company it is nothing... perhaps part of today's lunch?”
That's what you get when governed by people ruling on behalf of the billionaires.
The budget would put a serious squeeze on the council's finances. In cutting health and education grants to the states by $80 billion, it will drive further cuts by the state government, who are already shifting costs to local government. It also removes indexation from a range of grants used to fund grass roots services, taking $1 billion from councils across the country.
I'm glad to report two small wins in the attempt to preserve affordable housing in Fremantle.
Firstly the council decided last year to dispose by tender the small car park at the corner of Packenham and Bannister Streets, and accepted an amendment from me to require that 15% of any housing development include affordable housing. The successful tenderer will be incorporating four studio apartments to be sold to the Department of Housing as part of its KeyStart shared home loan program.
Meanwhile council was also proposing to sell the retirement village in Tapper St White Gum Valley to a private developer. While the site's status as a retirement village would have been protected, over time the units may have been lost from the stock of affordable housing. Fortunately council accepted an alternative proposal to transfer management to Co-operation Housing, a local tenant-run organisation, retaining the units' status as genuine social or low-income housing into the future.
On the negative side of the ledger the affordable housing quota for development in the so-called Amendment 49 area in the inner city has been reduced from 15% to 10% in a proposed change to the planning scheme. This was done in an attempt to attract investors to develop on some of the sites in the area. I wasn't convinced there was any evidence to demonstrate the existing quota was stopping development, moving an amendment to keep it at 15%, but this was lost 2 votes to 11.
By Chris Jenkins
A decision by the Fremantle City Council at its March 26 meeting to reject a Main Roads WA request to voluntarily hand over land began a dramatic new phase in the campaign against the state government's freeway building agenda.
The state government wants to replace a section of High Street on the eastern approach to Fremantle with a freeway at a cost of more than $100 million. This is intended to be the first link in their plan to build a six lane "freeway standard" route connecting the Kwinana Freeway to the Fremantle container port.
There is general consensus in the community and on the council that the existing road needs to be modified to make it safer and to create a more efficient intersection with the Stirling Highway. However the scale and destructiveness of the government's proposal has galvanised fierce opposition.
Main Roads proposes to flank the length of the road with concrete "sound walls". These are not high enough to significantly reduce noise pollution, but will completely separate adjoining suburbs and dramatically reduce pedestrian and bicycle connectivity. Up to half a dozen commonly used crossing points would be replaced with one pedestrian overpass.
At the council meeting, Socialist Alliance councillor Sam Wainwright described it as "cutting a swathe through the community like the Berlin Wall." Fellow councillor Andrew Sullivan described the design as "crap", adding, "I could have designed something better in half a day."
Submission to the LGAB in support of the retention of the suburb of Samson within the City of Fremantle
Below is my submission to the Local Government Advisory Board regarding the reform of local government boundaries supoorting the retention Samson within the City of Fremantle. Many thanks to the Samson residents whose contributions helped form the document.
Interestingly the City of Melville, while supporting Stock Rd as its boundary with Fremantle, made its own submission asking that it be able to retain Bicton, in contradiction with the submission it has lodged jointly with Fremantle and Kwinana.
This then begs the question, if Melville can keep Bicton; why not let Samson remain with Fremantle if that is what the residents concerned want?
Submission in support of the retention of the suburb of Samson within the City of Fremantle
Sam Wainwright, Councillor Hilton Ward, City of Fremantle
This contribution to the deliberations of the LGAB is wholly supportive of the submission made by the City of Fremantle with the exception that it proposes that Samson (and the eastern part of O'Connor) be retained by an enlarged City of Fremantle rather than transferred to the City of Melville.
This submission contends that keeping Samson with Fremantle (whatever its eventual boundaries) better serves the purpose of creating local governments based based on coherent and real communities of interest (historic, social, economic, environmental and other):
[This is republished from Socialist Alliance WA site.]
True, the try-hard treasurer was probably too busy keeping track of which election promise he was planning to break next to get Sam's name right. (He confused Wainwright with prominent actor Sam Worthington - admittedly an easy mistake to make.)
He also described Wainwright as being a member of the "socialist loony party" which isn't a strictly accurate rendition of the party's name.
There is widespread support both in the community and on council for a long overdue upgrade of High St; both to address the safety of the intersection with Stirling Highway, and to provide residents on High St with a separated local access road.
However Main Roads, and through it the state government, are effectively holding our community to ransom by insisting that any "upgrade" be based on a six lane road reserve flanked by walls.
This would cut a swathe through the area and wipe out 100 trees (including some mature Tuarts). It would also see five pedestrian crossing points reduced to only one overpass, effectively cutting the Gibson Park precinct off from White Gum Valley and East Fremantle like a Berlin Wall. It would be a massive disincentive to walking and cycling.
Widening the road from four lanes to six lanes will also increase its capacity by 50%, bringing a similar increase in both noise and diesel particulate pollution.
Main Roads insist they need to increase the road capacity to meet future traffic increases. But such increases are only "inevitable" because of systematic failure by the state government to properly invest in public transport and freight on rail.
In addition to the well publicised "deferring" of their public transport commitments, they are also sabotaging more sustainable freight transport. Take these three examples:
See below an article by Freo Road 2 Rail and Save Beeliar Wetlands activist Pam Nairn, originally published as a Thinking Allowed column in the Fremantle Herald:
There are many reasons for Fremantle to resist amalgamation with Melville. Nothing however has the power to change the face of Fremantle more than Melville's approach to roads and road building.
The people who live on Leach Highway in Melville, on High St and alongside Stirling Highway in East Fremantle put up with heavy traffic, particularly trucks, polluting their air, disturbing their sleep or terrifying them when they drive out of their driveways. The City of Melville has been lobbying the government to build Roe 8 in the mistaken belief that it will relieve Leach Highway of its problems.
Have they looked at the figures released by SMC, the Main Roads consortium, showing traffic numbers if Roe 8 were to be built? By 2021 the traffic on Leach Highway over most of its length from Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road would not have reduced at all.
This is because of the large increase in cars and trucks we will have on the road. Lots of traffic would be travelling on Roe 8, but there would be an equal share of misery for all on both Roe 8 and Leach Highway.
In October along with Councillors Waltham and Strachan I represented the City of Fremantle at the annual Bike Futures conference in Melbourne.
Check out this diagram compiled by Chris Loader (who runs www.ChartingTransport.com). It's based on Australian Census data and documents a spectacular growth in bike journeys to work across Fremantle between 2006 and 2011. This is all the more impressive as the efforts to make Fremantle truly bike friendly were only just beginning in 2011:
As you'd expect the growth is especially concentrated in suburbs like South Fremantle and Beaconsfield. However as more bike infrastructure starts to get rolled out to Hilton this financial year, we should see a growth there too. Meanwhile the City has again put in a grant submission for a pedestrian/bike overpass to connect Hilton and Samson at a mid-point between South St and Winterfold Rd. I'll keep you posted.
Melbourne bike infrastructure 2013
Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle council on October 19. In the other wards progressive councillors defeated more conservative opponents, and Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.
Wainwright won 58 per cent of the vote in his ward compared to 33 per cent at the 2009 poll. Local government elections are "first past the post'' in WA, so 33 per cent was enough to win the election in 2009. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.
Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community owned wind farm at North Quay.
He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to union representation and job security; and set an indigenous employment target.
It's a real honour to have the support of so many residents and to be re-elected as a Councillor for Hilton Ward. There is a lot more work to be done and some big challenges in front of us, an active and engaged community will be the key to making positive change.