MOU with Homewest to save Hilton houses

Council has voted to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Housing aimed at preventing the department from demolishing its traditional Hilton houses.

The agreement would allow the department to build a small rear dwelling (as per the new small dwelling policy: see below) except that the new dwelling would be put on a green title. However both the new and original dwelling would have to be served by the same driveway so that it not have the appearance of a battle-axe sub-division.

Hilton precinct: Thanks to Mary for all her work

Mary Barton has decided to take a break from the role of Hilton Precinct Secretary. Mary has done a great job for over the last year or so, setting the bar with her dedication to creating a caring community spirit in Hilton.

Hilton has often been one of the city’s more dynamic precinct groups, not least because Mary has gone to the trouble of preparing the meetings and inviting guest speakers to guarantee healthy discussion (and sometimes vigorous debate).

In particular Mary should be thanked for putting in hours of her own time into the survey of Hilton residents which was really important in the formation of the new Hilton Planning Policy. Thanks Mary!

New small secondary dwelling policy

The February meeting of council passed a resolution that would enable home owners to build and rent out small “granny flat” style dwellings.

Currently these can only be leased to family members (that’s the theory anyway), which is a bit absurd. These sorts of smaller dwellings would fill a need for large number of students, single people and those on low incomes who don’t want or can’t afford to rent a whole house; and who don’t need or want off-street parking.

The change would also enable home owners to realise some income from their property without having to do a whole rear strata type subdivision if they don’t want to (even if their property is big enough for a battle-axe block).

Greedy BCA attacks people with disabilities

On February 14 the Business Council of Australia which represents Australia's biggest 100 companies called on the Federal Government to cut the disability pension as an alternative to the Queensland flood levy. How low can these grubs go? Only days later it's biggest member BHP-Billiton posted a record $10.5 billion first half profit.

While it's used to having governments bend to its will, it's unlikely the BCA really expected Gillard already struggling in the polls, to choose this as the moment to slash the incomes of people already living below the poverty line. But clearly the BCA couldn't resist a chance to bang away on one of its favourite themes; welfare should be cut to encourage people to find work.

Carinya aged care workers battle on

A big thanks to residents who responded to the call to support the workers at the Carinya aged care facilities in Bicton.

These workers have been in negotiations over a new enterprise agreement for over seven months. The management wants them to trade-off one week of annual leave in return for a 28c/hour pay rise in the third year of their agreement. Can you believe it! Because they refused they were locked-out without pay for seven days.

Fortunately FairWork Australia ordered an end to the lockout but the workers are still out of pocket for five days work. You can contribute to their hardship fund by contacting the LHMU on 1800 199 890 or wa@lhmu.org.au

Strike action heralds ‘Year of the Wharfie’

Wharfies employed by stevedoring company Patrick at four different ports across Australia took strike action in the last week of January in pursuit of a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

It was the most significant industrial action on the wharves since the 1998 Patrick lockout.

In recent ballots organised by Fairwork Australia, workers at the strike-affected ports voted (by margins of 94% to 100%) to take a range of different forms of industrial action to press their claim.

Do you need bike rails at your bus stop?

The council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Committee of which I’m a member has got funding to install bike rails at busy bus stops. A number of bus stops along South St could be candidates. If there are spots where you’d like these to be installed then let me know.

Sam's speech at rally for democracy in Egypt

Rally in support of the Egyptian revolution, outside Wesley Church, Perth, 5 February 2011. Organised by the Egyptian Community in Perth.

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Samson bus service

In November the Samson precinct secretary and I met with Transperth to discuss the problems with the 511 service which affect travel to both Booragoon and the city.

When the new railway was built all the routes were reorganised to become feeder services to Murdoch station. The services from Samson and Winthrop to the city got combined into one. The problem is that Samson residents going to Murdoch now get an unwanted detour through Winthrop.

Transperth admit that it now takes you longer to get to the freeway; but in their view this is offset by the fact that your trip up the freeway by train is quicker. Under the new arrangement it takes 2-3 minutes longer to get to the city than it used to.

Hilton Planning Policy adopted

The January meeting of council adopted a new planning policy for Hilton. In my view the policy strikes a reasonable balance between preserving what people like about Hilton and allowing them to build homes with modern materials and to contemporary standards.

The policy preserves the things in the old policy that protect the look and feel of Hilton (height, size and general form of buildings; generous setbacks) while accepting the use of contemporary materials.