Fremantle councillor uses launch of new blog to call for public campaign against Barnett's axing of library funding
Hilton Ward councillor Sam Wainwright has used the launch of his new blog www.freoreport.net to call on Fremantle residents to join a public campaign against the massive reduction in public library funding by the Barnett government. Wainwright explained, "Public libraries in WA are co-funded. Council provides the physical infrastructure and staff while the state government purchases the books. Barnett has cut the state's contribution by a whopping 40% in 2009-10 compared to 2008-09. This is a gross and unacceptable attack on a basic and essential community service."
"In a blatant act of cost shifting, councils will have to pick up the slack and inevitably our libraries are going to have to start trading off an up-to-date collection against staff, maintenance and community service. No wonder the library manager had to warn council in a recent report that its core services are under threat. We've got a great a library in Fremantle that needs to be maintained. Barnett and Buswell have been particularly sneaky because for the library user unaware of the funding arrangement it will look like it's the council that's wielded the knife."
Wainwright explained that the axing of library funding was not happening in isolation; "The Barnett government is seeking to smash the conditions of employment of WA's public servants through legislation that is worse than WorkChoices. Furthermore it is proposing to contract out a whole range of services to charities and other non-government organisations where the pay rates are about 70% of that found in the public service. Public servants will have to follow their jobs at these lower pay rates or get the sack. On top of that they've shrunk the pool of top-up funding that non-government organisations already access in order to provide services to the community such as those for people with disabilities, disadvantaged youth and the elderly. Taken together this is an all out assault on community services."
He added, "Through the Western Australian Local Government Association the council is preparing a detailed submission putting the case for a proper long term library funding arrangement. However in the meantime we need a public campaign that names and shames Barnett and Buswell for this piece of trickery." Wainwright called on concerned residents to join him at a rally outside Parliament House at 12:30 on Thursday 11 March. The rally has been called by the Civil Services Association. Wainwright said, "Let's get a strong Fremantle contingent along to the rally and stand up for the library. If you can make it, meet in Pioneer Park at 11am and then let's head to the protest."
In explaining his new blog Wainwright said, "Council already provides detailed minutes of all its meetings on the web. However I want to give people a bit of the flavour of the discussion and debates, as well as report my own news and views. Also I think councillors should be actively organising residents to fight for their rights and I hope I can use the blog to do that. The government attack on our library shows how important this is."