by BRENDAN FOSTER
FORMER WA Labor premier Peter Dowding has described the party’s preselection process in Fremantle as “appalling”.
Mr Dowding, premier from 1988 to 1990 before resigning during an internal party dispute, says union bosses behind Simone McGurk’s preselection are rewarding their foot soldiers across the state and leaving the party bereft tof talent.
The South Fremantle resident predicts it will result in Labor losing the March election and spending years in the political wilderness.
“It shouldn’t be Dave Kelly’s decision who is to be pre-selected any more than it should be Joe Bullock’s,” he told the Herald.
“I have nothing to criticise Simone about as she is dedicated and hard-working and has a vision for Fremantle.
“But… I mean Josh Byrne put his hand up for pre-selection at the last election but he was unacceptable for Dave Kelly. Why was he not acceptable? For it to be Dave Kelly or Bullock’s gift is wrong.”
Mr Dowding said when he came into politics in the late 1960s Labor was full of members wanting to bring about change.
He said the party needed to rejuvenate itself by engaging young people, but the only doors currently open were for people willing to be foot soldiers to the factions.
As a result Labor leader Mark McGowan was saddled with a less than luminary front bench.
“The poverty of some of the members is starting to show,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be a very hard job for Labor to win.
Mr Dowding also fears for the flagging fortunes of the port city.
He said Fremantle was going to the dogs because “rapacious landlords’ couldn’t be bothered sprucing up their buildings.
“We just came back from a backpackers holiday in Europe and were astonished to find every toilet we went into was new, clean and well resourced,” he said.
“Compare it to Fremantle—it’s just a disaster zone—you wouldn’t want to rinse your hands in some of the hand basins. It’s not Fremantle council’s fault, the council is trying to address core issues, which are the downgrading of buildings as a result long years of lack of respectful maintenance.
“Fremantle’s real value is it’s a 20-minute rail journey, down a blue ribbon rail line, for people who want to have a major office facility but can’t get a major office facility.
“The development of the inner city and commercial space development will eventually address the issue.”