LETTERS 8.6.13

21 23LETTERSSheding tears
IT would be extraordinary if those artists whose work is highly regarded nationally and whose presence enhances the cultural reputation of Fremantle should be forced to leave J-shed because the requirements of their “leases” made their enterprises economically unviable.
Anyone with any acquaintance with J-shed will acknowledge that both Greg James’ and Jenny Dawson’s studios are open to enquiring passers by, are frequently the venue of exhibitions and provide accommodation to a variety of visiting artists without being made conditions of their tenancy.
If the council is so anxious to ensure the accessibility and viability of this prestige site why has the southern-most studio been closed and to all appearances been under-used for several years, some of which were in excess of the prescribed tenancy?
David Hawks
Bellevue Tce, Fremantle

Who’s the oppressor?
I HAVE followed the recent debate about homosexual activism at Notre Dame in your editorials and letters section with some amusement.
It seems to me those who advocate for the acceptance of homosexual behaviour and gay marriage hold all the aces. On the opposing side, I rarely heard any mention of hatred or fear of homosexuals, just an expression of opposition to the changes being advocated, primarily on moral grounds.
However, if you express such an opinion you are immediately labelled a bigot or a homophobe. It seems to me the homosexual lobby are the real bigots and will go to any lengths to silence those who would oppose them.
In response to your most recent article (Herald, June 1, 2013) I wholeheartedly agree a university should be a place where important moral and social issues are openly discussed and debated and I sincerely doubt the policy at Notre Dame would be any different. This is a quite distinct and separate issue from whether or not Notre Dame allows certain groups to affiliate with the student body.
I believe it and any other institution would make that judgement, and rightly so, on the basis of whether or not the group supported its values and ethos.
For the record, Justice Michael Kirby, a well-known advocate for the acceptance of homosexual behaviour and gay marriage, gave a lecture at Notre Dame not so long ago. With regard to your quote of the poll of US Catholics, given the fact vast majority of Catholics have little understanding of their faith, don’t go to mass and don’t follow the teachings of the Church, the findings of the poll are hardly surprising.
Dr A Holohan
Maxwell St, Beaconsfield
The Ed says: By “homosexual behaviour”, do you mean running a multinational company (Michael Bishop), ruling a country (Ferdinand I of Bulgaria), being a federal minister (Penny Wong), winning a Nobel Prize (Jane Addams), entertaining millions (Peter Allan), serving your country in a field of war (RAN chief petty officer Stuart O’Brien) or even reaching the North Pole (actress Ann Bancroft, who was the first woman to do so)? Gays aren’t trying to silence you, doctor (nor are their myriad supporters), they just want you to realise that they are human beings that contribute to this planet in the same way others do and therefore deserve the same rights.

Greedy bastards
IS there anything more hypocritical than a politician? The ALP tells us it must downgrade its budget forcast and make cuts to promised spending.
Then it and the Coalition try to sneak a $60 million gift to—we are led to believe—our poor underfunded major political parties.
The Libs wait to see how serious voter backlash is going to be before, much to the ALP’s horror, they go back on a written undertaking to support this new grab and say they cannot support it.
Senator Hanson on behalf of the Greens says they’ll vote against it because if anyone else is getting it the Greens are not going to be left out.
Is it any wonder the Australian voting public has lost all respect for its greedy, self-serving politicians? My question is, who do we vote for?
Bob Loftus
Beach St, Fremantle

Falling apart
FREMANTLE is falling apart, quite literally, and nothing is being done.
Walking past the abandoned prison warders’ cottages this afternoon (WA Day, June 3, 2013) was indeed sad: Many gates are gone and chunks of crumbling masonry lie on the footpath.
Shops are closing: Three or four of  the parking bays on Essex Street are unusable due to tree roots pushing up bitumen. The solution? Stick a big planter box on the road. Brilliant!
Our beautiful port city is not getting the care it deserves. Are we going to wait until it has become a ghost town and then wonder what happened?
Yvonne Flanagan
Harris St, Palmyra

I’ve done my bit
I WAS a bit mystified by Giovanni Mastrocinque’s determination to cast doubt on the sincerity of my concern about homelessness and housing affordability (Herald letters, May 25, 2013).
He cites the fact that neither I nor Melissa Parke nor Adele Carles spoke out about the case of a homeless mother and her children sleeping in a van in mid-2011. The first I knew about the case was when I read his letter to the Herald in August 2011 complaining we had not taken the case to the media first. What about all the other cases?
Mr Mastrocinque further asserts, “it has taken all this time…to eventually find his voice on the homeless”. I’d remind him that in 2010 with the support of councillors Wilson and Sullivan I unsuccessfully tried to stop the council from turning over the provision of a youth crisis accommodation service to a local charity, and effectively cutting its annual funding by more than $200,000 in the process. I also proposed this year that the Spicer site be earmarked for a housing development, including for affordable and low-income housing, rather than for a hotel as was decided.
On the other side of the ledger the council has taken positive steps I’m proud to be associated with. These include my proposal for a 15 per cent affordable housing target in the CBD scheme amendment, the small dwellings amendment and the Burt Street redevelopment which will require 10-15 per cent social housing, 45 per cent affordable housing and at least 20 per cent of the dwellings to be disability accessible.
Of course, all these are a drop in the ocean in the context of the overall housing affordability crisis. According to the ABS in the 1950s a family home cost the equivalent of three times the annual average wage. Today such a house costs seven times the annual average wage.
At the same time investment in public housing has not kept pace with demand, transforming it from being a mainstream working class option into welfare safety-net housing. As the proportion of the population who qualify for public housing shrinks, people no longer identify with it. This in turn fuels the fear and loathing of public housing, a vicious circle and political gift to the very governments that have failed to act.
Clearly we need decisive action by state and federal government to increase the stock of both public housing and affordable private housing, and increased targeted assistance for those who are homeless right now.
But I can’t win with Mr Mastrocinque who says that by raising such issues I’m turning the issues of homelessness into a “political football”, whatever that means. Surely it’s a good thing to be debating these issues in the lead up to the election. Surely they aren’t being debated enough.
Sam Wainwright
Jarvis St, O’Connor
The Ed says: Sam Wainwright is a Hilton ward councillor on Fremantle city council and a Socialist Alliance candidate for the September 14 federal election.

The low-down
MELVILLE city council is preparing a structure plan for the Riseley Centre which it hopes to have completed this year.
This follows on from last year’s rejection of a proposal to build 10-storey buildings on the site.
It kicked off the process with a public meeting on May 15 at the council HQ in Almondbury Street, Booragoon.  The attendance of more than 200 demonstrated the depth of interest and concern in the future of the Riseley Centre.
More than 95 per cent of those in attendance live within 1km of the precinct. Most didn’t seem to have a desire for the precinct to be any more than a low-key area where buildings are kept to no more than three storeys and the traffic and parking situation get no worse.
Locals use the precinct a bit for the post office, restaurants, coffee, etc., but generally see Garden City as their local shopping and services destination.
The main drivers for the project are the state government’s identification of the area as a district or activity centre in the Directions 2031 Plan for metropolitan Perth, and the council’s wish to revitalise the area.
In general, it would seem most people living within 1km of the area are far from excited with the prospect of being in or adjacent to an “activity centre”. They seem to see it as a generator of even more traffic and parking problems, and they don’t want anything over three storeys.
Facilitators TPG used the word “village” to describe the area. That went down like a lead balloon and was strongly rejected by several speakers: “It’s not a village—it’s a major road junction.” This largely set the scene for much of what happened over the two-hour meeting. No-one believed it was possible to make the area desirable because Riseley Street and Canning Highway are major congested roads. Their view was there is a village in Applecross, and Garden City’s heart is their town centre and that meets their needs. Neither have traffic or parking problems.
As indicated earlier the only sense of vision that seemed to come from the participants at the meeting was for a low-key area with low-rise buildings.
The council should however be congratulated for the event. The council’s contact officer for the planning is Dean Cracknell (dean.cracknell@melville.wa.gov.au).
Bob Peters
Millington St, Ardross
The Ed says: This letter was shrunk to fit.

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