Letters 27.7.13

Ben gives rich a free ride
I MUST take issue with Ben of Beaconsfield (Herald letters, July 13, 2013) for being critical of the Rudd government for increasing foreign aid while Newstart remains inadequate.
The stance Ben has taken of taking it out on those poorer than himself for his own difficult situation is a bit like the visually impaired being critical of resources being made available to the hearing impaired. Personally, I have no doubt both foreign aid and Newstart should increase.
Successive governments have delivered middle-class welfare in the form of tax cuts not to mention spending billions on subsidies for coal mining and the latest plan to dump the carbon tax in favour of an ETS. These are areas of foregone revenue that have resulted in less money being available for welfare that Ben should be criticising, not foreign aid.
I have travelled to numerous developing countries and seen first-hand the diabolical conditions in which many of the world’s poor have to endure. Australia, as one of the richest countries of the world, must do its bit to alleviate those conditions. The UN has decreed that all developed nations should contribute 0.7 per cent of GDP to aid. This is a comparatively small amount yet Australia is still short of this target.
Ben would be better advised to lobby the government for increases in welfare but not at the expense of those poorer than himself.
Cliff Collinson
King St, East Fremantle

Council fails transparency test
IN July 2012, November 2012 and April 2013, Fremantle city councillors voted to spend no more than $600,000 of ratepayer funds on the controverial skate park-on-the-Esplanade proposal.
However, we learn this year the skatepark is now to cost ratepayers $1 million.
Just like the disputed location of the proposed skatepark on Fremantle’s most iconic and well-used green space, this decision has taken place behind closed doors at the council, with no opportunity for the public to be consulted.
That is, unless you count Skateboarding WA’s development manager and the company that wants to build the skate park, Convic, who are both part of the council’s design committee that delivered us this new extra cost, as well as a yet-again, much-expanded proposed foortprint for the skate park.
The mayor and council staff recently confirmed in writing the additional $400,000 is to come from the council’s future budget for playgrounds.
According to its new plan for Fremantle’s playgrounds, Play Spaces Plan 2013-2016, the council will rationalise—get rid of—equipment at eight playgrounds in Fremantle, South Fremantle, Beaconsfield and North Fremantle over the next three years, with no replacements plans.
The council says the community will be consulted first—but who would rely on that, based on recent form?
One of the “play spaces” to go is the Beach Street skate park, which the council’s youth plan 2012-2015 proposed should be improved. Contrary to information recently provided by the council, there is no mention in the youth plan of building a skate park on the Esplanade.
Clearly, the youth plan was written before Convic had the opportunity to tell the council which site it preferred. After all, from Convic’s point of view, why improve the existing Beach Street Skate Park much-loved by skateboarders (to the degree a photo of it dominates Skateboarding WA’s web page) when you can be paid $1 million from ratepayers, plus another $600,000 from Lotterywest, to showcase your product on Fremantle’s most iconic park?
I know who is laughing, and it’s not the ratepayers.
Eloise Dortch
Fremantle

Ben deserves better
MELISSA PARKE last week (Herald letters, July  20, 2013) dismissed the genuine concerns of Ben from Beaconsfield.
It is worth noting that despite Ben’s outpouring, his federal Labor MP spent more time talking about how much help Labor provides to people living in other countries than to people like Ben, living in our own city.
The fact remains that while some international aid is warranted and appropriate, tens of billions of dollars have been spent on processing and supporting about 47,000 illegal immigrants who have come to Australia after Kevin Rudd dismantled the Liberals’ tough approach to border protection in 2007.
That’s billions which could have been spent on health, education, seniors, crisis and aged accommodation and better services for people like Ben.
Truth be told, given her past positions and her current ministry, siphoning off more of our money to help people in places like Papua New Guinea is exactly what Melissa Parke has fought for for years.
Melissa Parke has avoided commenting on the issue of border security and illegal immigrants since she was made a minister after being involved in yet another bloody Labor leadership coup. Her public stance prior to being awarded a ministry was to push for softer border protection, more foreign aid and to allow more refugees in the country.
That is more money for people other than Australian residents.
People like Ben from Beaconsfield deserve better and Labor has had its chance. In Fremantle in particular it’s time for a change and I’m hoping that for the first time in 80 years voters decide to put a Liberal in the seat of Fremantle to get  real changes and real solutions.
Matthew Hanssen
Liberal candidate for Fremantle
The Ed says: They’re not “illegal immigrants” Mr Hanssen—you and Tony Abbott keep repeating the line but that doesn’t make it true. Under the UNHCR treaty that Australia is signatory to, there is nothing illegal about seeking asylum. Restating “illegal immigrants” is a transparent attempt to criminalise asylum seekers in the eyes of the public. Surely, you can state support for policies such as “Operation Sovereign Borders” without resorting to mummery?

Customs Cliff
AS a matter of interest 41 Cliff Street was originally the office of Brambles Manford. The rear of the store was a customs bond store. The bond held many items from the docks and at a given time customs would enter the bond to inspect goods. 
The building has many items of interest to people with historical memories of this building.
WJ Burwood 
Burridge Way, Hamilton Hill

We can’t afford charity
I CONGRATULATE Melissa Parke on her one-paragraph response (Herald letters, July 20, 2013) to Ben’s letter of the week before. However, on the broader issue thousands of Australians are homeless with a four to five-year waiting list for affordable public accommodation.
There is at least a five-month public hospital waiting list for operations and at least that time again should you need to see a specialist. Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. Our police and prison staff are understaffed and overworked and, unlike members of parliament, underpaid.
With the cost of living rising almost daily, seniors and the unemployed are struggling to get by on unrealistic pensions. My question to Ms Parke is: Would not the billions spent each year on overseas aid and asylum seekers (those arriving by boat) be better spent on improving the lives of taxpaying Australians? There is an old but true saying “charity begins at home”. With a federal election coming up perhaps those wishing for our votes to keep them in their well-paying jobs should take note.
Bob Loftus
Beach St, Fremantle
The Ed says: Your letter is contradictory, Bob. It’s much less expensive to let boats land and process asylum seekers in the community, as they used to be (admittedly this does nothing to prevent drownings on the way here). The billions in expenditure has been a direct result of the decisions by the Keating government to introduce mandatory detention and of the Howard, Gillard and Rudd governments to embrace offshore processing, and the need to build big overseas centres. Are you suggesting we let the boats land and save the cash, or keep spending up big on “deterrence”.

Thumbs-up
I DECIDED it was high time I wrote in to support Fremantle council. Naysayers have had too much press. 
We recently completed a house renovation and had some urban art put on our external wall. All the departments we dealt with (planning, building, public art) were proactive and provided approvals on time.
Our mural by Artists Anonymous—who also painted the South Beach toilets—has put many smiles on people’s faces. Having a skate park in central Fremantle would be another great community focal point.
Let’s not forget this council has upgraded footpaths and roads, put in bike paths, has upgraded the Esplanade, is upgrading Boyeembara Park, has supported local action groups like the Beautify Wray Avenue Group, increased Freo’s appeal with one-hour free parking and tried to reinvigorate the business community and addres the issue of empty shops. Unfortunately, previous councils did little in this regard and this council is having to fix up the mess.  
It would be great if people could focus on the positives rather than the negatives.Fremantle must change to avoid a return of pre-America’s Cup Fremantle.
Matthew McInnes
Wray Ave, Fremantle

Monk magic
THANKS again Fremantle council for bringing the Gyuto monks again.
It is a true privilege to be strolling to Freo town hall, seeing them in their activities, listening to them, chanting, watching the lovely humble ways they conduct themselves. How lucky we are to have them here again.
Toda and Shalom 
Sara Friedman 
Norman St, Fremantle

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