Lucky Oceans says if the port city had been called FreMelville when he’d moved from the US in the early 1980s he doubts he would’ve bothered.
Just in case you’ve been bunkered down in a fallout shelter this last month, Oceans is having a swipe at the Barnett government’s plans to merge Fremantle and East Fremantle with Melville.
The master of the pedal-steel guitar, an institution at Clancy’s on Sunday’s with his band the Zydecats for more than two decades, fears for the arts if Melville takes the port city reins.
“Fremantle needs to keep its identity as a cultural centre, not have it watered down by the proposed amalgamation,” he says.
“In these times of Perth’s unthinking worship of growth and modernity, we need Fremantle’s example of preservation more than ever. I believe this would be compromised by amalgamation with councils with very different needs and goals.”
Oceans will take the stage this Sunday (September 1) at the Fremantle Arts Centre for a rally and concert opposing the premier’s merger push. He will joined by folksy blues and ragtime outfit Big Old Bears.
The anti-merger shindig is being put on by the recently-formed Fremantle Forever – a coalition of residents, heritage groups and the council.
Deputy mayor Josh Wilson—who came up with the idea for the concert—says the first day of spring is a, “great day to stand up and fight for Fremantle”.
“By coming along to enjoy great music and the blazing solidarity of your fellow Freo men and women you will be securing yourself a place as one of those who said no to forced amalgamation and yes to a greater Fremantle.
“The city of Fremantle should not be dissolved to conform with some kind of brutal undemocratic local government collage, and it won’t be dissolved if we join together in demonstrating the strength of our argument and the argument of our strength.”
Mayor Brad Pettitt says community momentum is building around “this smarter reform campaign”.
“If there was ever a time for the Fremantle community to bind together and focus on the big issues that bind us rather than the small issues that divide us, then that time is now.
“This concert is about celebrating all that makes Fremantle an amazing and special community and how we can work together to make sure this is not lost in the amalgamations process.
“We will be supporting a more logical, expanded city of Fremantle that doesn’t dilute Fremantle’s unique identity and values.”
Dr Pettitt says the vast majority of people living in Melville don’t get what makes Fremantle so unique, “any more than I understand what makes people want to voluntarily go to Garden City”.
“The boundaries proposed are not logical—we will be in a local government area in which Willetton will be joined with Fremantle but Hamilton Hill and North Fremantle will not.”