THE old Fremantle police station is one of five local sites to be sold by the Barnett government to help reduce WA’s whopping $21 billion debt.
The other four sites are the old Woodside and Kaleeya hospital sites in East Fremantle, the former potato marketing HQ in North Coogee and the four-hectare industrial foundation for accident prevention site in North Lake.
Premier Colin Barnett estimates the sale of 20 WA sites—including five old hospitals—should raise around $250 million. Over three years the government expects to sell $6 billion of public assets.
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan has mocked the sales as being the result of the premier’s “spending addiction”.
“[The premier] has maxed out the state’s credit card and now he is flogging off our state assets in a fire sale,” he said on Facebook. “We will all end up shouldering the burden of Barnett’s wasteful and financially reckless government.”
Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk says profits from the sale of the heritage-listed police station should be “used right next door to restore the warders’ cottages”, and not be carted off to Treasury. “Six months ago, the premier and the heritage minister announced a $2m heritage fund to restore the warders’ cottages, yet nothing has been done,” she points out.
“Here’s an opportunity to show they are serious about maintaining state-owned assets, or will they break that promise too?” Ms McGurk says the closure of Kaleeya as a public hospital—it is touted to revert to private ownership—will be a blow. “It provided intimate and uncomplicated birthing services to expecting mothers,” she says.
“It appears that the site will continue to be used as a hospital, which is welcome news, but of course a private facility is not available for the whole community.” She says both the potato marketing board HQ and old Fremantle police station are riddled with asbestos, “which of course will detract from their value and will need to be dealt with thoroughly”.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK