NORTH FREMANTLE is slipping away.
Seemingly destined to be cut off from its southern sibling by a six-lane freight juggernaut, the suburb now faces being sent into the political wilderness by a redistribution of federal electorates.
The Australian Electoral Commission has recommended Fremantle’s northern boundary be shrunk, shifting 2300 voters north of the river into Julie Bishop’s blue-ribbon Curtin electorate.
That’s upset Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke, who says North Fremantle has solid working class roots and its voters have little in common with the ritzy western suburbs that make up much of Curtin.
“I accept that the proposed redistribution is necessary due to the growth of our population and the resulting imbalance in the size of the federal electorates,” Ms Parke says.
“[But] North Fremantle is an essential part of greater Fremantle. It is an inextricable precinct within the distinctive City of Fremantle—and people in that community feel a natural belonging and connection to the heart of their city.”
Ms Parke also wants the port to be covered by one electorate, not split between her and the foreign affairs minister.
North Fremantle Community Association stalwart Gerry MacGill says he hasn’t heard many rumbles about the proposed change, probably because most are blissfully unaware.
“Most of us diehards would prefer to remain in Fremantle, but the new wave in Northbank and Rocky Bay would probably think differently,” he mused.
Mr MacGill says it’s possible North Freo folk may struggle to have their voices heard above the cashed-up and connected burghers of Dalkeith, Peppy Grove and Nedlands but notes, “we don’t seem to even have much access to our councillors”.
The commission’s boundary committee says it’s recommended the move to keep the Swan River as a natural boundary.
It has also recommended that Fremantle lose about 10,000 voters from its eastern perimeter, who’ll head into Tangney.
Population projections show the Freo electorate is growing so fast — due to Cockburn suburbs — that it’ll be out of quota whack by 2017. The rejig will also make way for the creation of a new electorate, to be known as Burt (not to be confused with the proposed state seat of the same name), which will be based around Armadale. A 500-strong petition had called for the seat to be named after pioneering Green Jo Vallentine, but as she’s still alive she’s out of the running.
The proposed boundary change is out for public comment until September 18 and the final boundaries will be announced in November. Submissions can be made at http://www.aec.gov.au.
by STEVE GRANT