SUNDAY’S Fremantle street parade is set to be the biggest and most political in recent years.
The ALP, the Greens and the Maritime Union of Australia have joined forces with several community groups to create a Rethink the Perth Freight Link mega-float.
At the time of going print, 1200 people on Facebook indicated they wanted to join the anti-PFL float — the same number of people that was in last year’s entire parade.
PFL tensions reached fever-pitch this week, when campaigners heckled premier Colin Barnett in Bibra Lake, as he announced that a consortium has been awarded the contract for the Roe 8 highway extension through Beeliar wetlands.
The street parade, a highlight of the annual Fremantle Festival, has a history of political sentiment—including protests against the eastern bypass in the early 1990s—and Fremantle council arts manager Pete Stone says this year is no different.
“Highlights of this year’s festival will be a large contingent of concerned community participants to protest the proposed Perth Freight Link,” he says.
“The Fremantle Parade has always been, and always will be an opportunity for community expression and we welcome the participation of the anti-PFL groups as we welcome all community groups.”
The council’s festival team expects around 2000 in the parade and has received 42 float entries.
Rethink the Link coordinator Kim Dravnieks says the size of the float requires a pre-parade convening on the Esplanade.
“We have requested to be towards the end of the parade so we do not disrupt other groups,” she says.
Artist Bridget Norton spent weeks crafting seven giant flowers that anti-PFL campaigners will hoist above their head in the parade.
“Each flower is one of the colours in the rainbow,” she says. “Each group has been allocated a different colour, for example the Maritime Union of Australia will be decked out in indigo and Road to Rail in orange.
“The float will be a mega-human rainbow and look amazing.”
The first Fremantle festival was thrown in 1905 to celebrate the introduction of electric lights to the port city. This year’s parade theme is Future Freo and will feature numerous schools and community groups. It is the first time Pride WA will take part.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK