Communities do count

LOGAN HOWLETT is the mayor of Cockburn. He is passionate about the city, its people, history, cultural diversity and its future as a place where dreams can be realised.

LAST week, Cockburn’s community sent a resounding message to the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) at the public hearing in Hilton, that they reject the Greater Fremantle proposal and they want to remain in Cockburn.

More than 300 people attended the packed-out event and nearly all of them said the proposal just doesn’t stack up.

It was great to see the community as one, whether they had lived in the city for two years or were second or third generation ‘Cockburnians’. As their stories unfolded, some with just a single powerful sentence, and others articulating the many benefits they had experienced by living in Cockburn, the opposition to moving Hamilton Hill and part of North Coogee into the City of Fremantle was clearly evident.


Make a statement

The great thing about the meeting was that every person who wanted to make a statement got the opportunity to do so, and some more than once.

During the previous metropolitan local government reform process, the Cockburn community clearly demonstrated their opposition to the ‘carving up’ of Cockburn and last week’s public meeting was no different. I, together with the councillors of Cockburn, have been inundated with telephone calls, emails and personal approaches stating opposition to the Greater Fremantle proposal ever since the first announcement was made that a petition was circulating in order to get 250 signatures to commence the LGAB process again.

There is a clear need for amendments to the Local Government Act to ensure that what many have termed a waste of ratepayer’s money does not occur into the future. The current criteria need to be reviewed in terms of the number of valid signatures that a proponent is required to obtain to lodge a proposal. This should be related to the size of the local government and expressed as a percentage. Clearly 250 signatures from a 12,000+ population does not represent that community or justify the resource implications for the respective local governments to deliver the required detailed reports to the LGAB. Nor does it warrant the extensive time and effort required of elected members, administrative staff and the community to respond.

The fallout from the Greater Fremantle proposal has created angst in our community as people going about their normal activities now feel threatened and uncertain about the outcome of the LGAB deliberations and that of the minister for local government and communities.

Families with historic connections to Cockburn are particularly upset about the Greater Fremantle proposal.

Maximum impact

Two glaring examples are the families who raised funds to build the Memorial Hall in Hamilton Hill to honour their fallen fathers, husbands, sons and uncles, and the Cockburn RSL Sub-branch who are among the most active RSL Clubs in Western Australia.

One-liners often have maximum impact – the following is a sample from the public meeting:

“If they change the boundary when I get my rate notice from Fremantle I’ll pay it to Cockburn.”

“I love going to the dump and the recycle shop in Cockburn.”

“I bet they (Fremantle) don’t have tip passes”

Our heartfelt thanks go out to every person who came and voiced their opinion in favour of staying with Cockburn.  The statements of that night will be written into the pages of history. They will stand alongside other forums and rally’s held within Cockburn and on the steps of Parliament House where the voice of the people prevailed.


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