FREMANTLE council will spend up to $5000 co-hosting fundraising concerts to help pay the legal bills of Roe 8 protestors who’ve been arrested.
The motion was tabled last week by Cr Rachel Pemberton, a spokesperson for Wetlands Defenders, who was arrested at the Roe 8 site this week for pushing down a fence and running into a prohibited area.
Asked before the motion was passed if she would use the legal fund if arrested, triggering a possible conflict of interest, she’d replied: “We’re talking about a hypothetical situation there.
“I’m very careful not to get arrested.”
But following this week’s arrest, Cr Pemberton says she won’t be dipping into the fund to cover her estimated $100 court costs because of the city’s involvement in co-hosting the event.
Although Roe 8 falls within Cockburn council’s boundaries, Cr Pemberton says a lot of the people who’ve been arrested are from Fremantle, and they’re trying to prevent a road that’s planned to burrow underneath White Gum Valley.
“It’s no different from other events we’ve held, like the refugee welcome fiesta, and we’ve also provided the town hall free of charge for Rethink the Link events.”
Cr Pemberton says she is likely to be hit with a $300 good-behaviour bond, which is only payable if the bond is broken.
Cr Sam Wainwright, arrested at the Roe 8 site last month and charged with trespassing, left the chamber for the vote on the fund-raising events.
The $5000 council contribution will cover staging, power and PAs and will be drawn from the city’s budget for undertaking PFL assessments.
The city would also provide in-kind support, including waiving hire fees for the town hall hire and promotion.
Local government minister Paul Miles says councils are autonomous bodies but “they also have a duty to ensure they always act in the interests of all of their ratepayers, particularly on how they spend public funds”.
Both concerts will be organised by the Families for the Wetlands, Fremantle Fibonacci Centre and Red Tent Events, with the support of the Hamilton Hill Community Group, and are scheduled to be held by March.
On January 2 organisers held a similar event at Manning Park in Hamilton Hill, with the assistance of Cockburn council, which was attended by around 2500 people.
The planned community concerts in Fremantle would include information stalls, food vans and children’s play activities, and would be alcohol and smoke free.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK