LETTERS 18.3.17

Tit for Tag
IN response to Jon Strachan’s rant (“A tale of two cities”, Herald letters, 11/03/2017), his claim of a toxic council and retailers leaving in droves and missing the economic boom, are a bit rich coming from him.
In short we had returned investment in the city, zero retail vacancy rate, Myers increased their trading hours and floor space, the fashion collective started.
As far as council goes, yes we had robust debate that was healthy for the city and a high level of community engagement, we reduced parking fees, paid off the 30-year council debt, passed the new town planning scheme, bought Victoria Hall, bought Point Street, secured Cantonment Hill, deleted the Fremantle eastern bypass and the list goes on.
We, as a council, faced the fallout from the world recession in the last four years of my council but got on with the job.
But enough said, I feel a thinking allowed coming on.
Peter Tagliaferri
Annie St, Beaconsfield

Guardian angel
EARLIER this week I decided to go on a ‘technological adventure’ and try something different.
Because the TV has been so abysmal lately, I decided to obtain a DVD to watch from the ‘video machine’ outside The Melville Plaza Shopping Centre.
After some confusion I managed to complete the task and successfully had the desired DVD in my hand.
Now in all the excitement of my latest conquest, I left my credit card in the machine.
Of course I didn’t realise this until the next day and of course anxiety immediately set in.
On a whim I visited the Coles store there and inquired as to whether anyone had handed it in.  Now to my incredible surprise someone had in fact done that and I was reunited with my card, causing me great relief and happiness.
So I would just like to sincerely thank the wonderful person who handed in my credit card and I hope that you receive blessings in abundance for this kind and honest act.
Steve Grady
Murray Road, Palmyra

Tag team
COUNCILLOR Jon Strachan is clearly incensed that former Mayor Peter Tagliaferri took aim at Fremantle council over its poor financial management record and lack of commercial acumen (Herald letter 11/03/2017). Perhaps the truth hurts?
Mr Tagliaferri is yet another person to express his concerns over the looming financial cliff approaching the city’s finances. Mr Tagliaferri is absolutely correct in his assessment, and is entitled as a concerned ratepayer to express his views. He was also the mayor responsible for digging Fremantle out the council’s last property development disaster. He is qualified to comment.
The auditors’ comments in the city’s 2016 financial statements are also far from flattering regarding the city’s assets sustainability ratio, debt service ratio and operating surplus ratio. The auditors state that: “To help alleviate the continued erosion of ratios both the council and management will need to consider ways to improve the operating position either via increasing revenue or by decreasing expenditure (or combination of both).”
Yet our council’s response is to sell our investment properties and throw money around like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Jon Strachan had an opportunity to address the issues raised by Mr Tagliaferri, but instead decided to revert to smokescreens and personal attacks in his letter. Why didn’t Cr Strachan simply address the financial concerns raised by Mr Tagliaferri instead? Perhaps he can’t?
When I emailed Cr Strachan and several other councillors in November 2014 to ask what independent financial due diligence they personally undertook before voting to knock down and rebuild the Kings Square council building at a cost of $45 million, he responded: “With regards to the due diligence I applied all four sustainability principles when assessing the total Kings Square project, based on a huge amount of advice from a broad range of experts, over an extended time frame.”
Frightening! What utter nonsense! I’m not sure that Cr Strachan knows his NPV from his ABC. Unfortunately not a single councillor that I emailed could provide a better response. Not one councillor has since stepped forward to look into the serious financial concerns raised. Are any of them properly qualified and informed to make such a huge financial commitment on our behalf?
The only response that ratepayers get when they ask legitimate financial questions of this council is aggressive personal attacks. This is hardly the “respectful debate” that Cr Strachan yearned for in his letter.
Cr Strachan is right. Fremantle certainly has changed over the past eight years. Residents now have to go to Garden City and Claremont to buy their basics, because those key shops have all left Freo. Anti-social behaviour has gone through the roof.
This council has sold off many of its CBD car parks, yet in South Fremantle it trashes its green parkland by turning them into car parks and commercial venues.
Ugly box development projects get dumped in the middle of our once beautiful and historic city. Progress!
Still, it is truly heart-warming to hear that there are group hugs all around in the  council chambers. Wake up Freo, before they group hug us off the cliff.
Martin Lee

Bowls barney
MELVILLE city councillors do not have the authority to lease any crown land vested in the City of Melville, without firstly calling tenders.
As a former builder, developer and entrepreneur, when a piece of council land came up for lease, the person tendering must present plans of the development, also how the project will be funded, with proof in writing from a bank or other financial institution.
Raising the money after you secured the lease was not tolerated
As I understand, the Melville bowling club still have a lease over the land where the club house and bowling greens exist.
Until the new Melville-Mt Pleasant clubhouse and bowling greens are built at Tompkins Park, the land should not be available for lease for any other purpose.
Frank Granger
Melville Beach Road, Applecross

Remember Roe 8?
A LOT is made about the deal with One Nation that the Libs made as an explanation for their loss.
My opinion is that a lot of votes went to Labor for one reason alone: Mark McGowan’s promise that Roe 8 would not go ahead if Labor won.
I don’t hear that mentioned all that often, though.
Am I the only one who didn’t hear him?
One of the first things I would do if I were Mark McGowan is to restate that promise with oomph.
How about it, Mark?
Can you?
Will you?
We are straining to hear…!
Carla van Raay
Kirby Street, Willagee

Human rights
IN 2016, hateful language and fear-mongering were prevalent in politics across the world.
The world’s most vulnerable people were the ones who suffered as world leaders turned their backs.
This and more was revealed in Amnesty International’s report on the state of the world’s human rights launched this week.
As an Australian citizen I like to think that I am part of a society that stands up as a beacon against this darkness in the world.
I was ashamed to see a list of serious human rights abuses that took place on our watch in our own country, due to our governments policies.
The abuse of children in prisons, and the fact that Aboriginal kids are 24 times more likely to be separated from their families and communities in prison is unacceptable.
Similarly, the trauma faced by children, families, and vulnerable people in Australia’s offshore detention centres must end.
We as members of Amnesty International volunteers are proud, it seems that taking stand for human rights right here in our country has never been more important.
We all should be working to return Australia to its position as a leader on human rights.
Protecting each and every person’s right to live a safe, fulfilling life is what our society is all about so let’s join together and make Australia a great place again.
Christa Kaltenbrunn Long
Fremantle and Melville Amnesty Group

Council blues
IF harmonious decision-making and investment “flowing into Fremantle” were sufficient indicators of Fremantle council being a “well-run organisation”, then councillor Jon Strachan‘s criticism of Peter Tagliaferri (Herald, letters, 11/03/2017) might be justified.
In fact, the former mayor’s critique of the current Council’s strategy for the redevelopment of Kings Square is really about the transfer of the city’s primary income-earning assets, including hundreds of parking bays essential for maintaining commercial activity in Fremantle, to a private property developer (Herald, 04/03/ 2017).
That’s not to even mention council’s decision to demolish its council chambers and administration building.
Despite claiming willingness to debate Peter Tagliaferri’s (unspecified) “rubbish”, Jon Strachan offers no justification for council’s decisions transferring significant community assets to a property developer for what, independent professional opinion says, is well below market value.
It is unlikely that any future council can undo the financial damage visited on the City of Fremantle by the current council although, in my opinion, the magnitude of that damage justifies, at least, a formal independent enquiry.
Jon Strachan’s parting shot that Peter Tagliaferri’s vocal opposition to numerous council decisions is related to the upcoming mayoral election may well be true.
Well, that’s how communities hold to account elected councils which deal with public assets in the way Peter Tagliaferri complains of — it’s called democracy.
Chris Williams
9 McCleery Street, Beaconsfield

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