ONCE were lumpers, then wharfies, and soon no more.
Your interview with Peter Le Scelle, , one of the last Wharfies on the end of the line (“A wharfie’s life: end of the line?”, Herald, June 24, 2017), reminded me of my father who earned the nickname, London Fog.
He operated a large forklift on the Fremantle wharves, commencing there in the early 1950s.
In those early days he would ride his BSA Bantam from Safety Bay to Fremantle hoping to be selected from the “Bull Ring”, sometimes looking for a midnight shift in winter which meant wearing the remnants of his army great coat, earned from serving in New Guinea during WW11, to ward of the cold and rain — not a pretty sight on his return without a job for that night.
I guess that many similar occupations that involved men in tough and harsh working conditions are no longer part of our society and those early pioneers now become a fading history of great effort, and an acknowledgement that the then Waterside Workers Federation Union initiated safe work practices and a fair means of allocating rosters to work as Wharfies on our historic Port of Fremantle.
Wes Carter OAM
(The MensWork Project Inc)
Kirby Way, Samson
Mayor’s carving up Tompkins
MELVILLE mayor Russell Aubrey has made no secret of his desire to evict Melville Bowling Club from its present site at any cost.
We now know that the cost is $9.4 million and involves the carving up and complete destruction of one of our iconic riverside public open spaces.
It also means three incompatible sporting groups will have to share limited clubhouse facilities and parking spaces in a squashed up “sports hub” on a busy corner of Dunkley Avenue.
Cricket and rugby clubs are seasonal games which means sharing facilities makes sense.
They now will have to share with an all-year playing group whose membership is of an entirely different cohort.
In losing a function room, and the bowling club building, the sporting clubs can no longer provide a venue for community groups, meetings and functions and have lost all autonomy as the council development officer stated at a public meeting that “the council will now oversee all bookings at Tompkins Park”.
Electors were told this “redevelopment” has nothing to do with the proposed wave park but the wave park has been granted a provisional lease and cannot go ahead if the bowling club is not relocated.
This means ratepayers are expected to contribute $9.4m and also lose valuable open space to accommodate a commercial venture we do not want!
The very favourable terms given to the proponent for this prime site means it will be many years before we have the $9.4m returned in rental.
It doesn’t make any business or social sense but seems to be a vendetta against the bowling club.
The council has a lot of explaining to do.
To lose riverside public open space and community meeting places when we have a growing population is total neglect of public needs and we certainly do not need a wave park, especially in this prime location.
Dunkley Avenue, Applecross
YOUR article about the Fremantle wharves (“A wharfie’s life: end of the line?”, Herald, June 24, 2017) presents an incomplete, sanitised and sentimental picture.
The Waterside Workers’ Federation was one of the most militant trade unions in Australia causing the broader community plenty of strike-related disruption, pertaining often to demands for higher and higher wages and perks.
O’Neill’s article draws heavily on the reminiscences of a retired waterside worker, which paints a misleadingly benign picture.
Mention should also have been made of darker reminiscences from WWII veterans that describe intransigent behaviour on the wharves during that war.
Large-scale theft, pilfering of cargo and thuggery were also commonplace.
Neither is there any mention of the fact that, as mechanisation replaced manual labour, many waterside workers received hefty redundancy payouts.
A fuller, more accurate picture would have made for a much more interesting article.
Dr Pauline Farley
Studley Rd, Attadale
Bin the bin police
I WANT it to be on record that as a ratepayer, I strongly resent the extreme waste of ratepayers money by paying people to walk around and snooping in our rubbish bins and sticking silly tags on them (it may even be regarded as an invasion of privacy, against which there are laws).
Cockburn council seems concerned about the environment, yet how much waste has gone into the (probably) thousands of cardboard tags, with their silly sad/happy faces, that have been distributed to bins.
I received a “sad” face on my new red bin, reportedly for putting in paper, and a plastic shaver head.
How it was discovered amongst the snotty tissues I don’t know.
I regard this as an insult to my intelligence, and I don’t like being called stupid.
In respect to the small amount of paper I put in the red bin, it is paper which may contain personal information, which I would prefer to go to landfill/compost, rather than enter into the public arena by going through the recycle chain.
Having been duly chastised however, in future I will soak such material in the laundry trough and put the whole soggy mess in the recycle bin.
Will this gain me a happy face?
In regard to the small razor head, it is made mainly of metal, which I assumed would rust down nicely in landfill.
Why didn’t I get pinged for the cotton buds—should I not have pulled off the cotton buds and put the little cardboard sticks in recycle?
In future I will put my razor heads in the recycle bin, probably alongside my snotty tissues and other goodies from my small bathroom bin.
In conclusion, I would like it to be noted that after all this public humiliation, and the hard work put in by mainly dedicated recyclers, shire in their wisdom, come along and tip both the green lid and the red lid bins into the same truck, converting our weeks’ dedication of separation into a farce!
REGARDING John Dowson’s letter, “History war erupts”, Herald, June 10, 2017.
Your letter, dear sir, similarly contains wild and outrageous claims, least of which is implying that Aboriginal prisoners had it better than their white counterparts.
Let us not pretend for a moment that the conquest and subsequent treatment of Aboriginal people in those early times resembled anything close to justice or fairness.
The cruelty, the bloodshed and the inhumane treatment that was inflicted on the Aboriginals is the history, ‘warts and all’ as you put it.
It seems that the ‘rose-tinted glasses’ approach to this history is the way you are choosing to view it possibly because it is too awful to contemplate the ugly truth in modern times.
Aboriginal people did suffer, horribly and horrifically and I am troubled at your attempt to down play this by implying that justice was sometimes metered out strangely, (fairly or more fairly to some Aboriginals).
As to your concern regarding shameful comparisons, to the Aboriginal people, Arthur Head may indeed have similar connotations to Auschwitz.
The way they experienced and understand their history is far more significant to them than how some author recorded events after the fact.
After all, the Mabo case is testament to the fact that for the longest time, terra nullius has been a historical fiction.
With this in mind, the comparison is not so wild and outrageous.
WHAT a fascinating piece on the old culture of Fremantle as epitomised by former wharfie Pete LeScelle (“A wharfie’s life: end of the line?”, Herald, June 24, 2017).
It is to be hoped that the hipsters and millennials who are now changing the face of the town appreciate the contribution that wharfies and seamen made that gives the place the character it now possesses.
It appears much of that character is being squeezed out of Fremantle in the rush to ‘modernise’ the town, I fear that in the future it will just become another anodyne community by the sea, full of overpriced apartments populated by people with little or no sense of the vibrant port it once was,
Carrington St, Palmyra
Asbestos still here
JUST because the diligent MP for Cockburn, Fran Logan, is now the state minister of corrective services, doesn’t mean that asbestos debris has disappeared.
I am relatively new to this district and have walked not just around the beautiful Kardinya, but also along my coast around Woodman Point.
That entire coastal strip is littered with dumped asbestos and one must be constantly aware of the present danger.
The Roe 8 possibility convulsed a whole heap of detriment that had lain dormant for a century—a chronic safety issue for workers, the police, main roads’ employees and the entire protesting contingent.
Many of us, on one side or the other, got involved in the Roe 8 campaign, yet safety issues on that stretch seemed, at times, to be sidelined.
Philmore Crescent, Kardinya