FREMANTLE council dropped the ball and should have tried harder to prevent Challenger TAFE in Beaconsfield being shunted off to Melville, says mayoral candidate Ra Stewart.
While the council is looking at rezoning the site as part of the Heart of Beaconsfield redevelopment, Ms Stewart says she’ll go in boots and all to keep the facility where it is if she’s successful at the October council elections.
The former local chamber of commerce president says she wants to pitch Fremantle as a “knowledge hub”, trading on Notre Dame uni and the city’s innovative schools like Lance Holt and John Curtin, and says that makes keeping the Tafe important.
But she fears the horse may have already bolted.
“Why all of a sudden are councillor [Hannah] Fitzhardinge and the mayor deciding that they’re going to talk to the state government around the TAFE when it was announced in the Liberal government that it was going to go.
“The state Labor government has been in four months and only now they’re talking to them – anyone would think there’s a local government election around the corner.”
Ms Stewart accused the council of being too focussed on its own agenda and allowing valuable assets in the city to bleed away.
“That’s what happened with the Fremantle Hospital, and exactly the same thing happened with the Dockers, Customs House and Myer.”
She says by bringing “the right players” to discuss a Fremantle-based knowledge hub, the city could look to attract a variety of industries such as architecture, communications, biotechnology and software design.
Fremantle hospital is also in her sights.
“Notre Dame could move some of its medical school up there, like a training hospital. There’s a lot you could do with that site,” she says, adding parts could also be redeveloped for student and aged accommodation.
Ms Stewart launched her official campaign last Friday, promising to reinstate Fremantle’s Australia Day celebrations to January 26 until a broader section of the community had been consulted about any changes.
“The decision to cancel Australia Day in Fremantle created a division in our community not witnessed before,” she said.
“My initial criticism of council was directed at the very limited and biased consultation that it did, and did not engage in.
“I believe we can find ways to of being inclusive and acknowledging the injustices our first people have experienced without alienating the rest of our community.”
Ms Stewart also took a swipe at the council’s proposed plastic bag ban, saying she’s a big fan of waste to energy plants that use micro bacteria to break down waste including plastic bags, which are then incinerated to produce energy.
“And not only that, it reduces landfill and carbon emissions,” she says.
“It would seem a logical option for a proudly ‘sustainable’ city like Fremantle, yet of the nine councils who have signed up for this method of waste disposal – Kwinana, South Perth, Canning, Mandurah, Armadale, Gosnells, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Murray – Fremantle is not one of them.”
Ms Stewart wants to extend free half hour street parking to a full hour and make residential parking permits available online.
by STEVE GRANT