Letters 16.11.19

On the waterfront
KEVIN BOVILL (“Wharfie Biffo”, Herald Letters, November 9, 2019) accuses me of “glossing over” some aspects of the waterside workers’ union’s history.
Not so.
During both world wars, wharfies were casual labourers, working long shifts in appalling conditions.
Fremantle Wharf had very little mechanisation until after World War II, so much of the loading and unloading was done literally on the wharfies’ backs.
Some companies and individuals made a lot of money out of both wars – but not the wharfies.
They were expected to exist on government promises until after the war.
So, while they did indeed distress Curtin, I believe they had a case.
As for the Vietnam war, a shameful conflict that our government should never have involved our armed forces in, I am completely in support of the wharfies’ actions.
Regarding Mr Bovill’s alternative reading of the 1998 wharf dispute, I wonder if he thinks it appropriate for a government to lie, to deliberately support one section of its people (employers and farmers) against another (wharf labourers) and to spend taxpayers’ money to destroy trade unions?
That was what was happening in 1998.
Belonging to a trade union should be an inalienable right for every Australian.
No matter how you vote, you should be concerned when your government attempts to destroy that right, as indeed the Howard government did and the present federal government is doing.
Bobbie Oliver
(Associate professor of history)
Auckland Street, North Perth

Council roasted
DOES the level of contempt that the City of Fremantle shows towards its residents’ health and safety have no bounds?
The city is encouraging solar farm developer Epuron to build a solar farm on the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service monitored area at the South Fremantle tip site.
If only this was a contaminated tip or even a toxic waste site, then things would not be so bad.
This site poses the next level of “danger” to humans, and this is why AQIS are required to supervise any work at the site.
Despite the city knowing this was an AQIS site, they have tried to push the project through all government approvals without once mentioning AQIS or recognising the true nature of the location.
A 2012 report by engineering consultant GHD on the site, listed quarantine risk as the “number one risk”, but the latest GHD report submitted for project approval no longer mentions AQIS or the quarantine risk.
AQIS quarantine material includes the vegetation on the site, meaning that the city cannot disturb the soil or the vegetation.
The vegetation also suppresses the hazardous dust from getting blown across South Fremantle.
This issue has recently been brought to the attention of AQIS by residents in South Fremantle and North Coogee, and AQIS is now reviewing the situation.
It was hoped that this had bought some breathing space so that AQIS could apply some level-headed thinking to the situation.
Could it get any worse? The answer is absolutely.
The residents of North Coogee received a leaflet on November 6 stating that the City of Fremantle is going to slash all of the vegetation at this site to within 100mm of the ground, and then spray with herbicide, such as Glyphosate, to make sure it does not grow back.
This is being done under the pretence of its “annual” bush fire risk management at the site.
This is complete rubbish, because 20-year residents of the area have never seen this type of activity by the city before.
Let’s be crystal clear, this has nothing to do with bush fire risk, and everything to do with the city trying to get rid of the quarantine vegetation before AQIS tells them they can’t touch it.
If you think this is great, go and pat Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on the back – otherwise get vocal before it is too late.
The slashing and spraying starts next week.
Martin Lee
Brennan Street, Fremantle

Try harder
IN last week’s Herald story “Best yet: Pettitt” we read that the Fremantle mayor says the Woolstores plans are a “great resolution” for the centre.
“They are the best plans that have been put forward for that site yet,” he says.
That may be so, but it doesn’t make them acceptable or even good.
Is our mayor an expert judge of civic/urban/streetscape design anyway?
So in the spirit of your headline, and the mayor’s enthusiasm, I’ll also have a go.
What a frustrating proposal. We are being led into some kind of weird visual built-history spiral.
The original Woolstores were demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced with a dull and deceitful red-brick pastiche.
Pretending to be a new commercial development in “the old Woolstores”, they were just a very mediocre cheat.
There is now an opportunity to revitalise the precinct, a crucial railway-port gateway to the city, and instead we get the demolition of Pastiche01, replaced [it seems] by Pastiche02.
But this one is really trying hard. Really, really hard. Pulling out all the look-at-me stops.
And so [if it fails] it will be more spectacular, more long lasting, more frustrating.
The streetscape resolution (sorry Mr Mayor) is now just awful, with a mis-match of scale, texture, colour and materials.The Elder Place elevation is two buildings built to different scales. Brick pilasters of similar widths, but varying in heights and distances apart.
Well-considered streetscape isn‘t like a row of tents and pavilions at the Royal Show, all shouting for attention.
The whole effect of this development proposal is a 1950s-revival wet-dream on acid.
The vertical elements on the warp-around large intestine that winds its way around the hotel like a half-demolished piano accordion, have the effect of after-thought camouflage.
They appear as a half-hearted non-resolution coming straight out of the 2018-2019 cliché-book. Give us a break from the banal please. The whole effect is slightly reminiscent of Independence Day – the movie, not the date.
A giant accordion has colonised the innards of a brick South London housing estate from 1958.
If this is the best my council can chaperone through the current design processes, I really worry about my old town. Perhaps the processes are broken. We seem to be officially out of control.
This is not a contribution to great urban streetscape for the next 50 years.
It’s not what Fremantle deserves.
Carl Payne, architect
White Gum Valley
Editor’s note: This letter has been lightly edited.

I was very interested to read Mr Zeffertt’s comments on the westminster model of political organisation and its application, agreeing wholeheartedly with all he has to say (“Political stymie”, Herald Letters, November 9, 2019).
Yes, our westminster system of government is an anachronism in our present era which, having once served as a guardian of societal wellbeing, has now become its main protagonist.
The union of commercial enterprise and government, the ‘elites’ you mentioned, have always been a part of that system and still is today, in a far more refined and powerful form.
I think the key to your letter is in the phrase “…no one dominates…”
Today, society is still being dominated by this union of state and economic sectors, and the results are there for all to see.
The fight for domination between these two sectors has all but been completed and the two are effectively becoming one, so your call for a re-balancing effort from our cultural sector is a powerful one, considering what it will have to confront.
But it is vitally necessary, and somehow the people you appealed to will have to turn a very fragmented and disorganised cultural sector into an autonomous body capable of demanding its recognition and inclusion in the process of forming a true democracy.
Peter Want
Halls Head

Binning backlash
I GET the impression reading Daryl Binning’s letter on climate change (“Condom action”, Herald Letters, November 9, 2019) that he is more concerned about the drop in his standard of living than he is about the welfare of the poor in third world countries or climate change for that matter.
Who are these masses of people emigrating “from countries who have denuded the earth of it’s ability to sustain them”?
The root cause of the problem as he put it, is not overpopulation, but the perennial problems of greed and ignorance.
His suggestion to send container loads of contraceptive pills and condoms to those countries instead of much-needed aid and support reflects a growing indifference in the west to the suffering and poverty many people have to endure on a daily basis.
Of course he is not alone in his assertions.
Another luminary who has suggested a similar approach is Milanda Gates, which your readers may be interested to know is a self-confessed Catholic.
Like many Catholics these days she picks and chooses which of the church’s moral teachings they sign up for.
Yes the church does not condone the use of contraceptives, but it has always taught that a couple must act as responsible parents when deciding the number of and spacing between children: “The couple must fulfil their role as cooperators of God’s creative love with responsibility:  they must respect the divine providence of God, consider their own good and the good of their children, born and yet to be born, weigh their own situation and needs on the spiritual and material levels, and look to the good of family, society, and Church”, according to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
This can be achieved without contraceptive pills and condoms by tried and tested natural family planning techniques.
One of the obvious advantages of natural family planning is that there are no costs involved.
But we mustn’t forget contraception is big business.
The market is currently worth over $20 billion (US) globally and is estimated to grow to over $30 billion by the year 2025.
So instead of giving the money to the big pharmaceutical companies, let’s continue to show real compassion by putting our money where it is needed most in relieving suffering and helping the poor to help themselves.
Aidan Holohan
Maxwell Street, Beaconsfield

Brain wave
GRETA Thunberg and striking schoolchildren have stirred up angry droves of climate deniers, possibly some of whom are members of Scott Morrison’s cabinet or feature writers for Conservative newspapers.
How, in 2019, anyone can deny the science of climate change and the increasing urgency to do something about it, is a mystery.
Perhaps some people are simply dis-abled from comprehending what humankind is doing to the earth?
Neuroscientific research shows that those on the most Conservative side of the political equation have different brains from those on the most progressive side.
The right amygdala are better developed in Conservative brains and the anterior cingulate cortex is significantly larger in more liberal folk.
Thus, Conservatives tend to be more instinctive by nature and are constitutionally more likely to respond in a knee-jerk, fight or flight kind of way, to maintain the status quo where coal has always been king, whereas those with a larger cingulate cortex find it easier to be decisively thoughtful.
These brain differences may explain why right-wing Conservatives find it so very hard to comprehend climate science. Basically, in some people, the word “climate” tends to provoke an immediate and angry response.
Perhaps, instead of reiterating climate science, it might be more productive to discuss brain morphology to help us understand why people react so differently to the words ‘climate change’.
Surely it is high time for deniers to try to retrain their brains so it becomes possible to create bipartisan action to tackle Australia’s contribution to climate change?
Bill Castleden
Doctors for the Environment

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