Letters 30.11.19

Over the top
LAST week’s front-page Herald story “Council pay $564k short”, reported an underpayment of $564,000 to Fremantle council staff and also mentioned that 27 staff had also been overpaid, but the acting council CEO had said this money would not be recovered.
It turns out that the over-payment was estimated to be $180K, and that the acting CEO said it would be unfair to recover as the staff may have spent or committed the money already.
It is standard practice in all workplaces to recover any over-payments to staff no matter how the error occurred, usually by an agreed amount per pay that doesn’t cause hardship to the staff member.
For the acting CEO to expect ratepayers to foot the bill is actually unfair on all ratepayers who are being required to forgo a valid debt (even welfare recipients are expected to repay over-payments when they are detected, and they would be facing much greater hardships than the employees concerned).
It is time for the CEO to review his decision and recover the debt on behalf of all ratepayers.
Keith O’Brian
Bellevue Terrace, Fremantle

Hot debate
IT was pleasing to hear our prime minister acknowledge the relevance of climate change in relation to our increasingly extreme weather conditions and the need to prepare and strengthen our capacity to manage more frequent bush fires and prolonged and devastating droughts.
It was less pleasing, though, to hear the PM say that Australia can’t expect to have any significant effect or influence on altering the circumstances of climate change, because as a nation we only contribute about one per cent of global CO2 emissions.
Pity he seems so lukewarm about the problem and just recites his mantra of meeting our pretty feeble Paris Accord targets.
Wouldn’t it be a bit more responsible and encouraging for our government to stop pussy-footing about and instead adopt the strong, high profile international stance of our neighbouring Pacific Island Nations, who are also faced with an existential threat from climate change.
Together, as an Indo Pacific community, we should be highlighting our very immediate climate change vulnerability to the rest of the world and together, and with other likeminded countries, there can be a better chance to influence the sluggish pace which the world is addressing this rapidly developing planetary disaster.
Might that strategy make sense?
Or are we just putting everything off to sell our coal first?
John Adderley
Wardie Street, South Fremantle

Baying for action
AT a meeting just before the Fremantle council election, where all three candidates for City Ward spoke, Rachel Pemberton was asked about the sale of the Leisure Centre car park.
Her response was that the idea had been removed from the 10-year plan. John Dowson responded by saying that he had recently spoken to someone at the council and was told that the sale was still on the table.
So what is the truth of the matter?
The Leisure Centre has just over 1000 members, most of whom are ratepayers, and all of whom pay a monthly membership fee for the privilege of using the centre.
Their membership includes three hour’s free parking, while they are there. Should the council in their wisdom sell the car park, they would have at least 1000 people up in arms.
The Leisure Centre is a community service that we pay for.
It serves mothers with babies, children learning to swim, adults who regularly swim or work out, right up through the elderly who have participated in the Stronger for Longer program and continue to work out. The fitness and well-being of Fremantle residents are being well-served. The Leisure Centre was built over 20 years ago, with the intent that it would last five years.
Although it has since been heated and the pools lined, the centre itself has not been expanded.
Fremantle is growing so there is an even greater need for both its services and the car park.
Should the car park be sold, it would need to be replaced with an even bigger one that gives close access to the entrance and facilities.
These will also need to be expanded with more play areas for children, hydrotherapy pools etc.
May I remind the council, they work for us – the residents of this beautiful city.  The idea that they ever considered selling this particular city asset appalls me.
Jeanette Shearsmith
Swanbourne Street, Fremantle

Unbalanced
I AM writing about the Herald article on the passing away of Mr Alan Sanderson (“Second death at house”, November 16, 2019).
I work at St Pat’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle, where Alan came most days of the week.
Alan was a well-loved member of our community and a man who spent his whole life in Fremantle.
He was definitely a drinker, but he was a loveable rogue and was very good company.
We enjoyed having him in our little health clinic and in the general centre.
For this reason, we were a bit sad to read about him just being referred to as a drunk who fell over in the street.
There is a lot more to a person than just their habits, be them deemed good or bad.
Anyway, I just thought I would tell you that for future reference when naming a person who has passed away.
Sarah McCartin
Snook Crescent, Hilton
Ed says:
Thanks, Sarah; a couple of Herald staff have known Alan for 25 years, and that’s the kindest thing we’ve ever heard said about him.

Reboot the world
MR Keane’s Thinking Allowed in last week’s Herald “We can do this”, expresses a heartfelt plea which, I am sure, resonates with many of the Chook’s readers.
Whether or not the author himself or his readers are aware of it, his plea comes from and relates directly to the cultural sphere of our society.
That sphere which, if allowed its due recognition and accorded its proper place in society, is capable of attaining the seemingly impossible yet perfectly sensible objective Mr Keane is pleading for.
He appeals again and again for the active recognition, amongst all citizens, of the dignity, respect and freedom to be accorded every individual in our society, regardless of both their inner-world views and their outer way of expressing them in the midst of a diverse cultural mix.
That this sensible objective is realistic is obvious by the fact that it is already being realised in many discrete sections of our communities.
There are lots of communities exercising those excellent attributes, albeit imperfectly and understandably so, once we recognise that such and endeavour must never be configured as an ideal to be ‘completed’.
To that wonderful cultural sector, which must form the very basis of every individual’s personal growth and world-involvement, Mr Keane quite unconsciously attributes the responsibility of the development and oversight of the high moral standards which he rightly says is lacking in the political and economic spheres.
Because, through a combination of ignorance and laziness, we have allowed these two spheres to take control of our education they are directing our very existence to serve their own purposes, through perverse curriculums aimed not at moral development but at mass production of a human commodity.
Mr Keane, in his distress and ‘lostness’, suggests a republic but that will only change the form, not the process.
A simple start (though a huge challenge) would be to take back education from those overcome by the lust for global power and profit and return them to the community, into the hands of those who delight in the moral growth and personal development of our future cultural, political and economic participants.
Peter Want
Avocet Island, Wannanup

Pettitt’s rosebud
AFTER waiting patiently to see the finished result of the renovated Myer building on Kings Square, I can now truly feel for Simon O’Brien, owner of the Woolstores Shopping Centre.
After Mr O’Brien spent millions on designs for the rebuilding of his shopping centre, which the planning and administration aesthetes at Fremantle City Council called, not good looking enough, I was appalled to see the quasi-70s style mishmash that awaits the new government tenants in Kings Square .
One can only wonder as to the appearance of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt’s new $50 million Taj Mahal.
Anthony Brown
Fremantle

Sticky situation
AS of the ongoing US House of Representatives impeachment inquiries, Donald Trump can be labelled – at least by the irreverent few – President Toast.
On these grounds, given the present Australian prime minister’s repeated toadying to the US president, e.g. pledging $150 million dollars to Trump’s proposed Mars exploration, which is more than three times the monetary relief package being given to fire-ravaged New South Wales, our senior federal politician can be known henceforth as Prime Minister Marmalade.
C Dortch
Howard Street, Fremantle

‘Bloody eyesore’
SITTING at Fremantle’s South Mole car park with a coffee, watching the ships, boats and dolphins passing by, is one of our great pleasures.
Sadly the precinct, west of the Maritime Museum to the beginning of the South Mole, incorporates a lot of decayed maritime industrial heritage, a small beach, the very unsafe old jetty (a bloody eyesore), cruise ship passengers, but more so is an insult to the indigenous people of Walyalup.
The precinct, also known as Manjaree, was the site of the original rock bar that linked the north and south shores of the Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River), and allowed access for the Noongar Whadjuk people to cross the river mouth for tens of thousands of years.
The rocky reef was blasted out in the late nineteenth century for the construction of Fremantle Harbour.
Subsequent industrialisation of the area has seen significant destruction of the natural land forms and shoreline.
What now remains reflects blatant neglect, industrial maritime archaeology gone wrong, and is a cultural insult.
Those responsible for the site, presumably the state government, need to address the state of the deterioration and implement a plan for restoration and allocate cultural significance of the area to Noongar people.
Errol Allen
Beaconsfield

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