Letters 26.6.21

Memory holes

ONE of the letter’s in last weeks Herald was from a bloke named Mark who wondered if Romulans had taken over council – this in relation to barring ratepayers from attending the Fremantle council meeting of June 16 where an expert valuer explained why city property had been devalued. 

Transparency fail on the part of council – and no explanation given it appears, as to why ratepayers were barred from the meeting.

But I reckon George Orwells “memory holes” from his novel 1984 are more prescient than Mark’s Romulans. Memory holes can be seen as crude garbage disposal units. They are holes in the wall that are connected to a chute in which unwanted things are sent down to an incinerator – such as financial facts being kept from ratepayers. 

In 1984, the primary use of memory holes in Oceania is to dispose of documents, especially historical documents such as photos and old newspaper reports. 

In Orwell’s novel it’s not enough that the Party controls the present and the future; it also has to control the past. And it does this by rewriting history to follow the ever-changing Party line.

You see the city started investigating a new depot site in 2004, culminating in the purchase of 2 Jones Street in 2014 with council minutes in 2016 outlining a schedule to move to the Jones Street site in 2018. 

Never happened. Wasn’t needed. Apparently.

Planning fail on the part of council? Investigations did start in 2004 after all.

Thus the Jones site then had an objective of being a centralised site to co-locate other council resources – possibly. Didn’t happen. Perhaps this objective had utility when the$639,984 annual rental income at time of purchase disappeared as the tenant did not renew their lease shortly after the purchase date?Ouch!

Anyway, Romulans, memory holes, whatever – the rent since the original tenant moved on has been small recompense (think of what return you could get on $7.8m dollars versus the rent return ratepayers have received on 2 Jones Street – less than $50,000 per annum). A more recent objective is to use Jones Street as a film studio – given to the WA government for free – a bargain!

As an outsider looking in (that is, a ratepayer), what I do know is that 2 Jones sold for $1.48m in 2000. It was then sold in 2005 for $1.975m.

Finally, the City of Fremantle purchased the site in 2014 for $7.8m – a great return for the seller. And for the ratepayer?

Sean Hefferon
Wardie St, South Fremantle

It was our one night

WHERE’S Wally!

… and councillors Hannah Fitzhardinge and Rachel Pemberton?

The one Fremantle electors’ meeting per year where ratepayers get to ask questions of their councillors, and those two don’t turn up.

No excuse should deter them from honouring their obligations to their electors. (Unless Covid related and then there are communication methods).

Yes, it was a freezing night to be out, and we also got the cold shoulder from those two disinterested representatives.

Suzanne John
High St, Fremantle

Brakes on!

MY neighbours and I have just discovered that the Mountain bike trail is back on the agenda at Manning Park. 

We didn’t know anything about the Mountain bike trails going ahead.  

We thought it had all stopped when we found out about it a year ago and let the city know that the concept of mountain bike riders in our peaceful park was not acceptable. 

Given that we weren’t consulted about it in the first place and had complained to the city on many occasions about the trails, we have been waiting for the city to close the trails and repair the damage. 

Instead, there is a ‘working party’ to establish where the trails are to go. 

When and how were the residents who frequent the park going to be told this? 

Perhaps there will be a sign up on the park like it was last time, after it has all been discussed and decided on. 

I thought that as a ratepayer I would have a say in matters that are in near my home and that directly affect me. 

Apparently not. 

It doesn’t make sense when they don’t advise us that a permanent change is pending. 

The city does letter drops for social events that last a mere day at Manning Park, so there is no reason why we haven’t been advised of this, even in the June edition of Cockburn Sounds. 

The Cockburn council does what it wants to do, ignoring concerned citizens and residents who sent letters requesting that Manning Park be left alone from bikers flying thought the bush. 

This lack of consideration and transparency is very disturbing from our local council that is supposed to represent us.  

Seems like if you are a mountain biker you have all the say, even if you are not a Cockburn ratepayer. 

But if you are a resident in Manning Park not only are you dismissed as inconsequential, you’re not considered in the first place. 

Little wonder that there was an enquiry – go figure.

C Stevenson 
Spearwood

Climate cheer

I WOULD like to sincerely thank the City of Melville councillors for their unanimous vote to declare a climate emergency and commitment to reduce the council’s emissions to net-zero by 2030, to work with state and federal government to reduce emissions in the community to net-zero by 2050 and to create a climate action plan.

The People’s Climate Vote, which is the United Nation’s biggest survey of climate change in the world, shows 72 per cent of Australians agree we are in a climate emergency. 

The United Nations has urged leaders to declare a state of climate emergency. 

The Anglican Church Diocese of Perth, the Australian Architects Association and the Australian Medical Association have all declared a climate emergency along with 100 councils around Australia and nine councils in WA. 

It is time to act as if our house is going to catch fire! 

Whoops – Australia has already experienced this with the Black Summer fires and the science says there is much more to come. 

Paula Samson
Duncraig Road, Applecross

No wonder

AFTER years of poor and questionable council decisions, Monday’s electors meeting – held months late – was a hot and emotional meeting, where the residents’ patience with council’s bumbling came to a head.

Some of the complaints about services were the same as last year’s meeting; still no action over a year later.

The council’s “carbon neutral” claim was again outed for not having any recognised standards to oversee or audit it. If you were a private business making this claim, you would be fined by the authorities.

Council was again call out about voting against transparency on the Tent City debacle, which dragged Freo’s reputation through the mud again. 

Cr Vujcic asked for an independent inquiry, which was voted down at the FPOL meeting  by councillors Sullivan, Archibald, Thompson, Fitzhardinge, Lang and Wainwright, after then mayor Pettitt sent the item back from full council. 

A list of issues which the electors have questioned or asking about, some for a decade were listed: The Dockers Lease, Kings Square business plan, Jones Street purchase, the J-Shed debacle, the loss of revenue-producing city assets, the lack of transparency over the auditor general’s report, the incredible drop in the local government department’s financial health indicator, waiving debt for some while rates go up for everyone, continuing cuts to services.

With all the unanswered questions at council meetings, how can electors have confidence in this council and many of its councillors who have voted away transparency. These points are just the tip of the iceberg.

It was put to the vote and it was a clear vote of “no confidence” in this council by its attending electors. 

Fremantle deserves so much better.

Mark
WGV

Pamela and Treacle out protesting for refugees.

Treacle and Pamela for refugees!

I STARTED being an active supporter of refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and now I visit refugees and asylum seekers detained in Yongah Hill, write to members of parliament, prime ministers, the press, attend vigils and more. 

Desperate means, mean desperate measures and I even wrote to Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand pleading for her not give up on her offer to take 150 of our refugees each year. 

Vindictive

Unfortunately, our government continues to refuse her generous offer.

The reason I actively support refugees and asylum seekers is very simple – I became weary of hearing my own voice saying how awful, disgusting, inhumane, vindictive, shameful, appalling – name your adjective – the situation was and decided to put my words into meaningful action.

Hence, Treacle and I attended the vigil with a couple of hundred others outside Perth Children’s Hospital on a warmish Sunday afternoon in support of Tharnaca, her family, refugees and asylum seekers.

There were excellent speakers who were both so passionate and appalled about the way Australia treats people coming here looking for asylum.

It was food for my soul to be part of a gathering of like-minded people whilst Treacle played with her adoring public and posed for photographs!

The government has now made an interim decision for the Murugappans to be reunited Perth but there is still further work to do to enable the family to return to their community in Biloela.

What this decision clearly demonstrates is the power of the people in forcing the government to change its mind when they are so out of step with the will of the people.

Pamela G Leeson 
South Fremantle

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