Off and running

Fremantle mayoral candidate Hannah Fitzhardinge and daughter Edie Macknay under the watchful gaze of Australia’s first female senator Dorothea Tangney. Ms Fitzhardinge notes a woman hasn’t worn Fremantle’s mayoral robes in almost 25 years. Photo by Steve Grant.

FREMANTLE councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge has announced a tilt at the top job, saying that as mayor she’d work to reunite the port city, create jobs and get back to basics.

Cr Fitzhardinge said she had a three-point plan, with the first being to reconnect with ratepayers.

“I call it drawing a bigger circle, this idea that there are people who over the years have started to feel disconnected; not part of Freo,” she said.

“And I’d really like to see those people feel like there’s something in Freo for them … our amazing stories and heritage and history in all its layers.”

Her website votehannah.org notes an “increasingly divided community” but she told the Herald she wasn’t contemplating reinstating Australia Day celebrations.

“Nationally there’s a move to reconsider the nature of Australia Day as a universal celebration, and in my view we need to look beyond a single day for celebrating our past.

“I’m open to suggestions for community-initiated events, as I’d like to see a calendar of events throughout the year to attract people to Fremantle both to celebrate and to support our business.”

Cr Fitzhardinge said another focus would be on developing relationships that would help create new jobs, with a focus on “innovation” and “blue” industries.

“Everything from supporting the super yachts through to green energy.”

“But we really need to make sure that we’re working with the state government, with people in the industry, to understand what their needs are and their barriers to coming to Freo.”

She said the proposed film studio on Victoria Quay presented a great opportunity that would ripple through the local economy, although the deeper analysis of exactly how many jobs would be created hadn’t yet been done.

“And then the bigger picture is with the recent taskforce the state government’s announced, to really be a partner in that conversation.

“And I think more generally, it’s time for a really big conversation about what is Fremantle in 10, 20, 30 years, and I think our community’s keen for that conversation.

“I think they really want to talk about what a job is going to look like in Fremantle, what housing types that we’re going to be living in.”

Suburban

She said the shifting of port operations to Kwinana presented big opportunities and risks for the city, and she’d be pushing for a big say to ensure any redevelopment of North Quay didn’t create another town centre across the river to compete with the current CBD, nor to create another “enclave for the uber wealthy”.

Cr Fitzhardinge said while there had been significant investment in the CBD, the council was “almost on the other side of that” and needed to focus on its suburban assets.

“The sports infrastructure, the footpaths, the park benches.

“It doesn’t sound exciting but it’s the stuff that people see every single day.”

She said Freo’s suburbs were growing because of their desirability, but that also meant ensuring there were adequate sports fields and places for passive recreation.

“We need to make sure … you know … public toilets,” she said with South Beach’s notorious bog top of mind.

When the Chook asked how she could get the loos fixed after a decade on the to-do list, she said it was about making it a priority: “It needs to be on the top of the list.”

Another challenge will be to do it on an oily rag, as the council’s horrendously out-of-date 10-year financial plan shows that after the completion of the Kings Square redevelopment, the council’s reserves will be dangerously thin.

Cr Fitzhardinge foreshadowed a move to try and get a developer contribution scheme similar to Cockburn council’s.

“But how do we package things up? So we say ‘our community has an expectation that if you do develop up an area that there are investments in community infrastructure’.”

By STEVE GRANT

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