Mayoral run with pitch to repurpose new civic centre
FORMER state MP Adele Carles has announced a run for Fremantle mayor, with a bold plan to repurpose the council’s new admin building in Walyalup Koort into a world-class Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Ms Carles says leasing the civic centre to the state government would provide the council with a much-needed revenue stream, while the centre would draw in tourists to support local traders.
“Cruise ships in two years are going to be back, dropping people off into the centre of Fremantle, and wouldn’t it be great if we could get those passengers into the city centre rather than having them jump on a bus to Perth,” Ms Carles said.
Local Whadjuk elders would need to approve the idea, she said.
The McGowan government has allocated $50 million seed funding for an Indigenous cultural centre somewhere in Perth, and Ms Carles said her plan would save them a bucket of money and the project could get off the ground almost immediately.
“Why should Aboriginal people have to wait another 10 years?”
Ms Carles said the state could also investigate corporate involvement: “Rio Tinto – there’s some amends to be made there.”
She says her own experience cruising around New Zealand with her Aboriginal brother Andrew, and surveys showing Indigenous culture was high on tourists’ bucket lists convinced her that the plan had merits.
“Andrew was a big hit with the passengers, they were crowding around him, particularly the Americans; they all wanted to know his story.”
She said the Maoris did tourism incredibly well, and passengers were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for cultural tours.
“And the Maoris would have a conversation about their culture and their history, current issues – it’s all on the table.
“It’s a most beautiful experience and back on the ship at night, that was the experience everyone was talking about.”
Ms Carles said she’d leave the council’s admin in its Fremantle Oval offices, but would move the council and committee meetings from North Fremantle to the new community hub on Fremantle Park, saying it would also provide them with a revenue stream.
Another long-term plan would be to cap the old South Fremantle tip site with clean fill from builders and turn it into an urban forest: “A wild place, a sanctuary.
“Let’s face it, no one has the $100 million to remediate it, which was the figure being thrown around when I was dealing with the issue,” she said.
She also wants the city’s CAT bus back, saying it made no sense for a supposedly green council to be scrapping a public transport initiative.
“They’ve cut the Red Cat and halved the Blue Cat, then people can’t rely on it and they stop using it, and now they’re looking at making the people living around the route pay for it.
“It’s only $600,000 a year, which shows you how much trouble this council is in.”
Meanwhile the McGowan government announced this week it was pouring in $12m to Perth city’s CAT fleet, including a whole new route connecting the new children’s hospital, UWA and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Ms Carles also wants the deal the council struck with the Fremantle Markets management company revisited at the first opportunity, saying they were reaping $2 million in profits each year while the council got around $600,000 and expensive maintenance costs.
A lawyer by trade, Ms Carles has been politically active recently, leading to speculation she was planning a mayoral campaign. She acknowledges one of the first conversations people have been having is that she carries “baggage” from her affair with former chair-sniffing treasurer Troy Buswell, an issue which forced her resignation from the Greens and played a big part in her loss of the seat in 2013 after just one term.
But she says it was a decade ago, and copping her punishment on the chin rather than blaming others had taken the grit she hopes can now be turned into a political positive.
“The old adage ‘smooth seas never made a skilled sailor’ springs to mind…Freo’s facing stormy seas and an experienced leader who’s faced adversity may be just what’s needed right now,” she said.
by STEVE GRANT