A bridge too far?

If Martin Douthwaite (left) becomes Fremantle mayor he will build a new wooden traffic bridge (top), based on the Roger Bacon bridge in Nova Scotia (bottom).

MARTIN DOUTHWAITE’S been a paramedic and worked in intensive care units across Australia, but his most harrowing job could be still to come – mayor of Fremantle.

If you’ve never heard of Mr Douthwaite, don’t be surprised, he doesn’t have a big public profile and is an outsider in the Freo mayoral race, but it hasn’t quelled his passion for left-field ideas to get the port city back on track.

He’s just collaborated with a design company to produce an artist’s impression of a new timber traffic bridge in Fremantle.

The company estimated the new bridge could be built and the existing heritage-listed wooden bridge refurbished for under $230 million.

“This is a magnificent design based on the Roger Bacon bridge in Nova Scotia – timber can be built to last longer than concrete and is cheaper. This will reduce the pylons that main roads have proposed hence maximising river flow (something the Indigenous feel strongly about retaining) and isn’t it beautiful,” Mr Douthwaite says.

Mr Douthwaite clearly has a big heart: the 40-year-old currently works on the covid front line at the ADF quarantine facility in Bladin Point, and for the last few years has been doing remote nursing in mostly small indigenous communities, as well as a year-long stint running a clinic in the Kimberley.

He worked as an ambo for about five years and had a spell in Fremantle Hospital’s ICU before it closed.

His campaign lacks specifics, bullet points and “visions”, but maybe that’s the point – Douthwaite says people are sick of talk-fests and want action.

“As you would be very aware my own campaign is fairly limited, one might even say non-existent,” he says.

“I believe that there is a chronic community disinterest in matters such as these and a level of disenfranchisement where people no longer feel that anything they say or do matters anymore. 

“It is for this reason that I have opted to keep my side of the conversation brief, succinct and to the point so as not to get distracted with superfluous details or create any ambiguity surrounding the issues I believe are too important to glaze over.” 

Mr Douthwaite operates eight short stay holiday apartment rentals in Fremantle and has been on body corporates for the past two decades.

He’s done well out of the ventures and says if elected he would donate his mayoral wages to the homeless, and because of his financial security has enough time to properly focus on being mayor.

“I suppose I am a people person and one who has become very community minded over the years. I work with lots of different people from all over the place and It’s imperative that I form good connections, local networks and create harmony in the circles I operate.”

The Fremantle Council elections will be held on Saturday October 16.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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