Puppet Parents and Pioneer Park

"Puppet Parent" McGurk Not Pulling Any Strings In Pioneer Park

The Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk, seen above, describes on her website a $400,000 project generating "17 jobs"  by adding an "exo skeleton" to the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre building in Pioneer Park.

She describes herself as a "puppet parent" fan of the theatre.

The ugly metal "exo skeleton" is now installed, but, the jobs have long gone, and the theatre is now surrounded by a Tent City of 100 homeless people, which is around 10% of the State's homeless.

The $400,000 metal brace for the building was a necessary temporary repair because Ms McGurk's government failed to look after the State owned puppet theatre heritage building, just like it has neglected its other heritage assets in Fremantle, in particular the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, which it wants to demolish.

The "puppet parent" is pulling few strings to get  government heritage assets in Fremantle properly looked after, and seems invisible in pulling strings to solve the Tent City crisis in Pioneer Park.

Congratulations go to those who have raised the issue of homelessness and done something about it.

Congratulations to those exhausted volunteers trying to help.

Now it is time for Ms McGurk to find a genuine long term solution. The Perth Tent City advocacy run by people like Fremantle's Jesse Noakes, got $3.8 million in promises from the State Government for a partial modest solution.

But CEO of Shelter WA, Fremantle's Michelle Mackenzie, told the Fremantle Society the problem needs $1 billion a year.

There are 9,000 homeless people, of whom 1,000 are sleeping on the streets. There are 15,000 on housing wait lists. 40 homeless people died on the streets in 2020. 

The Victorian Government has allocated $5.3 billion in its budget over the next 4 years for 12,000 new homes - 9,000 of which will be for social housing and 2,000 for mental health needs.

Pioneer Park as a park has been for too long neglected, and has never reached its potential. The Fremantle Society puts forward a vision for its future below. The park should be a welcome mat for Fremantle. The business community have suffered Covid, and the Water Corporation, and need the Tent City issue resolved. Among the many community members helping with solutions have been Mia Kriznic and Mark Woodcock, who have, among others, Fremantle Society connections.

Fremantle Society Vision

The Fremantle Society has a vision for Pioneer Park that:

a) enhances its status as a welcoming place for all people as the gateway into Fremantle from the train station.

b) acts as a real local park with an emphasis on green spaces and not basketball courts as shown in the Phillimore Street Masterplan..

c) sees the Spare Parts Theatre properly repaired and the unsightly "exo skeleton" removed.

d) sees the planned $2.3 million archaeological centre at Pioneer Park go ahead. $150,000 was spent on plans for this heritage project and when reminded that it is a Covid ready project eligible for government funds, the Fremantle Council said last month they were not interested.

e) remove the incongruous animal statue and replace it with appropriate public art, including a refurbished wishing well.

Do You Have $8 Million Spare?

Tomorrow is the last day you can bid for the huge and valuable Quarry Street site that Fremantle Council is selling quietly over Christmas when people are on holidays. The whole process has been a disgrace, and yet again the handling of ratepayer assets a reason for an enquiry into Fremantle Council.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society 

0409 223622


photo: Ms McGurk's website

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