The Letter the Herald Refused to Publish
With millions of dollars invested in real estate, and grand plans done and paid for pointing to a great future, the election of Mayor Pettitt in 2009 should have signalled a renaissance for Fremantle using the unique assets of the town to plough a great future.
Plans had been done for the Phillimore Street interface with the port (not done), for Arthur Head Conservation (not done), Fremantle Markets restoration (not done), Pioneer Park Archaeology Centre (not done), King's Square Town Square (not done), Esplanade Park Masterplan (not done), Asset Management Plans (not carried out) and so on.
But, instead, bad deal after bad deal was entered into, stripping Fremantle Council of its financial assets, and now, in 2021, making council finances a hot election topic.
Below is the letter from April the Fremantle Herald has repeatedly refused to publish on this subject. Perhaps they are protecting their finances:
On Tuesday afternoon April 6 Fremantle Mayor Pettitt won the last seat in the State Election. Three days later, on Friday morning, the Fremantle CEO Phil St John told staff he was resigning.
Fremantle Council, with no mayor or CEO, tabled the annual Auditor General's report into the City's finances. The financial figures are alarming.
The Fremantle Society has warned for years of reckless spending by Council, while ignoring the basics, and Fremantle's heritage. Carmen Lawrence recently redoubled her criticism that the King's Square project and the unnecessary $50 million admin building will "blight Fremantle for 100 years," while Colin Barnett said he would sack the whole council if he was still premier.
At the council meeting we asked how council's land holdings have been devalued by $59 million, investment property devalued by $6.3 million, and why a lack of fraud prevention controls are still identified by the auditor as a concern. There is a debt for 2019-2020 of $32 million, which is not sustainable.
The "sustainability" crusade of the past 12 years has been a disaster for business and for heritage. It is a tragedy the Chamber of Commerce is more interested in supporting woke council programs like renaming King's Square than protecting business viability and helping to enhance the good things we already have in this world famous town.
Clearly, as one financial expert said, Fremantle councillors are "financially illiterate." (Cr Vujcic is the exception).
None of the councillors responsible for Fremantle's dire financial position should run in the upcoming October elections. Up for reelection are: Crs Sulllivan, Thompson, Wainright, Archibald, Lang, and Fitzhardinge. Several councillors will run for mayor - possibly Crs Fitzhardinge, Sullivan, and Mofflin.
Just as members of a board which fail their shareholders need to resign, so should those who have put us in this mess. They need to resign, and to be held responsible.
The Fremantle Society