Endless Signs that Freo Needs Fixing

Labor and Greens Clean Up (in Elections only)

Labor and the Greens collaborated and successfully dominated the Fremantle local elections, making it almost impossible for independents to get elected any more.

The Fremantle Society leaked minutes of the previous mayoral election team of Dr Pettitt in 2017 where Greens and Labor could be seen collaborating to win office then. In 2021 the same players essentially successfully got their people elected, with former bankrupt Tim Grey-Smith ironically helping Chair of the Finance Committee Hannah Fitzhardinge win office to be mayor. Dr Pettitt is also back in town, being helped to get an office by one of the developers he was closest to when mayor, Yolk Property.

The other two main mayoral contenders Adele Carles and Maria Vujcic stood little chance against such well oiled machinery. Labor even forced one of their own, Frank Mofflin, to step down as mayoral candidate after he nominated. But he has already been rewarded by being elected deputy mayor this week, and no doubt other gifts will be bestowed for his compliance.

A mayoral race costs upwards of $50,000 done properly, and the compulsory donor register shows that much must have been spent by Hannah Fitzhardinge herself, as the $25,000 needed for just one of several letters posted to all residents is not declared as being donated. The donor register even in its final state is an untidy document poorly laid out with donations repeated twice, reminiscent of the whole scrappy election, where council officers seemed unable to cope with voter registration issues, refused dozens of applications, and were heard stating publicly well before the vote counting that "Hannah Fitzhardinge was going to win."

In a very ethical but expensive exercise, Adele Carles refused to accept any donations, and funded her own campaign, which included an impressive website with enough ammunition to slaughter all incumbents if voters had digested it.

But most voters act superficially and quickly, and this is a Labor town. Maria Vujcic made a valiant effort with a novel approach of having a 'team' run with her in various wards, but this is a Labor town, and the team probably reminded voters of an almost extinct species - Liberals, a word rarely uttered in Fremantle.

Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock came close to unseating veteran Doug Thompson of 33 years in North Ward,  was across all the issues and regardless of the election outcome, has pledged, like the Fremantle Society, to help North Fremantle following the election, given that neither of its councillors has any interest or plan to solve the area's massive traffic problems,  let alone the bridge issue.

Good people ran for office and missed out. Hopefully they will stick around and stay involved. Unfortunately, the election itself was a tepid affair except for the nastiness online and stolen candidates' signs, because most forums were controlled to make sure no-one actually had a debate, something sorely lacking and essential in the future.

Freo Streetwise, like the Fremantle Society, tried to get the issues to the punters, and the Fremantle Society report card sent to every address in the town was such a success, that a donation was received to have it published in a  full page ad in the Herald. The Fremantle Society presented facts, and showed the unsustainability of council's finances, and council's negativity to its own assets like heritage.

Will the new council be better? It has to be, and we wish them well. But, in her first act of 'healing the divisions' she helped cause, Mayor Fitzhardinge has emphatically ruled out supporting heritage like the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, despite the Institute of Architects with its 12,000 members stating that the asset should be repurposed.

Next, you will see the quick sale of one of council's few remaining assets, 7-15 Quarry Street.

Then you will see the Fremantle Markets lease come to council to be given again to the Murdochs, allowing them to make $2 million a year profit instead of the ratepayers.

Then, the cancel culture and damage to heritage will ramp up, with the problems of the 2017 and 2019 Biennale being revisited, with the disrespectful 2021 one this November wreaking havoc on the historic waterfront between the traffic bridge and Stirling Bridge- report to follow.

Video of Bridge

In what feels like a Ben Hur epic, the video of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge proceeds well, with some 50 hours having been spent already getting actors and preparing. The Fremantle Society is benefiting from the generous donation of some $30,000 worth of work for this short video and it is hoped the video will help underscore the value of keeping the bridge for future generations.

Certainly the dozens of children and their parents who have been involved show a strong appreciation for Fremantle's heritage and the bridge.

Death of Dianne Davidson

Following the death of her husband Ron, the wordsmith of Fremantle, Dianne passed away at Regis. She was a longtime member of the Fremantle Society, and was particularly involved and keen on the repurposing of the Fremantle Prison, before helping set up the breakaway group the Fremantle History Society.

Dianne's funeral will be held 12.15pm Tuesday 26 October at Fremantle Cemetery.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

0409 223622



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