Fremantle’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Mad hatter tea party

With all the hoo har over the amalgamation since the weekend I have had a stream of people sending my articles and stories about have you seen this or that, quick listen to 6PR or the ABC radio this.

Firstly to all those who send me links and info thank you, I appreciate it, one for the time you take to send it but also it makes me look at things from different points of view, which is always good in a democracy, so thank you.

One of the articles was a comment piece on the WAtoday site. It was an article by Larry Graham a once Labour MP in the Pilbara, then independent. He makes some very interesting analogizes on both local government and the poll we have just had in some suburbs. I have cut and pasted a piece of it so you get his critique of the system.

Quote for article piece………

“Council costs increase because councillors, mayors and shire presidents are now paid professional politicians and neither their imposed pay and allowances, nor the executive salary packages of their CEOs and staff reflect any capability of a shire to afford them. 

The local government structures designed in the century before last compound the increases in rates and spiraling red tape and make the case for change powerful.

And at the same as the cost of local government increases, state bureaucracies are encroaching on their responsibilities.

Councils no longer do traffic patrols to enforce road rules; centralist planning bodies and administrative tribunals have had their powers increased over zoning and developments. National building codes, standards and regulations have also reduced council’s regulatory power and workloads.

Government needs to revisit local government reform on a much wider focus than some magical number of metropolitan councils, the cost, role, function, powers and responsibilities of these intrusive but unaccountable local bureaucracies are of far greater importance to ratepayers than boundaries are.

It is clear that if our system of local government is to reclaim some legitimacy, it needs compulsory voting, the return of all its planning powers, forced amalgamations and a genuine focus on accountability to its electors.

mad hatter

In Alice In Wonderland, the Mad Hatter said:

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.  Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.”

Claiming public legitimacy without a commensurate level of voter support clearly fits the Mad Hatter’s world view.

I think the one critical point I have made many times myself and I believe the reform board also recommended to the minister office of DLG, is that voting in local elections should be compulsory. This one line ….”It is clear that if our system of local government is to reclaim some legitimacy, it needs compulsory voting, the return of all its planning powers, forced amalgamations and a genuine focus on accountability to its electors.” Clearly sums up Fremantle and quite likely the reason East Freo residents voted against the amalgamation with Fremantle was the fear of joining our Mad Hatters Tea Party.

Now I have heard people speak about elected members spruiking their mandate from the last election. With only approx. 35% of the eligible electorate voting, which is laughable, their representations of speaking for the silent majority, believable? I’m sure I have heard Mayor Brad talk about his mandate from the last election, what was his slogan “let’s finish what we started”?

Imagine for a second a council where compulsory voting took place. Does anyone believe that Fremantle (elected members) council would exist in its current form, imagine a council free of ideology, just true representation? A song worthy of a certain John.

What we do have looks like it may be the Mad Hatters Tea Party?

mad hatter 1

Fremantles Battle For The Burbs


Yesterday the Premier announced that he agreed the amalgamation have failed and would not seek to force council together unless they both agreed to them. Which in some ways is great as it shows the Premier is finally listening to what the community wants and needs. I wonder how long it will take for that sort of epiphany, to reach elected members in local government?

Then at the bottom of that article we see our Mayor Brad, reported as saying “Mr Pettitt said Fremantle would still want to take Hamilton Hill and North Coogee from Cockburn, plus Palmyra and Bicton from Melville.” Note that’s take not agree!

Sadly it makes no mention of our suburbs that where going to Melville, so it looks like our Mayor is happy to cut lose Samson and parts of O’Conner, suburbs that have been part of the Freo community for decades.

The battle will come for all the merger planned areas to and from Fremantle’s borders, will Melville give up Pt Walter, I can’t see that happening, a very unpopular move in the mind of Melville residents, will the Cockburn Council allow Freo to take all of Hammie Hill, why cut a community in 1/2 in an area that has been a community for decades?

Then there is the North Coogee bit and the North Freo re-aliment, also in the air. I can’t see Cockburn wanting to let Hammie go, especially after the back room deals between some councils that left Cockburn on the chopping block while Melville and Freo carved off chunks to suit themselves, I bet that has left a sour tastes in many mouths?

Listening to the ABC this morning the minister is reported to be saying it’s still to be decided, if Governors orders are to be revoked, if not the whole process would leave a suburb like Cockburn considerably smaller than they started the process at, does that make sense, does it?

Leaving us the community wondering what’s next, on one hand we read the Premier says he will not force the councils to give communities up, unless they agree, yet on the other hand we read that Freo’s Mayor Brad still wants, Hammie Hill, Palmyra, Bicton, Point Walter and North Coogee, I can’t see any of those residents wanting to come to Freo, especially with the clear message that East Freo sent on Saturdays Polls. H sayse doesn’t want to force the East Freo issue possibly as he got well and truly canned there. But he seems to be happy to force suburbs from Cockburn and Melville to come to Freo while kicking some existing areas of Freo to the gutter, seem contradictory to anyone?

On 6pr we hear this morning, WALGA president Troy Pickard told 6PR the sector had moved too far from the original objectives and had become “flawed beyond repair”.

Tonight our Freo council is looking to drive along policies for suburbs that may or may not be part of Future Freo, and have had no input to such policies, is this good governance? Yet another council saga continues, funnily I saw Roels Blog this morning about rubbish left for weeks at the Round House yet again. So we have a council struggling to supply basic amenity to our city and a mayor who wants to add to their woes by making it bigger.


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