Communicating the vision thing

I was just sent an excellent article called The tricky knack of a political narrative by Bernard Keane on the challenges of having your vision heard in these days.

It makes you feel a little sorry for whoever is in power (be it Gillard or Barnett) and cutting through the noise to make your vision heard in an election year. Especially telling is the quote that: “It’s easier to communicate a negative narrative than a positive one… Negative narratives are simple; positive narratives are complex and nuanced. It’s easier for oppositions to communicate narratives than governments, because governments have to govern in the real world, with all its imperfections, while oppositions govern purely in rhetoric, where things are always easier and everything runs smoothly.”

It also made me think about Fremantle Council’s vision and narrative. Our vision is clear to me but that’s because I live and breathe its implementation every day but maybe not to everyone else.

So for those of you wondering what it is that Fremantle Council is trying to do here’s a quick attempt at a rather unofficial version of our vision and narrative (for a more official version check out our Strategic Plan part way down the page at )

The Council’s vision for Freo is that it maintains its economic and cultural heritage by continuing to be Perth’s second city – a place of consequence not just another dormitory suburb where people go home to sleep and tourists visit on the weekend. Fremantle will be vibrant seven day a week economically rejuvenated city with more people living, working and playing in it each day.

We will of course need new development to accommodate these extra people. The new developments will be environmentally sustainable, of high architectural design quality and have a high component of affordable housing which will ensure Fremantle remains an inclusive and diverse community not just a place for the wealthy.

Fremantle will have great public transport (including light rail) and bike and pedestrian links in and around the city so cars are not the dominant form of transport.

Fremantle will preserve and maintain its unique built heritage just as it will build on its unique cultural heritage including being home to innovative arts, culture and festivals.

Finally we will show leadership and innovation through minimising our ecological footprint and share our leadership as a 21st century sustainable city.

Well that’s my quick stab at our vision from a rain-soaked Cocos Island. I’d love your feedback. BTW Keep your ear out for a likely  announcement of community visioning shortly.

If you want to read the full article it can be found at:

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About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

7 Responses to Communicating the vision thing

  1. Is it easier to communicate a negative narrative than a positive one?? – for sure! As it states, “Negative narratives are simple; positive narratives are complex and nuanced”… well, I may be heading slightly off the track of this particular article somewhat but I find myself going along the lines of two words which I feel are very much linked to this: complexity V’s perplexity.
    If something is negative, you just say it, there done, however it seems that when something positive is said, it requires a lot to ‘back it up’, if that makes sense, to prove it. Governments certainly do have to govern in the ‘real’ world – and our perception of real is different for us all. The ‘real’ world has many complex systems and imperfections, there is simply no such place as a safe, predictable, linear world, but only in the eyes of the people who view it. People see what they want to see, and this is why so many leading issues are not being addressed nor communicated properly.

    In order to understand the way decisions are made, we need to ensure social connectedness through a collaborative approach with forums of open discussion and debate and in a manner in which we understand it. I reckon Fremantle have been very clear as to what their vision is and put in a way that the community have a good understanding of where it is they want to go – it is all about simple, positive communication… but more importantly it is also realistic.

  2. Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg says:

    Thanks for being such an approachable forward-thinking Mayor, Brad! My studies are in sustainable development, so your vision makes a lot of sense. I’m currently on exchange in Sweden and have been following your updates. This piece was very timely for me; I’m thinking more and more I’d really like to move back to Freo when we get back (after living in regional WA). I was so relieved to see you mention keeping it ‘inclusive and diverse’. All of my family are there, I consider it ‘home’ and I’d love to contribute to all the great things happening in Freo. However, with a young family it seems impossible to find anywhere we could afford to live anymore. I’m sure many others find themselves in the same situation. I hope we can find some solutions and not lose the diversity that makes Freo… Freo!

    • Rhiannon
      Great to here from you. I was in Sweden last year and Malmo was especially inspiring for me. I agree that Freo will only keep being special if it stays diverse and inclusive and therefore affordable. I hope we have some of these places built for your return
      cheers, Brad

    • JBlue says:


      Not once during your term have you addressed Sport & Recreation within your council. Currently, you are undertaking a review of all of the sports clubs within the district and to have them all on the same lease. That lease is to have all sporting clubs independently financed and not a dollar spent from the City of Fremantle towards sport and rec.

      Brad, have you seen the state of sport in your city? Go to any of the bowling clubs: Fremantle, East Fremantle, Hilton Park… all in struggle town with infrastructure from the 1960’s spending hundreds of thousands maintaining old buildings.

      The Fremantle Dockers Junior Football Club, no not the national team that has moved to Cockburn because facilities were not up to standard, had to acquire a federal grant from the GFC investment plan to build a new clubhouse because the City of Fremantle is broke.

      Meanwhile you lose the largest retailer in Australia, Myers, and more land is taken up in the CBD by Notre Dame who doesn’t pay any taxes.

      What is being done about sport in your city, Brad? You offered $100 million to the Dockers to keep them, how about you invest in your sporting clubs before you lose that heritage too.

      • Thanks for your response. It is true my or the Fremantle Council’s vision doesn’t explicitly mention sport and recreation facilities just as doesn’t mention repaving roads or picking up recycling simply because these are the bread and butter/essential services that local council’s should provide well. I believe that Fremantle Council has made some big improvements in this area too. The new Brad Hardie Clubrooms at Dick Lawrence and new lighting there and Bruce Lee oval have been completed recently. We are just about to undertake the biggest upgrade to the Fremantle Leisure Centre seen in decades with the re-tiling of both pools, the adding of disabled access lanes and having the whole centre predominantly powered by renewable geo-thermal power. Add to this the new $1.2 million skate park and some fruitful discussions with the Fremantle Tennis and Lawn Bowls clubs about upgraded facilities and I think we are doing pretty well in investing properly in this area (and no the council is not broke – in fact we have run a small surplus every budget since I have been Mayor)
        That said, happy to take further suggestions on what is needed

        Cheers, Brad

      • Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg says:

        Why is this a reply to me JBlue?

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