SOME THOUGHTS ON THE FREO/MELVILLE AMALGAMATION

If there was ever a time for the Fremantle community to bind together and focus on the big issues that bind us rather than the small issues that divide us – then that time is now

As the possibility of a forced amalgamation with East Fremantle, Melville and parts of Canning looms increasingly likely and large, I have a real concern that the democratic voice of the 30,000 odd Fremantle people will be drowned out by a Melmantle/Freeville population of 157,000 that extends east well beyond the freeway into the flat lands of lawns and palm trees.

This is not to say Melville isn’t a nice, pleasant area – it is – but it is fundamentally different to Fremantle. Our values and priorities as communities are not the same.

Can you imagine the Melville Council mandating a minimum percentage of affordable housing in their local planning scheme, seeking State heritage listing for the West End, being carbon neutral, or investing massively in culture, the arts and Fremantle festivals all year round?

The answer to these questions is almost certainly no. Similarly the chances of keeping the Melmantle/Freville headquarters in Fremantle and with it a sustained focus on turning around the economy of the Fremantle CBD are also very low.

The danger for Fremantle is that the majority of the new Melmantle population won’t see Fremantle as the heart of their community or perhaps even understand what makes Fremantle a special and unique place any more than I understand what makes people want to voluntarily go to Garden City.

But let me be clear – this is not an anti-amalgamation, defence of the status quo argument. The Fremantle Council and I have long supported local government reform. Fewer, larger local governments based around urban centres and common communities are logical and overdue.

The local government boundaries being pushed on council’s, however, are a crass version of this ideal. They are primarily a sticky-taping together of existing local governments whether they have communities of interest or economics centres in common or not.

We will be in a local government area in which Willetton will be joined with Fremantle but Hamilton Hill and North Fremantle will not. One in which the apartments overlooking South Beach will not be part of Fremantle but those over looking Canning Bridge will. To call these boundaries illogical and counter-productive is polite.

As a result the Fremantle Council in partnership with community organisations such as the Fremantle Society will be arguing for a more logical expanded city of Fremantle that doesn’t dilute Fremantle unique identity and values.

This Fremantle will keep North Freo, have an eastern boundary around Stock, an extended southern boundary as far as the South Fremantle Power Station, and a negotiated agreement for East Fremantle to join with Fremantle whilst protecting their community’s priorities.

I strongly believe that we have the best hope of averting this amalgamations disaster if we do two things. One, come up with positive, evidence-based approach to new boundaries for a sensible but larger Fremantle. Two, the whole community gets behind this and make sure their voices are heard loud and clear.

If we want to protect what we love about Fremantle then we are going to have put our minor differences behind us and speak together with one voice to save what is unique about Fremantle. Only then can we win this one.

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

5 Responses to SOME THOUGHTS ON THE FREO/MELVILLE AMALGAMATION

  1. I totally agree Brad.
    OK, I am not a Fremantle resident, I live in Baldivis where there is no sense of community what so ever, I hate it, but I have been involved in a lot of Fremantle projects / events, and I, like most of you, want to see Fremantle keep it’s unique character. There is nowhere else like it.

    If it is our aim, to create a community that is a close, well connected and most importantly, sustainable one, then it is up to its people and Council to do so by shouting out and shouting loud. Through the unique relationships of the Fremantle local community that I have seen the past year or so, and by supporting one another through times such as now, will determine the whole lifestyle of the community and maintain the important distinction between Fremantle and other suburbs.

    You can win this! Just speak up 🙂

    Thats my opinion anyway.

  2. It’s great to see the community backing on this issue with the Fremantle Forever Rally & Concert at FAC on Sunday 2nd September from 2pm. All power to Marie Bout and Lucky Oceans.

  3. freoishome says:

    Just as Stirling has done I think we need to plan taking to the streets, not just in Freo, although certainly that, but probably outside the Premier’s Cottesloe home, Parliament etc.
    It will have to be more than just rational, quiet consultation, sadly, the Premier doesn’t seem to work that way.
    Paul

  4. steven meyer says:

    I was quite surprised that freos population is only 30k, for fremantle to survive the council must attracted more people to live here and stimulate the retail sector, what projects could be achieved with 157k rate payers and besides we all do our shopping at garden city or Cockburn central, don’t we.

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