The whole time I have been mayor there has been a Liberal State Government. Whilst the Fremantle Council worked constructively with them (including after much work getting 1500 State Government office workers committed to Fremantle) and formed some good relationships there was (unsurprisingly) plenty we didn’t agree on. Given this, the emphatic win by the ALP on the weekend opens up some exciting new opportunities for Fremantle.

South Quay

After the CEO and I met with some of the key ALP players in Fremantle last year to explain the Fremantle Council ‘s position on a range of matters, the ALP pleasingly committed to redevelop the south side of the Fremantle Port.  This is a wonderful opportunity to connect the Fremantle city centre to our waterfront. South Quay is a huge project and one that will happen in the longer term but it is essential (now that we know that Fremantle Port will be capped ) that we start doing some planning on how South Quay can be more than a fenced car park with views. Importantly, it is an opportunity to create a much better arrival point for visitors on cruise ships. Here were some thoughts on this from a year ago and a map of the area we’re are talking about:

Fremantle Hospital and Oval

With the Fremantle Oval deal with the Dockers finally done and the oval soon back under the City of Fremantle’s control, there is a new opportunity to have parts of the Fremantle Hospital site incorporated into a major Fremantle Oval redevelopment as we outlined last year and in our Freo 2029 plans. This of course has dovetailed nicely into the ALP’s recent announcement on having a stronger focus on making the Fremantle Hospital site function more effectively again. Repeated feedback suggests that around 50% of the site is not currently being used. Whilst this is disappointing, it does present a huge opportunity to get that site reused and unused portions redeveloped.

PFL and Knutsford

Finally, the killing off of Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link by the ALP gives some certainty to the redevelopment of the Fremantle Depot site and other land around Knustford Street (where the tunnel was previously expected to emerge). We are working with Landcorp and others to pull together a nation-leading an environmentally sustainable, mixed use, medium density area but the PFL tunnel was putting that under a cloud. But with the election done we can go ahead with this and hopefully even take the outcomes from the award winning WGV development to the next level.

So congratulations to Mark McGowan and his team and our re-elected local member Simone McGurk. We look forward to working with you. It is going to be an exciting and busy time ahead!

PS We are meeting with the Dept of Transport this week too to see how we can progress this!:

Fair Share: community, affordability and housing in STM

For those of you that missed Belle Taylor’s excellent piece on community, affordability and housing with a focus on Freo in the Sunday Times Mag STM  last week then here it is. Well worth a read.



Invest in Cycling: Westcycle’s Campaign for the State Election

Westcycle is WA’s peak body for cycling (and I am on their board) and in the lead up to the state election Westycle is calling on all parties to commit to doubling funding for cycling infrastructure and deliver the WA Bicycle Network Plan (WABN) on time.

From a Fremantle perspective this is essential. Despite Fremantle being a local government leader in providing safe, connected and convenient cycling infrastructure we have got almost NO state funding towards this is in recent years as there is just enough money to go around local governments.

A recent Auditor General’s Report on cycling found that more than 50% of the Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan is still incomplete. There need to be a doubling of state funding for cycling infrastructure from $20m to $40m per year will help ensure the WABN is completed on time. Importantly, research has shown that the return on investment for cycling infrastructure is around 3.4 – 5.4 times the costs incurred.

For more info and to get involved see:


Port City Priorities – oval to ocean campaign

The City of Fremantle this week unveiled two priority projects of state significance which will continue the momentum of the port city’s ongoing revitalisation and provide thousands of jobs for Western Australians.

The Port City Priorities – oval to ocean campaign will focus on building support to redevelop the Fremantle Oval precinct and the southern side of Fremantle Port (South Quay) into projects of state significance and value.

Watch the launch video

Both projects involve upgrading currently underutilised areas of state government owned land parcels and therefore require collaborative effort from state government, private sectors and the Fremantle Council to bring them to life.

With a $1.4b development pipeline in Fremantle and the $250m+ revitalisation of Kings Square underway, there is great potential to capitalise on the growing interest in Fremantle and transform these well-known but underutilised precincts in our city.

Council has been focused for some years on reviving the city centre but with plans starting to have their desired effect we’re now looking at the next wave of opportunities. Fremantle Oval and South Quay are at the top of our priority list.

South Quay is not only a gateway into Fremantle, but the first impression cruise ship passengers have of Western Australian – which in its current form is a massive temporary carpark and a poor use of prime land which delivers a substandard tourism experience for the 150,000 cruise ship passengers and the local community.

With the cruise ship industry booming and record numbers arriving in Fremantle, including the Ovation of the Seas yesterday, South Quay could become a high-quality integrated commercial and tourism precinct which better connects the passenger terminal to the city centre and leaves a much better impression of Fremantle.

A City-commissioned independent report has identified the development of South Quay would generate 3,700 new jobs and private investment of $3.5b. It would also return almost $1b to the state over 20 years and could be done regardless of whether Fremantle Port is privatised.

With state government support, we could also upgrade and develop Fremantle Oval into a premier community and sporting hub which would revamp the area following the closure of Fremantle Hospital’s emergency department and relocation of the Fremantle Football Club. This would include a WAFL centre of excellence for grassroots football and year-round activation including community events and festivals.

Both priority projects were identified by the community as part of an extensive community visioning exercise in 2013/14 and were included in the City’s Freo 2029 Transformational Moves strategy to unlock Fremantle’s potential as a vibrant and sustainable urban centre.

For more information visit



Sunday Times Gives Freo Stories a Good Run

Today’s Sunday Times had a good article about Fremantle’s redevelopment focus now Kings Square is locked away. It’s about connecting people and place from oval to ocean and this will be the focus of our lobbying efforts in coming months.  Check out the story here:

The Sunday Times also ran a very amusing opinion piece by Belle Taylor was spot on and funny.




“Why a City’s Mayor Has To Be Its Chief Architect”

Freo architect Murray Slavin sent me this interesting and challenging article recently that I thought worth sharing. While about Miami it has strong relevance for Fremantle.

It is also not just about the role of the mayor. For me it is more about how make our cities work together. It concludes with this interesting quote:

“As the world continues to urbanize, the role of a mayor to make cities sustainable, to make them work, to be the architects of their futures is more important today than at any other time in our history—because the battle for a more sustainable environmental and economic future will be won or lost in our cities. The single most critical response to help keep our cities and our country strong is to design cities that make sense for today and for generations yet unborn.”


Why a City’s Mayor Has To Be Its Chief Architect

Elected in 2001, over eight years in office Miami‘s former mayor Manny Diaz oversaw one of the most dramatic urban transformations in the United States’ history. Diaz was therefore invited to offer the opening remarks to the second day of the 2016 Design Matters Conference, presented by the Association of Architecture Organizations, which is currently taking place in the city. In his speech delivered at the Miami Center for Art and Design, Diaz explains how he developed the “Miami 21” zoning code to leverage the power of architecture and urban planning, ultimately turning Miami from a subject of jokes into one of the United States’ most successful and admired cities. Below is an edited version of this speech.

Ron asked me to explain how a lawyer with no experience in elective office and with no training whatsoever in architecture, urban planning or city design ends up with land use and Miami 21 as the signature project of his administration.

Personal Evolution

When I ran, I had no clue what the terms environmental and economic sustainability meant. During my first state of the city, I talked about creating a city-wide master plan, but I had no idea what that meant either.

You see, a mayor faces significant challenges daily—eradicating poverty, ensuring the safety of our residents, providing a quality education for our children, creating opportunity for all. We deal with the suffering of people losing their jobs, their homes, their businesses or a loved one to a drive-by shooting. City design gets lost in all of that. But, it is at the heart of everything we must do in order to make our city livable and sustainable.

City design was not a part of my campaign platform. It certainly was not my first priority on day 1! Yet, the single most critical step for environmental and economic sustainability is embracing smart growth, designing a city that makes sense, a city that works. I knew we needed to plan our future. The status quo was unacceptable!

Intuitively, I saw much that was wrong with Miami; much that did not make sense and did not seem to work. I also knew that, if we were going to implement our many other initiatives and tap into Miami’s unrealized potential, a lot of new development and people would follow. This would require a plan for growth that had to go beyond zoning regulations; the mere swapping of one zoning code for another. It had to include a holistic approach—how parks, green spaces, transportation, the arts, historic preservation—would all work together to create a sense of place in Miami.

A city is like an orchestra. For an orchestra to make beautiful music, all the instruments must work together off the same sheet of music. And so too must a city. This idea to create a blueprint for the Miami of the twenty-first century and beyond became Miami 21.

Miami 21 repeals an archaic zoning code and replaces it with sustainable zoning and land use policies that promote great urban design. It is a code that does not focus on what is forbidden, but rather on what is desired. It is not just a regulatory code, but also both a planning document and a guidance document.

We merged zoning, planning and sustainability, at one time, in one document. It was the first time a form-based code had been adopted for an entire major US city. I must confess—this is not exactly what I had in mind when I called for a “city-wide master plan.”

But this is a classic example of how mayors evolve, and how the following 3 “AHA!” moments helped shape my evolution.


My first “AHA!” moment occurs when I realize that a mayor’s most important job is that of chief architect of his or her city. I mentioned a few issues earlier: crime, education and economic opportunity and jobs. Through time, crime, academic performance and job figures will go up and down, often for reasons beyond the mayor’s control. But our decisions regarding the physical environment are very different. The decisions we make today will determine the character and function of our city for the next 25, 50, 75 years.

Our decisions regarding buildings, bridges, highways and streets, and the public realm can serve to either enhance our city’s future or help condemn it to mediocrity for decades. Once you realize this is really your one true legacy, you begin to fully appreciate this extraordinary obligation. You also realize how little knowledge or training you bring to the job to deal with city design.

Environmental Sustainability

Miami had been known for lots of great things: our diversity, culture, food, beaches and nightlife. We had not been known for being a leader in the environmental movement. Miami’s history is filled with examples of an almost criminal neglect for our environment: suburban sprawl; using parks as landfills; polluting our rivers; no green buildings; no water conservation plans.
I had always taken great pride in being a strong environmentalist. We implemented many environmental initiatives: climate action plan; expedited permitting, green procurement and water conservation, solar panels at city hall, miles of bike lanes, green fleet, tree canopy, green buildings; from 0 in 2005 to top 10 in the US today.

2005 was a watershed year, with two events: the Kyoto accords (for which the US was not a signatory) and the release of An Inconvenient Truth. The Mayors Climate Protection Agreement implemented Kyoto in cities, with over 1,100 US Mayors eventually signing the agreement.

What had started as my strong belief that a city must plan for its future had become an integral part of the fight against climate change. All of a sudden, you connect city design to a city’s carbon footprint. You get a new sense of urgency because you realize that an aggressive environmental program is not enough.

Here is another “AHA!” moment. Embracing smart growth took on a whole new significance. It was now a much greater effort to promote environmental sustainability.

This is an example of how mayors evolve as the world changes. 9/11 turned mayors into first responders in the fight against terror; now, mayors become first responders in our struggle against global climate change. The answer to this global challenge requires a local response. Miami 21 was our response to global climate change; Because Design Matters.

Economic Sustainability

Through the late 1990s, Miami was still known to many as the capital of drugs and murder, of poverty and riots. We had double digit unemployment, a rate higher than during the great recession. The city was under state financial oversight and held junk bond status.

We had a declining urban population, and plenty of suburban sprawl—people voting with their feet. No major projects were being built. Our parks and open spaces were neglected. Our streets filthy, broken and unsafe. Our neighborhoods in decay. We lacked political stability, and we were a community divided by ethnic and racial tensions. We were the brunt of national and international jokes.

This was the Miami of just 16 years ago. How do you turn this around?

You focus on creating a climate of opportunity. Through proper planning and targeted government investments you create the environment where private sector investment and economic opportunity follow.

Another “AHA!” moment: city design is also an important economic development tool. Through city design you create the quality of life that attracts and keeps the people and the businesses that enable a city to grow and sustain a globally competitive economy.

During the last decade we invested in the basics: job creation and economic development, education, affordable housing, public safety, the arts, a greener Miami, urban planning and infrastructure.

We became a top 10 job generator. Our schools showed remarkable gains in academic achievement. We invested over $1 billion in affordable housing and reduced our homeless population by over 50%. Our crime rate dropped to rates not seen since the 1960s and 70s. Our use of force policy became a national model, resulting in an unprecedented 20 consecutive month period without the discharge of a gun by a police officer.

Our city’s neighborhoods benefited from over $5 billion dollars in infrastructure investments. From streets and sidewalks, to flood mitigation, to parks and open spaces and a port tunnel—we rebuilt our city.

We invested in the arts. A region previously criticized as being devoid of art and culture has become one of the world’s art capitals. The opportunity to experience great art did not exist in Miami—but it does now.

Proper planning and strategic investments helped create the Miami of today by ushering in the greatest economic expansion in our city’s history. Our metro area is now the 11th largest metro economy in the US; larger than 32 States; 47th largest in the world; and only 6 countries in the Western Hemisphere have an economy larger than ours. In 2001, the tax base for the entire city of Miami was $13 billion. As of last year, the tax base for the urban core alone was over $15 billion. Citywide, it was over $40 billion.

The population in our urban core increased by almost 100% and may soon reach 100,000 residents. 135 new high rise buildings were completed; greater than the combined total of high-rise buildings built between 1960 and 2000.

We led the nation in housing growth, were number 2 only behind New York City in new construction activity, and were number 2 in new business start-ups. We are America’s most diverse city; 60% of our residents are foreign born.

This was the Miami Transformation. From the brunt of jokes to a city others wish to emulate; a laboratory of new ideas and innovation; the face of the new American city.

This Transformation was not a coincidence—it happened because of proper planning and strategic investments designed to create a climate of opportunity that encourages private investment and growth.

Why is this important?

Because the world is changing at a pace never before imagined. For the first time in history over half of the world’s population live in cities—a trend that will continue to bring added pressure and greater challenges to cities.

Because information flattens the world, the role of cities has become more important than ever. Cities must function as incubators of the knowledge-based businesses driving the new economy. Cities will have to compete to attract the knowledge workers whose ideas serve to grow these economies. And in order to attract the best and the brightest, cities must invest in the drivers of growth. Prosperous cities will be those that can become places for innovation and change.

The most important factor in attracting young workers today is not what they will do, but where they will do it. New urban residents, from Boomers to Millennials, want cities to focus less on recruiting new companies (the old paradigm) and more on investing in new transportation options, walkable communities and quality of life. The more attractive a city, the more they want to live there.

The “magic” formula for attracting and retaining the best and the brightest is designing a great place to live; designing a city that works. Today’s highly mobile young adults can choose to live and work anywhere. We want them to choose Miami.
Show me a city that fails to invest in its quality of life; that fails to plan, and I will show you a city that will not work, a city that will not prosper and a city that can plan to fail. Miami 21 was our answer for economic sustainability; Because Design Matters.


As the world continues to urbanize, the role of a mayor to make cities sustainable, to make them work, to be the architects of their futures is more important today than at any other time in our history—because the battle for a more sustainable environmental and economic future will be won or lost in our cities. The single most critical response to help keep our cities and our country strong is to design cities that make sense for today and for generations yet unborn.

Miami 21 is the most exciting and rewarding project I worked on, and yes… I would do it again. We were not afraid to dream big, to take a step back for the sake of our future, to control our destiny, to set a course to guarantee our environmental and economic sustainability, to take a city from good to great, and to leave a city much greater than the one left to us.

A city that embraces and prioritizes the public realm, density, mixed use development, walkability, mobility, housing options, healthy lifestyle and the arts, a city that plans and protects its neighborhoods, making them safe, livable spaces for human interaction; where we plan for smart growth so that we can enjoy the benefits of living in well balanced neighborhoods.

A millennium city, one that hopefully 100 years from today will be referred to as the “model” of city planning for the 21st century.

The Henry Project: Forum on Shared Ownership Model for Housing come to Freo

As the most in debt households in the world, Australians exchange a significant portion of their life for home ownership – if that is even an option available to them.

Social Enterprise, The Henry Project believe that there is a better, fairer solution, which can free people from the overwhelmingly oppressive burden of housing debt, and allow them to live more fulfilling, connected lives. They are having an event at the Freo Town Hall in conjunction with Shelter WA and the City of Fremantle.

In this event, they will explore the idea of shared ownership of property, or co-ownership. They will describe the legalities and financing that are appropriate for these scenarios, show what these properties could look like and their potential price, and gain insights from the many households already living in community. Most importantly, the event will provide an opportunity for people who are ready and willing to enter into co-ownership arrangements in their own lives, to meet other likeminded people, to start forming the partnerships to make it a reality.

To register for the free event:\

For more info: