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Politics in the Pub: Fremantle and the Major Parties (aka safe seat blues)

1 December 2023

Politics in the Pub on Tuesday night presented by The Fremantle Network asked about Fremantle and the major parties. A

Featuring: Martin Drum, Brad Pettitt, and Simone McGurk. With Steve Grant as MC. Here is what I had to say and the complete video is below too:

Putting aside road projects, what’s the last major community investment that Fremantle has received from the major parties?

The answer? Fremantle Maritime Museum, which was initiated by the Liberal Court government in the late 1990s or 25 years ago.

Since then, we have had almost no state government investment in the City of Fremantle or the state seat of Fremantle.

What about the Kings Square development? While the Department of Communities moving to Freo has been a good thing, this $270 million development was entirely funded by the Fremantle Council and the private sector. In fact, in the end, it saved the State Government $53 million.

But wait! Fremantle did get the Mainroads monstrosity that is the $118 million High Street upgrade; not a project design or scale that most Freo people wanted. The result speaks for itself.

More recently we scored the Fremantle Police Complex, which will cost $100 million and is in a location not supported by the Fremantle Council or the Fremantle community. A record 224 submissions against and none for. Despite this, it was rammed through the State’s WAPC.

Then there is the new Fremantle Traffic Bridge. The Fremantle community raged against a series of previous iterations including an eastern alignment hard up against residents, and the even more absurd “Canning Highway on the foreshore” option.

At no point did we hear Fremantle’s local MPs stand up and oppose these awful solutions; it was only because of excellent advocacy and action by the Fremantle community that these options were replaced with the design we have in front of us today.

That’s just the infrastructure projects – what about the arts? We have Spare Part Puppet Theatre forced to leave their premises in Fremantle because their state-owned building is structurally unsound.

We have a circus school using Fremantle Council managed land and a hot tent because there’s no state government solution for them. This has been going on for over six years now.

Where is the state government investment in Perth’s home of the arts? Why do we hear rumours that the state government is trying to take the circus to Midland and the northern suburbs? Why is Spare Parts having to perform at  Claremont Showgrounds and not in Fremantle?

This is not because the state government is short of money.

I don’t blame Simone McGurk – it is the transactional nature of major party politics. It’s hard for Simone or any other local member in a safe seat to make a case for funds to Cabinet when there’s nothing in it for the party.

Case in point is the Fremantle Oval redevelopment. Consecutive Fremantle Councils have been working to redevelop the rundown Fremantle Oval. The main block to this has been getting the state government to contribute funds. Yet the McGowan Government was quick to fund the $25 million East Fremantle Oval redevelopment because it was in the marginal seat of Bicton. Fremantle Oval to this day still has no commitment from the State Government and is possibly the last WAFL Oval to be upgraded.

If you want Fremantle to get more love from your state government, then you need to ask if putting Labor first on your ballot is the answer.

It’s time Fremantle got the investment it needs to realize its potential. A local government of 34,000 people cannot do it alone – but they largely have been.


00:00 Welcome from Christian Mauri of TFN

00:18 Introduction from MC Steve Grante

05:06 Dr. Martin Drum

14:33 Dr. Brad Pettitt

23:01 Simone McGurk

37:31 Question Time


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