Day 1 in the life of a new President.

The alarm goes, it’s 6:30, the reality of last night’s Fremantle Society AGM hits home.  A good night for the Society with a passionate address from Dr Carmen Lawrence advocating conservation for the West Kimberley, followed by formal AGM business including a ballot for President.  I came out ahead, just!  I thank Lloyd for the commitment he demonstrated to the Society  by standing and look forward to working with him on Committee.  My thanks to the Committee and their partners for the well organised event and the catering.  Ian’s departure as President is a true loss to the Society and I wish him and Eileen all the best in their new ventures in Albany.

The early alarm is to attend Arts, Culture and Heritage forum at the Moore’s hosted by Hon. Sue Ellery.  The Society represented by Ruth, Cathy, Ian, Roel and Fremantle History Society by Anne Brake (President).  Sue is joined by Peter Tinley and John Hyde (shadow Minister for Culture and the Arts; Heritage; Multicultural Interests and Citizenship).  Speeches & questions followed by roundtable conversation with the Ministers in the long established Freo style at Moore&Moore Cafe space.  I drew John Hyde’s attention to the ‘generous role Fremantle ratepayers play with Local Government in the Arts and Culture sector, financially underpinning the Moore’s building we met in, the Arts Centre, Victoria Hall and the Evans Davis Building and more.

It is now time for our State Government to step up to the plate regarding provision of cultural spaces.  They have ready-made venues, buildings abandoned by Western Power with South Fremantle Power Station and recently closed Energy Museum.  Both these buildings offer great potential for a State Government to invest in Culture and the Arts in Fremantle’.  I sought an invitation to meet the three ministers on a one on one basis, this will occur in the New Year.  Ruth was promoting the book and we all promoted Society membership.

Returning home to South Fremantle I began my first round of correspondences, thanking people for their assistance at the AGM, setting up the first meeting for the new committee and our final exit from the Old Royal George.

Attending East Fremantle Council’s Planning committee meeting came next.  Applications for lap-pools, fences and garages preceded Committee debating the Old Royal George.  Passionate submissions on  behalf of the Community came from  Eddy Lutz and Andrew Smith. Eddy focussed on Heritage integrity and Community impacts, whilst Andrew spoke to the process going off the rails with the National Trust taking Council, its erstwhile partner, to the SAT.  Committee adjournment for dinner at 9.30pm and departure of the applicants representatives was my opportunity for our moment with the media and community. At 10:20pm Committee voted to defer their decision til 1st February 2011, prior to next SAT hearing on 2 February.  Follow the Herald reports on the tone of Committee deliberations.

Before making tracks for home I talked with Peter Unsworth who has exciting plans for the Old Brush Factory (former Lauder & Howard shop) across the road and we agreed to meet and talk.  Home to Cathy with apologies for no dinner out as planned.  Fear not, I won’t subject you to such detail every day!  I will post a weekly blog of the President’s activities for the Society.

Jon Strachan 7-12-10


SUE ELLERY MLC and the shadow Minister for Culture, John Hyde, invite members of the Fremantle community to an Arts, Culture and Heritage Breakfast Forum at the Moore&Moore Cafe in Henry Street, on Tuesday December 7 from 7.30-9.00

A quote from the invitation: “We are particularly keen to hear your views on issues impacting the artistic, cultural and heritage environment in Fremantle with a view to formulating Labor’s future policy in the Culture and the Arts and Heritage portfolios”

RSVP on 9222 7361 or email:

Roel Loopers

Freo Society a huge success

Councilor Josh Wilson send the comments below in response to my article Working for the Future, which I posted on this blog last week.

Roel Loopers

I think the revitalisation and renewal of the Freo Society is critical because few groups have done more to make Fremantle the special place it is today … and because all groups/organisations need to periodically renew and refresh both their sense of purpose, and their membership. The Fremantle Society has been a huge success in protecting our built heritage … and the FS itself is part of our social/cultural heritage – so join up and get involved!

I hope a revitalised Fremantle Society will continue to exercise its protective function, while also refreshing what should be its fundamentally progressive purpose (remember that in the ’70s protecting heritage was radical!). Economically, demographically, and even culturally, Fremantle has stagnated over the last 10 years … and if we want Freo to be a vibrant urban regional centre (which some may not), then we need a new dynamic phase in this beautiful old town.

Like every second person in Freo, I can happily propose a bunch of groovy changes (a new multipurpose theatre over here, a light rail line there, a mixed social housing and arts cooperative village in the middle) … but let’s all remember that these things are either funded by government (State and Federal), or by the private sector – and since Freo has a stagnant population and a retreating commercial/retail economy, and as we have a reputation for insisting on the perfect rather than occasionally accepting the good … we struggle to make a good case for either government or the private sector to pour money into this City. I spend a fair bit of time talking to government and hearing from the private sector (in both my professional and Council roles) … and people from outside Fremantle are always looking at a range of opportunities, rather than through the Freo-first/Freo-loving perpective which we all naturally have.

As a Councillor, I also want to point to 2 bits of planning ‘administrivia’ … the first is the WA governments new Development Assessment Panels, which will remove larger planning matters from the remit of the Fremantle Council (some may think this is good; others will violently disagree); and the second is the new process, soon out for public comment, which will require planning applicants to go through a pre-consultation process with their neighbours. I hope this will promote a greater degree of communication and cooperation between people when it comes to striking a balance between people’s personal design ambitions and the amenity impacts these might have.

We will see.

Josh Wilson
Cr. City of Fremantle, Beaconsfield Ward