We got ‘done’ last night in Freo. Over the last few months, we’ve really come to like the Fish & Chips (we usually get a Fisherman’s Basket) at Sweet Lips down on the foreshore. It’s been offering better value than either Cicerello’s (expensive, fatty), or Kaillis (excellent but very expensive), plus the advantage of BYO.
And these days, from our place in Woodbridge, it’s a 1hr plus drive. But last night, the Fisherman’s Basket was so skimpy, (we estimate half the size of two or three weeks ago, though still the same price $18.95), we ordered some more, – chips and two Crab Cakes. I wish I’d photographed them. They were almost $5.00 each and round shaped, approx 3cms wide and 2cm deep!
We won’t bother with Freo again, like Perth, it’s now a joke. These people are either laughing their boxes off having a lend of us, or they’re paying stupid rents.
I’ve reached the conclusion people in Perth are better off to save the money till they travel overseas and enjoy proper pricing. EG: At many places in Europe (Germany etc), you can get a fantastic fish and chips and dessert with a glass of wine, (or beer) at the Northsea (Nordsee) franchises for 10 euros (A$12.00).
It’s worth checking out FedUpPerth’s Facebook website for info on the rip-offs all over the town, link herewith:
Running as an Independent is incredibly difficult from a logistics point of view - you need volunteers to 'man' each election booth. There were 12 in the Kalamunda Electorate, all of them open for 10 hours, but needing people there from at least 7.00am. Not to mention that each booth needed at least two people . It's simply impossible for the candidate to organise and roster everything, so I was incredibly lucky in that my fellow City Gatekeeper, Hilda Turnbull took over the show in early February, without her, I am certain I could not have coped. Then we get to the people who volunteered, I am so grateful , amazed and humbled at the support, in many cases, from people I had not known before I started campaigning. I'm only sorry that I didn't get elected and couldn't ensure things go as they would wish in the electorate. I don't have a photo of them here, but I'd really like to mention Syd Golding and his lovely wife in Maddington, they rang me early in January and offered space in their front yard for my political signs, not to mention fantastic support. Finally, I have to mention Myles Irvine and his gorgeous girlfriend Mel - just when Ann and I were wondering how on earth we would ever finish delivering the flyers to letterboxes throughout the electorate, they turned up and never stopped! It was a life-saver. And I didn't get an opportunity to photograh Ted, Nikki, Anna and Tonina at the booths, humble apologies! But, here's my Heroes Gallery, to all those on the day, who made a stand for democracy and what they believed in. Words are not enough, nor are photos, but they'll have to do. Cheers and thanks, Greg
Running as an Independent is incredibly difficult from a logistics point of view – you need volunteers to ‘man’ each election booth. There were 12 in the Kalamunda Electorate, all of them open for 10 hours, but needing people there from at least 7.00am. Not to mention that each booth needed at least two people . It’s simply impossible for the candidate to organise and roster everything, so I was incredibly lucky in that my fellow City Gatekeeper, Hilda Turnbull took over the show in early February, without her, I am certain I could not have coped. Then we get to the people who volunteered, I am so grateful , amazed and humbled at the support, in many cases, from people I had not known before I started campaigning. I’m only sorry that I didn’t get elected and couldn’t ensure things go as they would wish in the electorate. I don’t have a photo of them here, but I’d really like to mention Syd Golding and his lovely wife in Maddington, they rang me early in January and offered space in their front yard for my political signs, not to mention fantastic support. I also didn’t get a chance to photograph, Ted, Nikki, Anna and Tonina at the booths, humble apologies Finally, I have to mention Myles Irvine and his gorgeous girlfriend Mel – just when Ann and I were wondering how on earth we would ever finish delivering the flyers to letterboxes throughout the electorate, they turned up and never stopped! It was a life-saver. So here’s my Heroes Gallery, to all those on the day, who made a stand for democracy and what they believed in. Words are not enough, nor are photos, but they’ll have to do.
The Trials of a Battle-Scarred First Time Independent
If you’ve ever wanted to put your life on hold, slip deep into debt, be rejected, exhausted, ejected from shopping centres, face emailed demands about your opinions from strangers, fend off single interest groups demanding simple Yes / No answers to complex questions, or fight to get any publicity, try running as an Independent candidate.
Seven months ago, I made the decision to run for the seat of Kalamunda, since then, there’ve been five months of intense campaigning and now, two weeks since the election, I’ve only just found the strength and interest to talk of the experience and more importantly, thank the wonderful people who supported me, without whom I could not possibly have survived the gruelling process.
What to make of it all? I suspect the real long-term lessons, and possible benefits, (I can see none at this point in time), are not yet apparent and quite possibly I will see some aspects differently in the months ahead, but this is the tale so far.
When I was first asked by fellow City Gatekeepers, back in May 2012, if I’d consider running as an Independent, my analysis was I would need to stop work and spend five to six months building up a profile and the combined cost of living and campaigning would be around $50,000.00, money I simply didn’t have. One of the people urging me to run agreed to fund the money required, on the basis that I would also try to secure other donations in order to bring his cost down. It seemed possible, even feasible, so I quit my job and headed out for the great unknown – the winding, treacherous, uncharted, financially disastrous road of an Independent candidate.
I’d agreed to stand for the electorate of Kalamunda, against a sitting Minister (John Day) in a relatively safe Liberal seat, in protest at the Liberal government’s plans for the Elizabeth Quay waterfront project, the closing of the emergency lanes in the Northbridge Tunnel, forced council amalgamations and the Development Assessment Panels, (which cleverly take planning decisions away from local communities). There was also a strong wish to protest at Colin Barnett’s arrogant approach to anybody who disagreed with him on anything.
And so I set about studying the electorate. What I discovered, was that people thought John Day was arrogant, distant and had done nothing for the electorate. Nobody hated him, rather they just felt he’d been there too long and that he and the Liberal Party took the seat for granted. I was told this time and time again.
The other thing I very quickly became aware of, was how toxic the local Kalamunda Shire Council was with the electorate. Words like “corrupt,” “useless”, “hopeless” were thrown at me several times every day. Indeed, when I organised a public forum to inform people about the Liberal government’s plans for forced council amalgamations and DAPs, the questions from the audience were not about those issues, rather aimed squarely at me, asking what I’d do about the council if I was elected. Here I was standing on a ticket of no forced council amalgamations, in an electorate where they hated their council and actually thought they’d be better off with a bigger, more professional council. Alarm bells were ringing for me, indeed they had been for some time.
We live in Woodbridge, part of the Midland electorate – I didn’t see that as a disadvantage as John Day also has a house here, although in reality he lives in Cottesloe. I was well aware of how neglected Midland was – even the much vaunted Midland Railway Workshops precinct, where we live, has been a stalled project for over 12 months. The Liberal Party had no real interest in the area, as a safe Labor seat and I’d long been of the opinion that the Labor member, Michelle Roberts, had been coasting for years. By late November, I told Ann and other friends that I should really stand as an Independent for Midland, as I felt there was a mood and need for change. By mid December, I was certain of it, but my major campaign donor wanted me to run for Kalamunda, not Midland and I’d given my word. I will go to my grave regretting not running as an Independent for Midland.
The question of who else would run for Kalamunda was vital, as the only chance I would have of getting anywhere would be on Preferences. I knew that a local councillor, Geoff Stallard, had been a long-term Labor candidate and had come very close (76 votes!) to unseating John Day in the last Geoff Gallop election, but the train wreck that was Alan Carpenter had dropped him in favour of a younger, female candidate – Carpenter had form there! I also knew Labor wanted Stallard to rejoin the party and run as their candidate. They felt that if he ran as the Labor candidate and I ran a strong campaign, with Greens and my preferences, he’d have a good chance of taking the seat. As much as I wanted to win the seat myself, the main aim was to unseat John Day and teach Barnett a lesson, so if Stallard ran as the Labor candidate, I was willing to carry on, although I might not have spent quite the time, energy and money I did.
However, Stallard’s wounds were too deep – when Carpenter had refused to endorse him for Kalamunda, Stallard had asked for Forrestfield, but a union demanded their man (Andrew Waddell) was chosen, so the local bloke, who’d almost unseated John Day, was dropped. Geoff decided to run as an Independent for 2013, which made my run more difficult. Again, my gut instinct was to run for Midland, but morally, I couldn’t make the move. And just to rub metaphorical salt in, three months into the campaign, my donor appeared to get cold feet and explained there was a misunderstanding the figures and I would need to borrow anything I needed over $30,000. I knew the sensible decision was to immediately pull out, but it would have been a morally bankrupt decision, so in spite of severe misgivings, I kept going. Morals and politics, how naive is that??
The Labor party then announced the Deputy Mayor of Swan, Mick Wainwright, would run as their candidate for Kalamunda (his brother runs Michelle Robert’s office). We met for a coffee and it’s probably fair to say, neither Mick nor I were impressed with or interested in the other. I also met with Geoff Stallard and liked him, but the surprise for me, was how much I liked the long-term Greens candidate, Toni Warden, ethically and as a person.
The Kalamunda electorate boundaries are a perfect example of political bastardy. Set up by the Labor Party to try and unseat John Day, the electorate includes most of Maddington, much to the surprise of Maddington and Kalamunda people. A Kalamunda councillor, Frank Lindsey, part of Geoff Stallard’s team, at one stage emailed me to tell me to “Stay on message” (his regular phone calls and emails to me are another story in themselves) and not talk about issues facing people in Maddington, he seemed completely oblivious to the difference between the Shire and State electorate boundaries. And Maddington people would forcefully argue they were not in the Kalamunda electorate – I’d have to show them the electoral map on my flyer. The result for Maddington has been that neither the Liberal, nor Labor parties are remotely interested in them, as is obvious when you drive around. The needs and interests of people in the leafy hills area, compared to the people on the suburban flats, with a burgeoning migrant population, are very, very different. It’s a travesty that I became more and more interested in trying to do something about. Although the local Maddington shopping centre owner didn’t see it that way – he told me to leave his property, where I was handing out flyers outside the entrance, telling me only John Day could come there.
The local newspapers were interesting. There are basically three covering the electorate – Community Newspapers with six different issues, Echo Newspapers with two different issues and The Examiner newspaper (Maddington specific). Placing advertising was very easy, although everything had to be paid for up front, however editorial was virtually impossible – absolutely in terms of the Echo newspaper, a very strong supporter of John Day and the Liberal Party. Community Newspapers made no mention of me, to the best of my knowledge, however the Examiner did run a story which resonated with people. Both Community Newspapers and the Examiner were excellent in terms of ad placement (right hand pages etc). The Echo people went out of their way to make life difficult – right hand pages and EGN requests etc, were impossible and it became obvious my ads weren’t really welcome, so I stayed with Community Newspapers and the Examiner, plus I ran a couple of ads in the monthly Darlington Review, although the editor of that august publication took freezing umbrage at a joke I made about Troy Buswell. Funnily enough, Darlington was the only place where I felt I wasn’t welcome, yet as an actor, writer and photographer, it was the one place I expected to feel most at home. Looking back, I was deep in true-blue Liberal territory, I just hadn’t realised it.
In terms of big mainstream media, it’s almost impossible for an Independent (unless you deliberately court controversy) to get any coverage. ABC 720 proved the champion of the Labor party, with long plugs for Labor candidates, to a lesser extent the Greens and coverage for any Liberal candidate Barnett allowed to speak, but anybody else didn’t exist for dear old Aunty. Unexpectedly, Paul Murray and Jane Marwick on 6PR gave me some excellent time and I began listening to their programmes, to the point where I’ve now stopped a 30 year history of listening only to 720 and switched to 6PR, although I still can’t do Howard Sattler, as much as I wish him well with his health. Jane has even done the impossible and made afternoon radio interesting for blokes.
I was also very grateful for the opportunity Allen Newton from WA Today gave me, running an opinion piece I had written. I didn’t expect anything from The West, or the Sunday Times, however a video I’d made on the future conversion of the Northbidge Tunnel into three lanes suddenly came alive and I did score a very brief mention in a major EGN story in the West. They got my name wrong the following day, but didn’t bother correcting it. That same story lead to television coverage and interviews with 9, 7 and 10, I don’t think ABC TV went near it. However the ABC 7.30 Report did run a story on a long-running aged care saga out Wattle Grove way, which I consider helped cement Labor’s fate in Forrestfield.
A Wattle Grove land owner developer had long wanted to build a retirement village / nursing home facility on his land, but although the Kalamunda Council was very supportive, local residents weren’t and had fought a long, hard, at times bitter campaign against it, culminating in the Minister for Planning’s (John Day) department declaring the project totally unsuitable for a plethora of reasons. John Day eventually had no choice but to can the project in late 2012, setting himself against the council, in particular, Councillor Geoff Stallard. Geoff appeared on the 7.30 Report, arguing against John Day’s decision, as did the developer and a very public spirited nurse. Both the Greens candidate (Toni Warden) and myself supported John Day’s decision, but the Labor candidate, Mick Wainwright, stated Day was wrong and the nursing home should have been approved.
Within hours, I knew his statement was the Kiss of Death for Waddell, Labor’s Forrestfield member. The Wattle Grove action group had been in touch with me several times, giving me background details and straight after the programme, it was made clear to me they would be advising their members to vote Liberal, not Labor. It wasn’t my electorate so it didn’t worry me, but I was certain Wainwright had ruined any chance Waddell might have had. It also serves as another example of how confused issues become crossing over Shire and State electoral boundaries – in state electoral terms, this was a Forrestfield issue, not a Kalamunda issue. As a postscript to the story, both the developer and the nurse were active in Geoff Stallard’s campaign, including handing out How to Vote cards at polling booths.
On to Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, websites and community television. There was no way I could afford any advertising on mainstream commercial television, so I gave consideration to the one community station, WTV, although I’d never watched it. We negotiated what I felt was a very good deal – they would make a series of 30 second ads for me and schedule them constantly over the three months leading up to the election, plus make them available for me on YouTube, so I could post the links on my website and political Facebook site. I still never cease to be amazed at how many people, from all walks of life, saw those ads. I’m a marketing, advertising man, but I still cannot believe the reach of the station. I might not have been elected, but those ads were seen by people all over the metro area. WTV also started a political programme called Shadow Boxing and I became the first person interviewed, the programme continues and is very interesting television for anyone interested in local politics. I then made a suggestion to WTV management that they consider running a Town Hall debate, as the ABC TV Leaders Debate was basically scripted controlled nonsense, with no input from voters. The ABC 720 Transport Forum was the same, tightly scripted, controlled by journalists with no input from the public or audience.
They liked the idea and ran with it, but effectively the only conclusion you could come to, is that Perth people are almost completely disconnected from and disinterested in politics. The Liberal party pointedly refused to be involved – the station had invited Colin Barnett and Mark McGowan to appear, but as soon as Barnett refused, McGowan bowed out. A week before the Town Hall debate, we found out Barnett and McGowan had quietly agreed to attend a private audience with Christian Leaders that same night.
Certainly there were some low-profile candidates such as myself, but there were two high profile panellists – Ken Travers (Labor) and Lynn MacLaren (Greens), plus Kevin Morgan (Mayor of Cottesloe and Independent Candidate for Cottesloe). The event was free, anybody could ask questions, nothing was scripted. You’d think, as the first real old style town hall debate for years, people would be interested. But no, about 20 people turned up. It was shown live to air, has since been repeated and is now available on the internet, but you’d have to say it was a resounding failure. Having said that, I found it fascinating, I learnt a lot about myself and really enjoyed the process, not to mention a little black humour. In answers to a couple of questions, I’d been supportive of gay people and said that I was Agnostic. Then a representative from the United Motorcycle Association asked about planned association laws, I said I wasn’t in favour of them. The bloke introduced himself afterwards, as a member of the Gypsy Jokers. We laughed on the way home, realising we’d probably lost the Christian vote, but gained the Bikies. Hmm.
As the campaign rolled on, it was increasingly obvious, neither of the two major parties were keen on their candidates engaging with the voters – Barnett was virtually a one man band, with occasional public forays by Troy Buswell, while Labor trotted out McGowan, Ben Wyatt and Ken Travers. But where was Quigley, the human volcano? And where were both parties new candidates? Which segues into Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and websites.
I’d followed Barrack Obama’s campaign on the web and still receive daily update emails, all of which helped form my opinion that a strong social media presence was a pre-requisite to campaigning. How wrong I was. Apart from a couple of obvious ‘stooge attack’ Twitter accounts run on their behalf, the Liberal Party had no social media presence. Labor did, the Greens slightly less so and the websites of the the big three – Liberal, Labor and Greens – were strangely cold and bland.
I played the game, believing Social Media was increasingly important. The results speak for themselves. Barnett was devastatingly correct in his assumption that voters were not remotely interested in either personal or internet contact with candidates. I still think a website is a must as part of the mix, for any candidate or business, but Facebook and Twitter, in an Australian political context, are just vanity tools for people to prove how clever and relevant they are. I’m a long-term Facebook user in private, but I dropped my political page the day after the election. I’ve kept Twitter going, as I rather enjoy it, (see vanity tools above), but neither is of any use in the current Australian political climate. Given the results of this election, the sooner we cut costs, campaigns and personalities out of the equation and stop boring voters with flyers and ads, we can then introduce simplified cheaper on-line voting and voters can get back to doing what interests them.
Back to the streets and the battle I imagined was running. For much of the last five months, there were just two of us – my finance Ann and me. Our personal life more or less ground to a halt, but without her nothing would have been possible, we were (and are) a team – she built the website, bullied me into doing the things I instinctively procrastinate about and walked virtually every street in the electorate with me, helping deliver political flyers. Some days it was 41c, most were over 30c, the terrain is often as steep as the Rhine and the electorate spread out, over 100kms in circumference (where it’s not forest). By day’s end, we would collapse exhausted and sunburnt at home, but every night there were constant demands – emails and phone calls to reply to.
The next morning, back to the hard slog, walking, driving, door knocking, letter box dropping, talking, at times thinking “What am I doing?” Usually as somebody stared right through you and said “No thank you,” or “Na, you’re all fucking crooks!” However, a picture did emerge (false as it turned out) of disaffected Liberal voters. It seemed from their comments, that they hadn’t dropped their Liberal principles, they just felt John Day had ignored them and they didn’t much care for Barnett. I also began to gather support, people who agreed with me and also offered to help man booths on election day. These were people I had never met, who’d emailed, or phoned, or even stopped me in the street to talk. Down Maddington way, I’d be walking along the streets and people would call out “Go Greg” from their cars, truck drivers would wave and blow their air horns. It seemed something was in the air.
And the opposition turned the heat up. No, not John Day. In fact we had a very pleasant chat in Kalamunda’s main street one Saturday morning, rather with Geoff Stallard’s campaign man. Frank Lindsey began appearing on my Facebook site, wrongly correcting me and taking voters to task over issues, while Mick Wainwright’s campaign man, his brother Steve, was annoyed with comments I’d made about Labor’s stance on Forced Amalgamations and wanted me to notify my followers of Labor’s unpublicised decision not to force council amalgamations. Then the Greens’ Toni Wadren contacted me, re a fairly vicious email that had been sent out painting me as a Liberal Stooge. The same person behind the email had earlier rung the Labor Party expressing outrage that I was actually a National Party person and they had to combine forces against me. I knew where that had come from, the wonderful Hilda Turnbull, a fellow City Gatekeeper and retired long serving National MP, had thankfully begun to take a real hands-on interest and was organising my booths etc. It seems her presence at the Kalamunda public meeting had created a mini storm. One tale of the night must be told, after the meeting had finished, Geoff Stallard, not realising who Hilda was, expressed his anger and dismay at the Nationals “dreadful Royalties for Regions” programme. She politely replied that she had a slightly different point of view.
The election day drew nigh and I started to believe there was just a possibility that the dissatisfaction with John Day might prove interesting and that although Geoff Stallard undoubtedly had a strong following amongst the Lesmurdie Catholic community, I felt his role in the almost universally disliked Kalamunda Council would not help him. I also felt he would split the Labor vote, as their candidate was not registering well with voters. I felt the Greens would get their usual 2,000 – 2,500 votes, although I was well aware support for the Greens was on the wane across Australia.
Preferencing took over as the Main Game. Both Geoff and I understood very early on that we had to place each other second and we both stood by the gentlemen’s agreement. I discovered the Greens had placed me second. It hit the fan between the Stallard camp and the Greens, as he’d expected second place, not fifth! Geoff placed Labor third, whilst I put Greens third, John Day fourth and Labor fifth. Geoff of course didn’t want to offend his traditional Labor voters and I didn’t want to make things too hard for disaffected Liberal voters.
And so the games began. Hilda had virtually every booth covered with some absolutely wonderful people, I will never forget the support they gave me.The only booth we couldn’t cover all day was one small shared polling booth, with just 300 voters, although we had somebody there until midday.
My role was to drive around from booth to booth, making sure everyone had everything they needed. I was very pleasantly surprised to find people at the booths getting along very well, regardless of who they were handing out How to Vote cards for. In fact John Day’s daughter was kind enough to take a picture of me and friends up at Carmel Hall. The only stressful time had been around 6.00am at East Maddington, where a very aggressive Liberal bloke was insistent that nobody else could put up any posters or signs, only the Liberals had the right to do so. I let the truckie in me off the chain and things quickly settled. But that was the only incident I was aware of.
By 10.30am, the two central Kalamunda booths were reporting voters were all Liberal, with some voting Geoff Stallard, while I did seem to be making some headway in Maddington. Toni Wadren’s words of a couple of weeks previous began to resonate – “Greg, don’t be disappointed, I’ve run and lived up here for a long while. They all moan and groan about John Day, but on the day, they can’t bring themselves not to vote Liberal. Afterwards, they’ll look you straight in the face, shake their heads and says they don’t understand how he got back in.” By 11.30am, I was sure she was right, in fact from the reports I was getting, it was a Liberal landslide.
That evening, friends and supporters kept asking me how I felt. I wasn’t angry, sad, humiliated, or sorry, I just felt annoyed with myself, that I’d wasted so much time, money and energy and not followed my gut instincts re Midland. I was stunned at the size of the Liberal landslide, shocked at John Hyde’s loss and really surprised to see Max Hipkins had come nowhere in Nedlands. But most of all, I was exhausted. Locking the gates of the Kalamunda RSL, we drove around to where I had signs up, took them all down and drove home, both of us completely shattered emotionally and physically.
The next morning, I took a strange pleasure in removing all the stickers and signs off the car and trailer as soon as possible, but then, for the next two weeks, apart from answering a couple of hate emails, I didn’t want anything to do with politics.
My conclusions? I was right about two things – the Greens were on the wane and Midland was there for the taking. I got the mood of the Kalamunda electorate completely wrong, it is blue blood Liberal party territory, although I do think the state of the Kalamunda Shire Council ruined my message about forced amalgamations – most Kalamunda voters think it would be preferable to what they’ve got. Labor ran a second rate campaign and Geoff Stallard definitely split the Labor vote. I think he made a huge mistake in refusing Labor’s advances, if he’d run as the their candidate, with preferences, he would once again have come very close to unseating John Day, in spite of his council connections.
As a society, we have very definitely moved to the right, almost a seismic shift. Perhaps it’s because of the on-going toxic federal Parliament, there’s no doubt Federal Labor has been diabolically stupid in its handling of the Mining Tax and Barnett very cleverly played the “Us against Them”, State vs Canberra card over the last four years. Public perception of the Greens has altered with Christine Milne taking over as leader, her acerbic, lecturing, self-righteous image is far less acceptable to people than the charismatic, media savvy Bob Brown. The Murdoch press in particular has been relentless in its attack on the Federal Independents, as a result, I suspect voters currently don’t see a role for Independents. All of which seems to prove that in WA at least, it’s now very hard to separate State and Federal politics – in voters minds, they are the same.
I don’t think I’d do it again, or advise anybody else to run as an Independent, so far I can’t see a single personal benefit – well, I did lose 9kgs! But, I do have a niggling feeling that I could and should do more for the people of Maddington, I suspect they were beginning to want me, whereas the Hills people didn’t. Then there’s Midland, Labor deserved the kick in the backside the voters gave them. I wish I’d run, to make sure the Liberal government turned it’s attention to Midland, which will of course include Kalamunda, when it is swallowed up into the Midland Super Council later this year. Now there’s a thought, I could run for the new council!
The recent Kalamunda Public Forum, held at the Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre, was filmed by WTC Ch. 44 and went to air on Wednesday 20th February. For those who could not attend, or were unable to watch the programme, it has now been uploaded to YouTube in two parts. The links are provided below and I hope you find the information useful. I would like to thank the guest speakers, Dr Linley Lutton, Dr Beth Schultz AO, Colin Latchem and Ken Eastwood AM, plus my long term great mate Ted Bull for offering to MC the night and help inform Kalamunda people. I’m also very pleased that the various Kalamunda Shire Councillors present found the night informative, to the point where they have invited one of the guest speakers to address the councillors.
Dennis Grosvenor is best known to Australians as an actor, however more recently, he found his beloved Ku-ring-gai (Sydney) suburb under sustained threat from developers in bed with government (State and Local). Realising what was happening, with the local community shut out of any say in what development took place, he started filming. It developed into a full scale investigation of behind the scenes developer / government negotiations.
Titled ‘State of Siege’ it serves as a salutary lesson for all of us, as Western Australia is forced headlong down the same path, with forced amalgamations and Development Assessment Panels (DAPs). Dennis was over here for a week to talk at public screenings of the film and I showed an excerpt at the recent Kalamunda Public Meeting.
I received the following email from Dennis this weekend and thought I would share it with you:
It was good to have another Independent at the first WA screening of State Of Siege.
I fully support your stance and decision to run as a genuine Independent. The rise of Independents concerned with the erosion of the environment both built and natural is a positive sign for the nation as a whole.
It’s encouraging that people are now starting to see the other side of the development debate, which is the whittling away of our freedoms at the behest of the development lobby and other powerful groups, all of whom wield too much “undue influence” on the Parliament.
What I found interesting while mingling with the audience after the screenings was the cross fertilisation and interaction of candidates of varying socio-economic and political backgrounds, all of whom were standing against the two major parties.
This is a lesson the rest of the country could learn from.
Also good to learn the Greens are giving you their preferences.
The power dynamic in the Parliament has to be changed, as I said during my WTV interview the older parties have become corporate entities, they no longer represent the people.
A warning on amalgamation…
The problem with a local government area like Ku-ring-gai NSW, is that it is too large and unwieldy. As such the Council thought it could do a Chamberlainesque appeasement deal with the government and apportion off far flung edges of the municipality for high-rise development – thereby getting the State government off its back.
Of course once the government got its teeth into one section of the municipality, it continued on, it was the “Wedge” and the rest is the sorry history spelt out in my film.
Thanks for taking an interest in State Of Siege.
I wish you well for 9 March.
I have a DVD of the film and I’m very willing to lend it to interested people. Here are two relevant links:
The cover story in today’s Kalamunda Echo features the community forum I organised for the people of Kalamunda last week. Interesting to see Councillor Geoff Stallard, also running as an Independent, jump on the bandwagon – better late than never. And I see the Labor candidate the Deputy Mayor of Swan, also feels he against it, which puzzled me, as many of us felt Labor was in favour of forced amalgamations and the hideous Development Assessment Panels, however after this was written, a Labor person assured me that although Labor supports amalgamations, they don’t want to force them. he was hazy on DAPs. John Day and the Liberals of course, would far rather you didn’t know or talk about it.
Who are you going to vote for:
Your current political representative?
A councillor who’s only just realised what could happen?
Labor, who seem to have made a very sudden back-flip on forced amalgamations, but are very quiet on DAPs?
Or a true Independent who brings matters to your attention?
The Kalamunda Public Forum (Tue 12thFeb) has been praised as a success, with a turn-out of just under 100 people, in oppressive heat and humidity. Several councillors in attendance were impressed enough to ask the guest speakers to meet with the council to discuss the implications of Colin Barnett’s and John Day’s Development Assessment Panels and looming forced amalgamations.
We are receiving calls from people who could not attend and are seeking transcripts and information. The event was filmed by WTV Ch 44 and will be broadcast in it’s edited entirety at a yet to be announced time slot next week and also as featured excerpts accompanying the showing of “State of Siege” the Dennis Grosvenor film about cosy government and developers at work in NSW.
State of Siege is a must-see for anyone concerned at the direction Colin Barnett and John Day are taking this state, removing planning power from local communities. It will be shown at 9.00pm on Saturday 16thFebruary on WTV Ch 44 (you must have digital reception to view Ch 44). It will then be repeated on Friday 8thMarch at 6.00pm – the day before the elections and coincidentally, my birthday!
The edited Kalamunda Forum will be screened on WTV Ch 44 Wednesday 20th February at 8.30pm. After it’s been to air, it will be available as a YouTube link and I’ll post the link here.
I would like to thank my guest speakers, Dr Linley Lutton, Dr Beth Schultz AO, Colin Latchem and Ken Eastwood AM and my great much-loved mate Ted Bull for acting as MC. Also, may I please add my gratitude to all of you for attending and very grateful thanks to those members of the audience who not only collectively donated almost $400.00 towards the cost of the evening, but also volunteered to man polling booths for me on Election Day. Ann and I are genuinely very humbled at the level of support, thank you so much.
I have been criticised by some people and contradicted by the Minister for Planning, John Day, for my video clip showing and explaining the madness of removing the existing Emergency Lanes in the Northbridge Tunnel, all to cater for the Premier’s Waterfront vanity project, which will include the virtual destruction of Riverside Drive as a major arterial / tourist access route across the city.
It is only three days ago, (Monday 28th January) I spoke with Jane Marwick about this issue, indeed John Day rang at the end of the segment to tell people I was wrong.
In the name of sanity road safety and the voters of Western Australia, I demand that John Day, Colin Barnett and Troy Buswell rethink an act of ill-considered planning and keep the emergency lanes in the Tunnel. They are wilfully wrong.
I have attached links to the ABC report on the coroner’s finding, the 6PR interview (unfortunately only part of the interview is on-line) and the Tunnel video.
Please note: I was not an invited guest, I just turned up, when asked, in turn with everyone there, to identify myself, I stated that I was Greg Ross from the City Gatekeepers.
The first meeting was an assembly of the Local Chambers Barrack Square Traders Association. The meeting was convened to discuss the ramifications for the various businesses when construction commences on the waterfront project. These various points were brought up by the members, there’s no attempt by me to edit, or verify their veracity (of each statement):
Stand to loose 40,000 cars per day
Loss of income
Want free rent during construction process – some were granted this during the Bell Tower construction, as compensation for loss of income.
Cpt Cook tours in favour of the development – they made money during construction of the BT
Golden Sun Tours will loose money if Perth Zoo ferries moved.
Real concerns about reduced traffic flow, BT doesn’t have to worry, it’s subsidised by the government.
Government is to create a Barrack St jetty website to try and get business to the area, while construction is underway and everything fenced off.
Worry about promoting and creating on-going activity around a busy large construction site.
C of P looking at marketing the area with a new campaign in late March, naming it the Barrack Square precinct.
Concern at the lack of information form the MRA
Financial implications are very worrying
Question to C of P – is the marketing campaign definitely starting next month, response, couldn’t say, being delayed.
Complaints that nobody from government, or C of P has ever talked to them about the closure and loss of Jetty 6
Communication is appalling
MRA already walking over everybody, with enormous power, some doubts they can rule the Swan River Trust.
Do they know how to build jetties suitable for commercial operations?
The possibility of the project has been discussed for the last 6 – 9 months and has gone nowhere.
Nobody can afford to get / pursue legal options, either financially, or business-wise (repercussions).
Limited resources and power to effect changes, government will do what it wants.
Rhetoric from government is waffle, every business knows they’re going to get hurt.
Concern over time taken for excavation (nobody’s told them) and then construction – rumours of 10 – 15 years and if Perth Arena is an example, whatever time is given will blow out.
Glenn Finn spoke first, introducing his team.
Advised they’re doing a redesign of Barrack St jetty, trying to accommodate the requisite finger jetty.
Status report: Talk last year, currently progressing with environmental and Aboriginal issues.
Expect to commence work in April this year
Trent Hunt (Marine Consultant)
Going for finger jetties off Jetty 1
Demolishing Jetty 6
Expanding Jetty 5 by 25 metres
Dredging required around finger jetties, approx 8,000 cubic metres, will need to be monitored
Jetty Programme, site works start June 2012
Expect a seven month construction period, complete January 2013
After that, dredging will begin, before boats can access
The major impact will be on jetties 1 & 5
Jetty 6 boats to be moved in Oct / Nov
Concern from floor that everything must be ready six weeks before Xmas, or financial disaster for operators.
Question from floor as to where private charter boats were going to moor.
Hunt couldn’t answer, said they hadn’t thought about that and he didn’t know.
Question from floor as to who would police the issue, Hunt told them they would have to police it themselves.
To questions about storage facilities he said he didn’t know, they hadn’t thought of that.
He said that the trees besides the jetties were about to be removed to create a load-out storage compound for contractors
Ian McKee (I think, may have been Ian Johnston)
External road works – tenders soon to be awarded
Work expected to start May 2012
Rolling traffic diversions fro 18 months as of May 2012
Expect heavy congestion during peak hours
Going to make Mounts Bay Road 2 way lead into Riverside Drive to tyr and help.
Riverside Drive expected to be closed late 2013
Veronica Jeffrey & Lisa Montgomery (MRA marketing)
Talked of using the USA company, Project for Public Spaces, invited audience to go the the PPS website, explained the various factors going into marketing a space, concentrated on making it family friendly.
They said the area wouldn’t have trees and as it would be all hard surfaces, it would need artificial shade, they showed power point slides of outdoor cafes with umbrellas etc.
They said that after consideration an extra boardwalk had been added, to bring the river closer to people, to overcome the 4m drop from the main boardwalk.
They gave the timeline for the marketing campaign (marketing Barrack Square precinct:
Feb: interviews (passers-by)
Feb – Mar: Consultation with business
End Mar: draft plan
End April: Signage, hoardings, marketing & promotion
May: Quick Win start
A term used in the regeneration sector to refer to relatively cheap and easy initiatives that can be quickly implemented in an attempt to secure community support for a regeneration scheme. Quick wins are also designed to head off community frustration at delays to more substantial improvements that often dog major regeneration initiatives.
Found on http://society.guardian.co.uk/glossary
May budget: Couldn’t give a figure, but assured there was a budget.
Concern from floor about Swan River Trust and possibility of two masters, as MRA only started 1st Jan 2012.
Concern from floor over Long Table Lunch, was there a budget for it, answer yes, but not sure how much.
Herman De Mello (Leasing)
He said he wasn’t aware of some changes previous MRA speakers had spoken of, such as adding to jetties 1 & 5, would need to consult with them
He didn’t know where the vessels from 6 etc would be going, but would work it out over the next week or two.
Concern from the floor over parking, what was going to happen with bays.
Audience was told the official view was that cars would be actively discouraged, they waned people using public transport, walking and bikes.
Owners responded that visiting car traffic was a vital component of customer numbers, exactly how many bays were there and how many would be left.
Response was that there were somewhere between 65 and 70 short term (2 hour) bays, interjection asking why they didn’t know exactly.
Response was they’d done a count but forgotten.
25 short term bays would be left, but there was plenty of parking around the city and the other side of the proposed inlet.
Disbelief from floor that people would walk all that way to visit a construction site.
Asked when the bays would be reduced, the response was they didn’t know.
Question from floor about providing extra Cat bus service, response was the Blue Cat would continue with no extra stop added between Esplanade Station and Barrack St Jetty.
Questioned about time taken on rerouted circuit, response was two – three minutes.
Concern from floor that train passengers who know walked over Esplanade Reserve to Barrack St jetty, would not do so when the construction was on.
Response was that’s why the marketing campaign.
Questioned about whether anybody had put their hand up to build / buy a building, Glen Finn responded that they’d been out in the market looking for Expressions of Interest and that there was confirmed interest in the hotel.
When asked who the contact person at MRA was for the Barrack Square Traders (as they didn’t’ want to have to deal with different people), Glen Finn responded that they hadn’t thought about it, but he’d be happy to be the contact person.
Glen Finn finished the meeting responding to questions about construction time etc, with the following:
End of 2015, finish of infrastructure public works, everything in place, but no buildings.
End of 2022, project completed, but go over that time, due to the various developers commercial considerations
It would be easy to pick on MRA staff for the obvious lack of preparedness, but that would be wrong. It struck me they were competent people, who have suddenly had this project thrown at them and been told to make it work. However, if they have been working on it for two years, albeit in different departments, the lack of preparation and answers would have to be viewed as appalling.
The new emphasis on families was interesting, the project is obviously not family friendly and for the first time, we saw they’ve adopted the Gatekeepers’ floating swimming pool concept.
Although the assurances to business operators were based around marketing and promoting the precinct, nobody was able to provide an actual budget figure, or a finished campaign, three to four weeks away from the initial constructions stage.
The reality appears that these traders will be cut off by building works – fenced construction sites – with constant truck and construction movement and two thirds less parking for customers, they’ll need more than a marketing campaign.