What’s In It For Us?

There was not a democracy sausage sizzle anywhere in the State that would have predicted the tsunami-like shake up of our Government ranks. It’s done and dusted, people voted and now we wait for the new Government to get on with the business of managing WA.

So what’s on the cards for the Fremantle region. There’s no elephant in the room when it comes to the cancellation of the Freightlink and the sale of Fremantle Port.   Labor campaigned heavily against both and the Roe 8 site works have now stopped. This is a quick action but the proffered solution is also going to take considerable planning and construction time. This means we all must be prepared to last the distance with our own perceived inconveniences (be it trucks, traffic, or road infrastructure).

The Fremantle Port contribution to our State economy is so much more than just counting cruise ships and hoping for a gentrified port precinct in 20 years time. In any day, your life  connects to Fremantle Port. Your vehicle, your flat pack furniture, food, clothing, household and office goods, the materials you use for construction, most often come by boat. For many it is the exports they create or manage for international markets.

None of this stops whilst we await the Outer Harbour. So, for now, it is business as usual but with the promise of favouring the freight by rail, upgrading the existing infrastructure and improving of the road connections from Carrington Street to Stirling Highway.

The South West Group’s recent economic report on the Local Governments from Melville to Rockingham showed an average unemployment rate of 6% and 15.4% youth unemployment. We never think of Fremantle as average and that is reflected in an unemployment rate of 9.7%, just below that of the City of Rockingham. It should be noted that none of these stats include the frustrated underemployed. Where our future jobs come from is really important.

Let’s hope the Local Jobs – Local Content policy, the State Defense Minister and Advisory Council, and the expansion of the Australian Marine Complex as an industry technology park will be a kicker for our marine, engineering and manufacturing sectors and influence a downward spiral of the unemployment rate.

With considerable construction happening within the Fremantle CBD soon, the City is lobbying for more with the redevelopment of Victoria/South Quay. There’ll be some jobs there. Tourism and hospitality are given key sectors for employment development but we also need to make sure that the funds promised to Tourism marketing have an impact in the direction of Fremantle.

Time and time again it is restated that Fremantle is the second most visited place in the State and yet representation of the City continues to be absent from our State’s overarching tourism marketing. It’s time to move on from the project images of unfinished developments in the CBD.

I love the 50’s/60’s glory of Fremantle Passenger Terminal, and have been impressed by the logistics management of maneuvering thousands of people on and off boats. Sadly, it is not an easy connect to the City centre, more so over the next three years with the construction program in the CBD. So whilst we wait through a few years of redevelopment deliberation that avoids costing the Government any money, can we please just pull the wobbly and ugly walk bridge down and insert a pedestrian crossing? It is a short-term win we could all cope with.