YEAR IN REVIEW
SCHOOLS around Fremantle, Cockburn and Melville faced an uncertain start to the school year after news chaplaincy funding would be cut. Affected schools had to decide whether to cut the chaplaincy program or fund it themselves. WA Council of State School Organsations president Kylie Catto said it was “inconceivable” that chaplaincy funding would not be allocated to schools according to need. “For a panel to decide that funding should be allocated based on the percentage of the total student population, rather than targeted to need, particularly at a time when our system is entering a needsbased funding model, is completely contradictory,” she said. “With the funding cuts of 2013 and increasing pressure on schools due to changes in 2015, schools will simply not be able to pick up the tab for chaplains.”
A NEW era for emergency hospital care began in the south metropolitan area, with Fremantle Hospital shutting its emergency department doors on the same day that the Fiona Stanley Hospital ED opened for business. In a massive operation involving 124 Fremantle, 105 Royal Perth, 43 Fiona Stanley and 66 St John Ambulance staff, 65 patients were transferred from Fremantle to Fiona Stanley Hospital. The following weekend another 100 patients were moved from RPH to Fiona Stanley as the $2 billion Murdoch hospital assumed the mantle of Perth flagship.
LOCAL government amalgamations were stymied as councils such as East Fremantle and Cockburn dug in their heels against the changes that would see the number of metropolitan councils reduced. The changes, which were due to be implemented on July 1, were cancelled after Governor’s Orders were revoked. The withdrawal came after Local Government Minister Tony Simpson told councils the amalgamation process would no longer go ahead after failed polls in three affected areas. Mr Simpson rejected the assertion that the mergers came about because the Government had been lobbied by builders unhappy with planning laws that were not uniform.
THE $4.9 billion redevelopment of the Cockburn Coast took a massive step forward in April, but concerns remained that the site’s full potential would not be realised unless light rail linking Fremantle with the site was built. Lands Minister Terry Redman launched the Shoreline development, the first of three precincts between South Beach and Port Coogee, and the future site of some 2500 medium to high density homes for about 50,000 people. The 47ha precinct will include a primary school, sporting facilities and commercial and retail space. The release will be followed by the Hilltop and Power Station precincts over the coming years. With an extra 12,000 people to live there within 20 years time, Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett argued light rail had to form part of the infrastructure transporting people in an out of the precinct. He received support from the City of Fremantle and State Opposition, but Mr Redman said a bus priority corridor would adequately service the area.
PUTTING Fremantle Port up for sale was one of the most contentious items in this year’s State Budget. Premier Colin Barnett and Treasurer Mike Nahan announced the State Government would sell Fremantle Port through a long-term lease and use the proceeds to reduce debt and fund major new projects. With a forecast operating budget deficit of $2.7 billion and a debt of $31 billion for 2015-16, Mr Barnett said the Government’s decision to sell Fremantle Port would enable it to continue building the economic infrastructure of WA without adding to debt. “The decision to pursue a sensible program of further asset sales will enable the Government to build new infrastructure to support future growth without putting further pressure on the state’s finances,” he said.
CAREER firefighters from the Success fire station were told they would not be asked to return to the station, with Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson saying the cause of cancer cases there may never be known. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services closed the station in November, 2014, after a fourth firefighter in six years was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In March, 2015, it was revealed environmental testing had failed to find a link between the site and the cancer cases experienced by firefighters based there. That was followed up by an analysis of the work history of the firefighters, medical testing of firefighters who had an association with the station, an investigation by the Department of Health, and a follow-up review of these investigations by an independent panel. But with no cause found, Mr Gregson ruled out forcing firefighters to return to the site. “I am advised a cause is not likely to be found and we may never have an answer for why four firefighters from the one station have been diagnosed with the same cancer,” he said. “I have come to a decision that I cannot in good conscience direct any firefighter to return to the Hammond Road site.”
ACTING Transport Minister Bill Marmion announced that conditional environmental approval for the 5.2km extension through Bibra Lakes wetlands as part of Roe 8 had been backed by Environment Minister Albert Jacob. In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Authority backed the extension linking Kwinana Freeway and Stock Road. More than 165 appeals were lodged against it. Following the announcement, close to 700 people packed into the Fremantle Town Hall to attend a forum about the Perth Freight Link. City of Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey addressed the crowd – most of whom opposed the extension – in support of the plan, which he called an “act of defiance in the name of road safety for Melville.”
GERMAN industrial giant ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) used a briefing in Henderson to announce it wants to build submarines in Australia. The company is one of three internationals competing for the Federal Government’s $20 billion SEA 1000 Future Submarine Project, with Japanese and French firms also in the running. The new submarines will replace the aging Collins Class submarines. During the briefing at the AMC Jackovich Centre, TKMS Australia chairman John White told local suppliers and fabricators its preference was to build Australia’s eight new submarines locally, if it was announced as the successful contractor. “Our preference to get the best results for the country is to build all submarines in Australia, including the first one,” he said.
AN error calculating rates forced the City of Cockburn i nto refunding $1.36 million. The City said an error incorporating its waste management fee had l ed to it overbilling more than 14,500 properties with high gross rental values. If rates had been paid and the refund was more than $50, a credit payment was issued by the City. If it was l ess than $50, the money will be applied as a credit to future rates. The City said there was no effect on commercial, industrial, rural or minimum-rated properties, or vacant or unimproved properties.
THE City of Fremantle’s bid to ban plastic bags was all but over after Parliament knocked back its local law for a second time. The City’s first attempt to get the Plastic Bag Local Law passed hit a snag in 2013 when the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation rejected it because of a clause that would have had retailers charge customers to take plastic bags. The clause was deleted and the law resubmitted, but earlier this year North Metropolitan MLC Peter Katsambanis put forward a motion of disallowance to again block the law. Mr Katsambanis said North Fremantle residents and businesses had approached him opposing the new law, but he declined to elaborate on which businesses, saying they feared reprisal from
the City of Fremantle.
APPLECROSS resident Stephen Langford was named WA’s Local Hero for his work during a 32year career with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Since joining the Jandakot-based RFDS in 1983, Dr Langford has worked to introduce a range of innovations, transforming the medical service into a vertically integrated, single statewide service providing both routine and emergency care from five bases across WA. He also recently started overseeing two university-level courses in aeromedical retrieval for RFDS doctors and flight nurses.
RESIDENTS of Alfred Cove and its surrounding suburbs faced an outbreak of Australia’s worst fruit pest. The discovery of six male queensland fruit flies (Qflies) in Department of Agriculture and Food surveillance traps sparked a minimum 12-week ban on the movement of non-commercial fruit and vegetables, including those that are home-grown. Qflies lay eggs in more than 200 different species of fruit and vegetable – far more than the common mediterranean fruit fly – including avocados, tomatoes, chilli, eggplants, passionfruits, capsicums and strawberries. Department senior entomologist Dr Darryl Hardie said a swift and co-ordinated response should contain the outbreak but still expected the operation to cost at least $100,000-$200,000.
Chaplain Meng Chan with pre-primary students Sadie Kirk and William Monson.
Top: Dr Stephen Langford pictured with a Royal Flying Doctors Service plane at RFDS in Jandakot. Right: Dr John White, chairman of ThyssenKrupp Ma rine Systems.