Friday, July 31, 2009
Rates rise points to need for a broader debate about council revenues
Community activist and candidate for the Hilton Ward, Sam Wainwright, suggested that the foreshadowed 8.5% rate hike should be the spark for broader debate about the Fremantle Council’s sources of revenue and whether the state government should bare some of the cost associated with the SMRC Resource Recovery Centre. He said, “If such a rise really is necessary to cover council expenses then we need to have a bit of debate about how rates are calculated; whether Notre Dame University is paying its way in respect of the council facilities it uses; and to ask if the state government is shirking its responsibilities.”
Wainwright continued, “5% of the increase is to cover the rising cost of the SMRC Resource Recovery Centre that services a huge swathe of greater Perth. It’s only fair that the state government help share the cost. Waste management and recycling need to be planned like the delivery of other utilities such as water and sewerage. I think metropolitan councils also have a fair claim on a greater slice of state government revenues.”
“This is the problem with the National Party’s ‘Royalties for Regions’ pork-barrelling exercise. It’s doing nothing to fix urgent problems in the bush like the collapse of the country rail network while also cutting needy urban projects out of the picture. How about we have royalties for recycling and renewables!”
He added, “We also have to ask if Notre Dame University is really paying its way. The university is exempt from paying rates but relies on a whole range of council services and facilities that other universities would pay for themselves. This is not to deny that the university brings a lot of good things to Fremantle. But the fact remains that the residents and businesses of Fremantle are effectively providing a public subsidy to a private institution.”
“Every time the university buys another property it further undermines the revenue base of the council while increasing its demand on council services. Under its deal with the council Notre Dame only pays a token amount in recognition of its demand on council services. I think it should pay a civic amenity fee equivalent to the rates it would otherwise pay.”
Regarding the issue of rates Wainwright said, “The current way we calculate rates may be simple, but apart from the pensioner discount, it takes no real account of peoples capacity to pay. For people who own their own homes but who are on low fixed incomes or who have heavy mortgages, rising property values and rates are a real problem. We don’t want to price these people out of their homes. Can we devise a system that imposes higher rates on higher value properties but that is at the same time is coupled with a ceiling or other form of discount for residents on low incomes?”
For more comment contact Sam Wainwright: 0412 751 508
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Graham Brown is a recently retired coal miner and current unionist and climate activist. He has a long record of arguing for feasible ways to phase out coal in order to combat climate change, without jeopardising the interests of coal miners and mining communities.
Sam will be addressing the topic "People power can save the planet". He will be arguing that it is still possible to win a safe climate future but only with a massive people's movement for change.
The event will include a meal and entertainment. More information about this event (which is part of the Socialist Alliance state conference) can be found here.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Local community activist, socialist, wharfie and unionist Sam Wainwright will stand in the Hilton ward in the October Fremantle Council elections.
“The recent by-election brought welcome winds of change; let’s extend that to Freo council.”
Wainwright was the Socialist Alliance candidate in the by-election in which the socialist vote increased.
“We’ve got strong views on workers’ rights and community democracy”, he said. “I think that through the by-election we demonstrated that we’re not just wide-eyed radicals: we’ve given serious consideration to the practical steps we can and need to take to tackle the big social and environmental questions.
“The local Socialist Alliance branch and a number of other activists and residents have asked me to stand in order continue to do this.”
Wainwright is keen to see the council become a forum for active community debate, participation and action, not just a passive arm of government administration.
“People have to understand that there is no white knight in shining armour to save us, whatever our main area of concern is, whether it’s massively extending and subsidising green technologies for the home or stopping nuclear-armed and powered ships from stopping in our port”, he said.
“Rather we have to get out and make change happen. Freo council can and should be helping this process, including helping community members organise to pressure state and federal government.
“It’s not good enough that businesses and wealthy residents who could install green technology don’t, whereas tenants and Homes west [public housing] residents who would love to have it can’t because their landlords don’t want to spend the money.
“This turns water tanks and solar panels into middle-class accessories when they should be something for everybody. These technologies need to be made a condition of planning permission and more actively subsidised by the Water Corporation and Western Power. The council should be doing its part and putting the pressure on the state government to do the same.”
Referring to the regular visits to Fremantle by the US Navy he said: “Fremantle is supposedly a Nuclear-Free Zone council but what does this really mean? At the same time we have nuclear-powered and armed vessels visiting our port, and the Australian uranium industry regularly meets at the Esplanade Hotel.
“Uranium exports through our port could be next. These things might be outside the jurisdiction of the council but that doesn’t mean the council and the mayor should silently dodge the issue. The council could be actively assisting Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group and be telling the uranium industry that we don’t want its blood money.”
From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #802 15 July 2009.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"Sam Wainwright, the surprise package of the Fremantle by-election in May, has put up his hand to run for Hilton ward in the October council elections," the paper reported.
"The O'Connor wharfie and socialist wowed the crowd at the by-election debate with his ideas and his delivery," the paper said.
"Like former prime minister and Freo Labor icon John Curtin, Mr Wainwright writes and edits the marimie union's newsletter."
Sam told the Herald "I've got strong views on workers' rights and community democracy" and that "I think that through the by-election I demonstrated ... I'm not just a wide-eyed radical, but that I've given serious consideration to the practical steps we can and need to take to tackle the big social and environmental questions".