Fremantle Society President John Dowson denies breaking a promise to support Claudia Green, former chair person of FRRA, the Fremantle ratepayers association.
In a statement emailed to Fremantle Backchat he said: “The Fremantle Society did not renege on any agreement about supporting Claudia Green for city ward because it never made a decision to do so”. He continues, “I gladly applauded Claudia Green running for council, and I applaud anyone else who does so too.”
He explained that in a Fremantle Society monthly committee meeting the committee voted to “endorse and support” two Fremantle Society committee members who wanted to run for council. They are Michael Finn for City Ward and Catherine Hammond for Hilton. He continued, “There was discussion about FRRA folding and the Fremantle Society taking on their members and their website. There was no decision to agree about Claudia Green coming on the committee.”
Mr Dowson has not confirmed whether he received a copy of minutes of the FRRA meeting at which he is said to have made an undertaking to Ms Green to support her as a council candidate for City Ward.
Fremantle Backchat has received a leaked copy of a letter, dated 7th June, written by Claudia Green to members of the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association (FRRA). It also contained a copy of minutes of the FRRA meeting related to the amalgamation with the Fremantle Society.
‘I HAVE A SOLID TRACK RECORD’ : GREEN
In her letter Ms Green confirmed her decision to stand for City Ward was the reason for resigning from FRRA saying she has been a resident of Fremantle for 25 years. “I have a solid track record of community activism, through FRRA and other activities.
“After years of membership of the FS, I considered I warranted some consideration if there was to be FS endorsement of any member, as I am more than competitive, and I am the only local candidate so far that lives in City Ward.”
Ms Green outlined that the Fremantle Society’s decision to endorse ‘two of its own’ “… has excluded both me and Fidele Camarda, who put our hands up months ago, from consideration. This should be of concern to FRRA members (and FS members), as we entered the merger in good faith, expecting good governance.”
FS MEMBERS ‘NOT INFORMED’
She continued: “Unusually, for an Incorporated Association, the FS didn’t notify its membership that an item and motions to endorse their Committee members was on a FS Committee Agenda either.
“ …in conversation over the merger, early in February/March, when I announced my candidacy and the necessity to resign from FRRA, that support was offered by the President to me, and at the Special General Meeting of Members on 27 April 2017.
“Although the President now disputes this, a debate of ‘he said, she said’ won’t occur, as that commitment for support appears to be the least of the problems with these outcomes.”
Ms Green’s statement is contradicted in an email to FS members, dated 3rd June. John Dowson said: “The Fremantle Society is very pleased that two of its committee members have volunteered for the daunting challenge of running for council in the October elections. Catherine Hammond and Michael Finn are both outstanding committee members with deep and long standing commitments to Fremantle, and the committee voted to endorse them both.
“The merger with FRRA had no conditions attached. The Fremantle Society and FRRA have always worked closely, and generally on similar issues.
“Claudia Green, in stepping down as Chair of FRRA announced that she was running for council and the Fremantle Society President made it clear he thought she was a very good candidate”.
‘A CAPACITY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RATEPAYERS’
In her letter Claudia Green added: “It is also, interesting that as the FS is also a Council Precinct and as such receives rate payer monies, that there is the capacity to discriminate against ratepayers, who put their hands up. Normally, Council Precincts, as a principle of equity, simply notify their members as to who is standing, rather than have a preference of ratepayers, without an apparent proper due process, equity or accountability and transparency”.
‘FUNDS CANNOT BE USED FOR ELECTIONEERING’ : CITY GUIDELINES
Precinct guidelines state: “City funds are for precinct purposes only and cannot be used for electioneering in local government elections. The City acknowledges the role of the precincts in encouraging community interest in council elections. The Local Government Act does not allow candidates to use council resources to assist in election activities. The City is also responsible for being objective, non-political and unbiased. As such, the City has specific guidelines relating to the use of City resources by precincts who wish to promote council elections”.
The guidelines do not appear to preclude precincts from using their own funds to support candidates.
SO WHY RELINQUISH FRRA?
Would Claudia Green have been better off not to have relinquished FRRA? The organisation is not a precinct and it may have been possible for her to resign the chair and have the Association membership support her election campaign with no constraints related to council guidelines. She has not yet confirmed she will stand for council.
Roger Garwood : Editor : fremantlebackchat.org
0418 921 735