World Class Photography Show at Moore’s Gallery

Fremantle International Portrait Prize  (FIPP)

Since it is inception about ten years ago FIPP has grown to be one of largest photographic portrait shows in Australia and the largest in WA.

© Goran Jovic

Last Saturday evening (12th October) was the grand opening at the Moore’s Building of the Fifth Fremantle International Portrait Prize (FIPP). About two hundred invited guests, including some of Australia’s top photographers, attended the opening of an inspiring exhibition.

© Laura Holdsworth

FIPP is rather special, not only because it has attracted entries from about 40 countries, putting the City front and centre on the international photographic scene,  but because it is run totally by volunteers and held to benefit  charity. Most photographic competitions are actually businesses, established to make profits for organisers. FIPP is managed by a small group of professional and amateur photo enthusiasts who have thus far raised in excess of $60,000 for charities, in particular the Arthritis Foundation.

© Liv Stockley

The work of  150 high quality finalists is on show together with the winners in a number of sections. Of particular interest  for enthusiasts is the section dedicated to smart phone entrants displays quality which challenges that of high end equipment.

© Malcolm Peacock

Go along and pick a winner. One winner has not been Judged. It’s always a mystery – the choice of the public. It’s worth spending an hour of your time in the historical Moore’s Building gallery in Henry Street to meander through this collection which ranges through styles of work in both classic black & white to  colour photography. Go along, drop a couple of bucks in the collection tin, check the show out and vote for your choice of winner. You’ll find the judges’ winners but you don’t be intimidated by their choice. This is your chance to make somebody’s day.

© Ross Swanborough

Backchat has published this selection the winners and place getters (there are more) with the photographers’ names but no details as to what they won.  It’s entertaining to go along, buy the beautiful catalogue and hunt down the winners on the walls. You can also grab one of the best coffees in town at the Moore and Moore Cafe.

© Sarah Fairbanks

There really is something here for all tastes in photography.

image
© Istvan Kerekes

No need to be a top end pro: This is a broad  collection of photographs which shows you do not have to be a top end professional photographer to produce world class images. It’s a competition open to both amateur and professional shooters.

© Jennifer Leahy

Go along, take the kids, take your time and enjoy the best show in town

© Peter Morton

The Judges Secrets: For real  enthusiasts a new innovation as been added to this event. On Wednesday evening, 23rd October, in the Moore’s Building the three judges will be answering questions and debating how they reached their conclusions. It will be interesting, enlightening and challenging and will certainly give future aspirants winning tips to ponder over. There is an entry fee of $20 this event.

The FIPP show is on until Sunday 27th October, open every day from 10.00am until 4.00pm. The gallery is a pleasant five minute walk from the Fremantle Railway Station via the old West End of the City.

NOTE: All photographs are copyright and may not be used for any purpose other than that of fair comment and review.

Roger Garwood, Editor, Fremantle Backchat : editorbackchat@gmail.com

KELLOW PLACE CLOSURE

Is It All About Brian Smith?

Brian Smith, the Mayor’s campaign manager, is said to have an influence among councillors and council’s administrators. Together with his neighbour he is seeking councillors’ agreement to close the public right of way in Kellow Place, possibly for reasons of personal convenience.

Number 10 & 12 Kellow Place. The public right of way is concealed by vehicles believed to be owned by Brian Smith.

Council records show the owners of numbers 10 and 12 Kellow Place are the applicants for the closure of the the Pedestrian Access Way (PAW) situated between their properties.

Brian Smith, believed to be one of the applicants, is a friend and adviser to Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt and was the Mayor’s campaign manager during Fremantle’s Council elections. 

His Facebook account lists most councillors, several members of parliament, Chris Lewis from the ‘This is Fremantle’ campaign, and other advisers to the mayor including the Mayor’s mentor, Professor Peter Newman, as friends.

VERY LOW CRIME RATE

The applicants claim the laneway is a contributor to crime in the area. A number of incidents were reported to the police, with 23 reported between 2002 and 2015. Police do not reveal who the complainants were but attended ten incidents in a 13 year period. There are no reports of any arrests, charges, or further action. This suggests the incidents may have been considered trivial.

When compared with other crime statistics Kellow Place has an extremely low rate of disturbances.

The closed, locked, and concealed gates of the public right-of-way beside 12 Kellow Place.

SUGGESTION TO MOVE PAW 

There was also a suggestion by the applicants the PAW should be moved to a position alongside another property. That raises the question about incidents of crime. The suggestion does not solve any concerns related to alleged crime or other issues of public access or concern but simply may move the alleged problems to a neighbouring location within Kellow Place. This may reflect a degree of self interest on the part of the applicants.

COUNCIL REFUSE OFFER BY APPLICANTS FOR INDEPENDENT VALUATION

In an application to council in 2015 the applicants for the closure offered to pay for an independent valuation of the property revealing they wished to purchase the PAW. The offer of the valuation was refused by council officers. 

Council investigations into the short laneway show it meets nearly all requirements for a public right of way and is well maintained, however, following a submission by Brian Smith and the resident of the neighbouring property (10 Kellow Place), who’s name is also Smith, council approved the closure. Gates were installed and locked to prevent public access.

FENCE QUICKLY INSTALLED

Following the closure a brushwood fence was quickly attached to the gates, matching the fencing which is on Brian Smith’s property. It is not known who installed the brushwood fencing which conceals the now locked gates at each end of the PAW.

IS A LACK OF PARKING SPACE THE PROBLEM?

Why would The applicants wish to buy the public property? It is not a location of significant crime or other antisocial behaviour.

The answer could be that Brian Smith’s property at 12 Kellow Place has one of the smallest frontages of any home in the cul-de-sac. The forecourt and garage of number 12 has vehicles regularly parked on it: A four wheel drive, a large camper-van and a large family saloon car. It may be more convenient when manoeuvring vehicles if additional space became available.

It is reasonable to assume the reason for the applicants wanting to force the closure and purchase the laneway is to accomodate vehicles and has little to do with the management of the PAW or the alleged crime rate.

WAPC ORDER IGNORED

A decision by the Western Australian Planning Commission in September 2018 ordered the right of way to be reopened but council have refused. There is some conjecture as to Mr Smith’s influence within council and friendship with former parliamentarians who may be using their influence to have the WAPC reverse their decision. At the time of writing the public right-of-way remained closed and locked.

The view of the rear of 12 Kellow Place.. The steps are a public right-of-way but now lead to the locked and concealed gates. However public right of way legally remains but the gates are locked and concealed by the brushwood fence. The photographs were taken in September 2018.

The Mayor revealed in a declaration that he is a user of Mr Smith’s camper van. During Councillors’ discussions related to the closure Dr Pettitt declared an interest and left the council chamber.

Roger Garwood, Editor, Fremantle Backchat : editorbackchat@gmail.com

FREMANTLE COUNCIL EXPOSED TO FRAUD AND CORRUPTION

AUDITOR’S REPORT STATES CITY HAS NO ANTI-CORRUPTION FRAMEWORK: SECRET MEETINGS ARE CAUSE FOR CONCERN

In an extensive report delivered to Fremantle Council the City’s auditors have revealed:

‘The City has no Fraud and Corruption Framework, there is no Fraud and Corruption Prevention Policy nor Procedures’.

The auditors, Paxon Group Pty Ltd, describe themselves as specialists in aspects of urban renewal, development feasibility and the structuring of joint ventures between public and private entities. 

 Paxon Group also reported that the City has no Fraud Prevention Officer.

The audit reveals:

‘Purchase orders have been raised after expenditure’ and ‘Invoices have not been approved by authorised personnel’.

Paxon’s note that issues related to the delegation of authority have “been actioned”.

WARNINGS GIVEN IN 2015  :  REQUIRED TRAINING NOT IMPLEMENTED

Paxon’s findings reveal the lack of Risk Management Analysis dates prior to 2015. They say that under a previous Regulation 17 report of 2015:

“ . . . risk analysis was new to the City and required further refinement and training scheduled for 2015. This did not take place”.

(Links to the auditor’s information published in Council’s agenda and minutes are at the end of this article)

COUNCILLORS MUST HAVE ACCESS TO CONTRACTS  :  MAY HAVE NO LEGAL PROTECTION.

Fremantle is increasingly favoured by developers and at least one, Sirona Capital, has been described in court documents as having questionable professional ethics.

If councillors did not receive advice related to aspects of fraud and corruption they may have a defense against future legal action associated with the financial failure of projects, especially if councillors have not been given full details of projects’ contracts. 

Fremantle Backchat understands councillors have not had access to contracts. Therefore they cannot understand the implications.

Not requesting access to contracts may indicate a lack of due diligence which could expose individuals to legal action in the event of financial or other failures of projects.

By understanding contracts fully, if necessary consulting independent legal advice, councillors would be in a position to question the administration and clarify any doubts they may have. Due diligence may help protect elected members from legal actions and advise the administration to refrain from imprudent management practices. They may also protect ratepayers from costly misinterpretations.

REQUEST FOR CONTRACT IGNORED  :  COUNCIL SECRECY IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Lack of transparency within the Council’s administration is palpable. The administrator’s findings cast doubt on past and current administrations and their procedures. The findings should prompt councillors to ensure legal protection which may be assisted by having a  full understanding. of contracts

Fremantle Backchat has written to the City’s CEO, Philip St John, requesting a copy of the contract between the City and Sirona Capital so that it may be independently examined in the interests of Fremantle ratepayers who are repeatedly described as partners with Sirona Capital in the redevelopment of King’s Square. He has not replied.

SECRET DISCUSSION OF  CASH FLOW BY AUDIT AND RISK MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Underlining the Council’s lack of transparency a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee was held in camera to discuss the Kings Square Civic Building Cash Flow Summary. The meeting was on 14th May 2019. In some circumstances Government legislation does allow council business to be closed to the public. 

The council has recently contracted Pindan and concerns have been raised that the contract may not have a fixed price. That is not uncommon but ratepayers have been given details of costs which appear to be fixed.

If contracts are not fixed price there may be concerns that substantial increases in construction and fit-out costs can be expected.

Fremantle’s ratepayers who are financial partners in the development of  Kings Square should have considerable cause for concern that contracts and related financial matters which are shrouded in secrecy are not available for inspection.

NOTE: For detailed information related to the auditor’s report refer to these links:

Agenda:<https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Agenda%20-%20Ordinary%20Meeting%20of%20Council%20-%2022%20May%202019.pdf>Starting on pp95

Minutes:<https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Minutes%20-%20Ordinary%20Meeting%20of%20Council%20-%2022%20May%202019.pdf>Starting on pp111

Roger Garwood, Editor, Fremantle Backchat; <editorbackchat@gmail.com>

COUNCIL LOSE $450,000 PER YEAR ON SALE OF SPICER CAR PARK

SPICER SITE SALE LOSES COUNCIL MILLIONS IN PARKING REVENUE.  WAS SALE  LEGAL? WHY DID SPICER SITE NOT GO TO PUBLIC TENDER?

Fremantle Backchat recently questioned the CEO and Mayor asking them to clarify who will receive parking revenue from the Spicer site. According to the Council’s accounts the revenue is in the region of $450,000 a year. 

They were asked: “Who receives the parking revenue from the Spicer Site now that it has been reported as sold to a third party?”

The Director of City Business, Glen Dougall,  replying on behalf of  Mr. St John, confirmed the net income (sale price) from the  Spicer’s was $6,650,000 (the valuation made in 2012), explained the site was now in the ownership of a Mindaroo portfolio (Andrew Forrest ). He said: “The City assumes that parking revenues from this site either passes to the Mindaroo related entity or the contractor managing the property for the owner”.

This confirms that the city will lose approximately half a million dollars a year from the sites parking revenue.

A further question was asked by Fremantle Backchat: “Did the revenue from the Spicer Site, prior to the sale, go into (the city’s) parking revenue? It is recorded by the Council as having been allocated to the King’s Square Plan (KSP). Does that mean it was paid to Sirona Capital? If not how did it contribute to the KSP?”

Mr. Dougall replied: “Net proceeds from the sale of Spicer were placed into Reserve Funds, the proceeds will be used as part funding for the new Civic Building”. 

However he did not detail what had happened to the parking revenue prior to the sale and Fremantle Backchat could not find a record of Spicer parking funds being paid into the City’s Reserve Funds. A lack of detail in the reply leads to the reasonable supposition that the parking revenue may have been paid to Sirona Capital as, until the sale of the site, Sirona appear to have had total control of the property while repeatedly asking for extensions of time to pay Council. 

This underlines a point made by Fremantle Backchat in a previous article (link below) which questioned Sirona’s solvency. In effect the longer Sirona had control of the property the more revenue they possibly gained from the parking facilities.

Council will now see a continuing loss of revenue amounting in the medium term of, say six years, of approximately $3,000,000 plus any revenue which may have previously been absorbed by Sirona Capital.

When the property was ceded to Sirona $12.65m was removed from the City’s Reserve Funds to assist in covering the Council’s operating costs. 

Sirona had agreed to purchase a number of properties and apparently still owe Council $6,000,000.

Legal advice on the sale of the Spicer Site was apparently $50,000. It is recorded as ‘Advice on Spicer settlement and possible Kings Square Redevelopment and Spicer se (sic) Legal Services’ in the accounts. Mr. Dougal explained that the advice between the Council and its lawyers is privileged and offered no further details.

WAS SALE CONDUCTED LEGALLY? WHY DID THE PROPERTY NOT GO TO PUBLIC TENDER?

A readers question to Fremantle Backchat  pointed out the City evade answering questions and asked: “How was the purchaser (Mindaroo), able to buy the site without going through a public tendering process?”

While pursuing a lack of transparency by the Council a series of questions have been asked by Fremantle Backchat related to Council’s partnership with Sirona Capital.  The questions will be published together with any clarifications from the Council.

Roger Garwood, Editor. <editorbackchat@gmail.com>

Links to related stories:

SIRONA MISS DEADLINE  <https://wp.me/p3YA9m-Az&gt;

ARE SIRONA SOLVENT?  <https://wp.me/p3YA9m-zA&gt;

FREMANTLE RUNNING ON EMPTY <https://wp.me/p3YA9m-mT&gt;

FREMANTLE- A PERFECT TORM OF COMMERCIAL CRISIS AND BAD MANAGEMENT <https://wp.me/p3YA9m-2E&gt;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOVERNMENTS REVEAL FREMANTLE HAS WORST FINANCIAL RECORD & HIGHEST PAID MAYOR IN WA

IMG_9107
                          Work progressing on Fremantle Council’s new Administration Centre 

•Fremantle Has Highest Financial Risk Factor

•Brad Pettitt Top of the Financial League of Mayors

•Government Advise Ratepayers: ‘question council performances

Statistics, published in The West Australian (17th April 2018), show Dr Brad Pettitt has become the highest paid mayor in Western Australia.. These figures are confirmed by Fremantle Council’s accounts and exclude various allowances. 

Additional statistics, published in WA Government’s Financial Health Index (FHI), show that during Dr Pettitt’s tenure the City of Fremantle has fallen to the lowest position in the State with a Financial Health Index  figure of 44

In two of the immediate past three financial years the city had a low score of 42 and 44. In the Financial year of 2016-17 the score was also very low but the city changed its accounting methodology and elevated the FHI to 87. At that time Treasury issued a statement saying: ‘We stand by our original figures’.

Top Mayoral Salaries are:

Fremantle: $139,419

Joondalup: $139,410

Belmont:   $139,409

Bayswater: $139,310

The Financial Health Index of those Councils show:

Fremantle: 44

Joondalup: 61

Bayswater: 86

Belmont:   94

The higher the score, the better the financial health of a council. These scores are an indication of financial management and of services offered to ratepayers. They show ratepayers’ their value for money.

It is interesting to note the second lowest performance is Nedlands with an FHI of 50. Fremantle based consultancy LewiCorp Pty Ltd, owned by Chris Lewis who spearheaded the failed ‘Keep the Dockers in Fremantle’ campaign, is shown as being paid as a council adviser in the accounts of both Fremantle and Nedlands. Lewis was also instrumental in a fundraising campaign for Dr Pettit’s first mayoral campaign. 

GOVERNMENT ADVISES COMMUNITIES TO QUESTION COUNCIL PERFORMANCES

The WA Government website <https://mycouncil.wa.gov.au/Council/CompareAllCouncil> advise to ratepayers states: “A very high or low FHI may be a prompt for questions to be asked by the community about a local government’s revenue, expenses, and service delivery. The FHI is best viewed as a trend over time”

ACADEMIC THEORY- ARE THE CHOOKS COMING HOME TO ROOST ?

When Dr Pettitt was first elected mayor he stated: ‘. . . I’m delighted to be able to put my academic theories into practice in Fremantle . . . ’. but has never detailed his academic theories. After nearly ten years in the top job, and based on the performance of council under his leadership, the theories must be questioned.

A ratepayer-funded, multimillion dollar, public relations campaign has failed to halt the slide in the city’s fortunes. The campaign includes websites, newspaper advertising and a magazine which has ceased publication after council admitted it has failed. 

There is a growing impatience among ratepayers and businesses, a very high proportion of whom have closed shop and left or are struggling to pay higher rents and increasing rates in the face of falling customer numbers.

FAILED PROMISES

The city’s east end now has approximately 80 vacant retail premises with no sign of the resurgence of business promised as a result of the development of a Woolworth’s shopping centre (now prematurely closed). The increase of trade from residents expected from new developments have not materialised. Anectodal evidence indicates the LIV apartments are about 50% occupied following an increase in service personnel taking up residence..

In the instance of the re-development of Atwell Arcade the mayor promised that 300 people would be employed in the new offices. That was three years ago. So far there are about 40.

Without knowing Dr Pettitt’s academic theories it is difficult to comment but there is scant evidence of their success. There is no questioning Brad Pettitt’s youthful enthusiasm but after ten years it is reasonable to question the efficacy of his theories.

Over the next few weeks Fremantle Backchat will examine issues related to the current failure of the city to improve its financial position.

Part Two: Next Week. Council’s Lack of Transparency

Roger Garwood, Editor. <editorbackchat@gmail.com>