COUNCILLOR PEMBERTON: “FREE BOOB AND ‘F*CK ME’ BOOTS”

FREO COUNCILLOR ENDORSES ‘FREE BOOB AND F*CK ME’ DRESS CODE FOR FALLS FESTIVAL GIRLS

Fremantle City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton endorsed a sexually explicit dress code for girls attending the Falls Festival in Fremantle last weekend (6th & 7th December). Following a series of alleged sexual assaults at the Falls Festival in Tasmania Pemberton wrote on her blog:

“Women’s fashion tips from Falls – pants are optional, a transparent bra is a visible alternative to a top or you can simply ‘free boob’, and ‘f*ck me’ boots are back in fashion”.

The statement was revealed by Freo Streetwise, magazine edited and published by journalist Carmelo Amalifi. Streetwise is rapidly gaining a reputation for tackling the hard news in Fremantle and calling the City Council to account.

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Screenshot from Freo Steetwise Facebook page which attracted condemnation of City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberto’s comment.

 

TACIT SUPPORT FOR PEMBERTON FROM MAYOR AND COUNCIL

The story, published on the Streetwise magazines Facebook page, has resulted in condemnation from the community but gained tacit support from Mayor Brad Pettitt, a former partner of Pemberton, and North Fremantle Councillor Doug Thompson. Instead of offering a reasonable explanation for her statement Pemberton, in the face of concerned critics, simply accused them of cyber bullying.

OPPORTUNITY LOST

Pemberton, a high profile councillor, had the opportunity to condemn the dress code she publicly endorsed. She had an outstanding chance to support the right of women to wear whatever they wish, wherever they wish, without making themselves targets of sexual predators. She promoted the  opposite position,  giving credence to predatory sexual behaviour. Thompson, the city’s longest service councillor, made the observation that comments condemning Rachel Pemberton demonstrated the worst aspects of social media.

Thompson’s comment, endorsed  by Pettitt, ignored the issue of the City Ward Councillor’s sexually explicit post, thus offering tacit support. Nor, (at the time of writing), has any councillor criticised Pemberton. The comments on the Facebook page of Freo Streetwise presented an opportunity for Pemberton to explain in detail her post, maybe to apologise for it. Her only defense was to accuse critics of bullying. They didn’t. They were shocked, wanted an explanation  and called for her dismissal, resignation and an inquiry into council’s code of ethics.The problems faced at Falls in Tasmania were published nationally over a number of days.

PEMBERTON: A QUESTIONABLE ROLE MODEL

Recent Mayoral challenger Ra Stewart said:

“Rachel Pemberton as the mother of two young women attending this event I am appalled at your comments. There was no suggestion about female empowerment in your statement, you provided commentary on a dress code and the inference was most definitely derogative. I would hate to think how your comments are interpreted by young men, let alone my daughters.”

Stewart questioned Pemberton’s position as a role model in the city.

“You’re kidding right… Rachel Pemberton, as a leader in our city, Councillor, and role model (?) for our young women”.

APPALLING & IRRESPONSIBLE:

Claudia Green, an expert in governance – the manner in which all branches of government should operate – and recent City Ward candidate, commented:

“ …Councillor Pemberton is in breach of her role and responsibility as an elected representative and public servant paid from the public purse, apart from the appalling message she is sending. 

“She has claimed a conflict of interest to abrogate her duties to represent her electorate in the Sunset development planning application by accepting freebies from Sunset. Now this awful abrogation of responsibility of her duties as an elected representative of public service. 

“The CEO and the Mayor need to bring her into line and reprimand her and be brought to the appropriate Committee for discipline. She should be sacked. Once verified, a complaint will be laid. She is bringing the Council into disrepute.”

Green is correct in calling on the Mayor and CEO to refer the matter to a disciplinary committee. Together  with other posted comments she asks for Pemberton to be sacked. However the early signs from council indicate that all councillors will offer tacit support to Pemberton’s unconscionable, amoral, advice.

Rachel Pemberton could demonstrate a moral and ethical backbone by admitting her vacuous judgement, apologise and resign immediately. If any councillors have any morality or understanding of professional ethics they will condemn Pemberton, call for her resignation and get on with the job of running a city in crisis.

By not condemning Pemberton’s blog post the mayor and his councillor’s are endorsing an increasing public opinion that they are out of touch with the wishes of the community for higher standards of professional ethics and morality to be demonstrated. At the very least Councillor Pemberton, who receives substantial payments from ratepayers, should be stood down and an independent inquiry, with representation by ratepayers, held. A closed door cover-up will not be acceptable.

NOTE: It appears that Pemberton has recently removed her blog post but no explanation or apology is offered.

 

Roger Garwood

editorbackchat@gmail.com

 

 

A Tale of Two Cities

Napier NZ  v  Fremantle WA

Should Napier’s Financial Recovery be Studied as a Template for Fremantle’s Future?

Visiting Napier in New Zealand is a revealing and somewhat elevating experience. It is worth comparing Napier to Fremantle.

Situated in Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of North Island, Napier is as remote a place as you could wish to find. About 30 years ago the city was staring in the teeth of financial ruin and only had a couple of claims to fame. It is one of the first places in the world to see the light of a new day and the original city was wiped out by an earthquake early in 1931. Following the earthquake a firestorm incinerated those buildings left standing apart from a small group of wooden houses on the beach front. They are still there.

Apart from making headlines following the earthquake the city may have remained unnoticed to this day –  isolated in one of the most remote countries in the world.

Napier - Art Deco detail as far as they eye can see. © Roger Garwood 2013
Napier – Art Deco detail as far as the eye can see.
© Roger Garwood 2013

In the aftermath of the earthquake Napier went through a total rebuild.  Four architectural firms co-operated and redesigned the city at the height of the Art Deco era. Using a combination of inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright , Maori motifs and  influences of the Spanish Mission style the city was totally rebuilt within two years.

In 1985, with financial gloom on the horizon, Napier needed a wake up call and it came when a small group of concerned residents saw potential for tourism.  An Art Deco Trust was established to underpin what is now one of New Zealand’s major industries, tourism.The Trust had recognised the city’s architecture could become the cornerstone of  financial revival. They were right.

Napier: Riding on the back of an Art Deco Wave are Astronomic Tourist Figures

Napier is now recognised as the worlds best preserved enclave of Art Deco architecture. That may be stretching a point as Miami in Florida could possibly lay the same claim. Nevertheless the Art Deco society promoted the city as such. Tourism statistics are now astronomic. In a recent 12 months period over 75 cruise liners visited the city, each packed to the gunnels with close to 2000 visitors. In addition the city hosted 1,600,000 tourists and of those over 600,000 stayed in hotels or other accommodation for one night or more.

In a recent broadcast of  ABC Radio’s Correspondents’ Report Dominique Schwartz interviewed Napier’s mayor, Barbara Arnott, who was expounding the virtues of Napier’s architectural trove.  ” … [tourism] generated fifteen million dollars just this weekend, but this weekend is the tip of the iceberg. We have Art Deco 365 days a year. And for Napier it is our point of difference”.

Napier, promoting itself as the world's Art Deco capital, attracts in excess of two million visitors a year.  This is the entrance to the Tobacco Company office © Roger Garwood 2013
Napier, promoting itself as the world’s Art Deco capital, attracts in excess of two million visitors a year. This is the entrance to the Tobacco Company office
© Roger Garwood 2013

The mayor continued: “It’s huge, not just for Napier but for the whole of Hawke’s Bay. Our accommodation is booked out, usually a year ahead, throughout the whole of Hawke’s Bay.”

Thus, riding on the back of its architecture, Napier performed a financial miracle. The town looks prosperous.  Comfortable street furniture situated in bright and airy pedestrian malls is placed under shady trees. The malls and streets meander though an Art Deco time warp and host  high quality shops which range from clothing stores, art galleries, restaurants, antique shops and general stores. It seems that flowers are everywhere and Art Deco sunrise motifs  rise from many building. Waterfront cafes are blooming and booming but principally this is a city of people who picked up a simple  idea, planned it thoroughly and used it to propel them into a secure financial future.

And here’s the rub. Fremantle’s gold rush architecture leaves Napier for dead.

High Street,  Fremantle. The world's finest example of gold rush architecture. © Roger Garwood 2013
High Street, Fremantle. The world’s finest example of gold rush architecture.
© Roger Garwood 2013

Fremantle: Riding on the Back of a Coffee Bean

In 1985, at the time when Napier woke up to its major asset, Fremantle was cresting the wave of America’s Cup fever. The city got a coat of paint and hosted about 40,000 visitors for close to three years. And then, with little more than a puff of wind, Fremantle fell off that wave and is now experiencing what may become the worst financial downturn in the city’s history.

The old adage is ‘When the going gets tough the tough get going”. And the tough did get going in Napier.

The problems with Fremantle have been well documented. The city is looking shabby, it has problems with social behaviour and violence, its service industry is second-rate. Shops are closing, rents are higher than anywhere in the world and days when Fremantle can ride on the back of a coffee bean are rapidly coming to an end.

South Terrace. Fremantle's economy rides  on the back of a coffee bean.  © Roger Garwood 2013
South Terrace. Fremantle’s economy rides on the back of a coffee bean.
© Roger Garwood 2013

Revival urgently needs kick starting with lateral thinking. What is wrong with The Fremantle Society  encompassing the potential of tourism? The combination of gold rush architecture and Fremantle’s overall history, marketed well,  would be a giant tourist magnet. Backed by BID, The Chamber of Commerce, WA Tourism Commission and Ficra as well as the City Council, all pulling in the same direction, it would be possible to turn the city’s current economy around in a short space of time.

Any one of Fremantle’s disparate groups could become the figurehead for a tourist led recovery. The Fremantle Society previously saved the city from structural disasters. It has the ability to follow that success through by utilising in-depth knowledge of the city’s architectural ancestry. Linking Fremantle’s potential with Kalgoorlie’s tourism promoters would be  feasible. The cities share a common historical foundation in a deep-rooted gold rush history and are linked by the umbilical cord of a railway line. The romance of gold, history and architecture – the finest of its genre in the world – could be marketed with a little imagination and a few people pooling common interests.

Send in a Gunboat – or a Delegation

The city’s principal asset is iconic West End architecture. Partly a result of the Fremantle Society’s past efforts it is the world’s best preserved 19th century port. With careful management and a touch of civic pride it can attract many more visitors from overseas. At present the economy will not turn around without more people visiting and spending  money in a revitalised city.

A starting point could be to send a delegation to Napier from The Fremantle Society, Fremantle City  Council, The WA Department for Tourism, BID and The Chamber of Commerce to speak with the groups who have made tourism work so well for them.

Market Street. Iconic buildlngs on every corner. © Roger Garwood 2103
Market Street. Fremantle has iconic buildings on every corner.
© Roger Garwood 2103

Dymocks Bookstore to Close

Lights Out For Dymocks -High Rents and Antisocial Behaviour  Force Closure

Dymocks Bookshop in Fremantle’s High street Mall is to close in mid-May as a result of high rents and anti social behaviour.

Clive Klikker, the manager of the family owned business said: “We pay $250,000 rent here while we know stores close by, in the High Street, pay around $100,000. We have tried to negotiate with the owners, the Manning Trust, but they will not listen”.

Mr Klikker went on to explain the decision is the result of several issues: “We’ve had a spate of antisocial behaviour. I had a can of Jim Beam and Coke thrown over me about two weeks ago and last week somebody tried to destroy our counter. He came in asking for scissors but I wouldn’t let him have them, his behaviour indicated that may not have been wise. He then proceeded to try to wreck the counter. The police simply said ‘Oh, he’s harmless, he probably wanted them to cut his guitar strings’.

“We do see a bright future for the city but not for ten years or so, when we have more people living here, when council’s development plans begin to work. The mall is a conduit for people but we have seen Queen Victoria Street refurbished, where there is virtually no pedestrian traffic, and nothing has been done here.

“I regret having to do this, we do have a viable business but with these high rents it has become impossible …  and we’ve been here for ten years. The shop was here for several years before we took over and we know so many of our customers personally, we’re friends, but we cannot be viable with rents this high”.

Clive Klikker explained that he and other mall traders have repeatedly asked for the area to be upgraded with better street furniture and lighting but to no avail. In the absence of effective policing High Street Mall traders recently employed a small team of security guards to combat anti-social behaviour in the area.

New York Cheaper

Anecdotal evidence indicates that rents in Fremantle are higher than in high-profile shopping areas in New York.

Perth/Fremantle is the fourth most expensive city in the world according to Numbeo.com  -well above New York, London, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. Oslo tops the list.

NOTE: John Dowson Comments

Since this story was posted former Deputy Mayor John Dowson has added additional  information relayed to him by the owners of Dymocks. Scroll to the comments below.