Bateman candidates discuss local issues

Bateman candidates discuss local issues

ALREADY a safe blue ribbon seat, Bateman’s notional Liberal margin was strengthened even further following the 2015 redistribution of State electoral boundaries and currently sits at 23.1 per cent.

The electorate has been realigned on a north south axis, with the western boundary of the former Alfred Cove now cut off at North Lake Road and extending down all the way to Somerville Boulevard.

The safest Liberal seat in metropolitan Perth was the subject of a fierce pre-selection battle between incumbent Matt Taylor and Alfred Cove MLA Dean Nalder, with the former Transport Minister eventually winning out.

Senior Notre Dame lecturer and former in-house legal counsel for Austal Ships Tomas Fitzgerald will contest the seat for Labor running on a platform of better employment opportunities, health and education services within the electorate.

Long-time community sector servant Adie Wilmot, who holds degrees in sustainable development and psychology and wants to see greater transparency and integrity in Government, represents the Greens.

With the Canning Bridge Activity Centre in the midst of a transition to higher residential density, the decision making power of development assessment panels, rather than local councillors, is a particularly hot topic for the northern end of the electorate.

THE CANDIDATES

Liberal Party: Dean Nalder

Greens WA: Adie Wilmot

Labor Party: Tomas Fitzgerald

What do you view as the major election issues both for your electorate and Perth/the State as a whole?

Nalder: Generally speaking, Bateman voters are worried about the same big issues facing the state. Job security and the economy are top of mind as we weather the challenges of the resources sector moving from construction to operations. So job creation must be our top priority. The Liberal Party has a much stronger track record of supporting small business, protecting jobs and growing the economy. I’ve also always had a strong focus on local issues like crime, traffic congestion and better schools.

Wilmot: People in Bateman are telling me that they are concerned about job security, quality education and the Perth Freight Link. Some are worried about climate change and many feel they can’t trust their politicians and feel disenfranchised from the political process. The Greens have a positive vision for WA that is resonating with these community concerns. We are the only party with a fully costed plan to transition WA to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 creating approximately 12, 000 new jobs a year in the renewable energy industry. We want to immediately halt Roe-8 construction and support the Kwinana Outer Harbour, with freight by rail, as the alternative. We want a modern, clean, green city: with a quality, public transport system.

Fitzgerald: Jobs. Applecross has the highest rate of mortgage arrears in Australia. People are struggling. WA Labor has a plan to mandate local content on government contracts, diversify our economy and end the constant cycle of boom and bust. Labor will drive more local manufacturing and deliver more local jobs. The second issue is trust. The Liberals went to the last two elections promising rail projects. They did not deliver. Now they’re making the same promise again. They are playing the public for mugs. Only WA Labor has a track record on delivering the public transport infrastructure we need to fight congestion and deliver long-term jobs. Similarly, their claim that Roe 8 will address congestion is incredible. If your plan to fix congestion is to build more highways, you don’t have a plan to fix congestion.

Recent major projects approved by Development Application Panels (DAPs), such as the Reynolds Road McDonald’s and 21 Kishorn Road, have angered some local residents. Does the DAP system need to be reassessed?

Nalder: I understand local residents feel they’ve been let down because the development outcomes don’t match what was put forward in the consultation phase. We all want development because that means more jobs but it must be sensitive to the needs of the local community. I have urged the council to consider our State Planning Policy that sets out a range of design principles to deal with these issues, including how the development fits in to the local community. The bottom line for me is that we get the balance right. If we can’t get that, then I would support reassessment of the DAP system.

Wilmot: The Greens oppose DAPs in its current form. The intention of DAPs was a good one: To create a more liveable city by reducing urban sprawl and providing density around transport hubs. In reality however, the DAPs process has proven slow and ineffective; has alienated local communities from the decision-making process and resulted in many bad-density projects being approved. The Greens are therefore calling for the removal of all DAPs and a return of their planning powers back to local communities.

Fitzgerald: The DAP system itself can work well. However, appeals from DAP can cut out community input; as with McDonald’s. A lack of community input and long-term planning strategy undermines faith in development. It divides our community and sets groups against each other. We see this again with the Wave Park proposal at Alfred Cove. Community support for necessary development needs a system that listens to and communicates with the community.

Two years after hundreds of Education Department jobs were cut, both major parties have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to education infrastructure. Does infrastructure, rather than staff, represent the best return on investment?

Nalder: We’ve committed huge investments in education across our State and Bateman has benefited from that through the major rebuilding of Applecross Senior High. We’ve also focussed on shifting resources to front line teaching rather than bureaucracy and backed local communities to make the decisions that affect their schools by rolling out the Independent Public Schools program. I’m committed to making sure we maintain that balance between investing in better teachers and better schools.

Wilmot: In regards to our schools, the Barnett Government has shown that they would rather invest in buildings than people. I have met so many public-school teachers who feel under stress by the demands of increased class sizes, lack of education assistants and decreases in resourcing for children who have additional learning needs. I can relate to these concerns as I have taught in our public-school system. The Greens believe in quality education irrespective of postcode or socioeconomic status.

Fitzgerald: There needs to be a good mix of infrastructure and staffing. Modern schools need modern equipment. As an educator, it has been a long time since I taught just standing in front of a whiteboard. WA Labor will put 300 Education Assistants back into classrooms and an additional 120 teachers to provide more capacity for Level 3 teachers to improve classroom teaching in their schools, to oversee the delivery of mental health programs and to support regional Year 11 and 12 students. We will also build better schools and upgrade existing schools so that our children can get the best education they deserve.

Applecross, Booragoon and Mt Pleasant remain burglary hot spots. What needs to be done to combat crime in the electorate?

Nalder: We’ve actually achieved a drop in crime across the electorate in 2016 but there’s more work to be done. While I’ve been the local member we’ve passed laws to target violent offenders, recruited an extra 1050 police and auxiliary police and cracked down on dangerous and drunk drivers. Crime in our community is increasingly linked to drug addiction, particularly the scourge of ice. I’m strongly backing our $190 million Meth Policy that will target the dealers with tougher penalties and give police the extra powers they need to track them down. There will also be compulsory rehab for addicts and greater support for those who are willingly trying to get their lives back together.

Wilmot: In my former neighbourhood, I was burgled on average once every three months: I know how vulnerable and anxious it can make you feel. The Greens believe in tackling crime at the root of the problem. Our policies are guided by information we glean from our well-established relationships with the community sector and by international best practice. Crime occurs for a variety of interconnected reasons: Illicit drug use, poverty, homelessness, unaddressed mental health issues and lack of opportunity. People are falling through the social security net here in WA.

Fitzgerald: Eight years of “tough on crime” rhetoric has been a failure. Worse, the Liberals are promising more failure on crime if re-elected. We need a fresh approach. Many burglaries are fuelled by people feeding drug addictions. WA Labor has an across Government Methamphetamine Action Plan to reduce the demand, reduce the supply and reduce the harm from meth.