Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Working Together

Today's Melville Times quotes an elected Councillor saying "You've had your say, now go away" to people she disagreed with.

A vital skill for any community representative is the ability to disagree agreeably. It's important to be able to work with people who we disagree with and sometimes might not even like much. We are a community together. Just lately I've had cause to think that we've all been a bit too quick to snap out a sharp comment. Perhaps a moment's thoughtful reflection would be more useful. The way we express ourselves helps us build trust and respect for each other.

I'm standing for election in the Melville Ward of Palmyra/ Melville/ Willagee. When elected to Council I promise to listen to all sides of community issues. I promise to hold an open meeting every month to listen to you.

Please add your thoughts by clicking on the Comments pencil, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me. You can also use my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Peter.Best.Melville

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Making a Difference

The DATA365 team is going to walk 100 kilometres in 48 hours! I remember the Oxfam teams and others I worked with in Africa, for 13 years. We installed over four hundred boreholes for farms and villages in remote places. Hard work, sometimes dangerous, making a difference every day.


I really respect the way that Oxfam works. I know from my own experience that your donation actually goes to making the world a better place. Projects focus on health, education and disaster relief. It makes me feel that what I do matters. While Adrian, Gareth, Kenny and I train for the walk you can help too.

I've put in $500 and another $100. Would you donate $32 to make a difference too?


Monday, 16 November 2015

WA Mandatory Open Data

No more decisions based on opinions and personal anecdotes. No more best-guess. The WA government is catching up with the world in making publicly-funded data open and accessible http://data.wa.gov.au  State policy is making it mandatory that Departments, Councils and other organisations make their information available, easy to find and mostly free. Here’s the policy http://www.data.wa.gov.au/open-data-policy

This is the best good news I’ve heard for a long time. For years we’ve been excluded, asked to submit requests, told it’s too difficult and so on. No more! Everything from development applications, waste management, managers’ credit card statements, river chemistry and land transactions to road statistics will be easy to access. We’ve called for open government. Here it comes.

The big benefits we can hope for are better decisions, new business opportunities, fresh research results, greater transparency and better trust between government and community. For sure, there will be some misuse of data and there will be some lousy interpretation of statistics. There will be embarrassing moments for managers and elected members. There will be Gotchas and Told-ya-so incidents. There will also be Eureka moments where researchers discover trends and connections that make our lives better.

An implication for public officers is the understanding that their work is no longer behind closed doors. The public demands and deserves open access to the whole river of data, not just selected drips of good news. Even failed projects will now be accessible and can provide useful input to new planning and new research. Experience around the world has shown that one really big effect of Open Data is the elimination of wasted actions and wasted money.

To move our State into the next phase of development we really need to know what we have been doing and to find new opportunities for progress. One of the first benefits is sure to be in the area of energy, finding waste and discovering opportunities for renewables.

Here are some huge open data sources already operating. Click and see the enormous scale and application of these facilities and ideas.

http://data.gov.au Australian Federal government

https://www.data.gov/ Entire USA federal government

http://data.gov.uk Whole of government, UK

http://open-data.europa.eu European Union

http://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/ World Bank

One of our challenges will be to actually use the data, to abandon decisions and planning based on limited perception. Another challenge will to open the door, to let the information out and watch where it flies to. What are your thoughts?

Please contribute by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Why Building Restrictions Make Us Poor in Many Ways

We all want a village “feel” to our city and we like green, leafy suburbs. We want our family to live close by. We want housing to be affordable. We say so at every planning event. What we actually get is expensive, boring, concrete cubes for homes, shops and offices. Our families live in the outer suburbs. We feel constricted. Commuting is slower every month. Where do we go wrong?

Land, especially near city centres, has become very expensive. This rise in land prices is not because land is scarce in Australia; it’s just scarce in the places where we need it. Our low-rise homes and offices lock up the surface and the air space above them. The price of land has become a silent, non-productive tax on living and on doing business.

Building height and density restrictions deter growth in knowledge industries. Across the world we see that innovation thrives on the exchange of ideas when people live and work in well planned cities where people are close together. Lots of research shows a link between our skills base and the tendency to create new kinds of work. New job categories appear where there are more highly skilled workers. There is ample statistical evidence to show a link between population and productivity. Workers build knowledge faster in cities with lots of idea industries. People clustered together boost each other’s employment opportunities and potential income. We need more of this in WA to take us beyond mining.

It’s easy to see why we began imposing building restrictions. The crowded slums of the last two centuries showed how crime, disease, polluted air and filthy water reduced our quality of life. Such regulations expanded, bringing unintended consequences that limited our potential. We saw the shoulder to shoulder towers of New York and the featureless towers of the Gold Coast and didn’t like what we saw. What we got was short, squat office blocks and neighbourhoods without amenity; just heaps of plain offices here and houses without community there.

Looking to the future, if limits on height and density were relaxed less land would be needed to satisfy accommodation and commercial demand. This would take pressure off prices, meaning that we could allow more land for public space and our families could afford to buy a home. The greatest effect would be felt by those on low to middle income, whether they were buying or renting their homes. Thomas Piketty showed in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” that house prices contribute to rising inequality.

The greatest effect of relaxing laws would be on boosting the whole economy. As worker productivity increases, the whole community benefits. This extends even to those not living in the effected near-city areas. At present many workers take jobs in lower-paying areas just because they can’t afford to live where the good work is located. Stamp Duty on house sales acts as a further disincentive to move to more productive locations. Labour allocates itself to low-productivity markets and the whole economy suffers.

Defining the problem is easy. Getting individual Councils to change planning schemes is the difficult bit. The results would benefit everybody. Rich land owners with a narrow self-interest are likely to be the chief opponents. Since the State Government would benefit by larger tax revenues from a growing economy they could move to compensate the affected nearby landowners on a reducing scale over a few years.

This is a big picture view for a better future. We can extend this theme to better transport, a cleaner environment and a stronger community. What are your thoughts?

Please contribute by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

PERTH SKYSHOW: The best place to watch.

The best place to watch in 2015: further upriver than normal, further east, towards Burswood, due to construction work at Elizabeth Quay. The fireworks barges have been repositioned.

I visited preparations at South Perth today and met with the organiser, Peter Raoen. Key theme is more Fantasy. The water slides are spectacular. It's looking good for yet another "best ever" event.

Once again I’ll be volunteering and will have lots of photos for you.

[Later] Here’s a Facebook album of Australia Day 2015 and the wonderful volunteers http://is.gd/5MGQNE

Please Forward or Share this widely.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Foreshore Vision

Everyone smiles in South Perth for different reasons. I really like the Council's vision to preserve, protect and plan for this treasure in the city. I respect that they have recognised the range of concerns of so many people. The developments are low impact and respect community needs. As we lose open space elsewhere this park will be appreciated by all, even those who don’t use it. The park contributes to the smile we all enjoy when we think of our City. As Perth increases in size and density open spaces like this will become more valued every year. With pressures of population, economy and climate this park will be a green gem within a crowded space. Over a million people visit the park each year. They have many reasons for loving it. Everyone smiles here for different reason. Some love to walk the pathways. Others enjoy sailing, quiet meditation, appreciation of ancient and modern heritage, sharing a meal with friends, cycling or walking their dog.


The park is under threat from economic pressure, climate change and development plans. It is also endangered by the difficulty of meeting the diverse needs of our residents and visitors. Consultations have shown how very many possibilities there are for the Park’s future. A danger is that in doing nothing and pleasing nobody the park will revert to a muddy riverbank. What a terrible loss that would be. The most commonly shared expressions for this area at the recent Open Space event that I hosted were around:

  • Protection of the environment
  • Preservation of low density
  • Low-rise buildings, if any
  • Strong protection of open space

The Mill Point plans will also improve important cycle access. Over one and a half million cycle trips cross this area each year. Easier cycle access means less traffic congestion, healthier air and less stress for everybody, including car drivers. The Old Mill and Narrows area is really important in the two threads of colonial and indigenous history. Protection and planning here recognises this and the needs of Mill Point residents too. This vision seems to meet all of the expressions of residents and visitors, while being of quite low impact. Residential and large commercial development on the park would rob future generations of the enjoyment of this riverside treasure. Some developers and a nearby Council have plans for our park. Through the City’s plan we can stamp our feet and claim this space for residents and visitors, today and tomorrow. Well done City of South Perth. Here are two links to newspaper stories:

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

This page sponsored by my company, DATA365, specialists in data recovery from crashed disks.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Where To for WA Councils?

Can we have some useful discussion about Councils now, please?

Local Government influences our lives every day. Surely we can do it better. As the debates become more trivial our Councils are seriously distracted from what they are elected for. The voters just shake their heads and look away. Let’s get better at this.

Councils in WA employ 14,000 people, have 1,300 elected members, receive $M274 in grants, raise more from Rates and have $13 billion of capital assets. Almost no Councils are keeping up a required level of asset maintenance. An Access Economics study concluded that “The long-term finances of a majority of WA Councils look unsustainable.”

The worlds of finance, environment and society have become complex beyond the skills of many elected members and many voters. Way too few Councillors are able to understand the financial and governance issues around overseeing such operations. It’s just not good enough to spend valuable meeting time debating Mrs Jones’ fence, Council boundaries and the flat roof next door.

Current focus on boundaries and amalgamations is far short of a useful discussion about what we want from our Councils. Size is a distraction. What do you think we should focus on?

Some Councils are trying to raise the skills of Councillors by offering training courses. Unfortunately the people who need these skills most are often not the ones who enlist. Compulsory training seems to be too hard to enforce. Here are my thoughts on what it takes to be a Councillor. Perhaps these thoughts should apply to Members of Parliament too.


  • Interest in long-term direction of the local community.
  • Listening skills, prepared to listen more often than to tell
  • Prepared to meet with the community, often.
  • At least one, and usually two or three evenings a week to dedicate to meetings, workshops and briefings.
  • Able to read and understand a big weekly information pack.
  • Ability to think strategically about organisational purpose.
  • Effective decision-making skills. Not as simple as it sounds.
  • Understand the difference between individual and group decision-making.
  • Able to work to sustain long-term viability and define values for self and the Council.
  • Able to imagine and lead new future directions.
  • Empathy.
  • Able to discuss widely differing opinions respectfully and to disagree agreeably.
  • Able to synthesise direction amidst complexity and conflicting values and objectives.
  • Understand the difference between management and leadership (Councillors have no executive authority at all)
  • Not be focussed on a ‘single issue’.
  • Be prepared to assess your own biases and positions.
  • Ability to read and interpret financial reports.
  • Sense of humour.
  • Collaborative style.
  • Wide range of contacts and life experience.
  • Be well travelled and widely read.
  • An enquiring mind.
  • Risk assessment skills. Risk is a daily consideration.
  • Open to continuous learning.
  • Expertise in at least one relevant field, e.g. architecture, town planning, finance, environment, waste, law, social services, communications, psychology, science.
  • Board experience.
  • Qualifications such as MBA, GAICD (Australian Institute of Company Directors).
  • Preparedness to respond with good grace and respect in all sorts of circumstances.

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

This page sponsored by my company, DATA365, specialists in data recovery from crashed disks.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Perth: What Matters to You?

Western Australian of the Year, David Flanagan, spoke about “What Matters in WA” at the awards ceremony on Saturday. Now, what matters to you in South Perth?
You are invited to tell our community, the Council, Government and others about your ideas for South Perth, your suggestions, your concerns and what can be done. This is an Open Space event, with unrestricted topics. There’s another page about how Open Space works (click for details).
You are invited to be part of a discussion about what really matters in South Perth. We’ll begin with a blank agenda; you set the topics. With your passion and with your solutions, things will happen.
Please "Share" or “Forward” this event to bring your friends too. I’d really appreciate it if you could RSVP to let me know you are coming, preferably on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/228677680675385/, or by email, or in Comments, below.
We’ll all be at South Perth Community Hall, corner South Terrace and Sandgate Road, South Perth at 7:00 p.m.on Thursday 26 June 2014.

Our Open Space Event

Our Open Space event has no restriction of topics. Here’s how Open Space works.

First some key points, then the process.

  • Those who attend are the ones who came. Whatever gets done will be done by them, or not at all. They will be the right people.
  • There is a time of beginning and a time for closure. Everything in the middle will be allowed to run its own course.
  • The One Law of Open Space is the Law of Two Feet. Responsibility for a successful outcome in any Open Space Event resides with each participant. Every person can use their two feet, and always move respectfully to a new place where they can make a difference.

Now the process:

  • Everyone joins a large circle. We expect 250 people or more.
  • The professional facilitator welcomes participants and explains the process, very briefly.
  • Anyone in the room may propose a topic by coming to the centre of the circle, writing a short description (typically up to 7 words) on a sheet of paper and announcing it to the group.
  • The person who has called out an issue sticks the paper on the agenda panel.
  • The person posting a topic is expected to have the passion to be responsible enough to start the discussion on it. That person also makes sure that a report of the discussion is written and posted. (on another panel) for any participant to read.
  • There’s no limit on the topics, nor on how many topics.
  • When all issues are posted participants go to the part of the room for their topic of interest, the proposer begins the discussion and groups get to work.
  • There will be movable chairs, but no tables.
  • Anyone may attend any topic group and may switch groups at any time.
  • All discussion reports are compiled in a document and sent to participants, unedited, shortly afterwards.
  • Reports are passed on to decision-makers and published on the event web site.
  • We’ll supply tea and coffee. You might like to bring something to share.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Local Government (and Australia Day 2014 Photos)

What do we want from Local Government, why we have it and what it could do? Surely it’s more than just size that matters? Have your say on the Department’s web site or click on Comments, below, or just email me and I’ll get your words submitted.

For more about the process and to make your submission Click Here. The Councils of South Perth and Victoria Park have made a joint submission, based mainly around opposing the Minister’s slicing off the Burswood Peninsular, removing the combined City’s biggest rate payers, gifting them to Perth CBD. Here are details of the Joint Response.

Australia Day 2014 on the South Perth riverbank was just wonderful. Happy volunteers, inspired performers and a cheery crowd made the day memorable. We really have changed the way we celebrate the day. I saw smiles all around and felt a buzz of positive conversation everywhere. Here are links to three of my photo albums from the day:

For those who missed last year, here’s the 2013 album

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

This page sponsored by DATA365, specialists in data recovery from crashed hard disks.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Bollywood at the Cygnet

More new life at the Cygnet in Como! Bollywood movies on a Saturday or Sunday morning from early February.

In recent months Graham Kahn, the Manager, has installed a really good digital projector and funding was obtained for heritage restoration works. There is still a lot to be done to preserve this gem while the owners build offices and apartments next door.

Built in 1939, our beloved Cygnet is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. My friends, Don and Pam, tell me of romantic memories of younger days at our local cinema. In those times there was an outdoor show too. You can still see the projection window high on a rear wall.

Perth’s new Cultural Centre in Northbridge will be built around the Museum of the Indian Ocean, with links to Mumbai, Dubai, Jakarta, Mauritius and much more. Meanwhile, here in South Perth we are connecting with the Bollywood culture of India, a home to many of our students in WA. The energy behind these ideas is spreading and will go far to preserve the Cygnet, a link across generations and cultures.

We are working to preserve and safeguard this grand building, its ghosts, its dreams and its future. We’ll need a mix of support from governments, corporate and private sources. What other groups can call the Cygnet their home, can share their spirit here on stage and screen?

Watch this space for more details.

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

This page sponsored by DATA365, specialists in data recovery from crashed hard disks.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Silver Screen Heroes

Stardust sparkled in Como this week. A little crowd was thrilled to enjoy the first digital movie at our beloved Cygnet Cinema. It happened because Graham Kahn, the Manager, used his own money to snap up the digital equipment when Perth’s Piccadilly Cinema closed down.

Built in 1938, with gorgeous Art Deco design, the Cygnet has survived many risky moments. During the 1960s and 70s much of old Perth was demolished, in the modernising rush of another mining boom. Local developers have often aspired to build commercial premises over the bones of the Cygnet’s location. More recently the Art Deco Society, inspired by Vyonne Geneve and others, succeeded in having the cinema listed on the State Heritage Register, bringing some formal protection.

Upstairs, in the projector room, there’s some new electronic wizardry. An NEC projector accepts digital files that arrive on a disk. The only sound is from a fan that cools the projector lamp. The 35 mm reels stand idle. There’s no more chatter from the wheels and drives that used to bring up the movie strips, frame by frame. Projectionists will never again experience that rush of panic as tens of metres of celluloid spool onto the floor in a mis-feed moment.

After the show there were lots of comments about the magical quality of digital sound and clear movie vision. It was a little surreal to enjoy this in the plush comfort of beautifully kept, classical cinema seats. Chris Simmons, helping with the installation, glowed with pride when he showed off the system. Chris has worked in thirty five cinemas and lives the dream of the silver screen.

There’s more work to be done of course. The owners are still faced with a large maintenance and renovation task. However, once again, a creative coalition of local people has made a difference around here. Through the energy and imagination of some special people and inspired groups our cinema will bring joy to many for years to come.

When I want to step away into dreamland for a little while, to enjoy a magical moment, you’ll find me at the Cygnet. Are you doing anything tonight?

You can add your comments below or email me and I’ll add them for you.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mill Point Directions

Where is Mill Point going? Do you have some thoughts to add? Here are some of my starting points. I’d welcome your additions to a public conversation. Click “Comments” below to publish your ideas.

1. Public transport: Our metro region has become choked with car traffic. I strongly support much greater use of well planned, safe and reliable public transport. This should include our arterial heavy rail system, light rail, or a rubber-tyred equivalent, feeder lines, local bus networks and cycle ways separated for safety from vehicle traffic. In the South Perth area I have suggested and actively promote a shuttle bus between Canning Bridge station and Perth Zoo. I have promoted additional work to move the bus interchange off Canning Bridge for better safety and connectedness with train services. With large expansion of Curtin Uni this will become more important. An extended ferry service to Barrack Street is also on my long-standing list of objectives.

2. Development of the Mill area of the peninsula: The Old Mill is one of very few remnants of WA’s early colonial history. The mill also links both colonial and indigenous histories through events in early days. Its maintenance is a vital link with the past. Such maintenance is expensive; a new front door recently cost seventy five thousand dollars. I support commitment to maintenance of the mill and its associated heritage displays. Heritage exhibitions could be enhanced with the recently refurbished old tram. I do not believe that the community would feel good about building a “theme park” in this area so I don’t support that idea.

Geography, both natural and constructed, of the Point area suggests that large scale public facilities here would cause unwelcome traffic congestion. Therefore my vision for the Mill Point is for low-impact development that respects the community wishes while giving some focus to our early history.

3. Use of Richardson Park: The park and associated facilities for cricket and hockey are much appreciated by the residents and visitors to South Perth. Even people who do not participate in these sports appreciate the existence of the park. Several years ago I developed and moved the Motion on Council that approved funding for the now-successful redevelopment of the clubhouse facilities. Commercial developments of the area between Richardson St and the freeway on-ramp, development of the Civic Triangle behind the Post Office and a possible train station will place pressure for developments on the park. These should be resisted and our open spaces protected. When these real estate developments proceed the park will be of ever-greater value to the community.

4. Development of the Mends St jetty area: I do support enhancement of Mends Street. I do support low-impact development of the jetty area but not beyond the scale and style of what currently exists. The photo at the top of this note illustrates the contrast between the commercial development of Perth’s CBD and the open space of South Perth. We need both styles of facility in our city; both enrich our community in different ways and both are essential. I support preservation of our open spaces and low-impact development of community facilities here.

5. Use of Mends St: Perth Zoo attracts six hundred thousand visitors a year. Six hundred thousand cycle trips are made along the South Perth foreshore each year, many or most passing the end of Mends Street. The street is the focus of a number of transport routes. Usage of this precinct will become more intense when the Civic Triangle development proceeds. The already-approved amendments to the Town Planning Scheme for the Judd-Richardson-Labouchere precinct will further add to the likely popularity of Mends Street. One of the roles of local councillors will be to help balance the commercial pressures with the need to ensure the amenity of local residents.

6. Telstra Phone Tower: Council will soon vote on approval for a phone tower on Coode Street in Sir James Mitchell Park. You can contact me to pick up a written petition against this or you can click here for a on-line petition. The Swan River foreshore is part of our City’s soul. A phone tower here would be a spike in its heart.

I do volunteer work for the community nearly every day of the year, not just at election time. Only 31% of people vote so your vote makes a difference. Please consider giving me your vote so I can do more for you, your friends and your family.

You are welcome to call or to knock on my door in Angelo Street at any time. You are also welcome to add comments below, or email me, so we can all benefit from your wisdom and vision. (Just log in as Name or Anonymous if you like.)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Saving the Cygnet Cinema

The Cygnet Cinema needs our help. Built in 1938 by Jimmy Stiles, this Art Deco treasure has delighted our families for years. Graham, the manager, tells me that we are at the end of the road for celluloid film strips; it’s all going digital. Lots of us have talked about this for a few years. Now it’s time we got active to protect this wonder to enjoy it in the future. Will you help too, please?

To catch up on the conversation so far you can click on these links to my previous blogs:

2010 Cygnet Cinema Shines

2011 Preston Street  For Dinner

2012 Our Own  Future, Yes Please

2013 Save the Cygnet Cinema

Lots of people have joined the conversation. Here’s what they say. First off: before anything, what is our purpose? Perhaps it is to obtain and provide a digital projector. Tony Barber, a really good accountant, says that we should form an Incorporated Body, with a constitution. Then, my friends at the Institute of Company Directors say that we should form a Board of community representatives to manage governance. This is other people’s money after all. Would five be about the right number? Who should they be?

Tony and a local lawyer suggest that the body, not the cinema owners, should own the equipment. There would be other words about ultimate disposal and safeguards. We had a talk about charitable status and tax deductibility and concluded that was pretty unlikely.

Along the way I found two local suppliers of this digital equipment, so there’d be competitive pricing. One of the roles of the Board would be selecting a supplier. Costs are likely to be between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars. Management of funds would be the major responsibility in early stages. A continuing role would be the relationship with the owners, the Stiles family. I expect that contributions would come in both large and small sizes. We could use internet ‘crowd-funding’ to gather wide community support.

Suggested steps (please comment below):

  • meet at the Cygnet Esther Girls coffee shop
  • form a group, with a name and a purpose
  • meet with owners (regularly)
  • obtain price quotes
  • write a constitution with safeguards
  • register an Incorporated Body
  • set up a single-purpose account
  • seek commitments and deposits
  • (funds returned if no action taken)
  • obtain equipment
  • arrange with owners re installation

Graham, the manager, says that December will see the closure of the Cygnet if we can’t find a way through this. If we do nothing the Cygnet will crumble in neglect. With your help it will shine.

Please add comments below, or email me, so we can all benefit from your wisdom and vision.


Bicycle trips per year on South Perth foreshore: 600,000 +

Bicycle trips per year on Freeway bike path: one million +


Monday, 8 July 2013

Foreshore Futures

We love our city and we really love our foreshore. That’s what the walkers, cyclists, families, dog walkers, picnickers and park visitors say. Now the Council is asking us what to do to make it even better.

There’s an info session on 17 July at 6 p.m. at the Community Hall in South Terrace. There’s a web page to find out more and submit your ideas. (Click here)

This is where the Wadjuk clan of the Noongar people camped, fished and lived in summer time for millennia. They called the river Derbal Yerrigan. Since white settlement in 1829 much has changed. During the 1890s gold rush days Perth grew rapidly. That’s when the State was proclaimed, many famous buildings were erected, sports clubs begun and engineering changed the landscape. That’s also when Chinese gardeners set up in South Perth, helping to feed the hungry settlement. The Black Swan dredge made a channel from Barrack Street on the north to Mends Street in South Perth, dumping sludge that formed the base of what’s now Sir James Mitchell Park.

Later the Kensington Park track area was developed here for horse racing. You can still see the shape of the track in Google Earth. In the 1920s racing moved to Belmont and the track was used for joy flights. Meanwhile a lot of building rubble and household rubbish was dumped on the river bank. Over time the area filled with more dredged silt, rubbish and some unpleasant chemicals. The surface was eventually levelled and the park built on top of it all.

Today it’s a beautifully open space with spectacular views. Nearby is Perth Zoo, WA’s biggest tourist attraction. The new cycle path is really popular. Our annual Australia Day celebration is the best in Australia. New immigrants and old families share the park, living the “Aussie lifestyle.”

Every year the South Perth Council spends over a million dollars maintaining the park. In recent years storms have broken the river walls and flooded the park edges. Groundwater level is at the same elevation as the river water and sits just below the grass roots. Our local sea level has been rising about 3mm a year. That could give us about thirty years until parts of the park are under water. Meanwhile the groundwater flow is flushing fertiliser and some toxins into the river, threatening fish and dolphins.

My dream is that we can:

· Protect the park that we love

· Defend the open space that we share with each other

· Preserve what we value

· Plan for a future so others will enjoy the foreshore just as much

Some things that that people have suggested we might talk about at the info evening are to:

· Use “soft engineering” to dissipate wave energy

· Improve public transport for easier access

· Use digital maps to define likely water flooding limits

· Design new facilities to allow for high water or to be moved or raised later

· Increase the barbecue and picnic facilities

· Possibly allow some small commercial facilities near the foreshore

· Reduce the City’s risk by identifying water level hazard in approvals

· Work together with other Councils to manage the river and riverbanks, with shared strategies, budgets and lobbying power

· Allow public access to data on river and park analyses, costs and usage

· Find ways to reduce our emissions in groundwater and air

· Find ways to provide more shade trees while protecting great views

· Construct more separate cycle and walk paths

· Protect and improve nesting areas for swans and other birds

· Encourage dog exercisers while protecting walkers and wildlife

· Preserve the areas of heavy use while applying less water and fertiliser on less-used parts of the park

What are your thoughts? Got some ideas? Click on Comments, below, or email me. See you on 17 July.