Why Forrest Hall Blocks Our View Of The River
by David Archibald
21 October 2021
An observer of West Australian politics provides some background as to how the state is run:
“Very wealthy individuals are increasingly using their wealth to shape society. In part, they are doing this as a manifestation of their own ego — imposing their personal views on the whole of society.
Whilst many people might think to themselves “that isn’t right” or “someone should do something about that”, we now have a plethora of extraordinarily wealthy individuals who manifest those personal thoughts in action at a state or international level.
The other fact that you can be absolutely certain about is that whatever they are doing, it also serves to increase their personal wealth and/or power. The reason that they are billionaires is because they primarily serve their own interests above all else.
There are some local examples. The building of Forrest Hall on the river foreshore in Nedlands epitomises the trend. The University of Western Australia and ordinary citizens could never have gained approval for that project. The visual amenity of the entire population has been defiled. Instead, we now have a hoarding advertising Forrest’s name to the many hundreds of thousands of people who use that highway every week — reinforcing and increasing his influence in the community. The mere fact that the building is where it is sends a very clear message — I can do what I like and state and local government will accede to my every wish.
The other, more egregious, example is the gutting of the planning laws in Western Australia. Local communities and local government have now effectively been completely removed from the planning process. This is to the considerable personal financial advantage of a relative handful of very wealthy property developers, who are also the major financial backers of the Labor Party.
For a fistful of dollars, the Labor party has utterly abandoned the “worker’s” (ordinary citizen’s) right to control what happens in their communities. The major industry representative groups such as the UDIA and the Property Council work hand-in-glove with the major developers and government agencies, such as WAPC, to promote and implement policy that serves a few wealthy individuals.
It helps when the most influential media magnate in the state is part of the group that benefits from these policy changes. One of our more prominent property developers was quite comfortable telling me that his planning manager was writing the new planning regulations before they were implemented earlier this year.
A root cause of the malaise is that political parties are totally dependent on high-wealth individuals for their financial survival. These folk are increasingly direct in their demands of political parties — do what I want or we will collectively starve you of funding. This is exactly the case in WA.
A group of business people, led by a prominent property developer, threatened then state premier, Colin Barnett, that if he didn’t accede to their wishes, they would ensure that the Liberal Party received no significant financial support. That group has backed the Labor Party for the past two State elections, and refused to support the Liberal Party. Their investment in Labor has been rewarded many times over with the most profound law changes and government decisions.
Until we have adequate public government funding of political parties with meaningful election expenditure limits, we will have state governments that primarily serve the interests of a few wealthy folk over the interests of the general community. In particular and relevant to the article, these business folk have discovered that so called left wing political parties are actually the most receptive to their bribery.”
So if you were wondering about Forrest Hall, now you know.
David Archibald is the author of The Anticancer Garden in Australia.