Brad Pettitt’s August Update


Action on housing, urban planning, climate, environmental protection, Aboriginal cultural heritage, youth justice and remembering Hiroshima

By Hon Brad Pettitt, MLC, Member for South Metropolitan

Homelessness Week

It was Homelessness Week recently and I moved a motion in Parliament in support of ending functional homelessness in WA by: funding housing and homelessness services to the extent that functional homelessness is ended; and adopting all the recommendations of the Estimates Committee’s report on homelessness. This report was the result of months of genuinely good collaboration between the parties and proposed many achievable improvements to our chronically underfunded and disjointed homelessness support services.

Unbelievably, the Government used their numbers to water down my motion into a self-congratulatory statement containing absolutely no commitment to address the homelessness crisis. This despite Perth becoming Australia’s rough sleeping capital and the many, many areas of policy and service provision identified in the homelessness report as needing urgent reform and funding.

I had hoped that State Government would take our tripartisan report to heart and implement all its recommendations. Instead their unwillingness to recognize the failures of WA's current homelessness funding model and actually do something different means that the homelessness crisis will only get worse.

Housing and Renters Rights

It has been a monumental few months in the fight for renters’ rights and affordable housing, with millions of Australians suffering from an entirely avoidable crunch in housing supply after decades of underinvestment by both major parties. My Federal colleagues have been amazing at putting renters’ rights and Labor’s hypocrisy on social housing on the front page week after week. I’ve been out with my fellow Greens and dedicated members doorknocking in Perth to raise awareness of our push to stop the rent spiral, make unlimited increases illegal and properly fund social housing. We had a wet but fun morning on 17 August dropping banners around the city as National Cabinet met on renters’ rights and the housing supply.

We remain the only State that permits both twice-yearly rent increases and no-grounds evictions, and WA renters are suffering some of the worst rental increases and the lowest availability in the country. Coupled with the cost of living crisis this is catastrophic market failure that is creating record homelessness and housing insecurity. The WA Labor Government utterly failed to protect renters from these outdated rules when it rewrote the Residential Tenancy Act earlier this year – I’ll be making sure they don’t forget that the National Cabinet commitment means they will have to go back and get rid of them at the very least!

We need to see real action from the WA Government to get some of the huge glut of short-stay and empty properties back onto the long-term rental market, and a clear plan to address the coming shortfall in affordable home construction when the federal National Rental Affordability Scheme ends this year.

Climate Positive Perth Launch

I’m excited to announce that we’ll be launching our draft Climate Positive Perth report for public feedback on 5 October, 6pm at Fridays Studio in West Perth. Come on down to hear about the report and how you can contribute – more details coming soon!

The report builds on the work of former Senator Scott Ludlam’s Perth 2.0 report to offer a vision of Perth that is low carbon, equitable and liveable with solutions scalable to neighbourhoods, suburbs and the metro area.

I’m really keen to get member feedback on this and I’ll be presenting to Regional Groups in the weeks and months after the main launch. We will then publish a final report in 2024.

I was privileged to host First Nations Elders and community members at Parliament in August as part of the consultation process. First Peoples' knowledge is critical to charting a path through this climate crisis, and many of the solutions for greener and more liveable communities that are in the report have already been practiced for thousands of years on Whadjuk Noongar land.

Medium Density Housing reforms scrapped

In August the State Government indefinitely deferred its long-awaited Medium Density Housing Code for reasons we can only guess at (or can we…see below). It wasn’t perfect but the new Code would have delivered greatly improved housing outcomes in medium density areas and delivered significant savings to communities by enforcing smarter builds.

The WA Government’s own research showed businesses-as-usual poor medium density developments will cost the community an additional $29,200 per dwelling, adding up to a cost of $1.17 billion over the next decade.

Predictably, housing developers are very happy that they won’t be forced to evolve as a sector and incorporate some pretty basic environmental and social standards into future builds. As a community we will now bear these costs because once again the WA State Government has caved into big developer pressure and backed down from much-needed reforms.

ACH Act backflip

The Greens have been pointing out the lack of consultation and flaws baked into the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act for several years. Unlike the Coalition we acted on our principles and voted against it in 2021 when the McGowan Government rammed it through.

Its sudden repeal in August comes at the cost of badly damaging the Government’s relationship with First Nations communities both during the legislative process and by reverting to the 1972 Act, which was drafted in a very different era and is self-evidently no longer fit for purpose. The need to prevent another Juukan Gorge tragedy remains urgent; the new Premier must learn from his predecessor’s hubris and lead a genuinely consultative process to put new protections in place.

Rethink Eastlink

I’ll be tabling a petition from the dedicated Rethink Eastlink group today, a petition that asks the State Government to acknowledge that the EastLink WA plan is outdated and destructive to the environment, heritage, lifestyle and communities in its path. The petition further calls for EastLink to be removed from the State planning agenda.

Northern Summer and Climate Activism

We have all watched with horror as the northern hemisphere summer saw cascading climate change-driven disasters around the world and I think many of us are anxious of what our own hot season may bring. We are watching the climate emergency we’ve warned those in power about for so long unfolding, and still they refuse to do enough to decarbonise in this critical decade for climate action. The WA government hasn’t uttered one word about climate change even as they continue to spruik new fossil fuel exploration grants and rubber-stamp giant gas projects.

Instead, this government has devoted police resources to persecuting community members campaigning peacefully for a safe climate. The treatment of climate activists by some WA Police at can only be described as the kind intimidation and bullying you would more expect to see from a totalitarian regime than a democracy. I’m pursuing the government in Parliament over their malicious deployment of laws designed to combat terrorism and domestic violence against nonviolent protestors.

We’re continuing our campaign to support the Freo Dockers to be on the right side of history and dump Woodside as a sponsor. Nearly 700 supporters have emailed the Dockers asking them to give this climate and habitat-wrecking company the boot, and there is still time for you to join them, click here:

Youth Justice & Broome Prison

Even after the human rights catastrophes at Banksia Hill and Unit 18 became a huge issue for this government, they still refuse to publish the facilities’ shameful monthly statistics on out-of-cell hours, self-harm and suicide rates, and how often children are locked down in their cell more than 20 hours a day. In support of the ongoing community campaign for youth justice reform, I regularly use Parliamentary Questions to obtain these statistics we will not let the government off the hook on this.

In Estimates Committee we had a hearing with the Department of Justice, where I asked questions about the recent report from the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services on the woeful failures at Broome Prison and the provision of support services for First Nations people, who make up 80% of the population at Broome Prison. 

Alcoa EPA Referral

After a magnificent community campaign and six months of shocking revelations about Alcoa’s dangerous mining activities in the Darling Scarp, the EPA has finally accepted that they should assess Alcoa’s hugely destructive mining expansion plans. We supported the big push for this assessment to be at the maximum level of scrutiny possible with a Public Environmental Review. Watch this space – Alcoa’s terrible environmental record has been thoroughly outed, in addition to its reckless handling of forever chemicals in proximity to Perth’s drinking water supply. The State Government can’t keep allowing them to bulldoze our precious Northern Jarrah Forest and endanger our drinking water.

Save Our Native Forests

In early August I joined dedicated campaigners at Parliament House in concert with rallies all over the country to Save Our Native Forests. With the end of native logging, we need to ensure permanent protection for South West forests from mining and other threats with an expanded system of National Parks and Forest Management Plan that can’t be undercut or exploited.

Hiroshima Day

78 years after the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our leaders are pushing an AUKUS buildup that’s stripping billions from taxpayers and putting Australia on the front line of a perilous strategic arms race, with nuclear submarines to be stationed at HMAS Stirling.

On Hiroshima Day, August 6 I attended a Vigil For Peace in Perth organised by IPAN, Stop AUKUS WA, Nuclear Free WA and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War. We cannot forget the consequences of nuclear war and proliferation I visited as a Mayor for Peace a few years ago and the simple message of survivors still rings in my ears “we must never let this happen again”.

Roe 8/9 Wildlife Corridor

I continue to be inspired by community passion for a fully realised wildlife corridor along the former Roe 8/9 route. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Conserving Connectivity: Rezoning our Wildlife Corridor event at The Wetlands Centre Cockburn on Sunday.

Submissions to the Department of Planning, Land Heritage on their updated draft plan for the former Roe 8/9 corridor are now open until 6 October so this is our big chance to push for a truly connected habitat and community corridor from wetlands to waves!

If you want support writing your submission, you can join the upcoming submissions writing workshop at the Hub, Hamilton Hill on Sunday 10 September, 12.30 - 3.30pm.

Header photo: At the Climate Positive Perth First Nations round table