03/05/2005 - 22:00

The time is now for foreshore action

03/05/2005 - 22:00


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Examining the thinking of Perth’s council candidates has provided some interesting fodder for thought, especially with regard to issues confronting our central city and its role as our capital.

Examining the thinking of Perth’s council candidates has provided some interesting fodder for thought, especially with regard to issues confronting our central city and its role as our capital.

Perth appears to be in a unique space at the moment, a place where most people feel there could be more life injected into it and where redevelopment of areas such as the foreshore could help do just that.

That is why we have concentrated on the City of Perth elections ahead of other councils. The CBD and surrounds is, after all, not just home of more businesses in the state, it is also attracts keen interest from many who don’t visit it every day.

So it is with some interest to find that those running for council share some of the concerns of the wider population – certainly more than those few residents of the central city who have disappointingly come to dominate the electoral register ahead of the far more numerous businesses inhabiting our metropolitan capital.

Firstly, on the subject of redeveloping the foreshore, there is clearly a strong inclination that something has to be done.

While there are differences from candidates, most want at the very least some development in front of the convention centre.

In my view, most of us have wanted this for some time and the candidates’ views are simply reflective of that.

For at least 20 years we’ve been presented with foreshore development plans from various hues of government – who knows what’s happened to most of them?

Arguably, there is little along the foreshore to protect.

Most of it is infill, long ago removing the original shoreline and habitat of the northern bank of the Swan River with steady reclamations dating back as early as 1883, with major works where the freeway intersection now stands occurring in the late 1950s and then mid-1960s.

The only real issues here are height and public access. The former will largely be of concern to city office blocks, long used to big close buildings obscuring their views. The latter is, in my view, a non-starter because these days people regard cafes, restaurants and boating facilities as for more “accessible” than a grassed wasteland adjoining a walled river – especially when the wind blows and a thirst develops.

For some, the convention centre may be the new catalyst for this development push, partly because the delegates attending have limited options within cooee of this ill-positioned building and partly because it has simply provided a stepping stone to the river that previously didn’t exist.

Whatever the reasoning, it is clear that public opinion supports development, there are few genuine obstacles and the whole thing has been a long time coming.

No wonder so many of the candidates, and the public at large, believe that vision is what is lacking for the city – both from the council and the State Government.

It is time we got on with this and starting making best use of foreshore.


New formula to pick 2005 Legal Elite

The Legal Elite has reached its third year and I am delighted with what has been produced this time around.

The first two editions of The Legal Elite were put together using a survey of lawyers, very much requiring them to fill out an unsolicited form.

That, believe it or not, generated controversy within legal circles. Some, perhaps miffed they weren’t featured in it, questioned our survey methodology or simply took offence to being rated or ranked however it occurred.

We are sensitive souls down here at WA Business News, so we took into account some of these concerns – including the attempted rorts of the past – when we decided to embark on The Legal Elite for 2005.

This year, we have used some of our talented journalists to reach the business community directly and inquire about who was perceived to be at the top of their fields in WA’s legal world. Among the people we approached were in-house legal counsel at companies, key business people and professionals who were aware of the thinking behind legal appointments and other corporates who knew where the work was going in the key sectors we’d identified.

You may note that a lot of The Legal Elite for 2005 are those who have worked on headline projects or cases during the past year.

In our view, this appeared to be a key performance indicator when it came to status – The Legal Elite, in many instances, are those who have been pulled onto the big jobs, often by clients who have a lot to lose if things go wrong.

The results of this survey have not only thrown up names, they have provided a kind of annual review of major legal work undertaken in WA.

A highlight of this survey has been a little less of naming names in the traditional sense of those steeped in past glories and a lot more focus on those who are winning the legal business right now.

That has thrown up a wider mix, offering a blend of up and comers alongside the old hands who still mange to keep those fees rolling in.

I hope everyone, even previous dissenters (and you know who you are), enjoys this year’s version of The Legal Elite.


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