Political journalism

Fremantle fireworks frustrate freo businesses

Note: this post was taken up on Thursday by WAToday with Brendan Foster writing an article on the flyer and the eventual reactions of Mr Endersby and Harcourts with my input.The post below has only the information from the Wednesday night reactions to the flyer being shared on social media.
A Fremantle businessman has found himself at the centre of a row over the Fremantle Australia Day fireworks after he claimed credit for reinstating the fireworks display to January 26 despite the City Council’s original decision to cancel it and move celebrations to another date out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Stuart Endersby of Harcourts Realty Plus letterboxed several Fremantle residents with a pamphlet that was shared widely on social media prompting many to protest on the Harcourts Facebook page and to contact him for clarification.

Mr Endersby claims in the pamphlet to be responsible for leading members of the business community in lobbying hard for reinstating the fireworks. A Fremantle resident uploaded the pamphlet to a closed Facebook group stating that they had:

“Just found this flyer in my letterbox.
So…looks like Freo Aussie Day Fireworks is back on schedule then.”

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Fremantle Mayor Brad Petitt stepped in a few minutes later to clarify that there were now two celebrations planned and that the City Council’s plan for an alternative celebration in consultation with Aboriginal groups would go ahead as planned on January 28 and the business community would host a separate fireworks display on January 26.

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“The Australia Day fireworks will now be funded directly by the business community,” Mayor Petitt said.

“The council will fund an alternative event also. Cheers.”

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Mr Endersby then joined the discussion online.

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The original poster eventually took the original post with the pamphlet down but not before screenshots of it and the discussion had been shared across the social media platform.

The pamphlet also listed Mr Endersby’s contact details and at his own invitation, many people got in touch to ask him why he insisted on holding a celebration despite the council’s decision that would cause some people distress. He stated that his choice to host a fireworks display was due to his support for Australia Day and part of being an Australian and that if people did not like it that they could leave the country.

 

 

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Mr Endersby had also posted about his efforts throughout September to set up a January 26 fireworks display on his own page A Freo Guy stating that he was the Fremantle Area Specialist for Harcourts Realty Plus and that he had discussed his plans with City Councillors and the Mayor.

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Several people dissatisfied by Mr Endersby’s response took to Harcourt’s Facebook page to complain about the decision to hold a separate celebration.

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The Fremantle City Council voted to scrap the city’s annual Australia Day fireworks display earlier this year citing not just the financial cost but also cultural considerations as it excluded and caused great distress for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The decision prompted nationwide discussion and the City of Cockburn both considered and then decided against stepping in to hold a similar fireworks celebration after consultation with the City of Cockburn Aboriginal Reference Group.

* Private contact information and identifying information for the comments has been edited out.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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