A modest proposal to deal with the deficit

EQJust over a century ago Western Australia’s deficit meant the State was building up huge debts.

Sound familiar?

The blame, as it turned out, was to be laid squarely at the door of a government committed to large-scale projects without actually costing them properly or having the money to pay for them in cash.

Sound familiar?

There was a huge waste of money down by the waterfront. Not Elizabeth Quay this time, but formal gardens with beautiful grass and flowers. Just where it was likely that a quay or a wharf would be needed.

Even though faced with a budget shortage, the Government still went ahead with major building projects like a new stadium at Burswood. No, sorry, our mistake. Not a stadium, but an Art Gallery, so the leisured few could stroll around it on a Sunday afternoon.

No one could deny that investing in a public library or a technical school were essential. And given the mining industry, perhaps even a geological museum could be justified.

But not an art gallery, not a zoo, and certainly not an observatory. None of these could be defended until Western Australia had a population much larger than it had in 1909.

It was simple. Western Australia’s financial troubles were wholly of its own creation.

Sound familiar?

My island (sporting) home


Statue of Yagan on Ma’tagarup

As Heirisson Island looks increasingly likely to become a sculpture park, Dodgy Perth takes a look at the time it almost became a sports complex.

But we at Dodgy Perth have no particular love for François-Antoine Boniface Heirisson, who left us nothing but his name, so prefer a much older designation: Ma’tagarup.

In 1950 the State Government gifted Ma’tagarup to the National Fitness Council, so the island could be turned into a sports complex.


Before sculpture parks, there was sport

However, Perth residents were outraged. Not because they didn’t want more sport, but they had always hoped Ma’tagarup would be turned into a nature reserve for Sunday picnics.

There was more controversy when it was announced that Heirisson Island was to be renamed Causeway Island. Just think of the damage to our State’s history, said the Historical Society. Completely forgetting the name Heirisson erased an entire culture’s past.

Ma’tagarup was to become a “playground”, fretted the newspapers, who worried that alcohol would be served during sporting events.

Planning progressed, and various sporting bodies became quite excited about having an island home. The island was levelled and various government announcements told of a wonderful future for sport in Western Australia.

More than two years into the project, the whole scheme was suddenly dropped. No one had given a thought to how traffic would get on and off the island and, in any case, the reclaimed land didn’t even allow for construction. Bulldozers would just sink into the ground.

So that was the end of the redevelopment of the sacred island of Ma’tagarup. Until now. When people want to turn it into a sculpture park for Sunday picnics.