"May I take the opportunity to thank all for reading this note. I also thank many of my friends for taking opportunity to highlight this abhorrent process of the desecration of the last place of rest for many Western Australians?
I will highlight a few erroneous comments that have been made by the MCB in relation to these dreadful actions. Their mission statements and vision statements are purely aimed at making money, by the improvement of facilities, therefore attracting more persons to the cemetery and as a flow on effect their aim is more burials, regardless of the historical value that every person interned in the cemetery has made to the state of Western Australia.
Further to this the Minister and Board Members, for those that aren't aware, are:-
Minister: Hon G M (John) Castrilli MLA Minister for Local Government; Heritage; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests;
Dr Leonie Liveris – Chair
- Joe O‟Dea Jnr: Managing Director Bowra & O’dea Funeral Directors
- Don Whittington – Ex-Councillor of the City of Fremantle-
- Dr Ricki Smith – sales, marketing, product development, communications, strategic planning
- Brenda Robbins – barrister at Sir Clifford Grant Chambers
- Tony Evans – resources, property, education and not-for-profit sectors
- Janice Bowra: Murdoch University Senate – Legislation Committee, and the Audit and Risk Management Committee
So what to take from this? In my opinion clearly we have a historian who appears to have lost the empathetic emotions required to be objective, A funeral director who it is in his best interest to open more plots in a popular area, A jobs for the boys, A salesman, A barrister who clearly ensures that they are covered judicially, another salesman, and a Health and Safety professional who through evidence already presented appears not to practice what she preaches.
I am not insinuating any fraudulent behaviour here but it stands out that the State government has colloquially given the keys to the liquor cabinet to a bunch of over amorous drinkers who are clearly after the dollar irrelevant of what social impact it may have.
The boards answer to public consultation is a sign citing that the area is due for renewal and a small plaque at the foot of the grave. No true public notification and public consultation is entered into, unlike what is required for projects such as but not limited to the redevelopment of land/s for commercial use.
As a direct descendant of a number of “early” settlers to the Swan River colony, I further find this practice of subjectively deciding who holds cultural or historical significance by a group of people as mentioned above clearly with the outlook to make money. The current MCB of WA is over weighted with bureaucrats and people with a direct vested interest in the “renewal process” or have been friendly to their plight in the past. Not one of these bureaucrats are focused purely on historical or personal value of the interned.
The MCB outline in their releases that they are concerned that of the constant upkeep of degrading grave stones and grave areas are costs which they are not able to continue to under take within their budgetary abilities. I emphatically suggest that this statement is erroneous. If you wish to research further or visit the areas which are marked for desecration, the realisation will be obvious that little to no expense is outlaid in these areas, nor has it been done in the previous years to preserve these areas.
I have just been reviewing the MCB Annual Report for 2011-12, A disturbing passages from MCB Chair Dr Leonie Liverus “As a result of the changes to the WA Cemeteries Act in 1986, a number of Grants of Rights of Burial were scheduled to expire on 2 July 2012. Although the Board had initiated a sound communications strategy around these expiries, just prior to 2 July 2012, and during the reporting period, incorrect information was provided to the media, causing significant unnecessary community confusion. Board staff responded to an extraordinary number of enquiries and were able to allay many of the concerns expressed by families. Whilst a number of families have opted to renew their Grants for peace of mind, many have, with the passage of time, not felt the need to renew.”
I challenge Dr Liverus to further explain what information was incorrect? At the time of publishing this note there has been no evidence other than the words of a group of people with ulterior motives and all evidence is subjective to say the least.
Whilst the MCB in the past have removed Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) headstones and Official Australian War Grave (OAWG) headstones, following our previous campaign CWGC headstones were replaced (26 of them) and the removal of OAWG headstones ceased to some extent. However, family headstones of defence personal are removed even if there is mention of service on the headstone. There have been several applications with OAWG for replacement of headstones belonging to POW's, amputees and those that are possibly official war dead, of which many are still awaiting response or action. All CWGC headstones that have been replaced however the new headstones are no longer on the grave itself but 'somewhere in the vicinity'. This has resulted in descendents not being able to find them or having to wander about looking for them if they decide to visit their ancestors` graves.
There are a number of alternatives to removing headstones and wasting 100′s of thousands of dollars on grass reticulation and damaging graves of historical value (again photographic evidence available). Options include but are not limited to closing the Cemetery to “new graves", this has been previously argued against by Funeral Directors due to it not being a popular option for their clients, allowing for familial internment, using the areas between graves leaving the current grave either side intact to name but a few. The MCB of WA refuses to consider these options hence the reason for the online Petition at change.org.
May I ask that rather than take the sanitised outline by a bureaucratic organisation not focused on the preservation of the culture and heritage of Western Australia that people actually investigate this for themselves and make their own decisions regarding the history that is attached to every grave in both Karrakatta and ultimately Fremantle as well. These are the people who have made a contribution to our society, assisting us in shaping the state into what it is today. Farmers, nurses, doctors, politicians, teachers, scoundrels and ratbags alike, they are who have made WA a great state, and now we are about to further allow a board to dictate this disastrous act to the history of WA.
I would implore anyone who has comments or questions, feel free to contact the MCB of WA however also please contact Saving Graves WA, Sandra Playle firstname.lastname@example.org or myself email@example.com if you have further questions or require further clarification on the points outlined above.
Last of all I would like to share a poem Author unknown but poignant all the same;
Your tombstone stands among the rest, Neglected and alone. The name and the date are chiselled out, On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who cares, It is too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist, You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you, In flesh, in blood, in bone. Our blood contracts and beats a pulseEntirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled, One hundred years ago, Spreads out among, the ones you left. Who would have loved you so?
I wonder if you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew That someday I would find this spot, And come to visit you.
Yours in history, Craig"
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