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Shock Horror - Madden's Press Secretary lets truth slip

The TRUTH comes out of Maddens office. Consultation is faked. This is what we have all know for a long time as we spend hours of our time working away putting in submissions.
Well it is official; they just tick the boxes, as in: "Consulted with the community - tick."
And this is Madden who wants to be Premier?

This article was originally published on 25 Feb 10. It was updated on 28 Feb 10 with embedded videos below (thanks to Marvellous Melbourne) showing Madden being grilled by the newsmedia. - JS

The TRUTH comes out of Maddens office. Consulation is faked. This is what we have all know for a long time as we spend hours of our time working away putting in submissions.
Well it is official; they just tick the boxes, as in: "Consulted with the community - tick."
And this is Madden who wants to be Premier? See http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/25/2830415.htm?section=justin

Here is an example of the way Justin Madden consults, as highlighted by an exchange in Parliament:

The subject was the Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village and Royal Park Protection Group. The Protection group, run by Julianne Bell, has snowballed into a quite a big movement of diverse groups in Melbourne - notably in Protectors of Public Land. The initial group had resulted from the Victorian Government actually giving away 20 ha of public land from Royal Park, the oldest park in the heart of Melbourne, just next to the zoo, to Australand to build a housing estate for wealthy customers, many of whom would purchase them from overseas and migrate to live in them, i.e., not even to Australians in need of housing and already here.

Here I.J. Cover takes Madden to task for saying that he consulted when he had hardly done so:

Royal Park Protection
VICHANSARD
Whole Speech

________________________________________
Title Commonwealth Games: athletes village
House COUNCIL
Activity Questions without Notice
Members COVER
Date 24 April 2002
Page 729
________________________________________
24 April 2002 COUNCIL
________________________________________
Page 729
Commonwealth Games: athletes village

Hon. I. J. COVER (Geelong) -- My question is to the Minister for Commonwealth Games, because I care about the Commonwealth Games. I am delighted to hear that the minister has now agreed to meet with representatives of the Royal Park Protection Group on 3 May. Will the minister now admit that when he said on 21 March in this place that:

... I have continued to meet with representatives from the Royal Park group ...
he had not met with them since his commitment in October last year to consult on the preferred site and design of the Commonwealth Games athletes village, and in not meeting with them and giving that statement in this house he misled the house?

Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Commonwealth Games) -- As I mentioned in the house, I have continued to meet with members of the Royal Park Protection Group. I will continue to meet with them, as I have, and I look forward to meeting with them. I have not misled the house because, as I mentioned on that occasion, I am happy to meet with those groups and I am happy to have met with them. Further, I am happy to continue meeting with them.

Hon. I. J. COVER (Geelong) -- I have a supplementary question. My question on 21 March was clearly about whether the Minister for Commonwealth Games had consulted since October when the issue was debated in the house. He said he had continued to meet.

I have asked that question again today and I have a letter from the convenor of the Royal Park Protection Group who says it is simply not true that the minister has continued to meet with representatives from the Royal Park group.

Julianne Bell says that they have not met the minister for six months and they have not met him on the subject of the design and location of the games village. She concedes that she 'exchanged a few words' with the minister on the ABC 774 drive talkback program some months ago. I ask the Minister for Commonwealth Games whether the exchange of a few words on talkback radio with the convenor of this group is his idea of consultation.

Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Commonwealth Games) -- I thank the honourable member for his question. I again reinforce that Mr Cover has got it wrong; he got it wrong yesterday, he has got it wrong today and I am sure that he will get it wrong in the future. He is wrong because, as I mentioned in that answer, I have met with members of the Royal Park Protection Group. I will continue to meet with them. I look forward to continuing to meet with them. In terms of the dates, I did not refer to dates. I have said I have met with them and I have continued to meet with them.

I have spoken to them informally and formally and even on talkback radio. I have no problem with continuing to meet with this group and using consultative processes to ensure that it has input into wherever the Commonwealth Games village might be located.

See also: "Government email reveals plans to deceive" of 25 Feb 10 by Ryan Sheales on ABC Online, "Consultation with community a sham" of 27 Feb 10 on Marvellous Melbourne.

 

Videos of Madden being grilled by the media

 

Thanks to Marvellous Melbourne for having published these videos on vimeo.com. Videos also embedded in Marvellous Melbourne's story "Fake Consultation - Proof of what we always knew....." of February 2010.

Editorial comment: It's unfortunate that politicians are not grilled in this way much more often. Surely it could not be that hard for our interviewers to manage, even if our politicians are not always caught red-handed in the way Madden has. If they had been prepared tod do this our politicians would have either long ago lifted their game or been booted out and Australia's standards of governance would not be nearly as bad as they now are.

Problems viewing these videos?: A friend was able to view these videos with Mozilla Firefox running on his Apple computer, however, I was unable to view these on my Debian Linux system with any of my Konqueror, Epiphany or Firefox browsers. If you also have problems, please let me know through the contact form. - JS.

Justin Madden - ABC News - fake consultation claims 25 Feb 2010 from Marvellous Melbourne on Vimeo at vimeo.com/9732178.

Staff of Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden suggested faking community consultation. Brumby government spin doctors have been caught out with plans to engage in contrived public consultations, setting up photo-opportunities to boost ministers' local profile and leaking stories to the media. An email accidentally sent to the ABC, Planning Minister Justin Madden's chief spinner detailed plans to use the cover of a public consultation to knock back plans to build a massive 25-storey tower as part of the Windsor Hotel's re-build.

ABC Justin Madden reply to Jon Faine 26 Feb 2010 from Marvellous Melbourne on Vimeo at vimeo.com/9744001.

Justin Madden: Should he be sacked? 3AW 26 Feb 2010 from Marvellous Melbourne on Vimeo at vimeo.com/9752386.

Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden arguably reduces himself to a bumbling mess on the 3AW Neil Mitchell program. But he 'has a job to do and will keep doing it'.

Victoria's Planning Minister Justin Madden ABC News 26 Feb 2010 from Marvellous Melbourne on Vimeo at vimeo.com/9771435.

Victoria's Planning Minister Justin Madden ABC News 26 Feb 2010 Justin Madden says the email leaked from his office contains inapproprate language. An email obtained by the ABC from Planning Minister Justin Madden's office shows a plan to use a sham public consultation process to stop the Windsor Hotel development in central Melbourne

Victoria's Planning Minister Justin Madden faces a tough task to keep his job from Marvellous Melbourne on Vimeo at vimeo.com/9758151.

Victoria's Planning Minister Justin Madden faces a tough task to keep his job, following the leaking of an embarassing email which revealed plans to scuttle the Windsor Hotel development. ABC Stateline 26 Feb 2010

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Comments

On aspect of this controversy which, for me, doesn't add up is that on this occasion Madden appears to have been attempting to prevent an anti-social redevelopment rather than to walk rough-shod over community objections to ensure that the development goes ahead as he normally does.

So, shouldn't we give him credit for what he was trying to do, even, even if his methods appear questionable on this occasion.

What have I missed?

As I read it , James- on this occasion the decision is not to go ahead with a development. The principle at hand though is that the decision has already been made and the result of the community consultation predicted. The email says that they will be able to say they have consulted. It gives the flavour and mentality of Justin Madden's department. It is all about being seen to have consulted rather than really consulting because the results of consultation are important to the eventual outcome. Everyone I know who makes submissions on planning knows or strongly suspects that the decision has already been made and that our time is being wasted but we all write them so that at least our views are on public record.

Madden is embarrassed by the email and rightly so because he would not want the public to know the culture of his department. If that is the way things are discussed internally it reflects a shocking attitude and a contempt for the public. It is like being a law unto themselves.

Madden tried to normalise it all by saying it was "speculative" and that the "language was inappropriate". As I said on Jon Faines programme, ringing in soon after the interview, it is not just a matter of language but the intent of the message. If Justin Madden really thinks it is just a matter of language and inappropriateness then he has completely lost sight of his real role and it would appear his level of respect for the public is about zero.

Nevertheless, I think this it should be acknowledged that the outcome that would have been in accord with the public interests was achieved, even if peoples' time was wasted and the way it was arrived at was not even-handed.

Surely, that is vastly peferable to having had people's times wasted and having the development approved which is far more often the case.

It is not altogether inconceivable that a government minister with the public interest at heart might have approached an obviously ridiculous development proposal in the same way that Madden and his department did on this occasion. That would have been a mistake but I would not necessarily condemn that minister out of hand for having done so.

To illustrate my point, I will cite more extreme example of a development application so obviously ludicrous that it clearly did not warrant any serious consideration for more than 5 minutes. That development was the so-called North Bank redevelopment in Brisbane.

The proposals was to actually build high rise apartments above the Brisbane River extending one third of the way across the river to the South Bank from the Brisbane Central Business District. Effectively a large amount of the river would hve become entombed beneath a massive concrete slab with large support pylons posing navigation hazards and threatening to impede the flow of water during floods.

In order to build such a monstrosity, most of the Brisbane River and much of the adjoining Central Business District would have been turned upside down to become a construction zone disrupting normal activity for at least many months.

In spite of the self-evident stupidity of this proposal it was embraced by the Queensland Government with Premier Anna Bligh being its foremost advocate.

Although the proposal was eventually withdrawn, this did not occur before a large number of community minded-citzens had spent many long nights and weekends arguing to defeat a proposal that any Government with the least concern for the welfare of its citizens, should have rejected out of hand at the outset.

If such a proposal had been put before Madden, then I think it would have been appropriate for him to have said at the outset, "This is such a ridiculous proposal that it would stand no chance whatsoever of getting past our aproval process, but if you must persist with your development application, then we can't stop you."

Then in the subsequent approval process, only a few citizens would have needed to take the effort to point out the glaring flaws in the proposal. They would have been accepted and the proposal duly rejected.

It should not have required, as in the case of Queensland a loud and concerted crescendo of people shouting over and over and over again for months, if not years on end the obvious glaring flaws of the development proposal to Government Ministers and bureaucrats seemingly completely immune to logical argument and evidence.

Perhaps the Windsor Hotel may not have been nearly as insane as the North Bank proposal, but I suspect that it was likely that it might have been so obviously contrary to the interests of good town planning and the local residents, that it might not have warranted a huge amount of effort to evaluate and then reject.

If that was the case, then, perhaps Madden's treatment of the application might not have been altogether indefensible.

If we don't point that out, then I see a danger that the treatment of this application could be misconstrued as typical of heavyhanded Governments obstructing commercial developments and redevelopments by well-intnetioned developers who have the community's best interests at heart.

The far more likely reality is that Madden's department behaves in the way it has been caught behaving to produce detrimental rather than beneficial outcomes.

As an appendix, I am cross-posting a related comment I made to the discussion forum "Bye Bye, Bligh" on 19 Dec 09 on the forum website Larvatus Prodeo:

On Bligh’s failure to enact even minimal abortion law reform as mentioned by Craig Johnstone and Daryl Rosin, I would not be surprised if she were cynical enough just to leave the existing law in place in order to tie up the efforts of people who would otherwise be fighting privatisation or the Traveston Dam

In recent years our supposed democracy has become one in which so many straightforward things that should be done (or not done) as a matter of course by any sensible Government have to consume the weekends and evenings of people for sometimes months or years on end to achieve.

Who remembers all the time and effort consumed just to convince Anna Bligh not to proceed with her insane plan to entomb half of the Brisbane River adjoining the CBD at the North Bank under concrete high rise apartment buildings?

Any thinking political leader of good will would have yielded to the public outcry against this outrageous proposal in less than a day, but not Anna Bligh.

Whether she ever intended to proceed with the North Bank development or not, the time spent by community activists trying to stop this was time that could have been spent on a good many other critical struggles for conservation, democracy or justice.

No doubt leaving laws like the abortion laws in place has enormous future potential to tie up the time and efforts of activists.

The only sure-fire guarantee against such abuses by by such grossly irresponsible Governments is the introduction of Swiss-style Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda.

As an Independent Candidate, I intend to put that proposal to the voters of Brisbane and I encourage all other candidates to do likewise.

James Sinnamon
Brisbane Independent for Truth, Democracy,
the Environment and Economic Justice

Australian Federal Elections, 2010

(Less than 10 days after that I found myself banned from posting to Larvatus Prodeo, I believe as retaliation for my persistence in arguing my point of view on another forum. For more information, see Cyber-bullying, censorship, 9/11 Truth and Larvatus Prodeo (updated) on 2 Mar 10. I suspect it is also convenient to that site's owner not to have the kind of views, I have expressed included above, put.)

James,
Your defense of Madden's actions seems byzantine. I cannot follow it.
Could you restate it in logical points or something?

At the moment it looks as if you are defending Madden's apparent intention to pretend to evaluate something seriously whilst not doing so.

Please clarify what is it that you are actually defending.

Sheila N

Australians used to produce televisions, foot-ware, clothing, cars, machinery, food and many other items. Now we have been swamped by imports, particularly from China, displacing many of our industries, thanks to government free-trade policies. Our biggest industry, along with mining, seems to be building developments. Former factories are being turned into apartments, and houses with front and back yards are being developed into units. We have urban sprawl spreading out to where there were farms and native vegetation and kangaroos. Urban sprawl is threatening once fertile farming areas close to Melbourne. Our water useage and costs are soaring. This is because the big industry we have now is housing developments, and the subsequent need for people to fill them! Melbourne@5 million is unsustainable and unethical, and based on greed. Housing has become unaffordable, except for people already in the market. The growing need for "social housing" is because excessive prices of housing means that people are being locked out of home ownership, and a quality of life that made Australia famous. This quality of life is being marketed overseas, and will be eventually eroded.

There is little community consultation about new developments, and a very short time frame to answer to them. In the case above, the victims were the developers, where community consultation was to be falsified as a "no", but in most cases the bogus "consultation" with the community would have favoured the developers. Of course, any ridiculous planning submissions would be discarded at Council level, but the modus operandi of our Victorian government is to go ahead before the community have time to discuss it, or even be aware, or be invited to submit objections to just have them ignored.

The leaked document showing our government's strategy to manipulate public opinion to help them halt redevelopment of the historic Windsor Hotel could have swung the other way. It could have been a fake community consultation to accept the development, and this is probably more often the case than not.

Real estate developments have become the symbol of endless economic growth, and like population growth, are easily measurable and quantified, fast-track routes to worshipped "growth" at all costs.

Anti-gambling groups opposed the casino, built with lack of public consultation.

John Wilson, of Engineers Australia, said Victoria's desalination plant was an expensive, power-hungry investment that had been embarked upon without proper consultation. There was no proper public consultation process that provided input to inform the Government on the decision to build the plant.

Yarra Council lawyers argue that their recent clearways extension was illegal because Roads Minister Tim Pallas had signed off on it without proper community consultation.

Lack of consultation seems to be the modus operandi of our Brumby Government.

Brumby's self-imposed desal industrial overrun of a quiet rural Wonthaggi community, his belittling of Kinglake fire survivors, his prepossessed deals with donating commercial developers, and his carte blanche for native fowl poaching, convey an imported Westminster cultural dictatorship in action, or a unicameral presumptive autocracy.

'Community consultation' in Lib/Lab factional politics only exists in the expensive public documents of outsourced government consultants.

Australia's unquestioned and antiquated Westminster system lingers from mother Britain 200 years ago. On paper it is eulogized as 'responsible government', while in political practice discredited in Lib/Lab co-op party politics reliant upon cults of personality.

Some advocates for secure housing for those on low incomes and homeless are disgusted to see those with good housing use the system to slow or stop social housing projects.
Surely those with good housing are not just "using the system" to stop or slow down social housing, but are setting a precedent for and protecting what we all should be working for - ie good and secure housing?

The demand and need for "social housing" is a symptom of excessive population growth.
Treating the symptoms only for an ailment is just applying a band-aid and fails to address the ailment, the root cause - malignant population growth
The deliberate pumping up of housing prices, by manipulating demand and the first home owners' grant, is part of our State government's Melbourne@5 million plan, and ongoing population increase to 7 million by 2050. Increasing homelessness means stimulating the demand for "social housing", and our government can force their agenda of high-density housing onto the public, by stealth, by an artificially created need!

Erosion of living standards is a selling-off of what we cherish in Australia, and is a disaster for any back-yard. We need to protect our lifestyles and suburban housing standards from pro-growth addiction, not simply accommodate it.

NIMBY-ism good when it comes to housing, and protects us from inappropriate high density housing. The problem of homelessness needs made a public scandal, not hushed-up!