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Mary Drost (Planning Backlash) complains to VCAT about the terrible job they are doing

Mary Drost is the convenor of Planning Backlash, a group with a network of 250 residents' groups, which last year held the biggest ever population awareness function in Australia. Recently VCAT issued a very limited survey for users to fill out. Many of the 250 residents' groups in Planning Backlash were formed through bitter experience of appealing to the law via VCAT. Here is what Mary Drost has to say, in her frank and concise manner.

Statement to VCAT re their survey [1]

I think VCAT is doing a terrible job and not at all what it was intended to do. I refer to the things that most people are involved with and that is planning. For a start you have never before charged people to speak at a case. Now, suddenly, we have to pay, and you don't even put the amount on the form called 'Statement of grounds'. It is very badly done.

Then we residents believe that your Members are the developers' friend and usually give developers whatever awful development they want. In fact you should only be assessing if the council has followed its own rules but instead you set yourself up as the Responsible Authority and that is not your role.

Further it is obvious that the developer's barristers are buddy buddy with the Members, the way they speak to each other. Further VCAT staff have told me that developers ask for the Member they want and that is disgraceful, they get their friend.

Further VCAT should have its own expert witnesses as the ones developers use are only guns for hire who have been known to lie for money.

Then it would be much fairer if the ones bringing the case spoke first. [It is] not fair that they listen to the objectors and then try to knock them down. They [the objectors] like to be the last to speak.

As you can see, I am not happy with VCAT and I am in touch with many people across Melbourne. People are very disappointed by this survey. It has not allowed people to say what they think about planning, very poor survey. You should do a proper one and let people say what they really think. I am happy to discuss it with you anytime. I am Mary Drost Convenor of Planning Backlash, a network of 250 resident groups, all unhappy with VCAT and very disappointed that this survey is such a non event. [Email address left out by editor]


[1] Some editorial changes to punctuation, spacing and capitalisation have been made for easier reading, since this was originally an entry in an online form.

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