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MP Clifford Hayes introduces bill to make VCAT listen to councils

"People have a right to a say in the character of their street, and their neighbourhood. The principle of subsidiarity, of devolving power to the lowest practical level, is important. It is indeed good for people’s mental health if they have a say, and bad for their mental health if they feel powerless. My Bill does two key things – it requires VCAT to follow properly made Council decisions, and it gives Councils, rather than Ministers, the last word on height controls. Hayes says, "At present VCAT is out of control. Its proper role is to ensure that Councils don’t act in an arbitrary or capricious fashion [...]. But VCAT behaves as a Planning Authority in its own right, telling Councils that although the Council wants a height limit of, say, 4 storeys, they think that 6 storeys would be better! Councils should be able to put in place mandatory height controls at a height acceptable to the community. The high rise buildings being approved by Planning Ministers are not in the best interests of residents, overshadowing them and turning Melbourne into a soulless concrete jungle. Communities should have a say in relation to height limits." (MP Clifford Hayes in speech to Protectors of Public Lands Vic. reproduced here.) (Photos by Jill Quirk)

Melbourne School Children Climate Change march - time to go local

The marches yesterday were really impressive, but there is a way that school children could be many more times effective in carving out their future on these issues. Australian and State governments are pretty resistant against democratic protests, and anyhow, our governments at all levels don't have much of a clue about what to do about providing energy to our increasing populations. Schools and schoolchildren could exert much more pressure and constructive effort at a local level and we hope they will.

UNSW: Recycling goes to landfill while technology sits idle

The effectiveness of recycling services across Australia is being seriously questioned as new research shines a critical light on waste management efforts. The findings of the first of a series of surveys by UNSW Sydney to better understand community attitudes to important issues, come as the growing waste problem around Australia and globally intensifies after a ban in January by China to no longer accept certain recyclable materials it had been taking from other countries. Most people, across all States and demographics, believe the recyclables they put out in their council bins are ending up in landfill.

Australia’s Angry Mayors: How Population Growth Frustrates Local Councils

Adam Creighton and Oliver Marc Hartwich
Centre for Independent Studies: 2011

The report is about local councils being at the coalface of population growth. Their ability to adequately provide basic infrastructure for more people will affect how Australians perceive the costs and benefits of population growth.

See also: Stop beating about the bush and talk about Big Australia in Sydney Morning Herald of 4 Aug 2010. Includes broadcast talk by Ross Gittins on Julia Gillard's election promise to reduce immigration

Flying Foxes: DSE and Council should do appropriate research before taking action

Update, 27 June 2014: Added links to other stories, including more recent stories, about the Mitchell River Flying Foxes, in response to more comments: Flying Foxes hounded from their habitat (July 2013(?), Environment East Gippsland), Council keen to remove bat-attracting trees (23/1/14, ABC), Chester backs push for Bairnsdale bats removal (21/5/14, ABC), Flying foxes torment Bairnsdale community like bats out of hell (14/6/14, Herald Sun).

Update, 27 June 2014: Other stories, including more recent stories, about the Mitchell River Flying Foxes: Chester backs push for Bairnsdale bats removal (21/5/14, ABC), Flying foxes torment Bairnsdale community like bats out of hell (14/6/14, Herald Sun), Council keen to remove bat-attracting trees (23/1/14, ABC), Flying Foxes hounded from their habitat (July 2013(?), Environment East Gippsland).

There is a breeding colony of grey headed flying foxes at Bairnsdale in poplar trees along the bank of the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale. It is now threatened by the East Gippsland Shire. This article, by Bob McDonald, contains a fascinating history of flying fox colonies in early Victoria, as well as some keen scientific observations. (Photos also by Bob McDonald.)

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