"In Victoria, this practice has started with Banyule Council's deal with Woolworths, who approached council to purchase an additional 828sqm of public land that wasn't on the market.
It introduced the influence of private developers over and above transparency to the public, and puts every piece of public land at risk. The Woolworths deal was well over 2 years in the making before it came to light. Imagine if you discovered that our parklands or even a local park was negotiated for sale 2 years ago - now is the time to act before the precedent is set. Public land should stay in public hands." (Excerpt from petition).
Please sign this e-petition to parliament for this very important issue and forward across your networks.
In Victoria, this practice has started with Banyule Council's deal with Woolworths who approached council to purchase an additional 828sqm of public land that wasn't on the market.
It introduced the influence of private developers over and above transparency to the public and puts every piece of public land at risk. The Woolworths deal was well over 2 years in the making before it came to light. Imagine if you discovered that our parklands or even a local park was negotiated for sale 2 years ago - now is the time to act before the precedent is set. Public land should stay in public hands.
If you are not familiar with the term "Unsolicited Proposals" and associated risks, watch this Four Corners episode on Crown Casino, Barangaroo tower....started with an unsolicited proposal. (fascinating, a must watch!): https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/packer%E2%80%99s-crown-casino-gamble/13366976
“That building should stand there and be a warning to us all…we should look at that building and forever know that we should never let that happen again.” Architect
Council are advertising this heavily and will not identify which other councils have contacted them. One example:
Planning scam, or should I say, planning scam juggernaut. The speed of so-called consultations for new development proposals is overwhelming democracy. No-one, except wealthy professional developers, with dedicated teams of staff, can keep up with the proposals. Maybe that’s the point. Still recovering from two recent surgeries, and on the heels of an unavoidable community organisation event, involving time consuming preparation and sequelae, I was looking forward to taking a break. I could see about 3 weeks of "clear sky" ahead of me, in which I could deal with an issue of mutual concern with my neighbour, do my tax return, prune the lemon tree, wash the curtains, and organise the hard rubbish for Friday. This feeling of relative freedom lasted about two days, before yet another "opportunity" for consultation from Melbourne Planning reared its head.
Or was it an obligation? This latest one involved a new parliamentary act about Public Land:
"Have your say and contribute to a project to renew Victoria’s public land legislation for the benefit of the community through the creation of a new Public Land Act." https://engage.vic.gov.au/renewing-victorias-public-land-legislation
I ran my eye over the document. The call for ‘streamlining’ and the reiteration of reassuring statements that ‘current tenures’ would not be disturbed, alerted me to the need to know what was going to happen to ‘future tenures.’ Of course, there was no clear information on that burning question. Just appendices talking about ‘sustainable’ use, to “enhance the natural, cultural, social, and economic values of public land.” Knowing that Victoria’s parliament always puts ‘economic’ values above environmental ones and any others, I did not like to think what the developers, who more or less run parliament these days, want to push through under the bleary eyes of community group members.
But this threatening document, albeit smiley-faced, is just the latest of many. Last year the Victorian State Government sought submissions on "environmental infrastructure for growing populations" and another one on "ecosystem decline," another on "A regional climate change adaptation strategy for Greater Melbourne," another on, "Waterways of the West Action Plan," another on, "Future of our forests". Making a serious submission is not just a walk in the park for a working person! Furthermore , these were highlights in an endless stream, which had begun as a trickle with a Plan for General Development (1929), then Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme 1954: Survey & Analysis, and Report (1954), Planning Policies for Metropolitan Melbourne (1971), Report on General Concept Objections (1974), Metropolitan Strategy Implementation (1981), Living Suburbs (1995), and gathered into a torrent around the turn of the 21st century, with Melbourne 2030: Planning for sustainable growth (2002), A plan for Melbourne's growth areas , Melbourne 2030 Audit [2007-2008], Planning for all of Melbourne [May 2008], Melbourne @ 5 million [December 2008], Delivering Melbourne's newest sustainable communities [See Amendment VC68 (July 2010)], Plan Melbourne 2014, Plan Melbourne 2017 - 2050 (2017), Plan Melbourne Addendum (2019). As well as this there were vast new tollways to connect new suburbs that never should have been built, and VCAT was transformed from a low-key tribunal where people represented themselves at low cost, to a high-powered, development-biased kangaroo court, defiantly serving the legal and development industries. All this affected public land, and changes were often spear-headed by superficially innocent ‘bike-paths’, and new sports-grounds, which so-called ‘environmental groups’ would try to bludgeon through.
The Melbourne City Council gains community input via its website under the banner of "Participate Melbourne." I have participated a number of times, on behalf of community organisations. Most people probably never hear of these invitations to submit [to fruitless pain] but, if you belong to a community group, particularly if it is concerned with the environment, somebody will bring each “opportunity” to your attention.
Repetition is forcing me to question whether these "consultations" are actually wonderful opportunities for my ideas to be carried forward. More and more they amount to tedious homework exercises to keep me quietly beavering away at home, unpaid, alone at my computer, away from my friends, the books I long to read, and facing a deadline. Occasionally I will let one go by, as it might save me a week of my life, when I can catch up with my grocery shopping, mow the lawn (yes, I am lucky enough to have a little green patch), and clean the windows.
Mostly however, I am a fairly compliant "environmental activist," dutifully submitting or assisting others' diligent efforts. What happens to our high-quality work? Usually, we agree to it being visible to the public, so it has to be of a standard that we would not be ashamed of, and which will possibly bring credit to the organisation we are representing. Are we listened to? Not according to the late Paul Mees, in "Who killed Melbourne 2030."
“Mees (2003, 2007) criticises both the content ofMelbourne 2030and the process by which it was produced,arguing that both the consultation process and the commitment to sustainability praised by the strategy’s admirers were shams. Although there was a very extensive process of consultation, this was not allowed to influence the strategy, which was written in private by members of the Strategy Development Division. And the strategic directions involved only a rhetorical, rather than a real, departure from the policies of the previous Kennett government, which focussed on market-led residential infill and road-based transport. Mees (2003, p. 298) predicted that the strategy would not survive a change of government, as it had no legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and did not deserve to survive, as it lacked substance and rigour.” [...]
“A series of ‘strategic directions’ ranging from the trite (Direction 8: Better transport links) to the completely content-free (Direction5: A great place to be) was presented for public endorsement. When people agreed with these platitudes – as if there was an alternative: worse transport links, or a terrible place to be, perhaps? – the Department of Infrastructure then treated this as endorsement of its actual policies and proposals, which were never submitted for public discussion or approval. An additional round of consultation to review the draft was proposed early in the process, but then cancelled without explanation (Mees, 2003).” ("Who killed Melbourne 2030.")
These “democratic” opportunities are becoming a burden and a way of life. My feeling is that I, as a member of the public, am being consulted because something valuable to the community, and to our environmental health, is about to either come under attack or be radically changed in some way. The imperative to make a submission within a deadline, and with proposals and deadlines coming down the planning pipeline at ever accelerating speed, puts members of the community in an invidious position. If we don't make a submission, it will appear that we don't care or we are asleep at the wheel. It's almost as though, if, under our watch, the government authority stuffs up, we have only ourselves to blame. But this is not so. In Australia, we have three levels of government which should be responsible for protecting their constituents from unfair, unsafe, overly rapid, intensifying development.
This constant need for public consultation, however, would indicate to me that they are not governing in our interests. Governments should have access to whatever expert advice they need in order to avoid environmental damage, yet it seems they are powerless or unwilling to prevent environmental destruction, rural or urban. Is all this public consultation the "get out of gaol free card" for ministers and public servants nominally at the head of planning departments that have actually contracted out their responsibility to private developers?
We know from successive government environmental reports that the Victorian environment is in steep decline. At the end of the day, when there is no wildlife, no native forests, and no public urban parklands, do members of the last government delude themselves with this declaration, "We consulted the public, and they obviously wanted to live in urban deserts?"
Or are we seeing a ‘tick-boxes’ to satisfy the community consultation auditor, whilst really satisfying the demands of mafias and triads in property development, that have got their claws solidly into government and opposition?
The unreasonable pace of 'planning' abets destructive development by overwhelming democratic participation
This trend to overwhelming community groups and individuals committed to democracy, with avalanches of consultations, seems like part of a cynical plan. The key to it all is the unreasonable pace. Something similar was burlesqued in 1970 in a film called The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. Politically agile polling expert, Michael Rimmer, finally extracts total power from the people by requiring them to engage in endless postal voting on trivial matters. They are so exhausted, that they finally vote to pass all power to Rimmer.
You can watch the movie on youtube here. Or you can watch Melbourne Planning. There isn’t much difference, although the film is funnier.
More information about The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_and_Rise_of_Michael_Rimmer “The mysterious Michael Rimmer (Cook) appears at a small and ailing British advertising agency, where the employees assume he is working on a time and motion study. However, he quickly begins to assert a de facto authority over the firm's mostly ineffectual staff and soon acquires control of the business from the incompetent boss Ferret (Arthur Lowe). Rimmer then succeeds in establishing the newly invigorated firm as the country's leading polling agency, and begins to make regular TV appearances as a polling expert. He subsequently moves into politics, acting as an adviser to the leader of the Tory opposition, and then becomes an MP himself, for the constituency of Budleigh Moor (a reference to Cook's frequent collaborator, Dudley Moore), along the way acquiring a trophy wife (Vanessa Howard).
Relying on a combination of charisma and deception—and murder—he then rapidly works his way up the political ladder to become prime minister (after throwing his predecessor off an oil rig). Rimmer then gains ultimate control by requiring the populace to engage in endless postal voting on trivial matters. At last, exhausted, they acquiesce in one final vote which passes dictatorial power to him. Ferret attempts to assassinate Rimmer as he and his wife ride through the capital in an open-topped convertible, but fails and falls to his death. (1970 British satirical film starring Peter Cook, and co-written by Cook, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, and Kevin Billington.)
 “Plans” for Melbourne have been coming ever thicker and faster. You can read about them via the links below:
Over the last 30 to 40 years, an inexorable process has been in train in Melbourne.
A city that once boasted houses with gardens for the majority has given way to the cannibalisation of our gardens in the interests of accommodating an ever-increasing population. Thus, we have seen increasing medium and high density living in our suburbs, with significant and ongoing loss of trees, other vegetation, and space per person. At the same time we have seen encroachments on public land for ever more residential development. To name only two of many examples, there was the Commonwealth Games Village in Royal Park and the Eastern Golf Course in Doncaster, which were both turned into housing developments. The State Government in Victoria now plans to facilitate development on golf courses, according to their definition by a committee of developers as redundant green amenity.
As a result of Melbourne’s increase in population density, our public transport and roads have been struggling to cope for some years. Passengers now only just fit onto trams and trains, level crossings have had to be turned into overpasses and underpasses, in a disruptive and expensive exercise, all over Melbourne. But still the machine which is Melbourne manages to tick along and somehow function. But, to what end? we may ask, as our quality of life steadily diminishes. If Melbourne's inhabitants are just cogs in a big complex machine, built for wealthy international investors in property and finance, then I suppose we have to say it has been a success …until now.
In the last several days a huge number of the "cogs" have had to be de-activated for an indefinite period . The machine can no longer operate as it has been. But the non-essential " cogs" cannot be simply put away in a drawer. This is because they are not actually cogs. They are humans with lives and with needs. The even larger machine of the Australian government is obliged to sustain them all over the country. There is no other way.
The health crisis due to coronavirus must make those in authority and with power question what we have been doing over the last few decades. What has been the aim of the direction that the new economy adopted in the last years of last century? What I have seen is an erosion of our quality of life in many ways, but the loss of land and space per person is the most stark indicator. Now, in the current health crisis that we are virtually locked down in, our living environment, the amenity or lack of it, in our surroundings, is highlighted. How does a person living in a small apartment take care of his or her mental and physical health? This person no longer uses the small apartment simply as somewhere to sleep after returning from work and an evening get together with friends in a public place. This is now "home". Does it pass the test to qualify as such, or is it more like a prison cell?
The corona virus illustrates the great importance of the availability of public space for the population. Yet the public space we now need to practice safe distance in has been greatly reduced by overdevelopment in Melbourne.
Moreover, we cannot always exist as a crowd. We must separate and have our own space. We are individual beings. For those who still have them, private gardens are of huge importance. Their growing rarity is of great significance in Melbourne’s ability to cope with health and social problems. Had the corona virus struck 30 years ago, a far larger proportion of the population would have had such a refuge. Tragically, these gardens have been taken from us, with the push to live more densely. I use the word "push" deliberately" as we have been pushed into it. Planning in Australia’s big cities has amounted to coercion since the 1990s, with loss of formal rights of objection to the massive changes forced upon us.
Many philosophers, cartoonists and commentators have questioned the purpose of our lives - the "rat race", the overcrowding. I am doing the same as this crisis shrieks out for a serious re-evaluation of where we are going. We are barely coping now so how will we cope with 8 million in Melbourne if we have another pandemic?
Documents tabled as the Committee proceedings were concluding countenanced a substantial reduction in the area of the Freeway Golf Course which is located near the Yarra River in North Balwyn. The president of the two clubs located at the course attacked the Committee process that left them unable to respond to the material.
That the Freeway Golf Course should be reduced in size sits nicely with the Victorian government's plan to substantially increase the lanes capacity of the Eastern Freeway, and to build a quite massive "spaghetti junction" to cater for the proposed North East Link. It is a threat always posed by major roads projects, which are inherently space inefficient relative to public transport. The Victorian government is not proposing any enhancement of public transport capacity in the corridor to be served by its proposed North East Link. If the North East Link were to be built it would, like all freeway projects that have preceded it, provide no more than temporary relief from current traffic congestion, and eat into a lot more green open space than the golf course in North Balwyn. The public transport services that do exist in the corridor can be truthfully described as no better than miserably inadequate.
The attached photograph is of the Eastern Freeway taken from the Yarra Bend Road bridge in Fairfield, about 10 days ago in the morning peak travel time. This is a delightful part of the world of extensive parkland except for the fact that it has a freeway bisecting it. If the Andrews government gets its way it will deteriorate markedly. The median strip, shown on the left of the photograph, was assigned to a rail service to Doncaster. The Andrews government now threatens to take it over for additional traffic lanes to cater for the North East Link. The photograph also shows four lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. A single train service can cater for about the same number of commuters as a freeway lane carries in an hour. You will also see that the left hand lane was unoccupied at this point. This is the T2 lane which is provided for vehicles with two or more occupants. Most vehicles driven in Melbourne have just one occupant, the driver.
In the last few days two quite significant things have happened. Melbourne City Council signed off on its new 10 year transport strategy, which proposes to remove on-street car parking in central Melbourne and to provide additional space for pedestrians, and active transport generally, as well as to facilitate public transport. The Grattan Institute has called for the introduction of a congestion tax for central Melbourne. These two initiatives demonstrate that central Melbourne is now full (of cars) and the situation is quite intolerable in social, environmental and economic terms.
The Andrews government is out of time. It is living in the 1960's, when the car was king. Things are different now, and the fight to defeat the North East Link, and for sustainable transport, is a necessary one for the present and the future.
Moreland Council rezones residential land as parkland for residents, but they have to pay dearly to get the land back off the development-mad state government. Still this is something that local councils should all be doing and they should collectively be placing pressure on the State Government to sell the land at non-market prices, or gift it. For some time the requirement that developers set aside parkland for each development has been commuted to paying into a fund so that council can reissue land as parkland more cheaply. Who knows where this money goes?
Cr. John Kavanagh of North West Ward, Moreland, writes that he is "thrilled to inform you that we have successful in purchasing the entire parcel of Outlook Drive land!!!"
"The section of the land that is currently zoned residential will be rezoned so that this land will be open space for ever!" He writes that he "called a Special Council Meeting last week where we resolved to increase our offer – this land has not come cheap!"
"I know that ‘success has many fathers and failure is an orphan’ and so many will claim success in this. I tell you as clearly as I can that the success is because of the efforts of [...] elected Councillors, our CEO (Nerina Di Lorenzo), Kelvin Thomson, Kaye Oddie, Peter Khalil and you the community more generally."
Wrong for State Government to gouge local ratepayers for this land
"As thrilled as I am," he writes, "I still think it is wrong that such a large sum of ratepayers money had to be used to buy land from another level of government. This has not been gifted in any way."
"Today was an important day as the Victorian Government went into ‘caretaker’ mode at 6 p.m. so this had to be completed prior to that or it would have waited till after the election. Council made it clear that if the deal was not done today it would be a key election issue."
This map is to give more detail for an article about the intention by the Labor Government to sell off the South East Outfall, which is a very large piece of public land that would create a perfect wildlife corridor as a complement to those fragments currently on private land, which also need to be joined. The map may stretch across print on this page, but the article associated with the map is at /node/5454
See inside for a fascinating video account of the history of the law on church land grants in Victoria. A North West Melbourne group is asking for support in their battle to reclaim land for a public park land given by the crown to a Baptist church which no longer wants if for a church. The land now has a value of about $15m and the Baptist organisation wants to sell it off for a dense appartment block. The residents feel that if there is no longer need for a church, the land should revert back to the Crown and citizens and the law seems to clearly support this (see the video). People in North Melbourne are desperately short of open space and need a public park. The church never paid for the land and broke the law many times since the 19th century grant in changing its use. The group fighting for the land to be made public again suggest several ways that you could help them. Editorial comment: There is a long history of churches acquiring land then speculating on it in western history, making them rich and powerful institutions, travelling under cloaks of charity with different tax status. Churches tend to encourage mass immigration and benefit from this situation like other growth lobby members with landbanks.
This is about a fight against the Eight Day church apartment redevelopment in our local neighbourhood.
We really need help urgently please.
Video clips have been produced outlining the Crown grant law and Transfer of Land Act law in the state of Victoria and how the Eighth Day church sect have broken those TRUST laws.
Our hope of stopping the apartment development now rests on getting our message out to social media and to the Attorney General of Victoria, to encourage the State Government to resume the land from the Eighth Day church sect and return it back to the community as an open park for the residents and visitors to North and West Melbourne.
There are 3 ways you can help us.
1) Posting the link for our video clips below and write something along with your post. To make it easy for you please feel free to copy any of the text options below to your social media page, also ask others you know on social media to assist us in our fight please.
a)Attorney General the Crown grant on the Eighth Day land in West Melbourne is no longer being used for religious purposes it states “it shall be lawful for persons duly authorised by the Governor or other officer administering the Government to re enter upon the land and to hold possess it as if this grant had not been made.” North and West Melbourne really needs a park.
b)Attorney General if the pastor and congregation of the Eighth Day church sect in West Melbourne do not continue to use the church land solely given to them for religious purposes, the State Government of Victoria has the legal right to step in and take back full control of the land and resume ownership as per the wording of the 1866 Crown grant. North and West Melbourne really needs more open space and a park.
c)Attorney General in relation to the Eighth Day church in West Melbourne, The Transfer of Land Act of 1958 clearly states in section 42, 2: the land which is included in any folio of the Register or registered instrument shall be subject to the reservations, exceptions, conditions and powers contained in the original Crown grant of land. It’s time the State Government resume the land for a community for a park in North & West Melbourne.
d)Attorney General regarding the Eighth Day church sect in West Melbourne, Act 391 of 1871 clearly states title to the land was issued to the denomination on the basis that the land remained subject to the limitations and conditions of
d)the original 1866 Crown grant and the land can only be used for a church and nothing else. It’s time the State Government take back the land for the community to be used as a park.
2) Post a link of the video clip/s and any of the text options above of your choosing onto our Facebook page or onto Martin Pakula’s Facebook page, and ask all your friends to please do the same please. However if his page blocks you please feel free to join our facebook page to keep up to date with our fight against the Eighth Day church sect and other happenings. https://www.facebook.com/NorthWestMelbourneVoicehttps://www.facebook.com/MartinpPakula/
"The proposed redevelopment (or "renewal" to use the Lord Mayor's term) of the Queen Victoria Market will cost $250 million. Does this signify the start of a new battle for inner Melbourne or has the populace been sweet talked by the Lord Mayor into accepting the demise of the QVM as we know it - and love it? And what are the traffic and transport implications for the CBD and inner Melbourne of this redevelopment?" (Submission from the Friends of Queen Victoria Market)
Submission from the Friends of Queen Victoria Market
I represent Friends of Queen Victoria Market, an active Facebook group with over 1300 ‘likes’.
In particular I want to speak on behalf of people like myself, the ‘customers’ who shop at the market every week.
• We spend hundreds of dollars at the market every week, and we do almost all our shopping there.
• Fresh produce vendors estimate we regular customers are responsible for 80% of their sales.
• We have ongoing relationships with traders and with other regular customers.
• The market is a significant element in our life and we are an important part of the market community – arguably THE most important part of the market community …
…. yet our voice has been lost in the consultation process.
We have been subsumed into a category of ‘visitors’ but we have quite different interests to the tourists and other occasional market shoppers.
Many of us made the points I make here were also made very vigorously in the consultation process but somehow our input has not made it into the final reports and feedback.
So I welcome this opportunity to represent our views.
Some of us have shopped at the market for decades and many are second or even third generation market customers.
We value the market heritage but we recognize that this extends beyond built heritage to an appreciation of the market as a trading and social space based on its functioning as a community space for small scale trading for over 150 years.
If the bulk of the present market area is remade as public space for events, pop up markets, curated ‘craft’ (just like so many other markets) and so on, the market will lose what is distinctive in its heritage, even if the buildings remain.
Our first requirement is that the market remains an everyday shopping place:
• We do not support plans to reduce fresh produce trading at the market to fewer, fixed stalls, as this will decrease quantity, range and variety of fresh produce.
• We do not see any benefit for customers in updating plant, storage, or trader parking.
• Increasing onsite cool rooms will kill the whole point of market fresh produce, as will extending the opening hours.
• Some members have suggested that changing the market from an everyday shopping experience to a tourist destination is a way of justifying reduced parking provision.
Our second interest is in accessible car parking:
• We travel in from surrounding suburbs because we appreciate the kind of sustainable, value for money and varied shopping currently available at the market but this is only viable if the market provides accessible parking.
• Better pedestrian and bicycle access is not helpful to many of us who buy 20 or 30 kilos of food each week.
• Others of us bring small children or elderly and disabled relatives.
• We support market traders who have told you that any decrease in the total number of parking places available (currently 1200 including on street parking) would be a disaster for them and us.
Finally we are alarmed at the lack of specificity in this Plan and that it is left to the Implementation Strategy which is scheduled for completion in 2016 to address a number of these matters.
This has left market traders and customers in a state of uncertainty in terms of their future plans.
Especially as the market seems to be being currently being run down, which some members believe is being done in order to support the case for renewal:
• There are many, many empty stalls.
• Unlike supermarkets or many other fresh produce markets in Melbourne, parking is extremely expensive.
• Recent vacancies in the iconic Dairy hall have been filled by franchises, not small independent traders.
• New initiatives that are supposed to revitalise the market like the Cooking School and Melbourne Music Week have not been well supported, according to some sources.
The market community, rightly or wrongly, has interpreted this running down of the traditional market as indications of a deliberate tactic to justify the repurposing of the sheds.
There is a widespread perception in the community that the main and indeed the only beneficiaries of the redevelopment plans are the developers who will access land within the Queen Victoria Market Precinct and benefit from the new planning rules.
Signed: Miriam Faine, Friends of Queen Victoria Market