The Victorian Government's increasingly draconian controls over the Grampians National Park continue to be revealed. In recent weeks, Member for Western Victoria, Bev McArthur, has questioned the Andrews Government’s ‘set-aside’ regulations for the park which effectively reverse public access rights provisioned in the National Parks Act 1975.
"It is important that we fight. The stakes are high. Urbanisation has become like tobacco and fossil fuels. A lot has been written about the dark arts employed by the tobacco companies and their lobbyists, and the fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists, to muddy the waters and prevent the public from understanding the damage their products do to public health and to the environment.
You never know what you've got until it's gone. Key points: Excavation from the Riversdale Rd stone tram shelter for cycle route; adverse impact on many trees; 22 6.5m tall light poles with grids atop; 450 trees threatened; existing playground & picnic area for replacement with larger cluttered built area; overall loss of what makes us love Wattle Park. Details inside:
"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:
"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)
“Protecting Open Space in 21st Century Melbourne” - Speech to Protectors of Public Lands Saturday 26 October 2019 by Clifford Hayes
Thank you for the invitation to speak with you this afternoon and thank you also for the opportunity to represent you in the Victorian Parliament. I am aware that it is a great honour.
I want to congratulate the Protectors of Public Lands on what you do. Protecting the public domain is very selfless, unselfish work. It is also often thankless and difficult work. They’re not making any more land, but we are making many more people, and the resulting clash over the uses to which land should be put are becoming more acute with every passing year.
And of course the increasing price of land in our suburbs has made open space immensely valuable in dollar terms, leading to landowners including Commonwealth and State Governments looking to sell it off and make a real estate killing. Yet the population growth that drives the escalating land price also makes open space more valuable than ever AS open space – keeping our city and suburbs cool, giving us public places to walk, meet or rest, helping our mental health.
Just a fortnight ago the journalist Noel Towell reported in The Age that the State Labor Government is poised to massively ramp up its sales of publicly owned Crown land around Victoria, with more than 2600 hectares set to go under the hammer.
About 150 sites in Melbourne and country Victoria are listed as on the market for future land sales in a sell off that dwarfs the 533 hectares sold in the past 10 years.
Last week I asked a Question without Notice in the Legislative Council about this Report as follows – “Given the dramatic ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne as a result of population growth of well over 100,000 per annum and the alarming decline in Melbourne’s vegetation cover, will the government investigate offering these parcels to local Councils for a nominal amount subject to an enforceable condition that they are turned into, maintained and retained as public open space?”
I am well aware that people in this room have spent a lot of time trying to stop the State Government selling off public land, often involving Government agencies offering the land to Councils at inflated prices that amount to duress, and a scam, where the public is being expected to pay for land that we already own. The Minister’s reply was polite, but not very encouraging. That is why your work is so important, keeping Governments and their Departments and agencies honest.
I see the clash over using land for public open space, or for other uses – which are often in themselves good and socially beneficial, such as facilities for women’s sport – played out time and time again in my Electorate. I have the good fortune to represent a significant area of beautiful Port Phillip Bay beachfront, and that is an area of great conflict. We have proposals to add a large restaurant to the Brighton Life Saving Club as part of its redevelopment. We have a proposal from a café lessee to take over and develop an area where public toilets are located at North Point. We have proposals to extend the opening hours for a café/restaurant at Ricketts Point.
Each of these proposals can sound reasonable, and many of us like to eat or drink by the beach or foreshore, but their sum total is to kill off the connection with nature that is the very thing that makes the beach attractive in the first place – to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Unfortunately – and I think your late Secretary and driving force, Julianne Bell, grasped this with great clarity – there is hardly a blade of grass or grain of sand that isn’t being eyed off by someone who wants to make a dollar out of it or appropriate it for their own benefit. It’s not just in my part of the world – I know of the battle, for example, in historic Footscray Park, where the well connected Melbourne Victory soccer club is seeking to establish a large stadium in parkland close to the Maribrynong River. And of the Warrnambool Racing Club’s appropriation of the beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy to train racehorses, to the detriment of other beach users, particularly the endangered Hooded Plover.
Often when land is appropriated and vegetation bulldozed elaborate promises are made about offsets elsewhere. In my experience these undertakings are seldom honoured. For example 10 years ago when a previous State Labor Government expanded Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to allow for massive development in Melbourne’s west it said developers would have to pay a habitat protection levy which would enable the purchase of areas of grassland which would offset the development. 10 years later it has emerged that at the present rate of progress it will take the Victorian Government 100 years to purchase the amount of grassland it promised to protect at the time!
And just last week it introduced a Bill to amend the levy. For starters I am disappointed to read that the Habitat Compensation fee system is being renamed the Environment Mitigation Levy. It is the loss of habitat that is the core issue here, and we should never lose sight of it. I am also troubled to learn that property developers are talking about how well the Government has consulted with them over this Bill, when I don’t think it has been consulting with environment groups at all!
In my first speech to Parliament in February I set out my vision for Melbourne – to make it a great place to live, not merely a great place in population size to rival such places as Shanghai, New York, London, or Sao Paolo. Such greatness would be mere obesity, with all the disadvantages of such.
Not a city or a state where people are crammed into dogbox apartments, living on crowded and congested streets in an environmentally unfriendly concrete heat island, but a spacious city with open skies, open and tree-filled streets, with gardens.
Unfortunately this is not the direction in which Melbourne is headed. Since Australia’s migration programme was turbocharged and effectively trebled some 15 years ago, Melbourne has been growing at a rate of over 100,000 people each year, and is now growing at around 130,000 people each year. This has had numerous adverse impacts on our quality of life – traffic congestion, housing unaffordability, loss of vegetation, wildlife and open space. One of the consequences of Melbourne’s rapid population growth has been an attack on local democracy. Residents have lost their right to a say in the character of their street, their neighbourhood and their community.
Consistent with my election commitments I moved a Private Members Motion in May, aimed at restoring local democracy in planning issues and curbing the power of the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The Motion called on the Government to give more power to local councils to defend their communities from inappropriate developments.
In particular it called on the Government to amend the Planning & Environment Act so that VCAT was required to give effect to local planning policies, rather than just taking planning schemes into account. It also called on the Minister for Planning to implement mandatory height controls, rather than discretionary height controls, where Councils sought them.
I was delighted that this motion was passed in the Legislative Council with the support of the Liberal opposition and my crossbench colleagues. It is very unusual for a Motion to pass in either House without the Government’s support.
I believe there is a real mood for change in the community to fix a planning scheme which is biased against local residents and skewed in favour of property developers. I am now preparing amendments to the Planning & Environment Act which would give legal effect to the sentiments in my Private Member’s Motion. I believe these amendments would help restore the balance and give local residents a genuine say in planning decisions. I am encouraging residents and community groups to support my campaign for greater local democracy in the Planning & Environment Act.
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.
• The 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.
• At present VCAT is out of control. Its proper role is to ensure that Councils don’t act in an arbitrary or capricious fashion, for example by allowing one person to build four units on their property, and refusing to allow a next door neighbour with the same size property to do the same. 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.
That said, I am absolutely aware that giving Councils more power is not a silver bullet, and that Councils can and do make poor decisions.
• It is not true that people who oppose high rise are NIMBYs, or that they favour urban sprawl. They don’t want the high rise forced in ANYONE’s backyard. What the State Government needs to examine is the premise that Melbourne has to keep increasing by 130,000 people each year. That’s the issue that people are never given a say about.
• Melbourne’s rapid population growth, combined with enforced urban consolidation, has resulted in a paving over of open space and a loss of vegetation and wildlife, when in times of climate change we need our vegetation, front yards and back yards. Urban consolidation has turned suburbs into heat islands. Population growth has driven traffic congestion and road rage. It has driven housing unaffordability and homelessness, and population growth has driven the construction of high rise buildings which are full of defects and even unsafe.
• Property developers have done well out of this government sponsored building boom of the past 15 years, but ordinary residents have not. Their quality of life has declined, and it will continue to decline unless legislation like this puts power back in the hands of ordinary people.
A study in December 2017 found that high-rise living had adverse impacts on mental health. It found that sharing semi-public spaces with strangers can make residents more suspicious and fearful of crime. Many feel an absence of community, despite living alongside tens or even hundreds of other people.
There is a fear of isolation. During ongoing research into social isolation among older people in the English city of Leeds, residents of high-rise buildings reported feeling lonely and isolated – some were afraid to even open their front doors.
Many advocates of high density living claim that it is better for the environment and climate change than suburban sprawl. Studies have shown this to be not the case. One 3 year US study in 2017 found that living in a high-rise tower in Chicago was much less environmentally sustainable than moving to a house in the suburbs. Apartment dwellers consume more energy, spend more of their time travelling, and use their cars more.
In terms of embodied energy in construction high-rise fared even worse. The project found that high-rise buildings required 49% more embodied energy to construct per square metre, and a stunning 72% more on a per person basis.
As has been noted before, the most energy efficient building is the one that already exists. Unfortunately State Governments have paid way too little attention to this and have made it far too easy to demolish existing houses, even those of heritage significance.
The idea that high density apartments, which require more lighting and air conditioning, are more sustainable than detached houses, which can have solar panels, rainwater tanks, and front yards and back yards with trees, shade and open space, is contradicted by the evidence.
So what needs to change? In my view, it’s not complicated. Two words - local democracy. Give the local residents the power in relation to planning. The Planning and Environment Act 1987 was supposed to establish a framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria in the present and long-term interests of all Victorians. It is my contention that it has been changed by successive governments so that it does not achieve those objectives.
The bill I will present seeks to do this in two ways. First by directing planning authorities and VCAT to consider and give effect to local planning policies which have been approved by the Government. Secondly by allowing Municipal Councils to set real height limits, including mandatory controls, which cannot be undermined by either State Government or VCAT.
Under my bill the Minister for Planning will be required to accept Council proposals for mandatory height limits, rather than arbitrarily raise the limits or make them discretionary and therefore worthless, as he does at present.
The bill will also make VCAT consider Strategic Planning Policies developed by Councils. What’s more, it will instruct VCAT to give effect to such local planning policies as expressed in the Local Planning Policy Framework.
I encourage your members to contact your local Members of Parliament by phone, email, letter, or in person, to encourage them to vote for the Bill. And on Sunday 10 November, in the week before my Bill gets debated in the Legislative Council, there will be a Rally at the Elsternwick Plaza, next to Elsternwick Station, at 2pm. I encourage you to attend, and bring others!
My bill is a modest proposal that is intended to start the process of giving back planning controls to local communities through their elected councils.
I hope it will not only be a shot in the arm for local democracy and genuine community say, I hope it will act as a brake on rampant habitat destruction. The key driver of habitat destruction is population growth. Sadly environment groups seem to lack the courage to stand up and say this. One honourable exception I came across recently was Jeff Davis, Assistant Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat at a June 2019 meeting of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, who said “Population Growth is the Top Challenge for Conserving Habitat”.
He was followed by a Task Force Member G.I. James, who works with the Lummi Nation’s Natural Resources Division, who was prepared to tell a few home truths about the threat to the orcas –
“We’re worried about the population that’s going to be here in the next 25 years and we can’t even address the problems that are being created by the people who are here right now. We think we can have it all. We can have the roads, we can have our cars, we can have our businesses and we can still have those natural resources that depend on the very same things all that destroys”.
Indeed. I thank the Protectors of Public Lands for everything you have done, and are doing, to protect the quality of life in Melbourne from overdevelopment. It is often hard, unrewarding work, but it is very important in maintaining our quality of life, and not allowing it to quietly slip away.
I hope you can join my fight for a better, not bigger, Australia, and I and my office are always ready to assist you in any way we can.
Clifford Hayes, MLC,
Sustainable Australia Party
Southern Metropolitan Region.
Direct: (03) 9530 8399 | 0458 750 700
Business Address: 206 Bay Street, Brighton
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.
Dr Dimity Williams will speak at the Protectors of Public Lands Victoria (PPLVic) on 17th November 2018. Dr Dimity Williams is a medical doctor who is fascinated by the relationship between our health and nature, especially how time in nature nourishes the well-being of children. Dimity has been working in general practice for over 20 years and is the Biodiversity Convenor of Doctors for the Environment Australia. She is a co-founder of the Kids in Nature Network and Nature Play week, initiatives that promote the value of giving children the time and space to be in nature.
Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria Inc.
Annual General Meeting
Flemington Community Centre , 25 Mt. Alexander Road, Flemington 3031
Saturday November 17th 2018 at 2.00pm
With Guest speaker, Dr Dimity Williams
All are welcome to come and hear Dr. Williams will speak on
"Why nature-rich open space is so good for our health”
Dr Dimity Williams is a medical doctor who is fascinated by the relationship between our health and nature, especially how time in nature nourishes the well-being of children. Dimity has been working in general practice for over 20 years and is the Biodiversity Convenor of Doctors for the Environment Australia. She is a co-founder of the Kids in Nature Network and Nature Play week, initiatives that promote the value of giving children the time and space to be in nature.
Time will be allowed for brief reports of local issues and the meeting will be followed by afternoon tea. We look forward to seeing you there!
VicRoads recently closed down Hoddle Street for a week to work on streamlining the corridor. The project is expected to continue for the rest of 2018.
"Streamlining" in this case is a euphemism for increasing the capacity of Hoddle Street for higher volumes of vehicle traffic every day. Whilst dedicated bus lanes are part of the project the Andrews government intends that the overwhelming future growth in traffic movements will be passenger cars.
The project was previously under serious consideration by the Brumby Labor government which lost office in 2010. It was sidelined by the incoming Baillieu government which, at least initially, sensibly "parked" the project with a view to, at last, building a rail line to Doncaster Hill instead. That did not materialise in the wake of an inadequate analysis that contemplated a rail line from Melbourne CBD, not to the major passenger destination of Doncaster Hill, but to the "Park and Ride" at the intersection of the Eastern Freeway and Doncaster Road in Doncaster.
The fact is that increasing road capacity at the expense of public transport, as the Hoddle Street streamlining project does, is far less space efficient than increased public transport capacity. One fully loaded train carries about as many people as one freeway lane occupied by passenger vehicles in a whole hour. The successor Napthine government's favourite, if critically flawed infrastructure project, the proposed East West Link, would have sacrificed significant open space, including much of the priceless parkland of Royal Park for a "spaghetti junction" with the Tullamarine Freeway in Parkville.
Importantly, it would have also absorbed the median strip on the Eastern Freeway between Hoddle Street and Bulleen Road for additional vehicle lanes. As this space has for years been earmarked for a rail line to Doncaster it would have dealt a severe, if not terminal, blow to the promise of an acceptable public transport service for residents of Melbourne's north eastern suburbs who have no tram or train services.
As we head into this 2018 election year we have a deep obligation to put a stop to this freeway madness and the serial sidelining of public transport by the major parties. There is no sign yet, though, that they have heard the message. If the status quo were to be maintained we also face the future threat of further "streamlining" of Punt Road to the south of the current Hoddle Street project. Existing residential properties in South Yarra would be the victims of that exercise, if it were to see the light of day.
In addition to resurrecting the discredited East West Link project, the coalition also wishes to build the so-called North East Link from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway. The Labor government, if re-elected, would also build the North East Link as well as the West Gate Tunnel, a cosy deal which it hatched with toll road operator Transurban but did not declare in their election campaigning in 2014. The West Gate Tunnel is proposed instead of the adequate public transport desperately needed by western suburbs residents who the Andrews government claims to serve.
As part of the North East Link project the Victorian government proposes to add seven extra lanes to the Eastern Freeway between Bulleen Road and Springvale Road. The North East Link Authority, the government body established by the Andrews government to "spin" the project to the public has so far been mum on how this is to work. However, one thing is certain: Substantial public parkland would be lost, including much of the Koonung Creek Reserve. This Reserve, even in its current condition is a remnant of the extensive open space in the valley that was lost to the Eastern Freeway when it was opened in 1977 and then progressively extended eastward. Now they want more of it. The Reserve would be reduced to a "buffer zone" between the bloated Eastern Freeway and ever closer residential areas along the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen to Nunawading.
For its part, the West Gate Tunnel would feed more motor car traffic from the western suburbs into the inner suburbs and the Melbourne CBD in much the same way as the government's Hoddle Street "streamlining" project and the East West Link, if it were to materialise, will feed more traffic into inner suburbs and the CBD from the north and the east.
All in all the Victorian government seems set on filling up Melbourne CBD with cars every day in the same manner as the trainless Melbourne Airport.
It has been a difficult year for PPL Vic following the death of our longstanding Secretary, founder and driving force, Julianne Bell at the end of January, 2017. Notwithstanding this huge loss, we have continued the good work of PPLVic. See inside for details.
The PPLVic Committee has met 3 times this year and committee members have continued to work on issues in relation to public lands issues as outlined below:
1. Riversdale Park
Our current focus on this issue is a continuation of previous work. PPLVic maintains that a proposed cycle route in Riversdale Park threatens the amenity and safety of the park due to the considerable changes foreshadowed, including the bisection of the path for commuter cycling as well as removal of 7 trees and loss of 2 areas of parkland east and west. Anna Carina and Jill Quirk had a meeting with local state MP, John Pesutto, regarding this issue. He was sympathetic and said he intended lobbying with both local council and with the Minister involved for a better outcome.
2. PPLVic supported the Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway (RAMF)
PPLVic supported the Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway (RAMF) in their request for an EES for Peninsula Link extension in view of the project’s impingement on local wetlands. We have just learned that the group has been successful in obtaining an EES for the project. https://www.facebook.com/RAMF-Residents-Against-Mordialloc-Freeway-960553247333561/
3. West Gate Tunnel Proposal.
This industry-conceived and led project proposes major freeway and tunnel construction, affecting public land from the city end of the Moonee Ponds Creek through to Melbourne’s western suburbs. A submission and presentation were given to the West Gate Tunnel Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) on September 15th by Ernest Healy on behalf of PPL Vic. The presentation criticised the relatively poor quality of the public land promised by the developers along the foreshadowed freeway corridor, the damage to the remnant natural environs of the Moonee Ponds Creek and the diversion of scarce public funding to population growth led capital widening at the expense of adequate public transport investment and genuine economic renewal.
4. PPL Vic’s involvement relates to the proposed Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C281 applying to freeway apartment construction proximate to Royal Park.
The developer- initiated amendment would see the height of some apartment buildings doubled from the initial proposal height of 11 floors, leading to overshadowing of areas of the Park and significant loss of visual amenity from within the Park. Committee member Joe Edmonds has taken a leading role in formulating and presenting the case against the amendment, which would see high rise erected right next to remnant royal Park Wetland areas. Joe Edmonds and Ernest Healy presented PPLs Vic’s objections concerning this amendment to Planning Minister advisory and departmental staff on October 5th.
5. Protest action against undemocratic moves by Moreland City Council
Along with a number of other community action groups, on August 5th, PPL Vic participated in a protest action outside the Brunswick Town Hall, to express concern over recent attempts by the Moreland City Council to pass revised general bylaws widely considered to be undemocratic. The initially proposed bylaws would have made it illegal to hold street stalls, distribute hand bills, or hold political protests without a council permit. Council has since backtracked on this initiative.
6. Rushall Reserve, Fitzroy
On September 19th 2017, Fiona Bell made a submission to Yarra City Council on behalf of Protectors of Public Lands Vic Inc. regarding the proposed pathway through Rushall Reserve, North Fitzroy to which there has been a great deal of local opposition. It is currently a quiet cul-de-sac park with easy access from an existing bike path that enters the park. Last year the Council decided to make a 2.0 meter wide path go from the Rushall Station through the park over an escarpment above the Merri Creek requiring the removal of many trees.
PPLVic opposes this path, considering it unnecessary given the current access and close proximity of other paths. It will destroy the integrity of this small but important cul-de-sac park. Other important conservation issues include the destruction of numerous trees, including many large and significant eucalypts. They are habitat trees for birds and other animals. The migrating and critically endangered Swift Parrot has been seen in them. Furthermore the tree roots help to provide stability for the escarpment and no geological survey been done to assess the stability of the rock face.
The proposed path is also very close to the railway line. No mention seems to have been made concerning the possible danger caused by train derailments next to the proposed pathway, and these derailments have occurred in the recent past. Significantly it appears that no studies have been taken to determine the actual need for this path. No count of cyclists has been done to determine how many cyclists are likely to wish to use this path, and where they will be coming from or going to. The cost of approximately $600,000 is considerable. The fact that Rushall Reserve is also a culturally significant area and the site of the Batman Woiwurrung Treaty of 1835 has also been raised in opposing this project.
Unfortunately, the councillors voted with a majority in favour of the original location of the path, that breaks up the large open area and for the pathway to be 2.5 meters wide instead of 2 meters wide. Final plans need to be drawn up and permits obtained that will need to take into account all issues and practicalities and there are more opportunities for objections.
7. Port Campbell coastal public land
Committee member, Marion Manifold has been campaigning in the Port Campbell area to protect public land from specific inappropriate large scale developments associated with a push for ever larger numbers of visitors to the shipwreck coast.
Ongoing issues on the Port Campbell coast 2016-17 include a proposed $9 million resort on the Gellibrand River estuary flood plain (a wetlands of national significance) near Princetown. If it is built there would be: Crown Lands utilised to create road access and walking tracks; major earthworks potentially changing the natural river estuary system, potential septic leakage; risk to visitors from flood waters; and impacts on endangered fauna including Latham’s snipe, the Australasian bittern, Australian Grayling, and Southern Brown Bandicoot.
The community group works to educate on Port Campbell coastal issues including publishing an article in the University of New South Wales Law Journal special edition ‘Rethinking Climate Change and the Law’. The article gives a history of the 10-year Southern Ocean Beach House development saga through 6 VCAT hearings. An important part of the article and other articles is an emphasis on community expertise and involvement in decision-making. See article at: http://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/
A talk was also given to the Australian Conservation Foundation community program for the University of the Third Age on coastal planning issues and biodiversity advocacy and protection. Submissions were also made into the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan which encourages development of the Port Campbell National Park and Port Campbell Township, and submissions to Amendment C45 which proposes to change local planning policy advocating for greater tourism numbers and growth.
PPLVic-Annual General Meeting
The PPLVic Committee is presently organising the AGM which will be held on the afternoon of November 11th 2017 at the Flemington Community Centre. Apart from the core business of electing a management committee for the coming period, and an address by PPLVic Patron Hon. Kelvin Thomson we look forward to hearing ideas from members about possible future priorities, strategies and modified operation of the organisation in the changed circumstances. A formal notice will be sent out shortly.
President: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria
P.O. Box 197
Funeral service Friday, February 3, 2017 at 2pm, St Michael's Church, 220 McPherson St., Princes Hill, 3054.Written by Jill Quirk and Sheila Newman. With the death of Julianne Bell at 5.00 a.m. on Friday, January 27, 2017, environmental activism in Victoria has lost a formidable force and a fearless friend. Julianne was a committed defender of nature and of our right to "keep public land in public hands" through environmental groups such as the Royal Park Protection Group and Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria (which she founded). She sternly opposed the encroachment of development on public land, such as the Commonwealth Games Village (a real-estate development which took a large slice of Royal Park and for which 2000 trees were removed). For Julianne her best achievement was the prevention of the construction of the East-West Link, which would have shot through Royal Park in a protracted construction period and gouged a permanent scar. Whilst Julianne by no means did this single handed, her relentless efforts over weeks and months were undoubtedly essential to the eventual victory.
As well as being an entertaining and informative raconteur and friend to many, she was a great force for good in Victoria, a defender of nature and the major force protecting public right to public lands in the organisation, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
Although she was a staunch supporter of refugees and worked for years in a senior position with the Department of Immigration, she well understood the problem of mass immigration and how it contributes to overpopulation in Australia.
She was not media-shy, in fact, she cultivated the local media, seeking attention to her issues and would get herself to to wherever reporters and camera were waiting at very short notice, if called upon. She created media events to draw attention to her causes. To Julianne the important thing was not how she was coming across herself, but to communicate her message widely - so vital were her issues to her. She was well-known to the ABC and The Age and a frequent interviewee on 3CR radio. She was a long-time member of the Labor Party.
Julianne was a clever strategist and the power behind many successful campaigns over many years, although she knew the value of a male figurehead in this world where males carry so much more authority. She had friends among QCs, bureaucrats and politicians and commanded respect from members of the police. She would set up a picket-line to define the territory she was defending and she taught others how to defend such pickets. She cared strongly about native animals, native vegetation and the right of Australians to experience nature naturally, without concrete barbecues, bicycle paths and sports fields. She knew how to play bureaucracy at its own game and was capable of stopping arrogant politicians short with technical questions from unexpected angles. She became familiar with important technical aspects of the built environment and their impact on nature and quality of life, such as the effect of industrial scale artificial lighting. She made a point of noting and remembering names, a habit which often proved useful and was always appreciated.
Julianne was an important 'lay' politician, but many would not have understood this because she did not have a seat in parliament, although she was often in the gallery and the courts. Like many politically active women, she was guided by what needed to be done now, rather than a party agenda, so she fought for policy in the streets and parks, on radio, via the newspapers, holding meetings, writing reports and submissions, teaching others how to do so, trying to protect what our elected politicians should have protected. She was indeed a rare and immensely valuable human being, whose delightful sense of the absurd and merry laugh will be sorely missed.
Dr Greg Moore will speak on “The Importance of Preserving Trees in Urban Landscapes” at Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc's 2016 AGM at Flemington Community Centre, Debneys Park, Mt Alexander Road Flemington. If arriving early you can relax in the foyer of the Centre. in 2 pm for 2:15 pm start on Saturday 19 November 2016.
Venue: Flemington Community Centre, Debneys Park, Mt Alexander Road Flemington. If arriving early you can relax in the foyer of the Centre. PPL VIC is holding our 2016 AGM as follows:
Time and Date: 2 pm for 2:15 pm start on Saturday 19 November 2016.
Venue: Flemington Community Centre, Debneys Park, Mt Alexander Road Flemington. If arriving early you can relax in the foyer of the Centre.
Transport: Thanks to the City of Moonee Valley this is one of the most accessible community centres in Melbourne with a carpark at the front door; Trams - No 59 tram along Mt Alexander Rd and Flemington Rd. No 23 tram stop; Trains station on Upfield line nearby; and the Centre is on a Cycle Path.
Key Speaker: PPL VIC is honoured to have as key speaker Dr Greg Moore who will speak on: “The Importance of Preserving Trees in Urban Landscapes.” He is well known as Chair the National Trust of Victoria’s Register of Significant Trees and has been in this position since 1996. Many will remember him as Principal of Burnley College of the Institute of Land Food Resources at Melbourne University (1988 to 2007.) He was Head of the School of Resource Management at the University (2002 to 2007.) PPL VIC and community groups thank the National Trust for its work in protecting heritage trees and in particular the work with the recent campaign to save the Lemon Scented Gums in the road reservation in Flemington Road from the City Link Tulla Widening project.
Greens Councillors Amanda Stone, Sam Gaylard and Misha Coleman voted together with Councillors Stephen Jolly and Jackie Fristacky to give the go ahead to run a cycle path through a natural reserve. Trees will be felled. This was not a foregone result, since the decision was carried only by one in a 5:4 vote. The Greens obviously had a choice, but seem to have chosen to put transport ahead of nature in a very overcrowded area with little access to natural surroundings. This lack of interest in protecting the natural world and our access to it from overdevelopment seems to be an increasing feature of the Greens, particularly to the North of the Yarra.
Julianne Bell reports on this matter in a letter to Protectors of Public Land and includes the submission made by PPLVic to the council, which has been published with small adaptations, below. The pictures of the trees that will go were also provided by Ms Bell. (Intro to this article by Editor: candobetter.net)
Greens Councillors Vote to Destroy Rushall Reserve - Unique Parkland in North Fitzroy - for Commuter Cycle Path
At a meeting on Tuesday last 2 August 2016 Yarra Council considered the cycle path project proposed to be constructed through Rushall Reserve and along the escarpment next to the railway line. Debate on this controversial project, opposed by many from the North Fitzroy community plus parks and community groups such as PPL VIC, was reported to have raged until around 1 am the next morning.
To their eternal shame Greens Councillors Amanda Stone, Sam Gaylard and Misha Coleman voted together with Councillors Stephen Jolly and Jackie Fristacky to give the go ahead to this project. The vote by Councillors was 5 in favour 4 against. (Councillors Roberto Colanzi, Simon Huggins, Geoff Barbour and Phillip Vlahogiannis voted against approval of the project.)
Construction of this project will spell destruction of the Reserve as it will alienate about half the parkland and necessitate clearfelling of trees - 38 have been identified not just the 12 cited by staff. These are said to be the habitat of the critically endangered Swift Parrot. (See attached photos of trees on the escarpment along the existing goat track including the large River Red Gum which Council staff consider "might be able to be saved".) Apart from Boroondara, Yarra has less parkland per capita of any municipality in Melbourne so can ill afford to lose more.
Batman-Woiwurrung Treaty Signing Site on the Merri Creek
Also of great concern is the impact of the cycle path of the Batman-Woiwurrung Treaty Signing Site on the Merri Creek.
Consultants report they cannot find aboriginal artifacts (surprise!surprise!). This was the only known treaty signed in Australia between white settlers and the Aboriginal population. It is extraordinary that the City of Yarra has never moved to establish the site as one of national significance.
See below the submission made by Fiona Bell for PPL VIC at the Council meeting. (Same surname as mine but not related.) Note our campaign opposing the commuter cycle path through Rushall Reserve continues as does our advocacy for heritage protection for the Batman-Woiwurrung Treaty Signing Site on the Merri Creek.
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
PO Box 197
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.: Submission to City of Yarra Re Rushall Reserve Proposed Shared Bicycle Path
Council Meeting Item 11.1, Tuesday 2nd August 2016
I am making a submission on the "Shared Bike Path'' through Rushall Reserve (referred to as "the project") on behalf of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., a coalition of 80 groups dedicated to protecting and maintaining sites of environmental and heritage significance. I am qualified additionally to speak on the subject as I am a resident/ratepayer of the City of Yarra, a member of the City of Yarra Heritage Advisory Committee and a cyclist. Julianne Bell Secretary of PPL VIC sends her apologies for this evening.
I wish to make the following points.
I believe that NO cycle path should go through the Rushall Reserve, which is presently a cul de sac reserve surrounded by cycle paths.
The Council officers' report has established that there is a significant recent addition to the project plan not revealed before to the community. I quote from the report under "Feedback of Path Design" section. "It is highlighted that further recent feedback from asset owners, in particular City West Water in May 2016, means that any path adjacent to the rail embankment in the reserve (at one particular point) need to be located a further 2.5 m to 3.0 m further east (i.e.into the reserve) than is shown on the plan in Table 3 below. This is further outlined in paragraphs 30 to 36 below.)”
In view of this significant change to the design to the plan for the project, and the fact that the cycle path will intrude further east into the Reserve taking over more precious parkland, PPL VIC is advocating council defer any decision concerning the project in order for the community to digest the changes.
We are of the view that the project should be deferred for hearing at a future Council meeting.
Should Council be so ill advised as to proceed to consider the project tonight and make a decision, here are our arguments opposing the project. These have been raised before in our submissions:
1. There has been no assessment of the value to the community in terms of a recreation facility, only the profit to cyclists.
2. There has been no assessment of the environmental impact with clearance of native vegetation and the heat island effect of asphalting over parkland (should this proceed).
3. No consideration has been given to the fact that the Reserve including the Heritage Zone on the escarpment is the habitat of the critically endangered Swift Parrot, Lathamus discolor. A major factor for the demise of this bird is reduction of vegetation, especially eucalypts, as it is primarily a nectar feeder.
4. The cycle path is billed as a recreational cycle path but there is a network of nearby cycle paths which serve North Fitzroy residents. It is clearly a commuter cycle path and will serve residents of municipalities across Melbourne not only locals. To quote Justin Hanrahan of Council staff at a recent meeting on 16 June 2016 with PPL VIC that that a major purpose of the project is "to shave off a little travel time for bike users on the trail." It seems clear, therefore, that the proposed cycle path should be categorised as a commuter cycle path. It is designed to save commuter cyclists time in transit, although this would be only a very few minutes.
5. There is no data collection of likely users and of users of existing trails to justify the extraordinary proposed expenditure of $600,000.
6. The Cultural Heritage Management Plan is unsatisfactory. There is no real acknowledgement that the Batman Woiwurrung Treaty Signing Site is the only site in Australia where white settlers signed a treaty with the native population. The whole of Rushall Reserve and Merri Creek within the Reserve should be declared a national heritage zone not a transit route.
"The redevelopment and remodelling of the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) plus changes in its functions proposed by the City of Melbourne, led by the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, should be ringing alarm bells amongst Melburnians. This is one of the biggest assaults ever mounted on the QVM in the history of Melbourne." (Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.)
Report on Queen Victoria Market and Development Proposals by City of Melbourne 
In the early 1970s the City of Melbourne, with the support of the Victorian State Government, proposed to demolish the QVM and replace it with a combined Trade Centre, office and hotel. The Save the Victorian Market Committee was formed. Then Norm Gallagher and the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) . put Green Bans on the demolition of the QVM and guaranteed its survival from demolition and redevelopment. The QVM was put on the Historic Buildings Register. There is talk of nominating the site for World Heritage and it certainly fills an important place of Melbourne’s cultural heritage. Twenty years later, prior to his death in 2006, John Cummins (a former BLF official and then CFMEU official) gave market stall holders assurances that the QVM would be defended by the CFMEU should there be any retreat from agreements to save the Place. (This information paraphrases quotes from Dave Kerin’s history of the BLF.)
I have not analysed in detail the destruction of heritage should the City of Melbourne’s plans be implemented. It is certain that, however, that the current plans will destroy the social heritage of the QVM, maintaining the sheds as a kind of “Disneyland” market, which in the long term would not be sustainable
I thought it useful to look, firstly, at the fact that the QVM is possibly one of the biggest suppliers of fresh and processed food, as well as other retail items such as clothing, in the inner Metropolitan area. Dr Miriam Faine, who is a Convenor of the Friends of OVM Facebook group and who is alarmed at the changes proposed, says that the QVM currently supports traders who will lose their business if the development proceeds; offers a voice to market customers who shop regularly at the market (and are not 'visitors' but part of the market community); preserves the market as an every day shopping space for the people of Melbourne; and, she argues, provides a traditional market model with many small independent traders competing on freshness, variety, value and sustainability.
To the Lord Mayor and Councillors the market is just a show piece and a tourist attraction as they appear to have no clues that the market is an integral part of people's lives and plays an important part in supplying the metropolis with food. As far as I know the Lord Mayor of Melbourne does not live in the municipality of Melbourne and possibly has no experience of shopping for the family every week in the QVM.
The QVM is not just a market for the municipality of Melbourne but for a huge radius of suburbs. One reason that the Market serves this vast hinterland is because of the parking availability at the Market and also in the streets around, although complaints are made that charges are excessive compared to other shopping centres. There are 700 spaces at the QVM plus another 500 which are now under threat in the surrounding streets. It would be disastrous if they were removed. See the web page - http://au.parkopedia.com/parking/carpark/queen_victoria_market/3000/melbourne/ - which provides a run down of all available parking within reasonable reach for QVM patrons. There is certainly a case for retaining cheap parking easily accessible for QVM patrons, within the context of a broader objective of maximising space efficient and sustainable modes.
Public transport advocate Ian Hundley has made a great contribution to this report. His comments concerning transport have been included below.
With regard to the count of daily traffic numbers over the last 10 years for major arterial roads (Dudley Street, Peel Street, Victoria Street, Elizabeth Street) near to or abutting the QVM, it appears that these numbers have been static, or even declined, during this period. This is welcome news and confirms that Melbourne really only works as well owing to the fact that a substantial proportion of visitors travel by sustainable means. This is not the case with most of the suburban activity centres which are highly car dependent and face increased road traffic congestion as a consequence. The tram lines mentioned here in relation to the QVM connect with north and western suburbs.
An emerging threat for the north-west part of the City of Melbourne is the Victorian State Government's proposed Western Distributor which includes a feeder into the Melbourne CBD from the Westgate Freeway. Ian Hundley comments that he is of the view that, as this is a Transurban inspired toll road, they might well be looking to maximise road traffic numbers in this area.
We understand that daily visitors to/users of the market vary between about 22,000 and 32,000 with the greatest numbers being on Saturdays. Furthermore we understand that the QVM administration reports that a phenomenal ten (10) million people visit the markets every year. We do not know how many people visit the QVM as their one and only destination or how many people have multiple destinations on journeys within the CBD, one of which is the QVM.
It appears that the QVM, as currently configured, does not cater very well for the many patrons who use shopping trolleys, a design issue mainly. It is also an issue for public transport users in the area with no services on Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street being low floor. This will improve over time, but it is not happening quickly enough.
We consider it would help to get many more people onto public transport if a number of problems were addressed. For example, the Victoria Street tram corridor is not continuous which makes it difficult for quite a few people and there is no ready access to North Melbourne station from the QVM. Also, low floor trams would be a plus, especially for shoppers at QVM.
Finally with regard to transport and planning issues, I have heard that plans are being formulated by the City of Melbourne for Franklin Street to be closed; for QVM car parking to be removed; and for three 50 storey tower blocks to be built on the site. Franklin Street provides very useful access from Victoria Street through to the RMIT complexes on Swanston Street and through to the legal world in Lonsdale Street and William Street. Predictions are there could be disastrous traffic congestion resulting from the Franklin Street closure.
The QVM is seen as of central importance to people's lives enabling them to live within strict budgets. The food prices are the most reasonable in the metropolis. One is able to buy food items - costs go down in seasons of plenty. Also prices go down close to closing times so traders can dispose of goods. The QVM does not serve just residents in surrounding suburbs but also the international student population increasingly living in high rise apartments in the city. If a large part of the QVM is closed down then where will numbers shop? There are few Big Block Coles and Woolworths in the city. Many of the thousands of tertiary students who live in inner Melbourne seldom dine out. They need to watch their budget and want to shop locally and economically to cook at home.
Another point is that numbers of stall holders provide surplus food to “Second Bite” and charities so these services would be lost if the QVM trading were to be drastically reduced in size, as Lord Mayor Doyle’s “redevelopment” proposes.
The “deli” shops specialise in ethnic foods. The Greek deli shops, for instance, have a huge number of clients from the Greek Community from all over Melbourne. .
Also interesting to note would be just how many top City restaurants and cafes obtain their food from the market. I used to go to the organic foods section and encountered many restaurant owners/chefs purchasing fresh supplies.
My parents used to go every week from Camberwell for about 50 years! And I used to go to the QVM by tram when living in Parkville and North Carlton for many years. Many Melburnians remain loyal to certain stall holders and keep up patronage for a lifetime.
Queen Victoria Market is very special. For many years it been an effective antidote to mega sized, corporate retail food distribution and it needs to be retained as such for the benefit of the growing numbers of local, inner city residents including students, the loyal shoppers from the middle suburbs, as well as the visitors to the city.
There is a related topic which needs to be dealt with separately. It is difficult to imagine where fresh food will be grown given the rapid loss of arable food producing land with the spread of housing developments. The question arose some years ago when the Brumby Government extended the urban growth boundary to allow spread of residential housing into arable farming land. . Melbourne is now heading for 8 million population. Will we soon be reliant on imported food?
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
PO Box 197
Date: 3 July 2015
This article is slightly represented from the original letter signed by Julianne Bell for Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., which was entitled: "REPORT ON QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET AND DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS BY THE CITY OF MELBOURNE."
This is a report on Transurban and the Western Distributor and the Defence of Our Parks from Commercial Development and Takeover by Park Furniture. It also contains details of upcoming Transurban: Western Distributor - Information sessions through the inner west in May and June.
I. Transurban and the Western Distributor
Death of the East West Link
Yesterday I attended a meeting at the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Royal Park - the first since the election - and lost no time in reminding the meeting that the wonderful views of Royal Park from the Hockey Champions Room - the Conference Room - would have been entirely ruined as, had Napthine been elected, construction on the EW Link would have started by now. We would have been looking down on a quarry immediately to the south of the SNHC - 40 metres away in fact. This would have been the preparation for the tunnel under the Upfield Railway Line through to the Ross Straw Field in West Royal Park. Plus there would have been a construction road for trucks up Brens Drive right past the SNHC building and through the SNHC carpark into the area to the west of the Zoo which was designed as a construction camp and a carpark. It is a major miracle that the Royal Park landscape is still intact.
So again thanks to the multitude of groups and organisations fighting the EW Link and the Labor Government for terminating the project.(See attached Age photo dated 22 November 2014 taken on the location of entry to the tunnel on the Ross Straw Field.) But read on for the danger of the Transurban and the Western Distributor. Thanks to YCAT for the information - see YCAT website.
Transurban: Western Distributor - Information sessions through the inner west in May and June
Thanks to Berish Bilander, of Public Transport Not Traffic who organised the walk in Yarraville last Sunday.
Coming up are Transurban's information sessions. They say ""Drop in to learn more about the project, talk with the team and provide feedback" People are urged to attend! But watch our for the advertising spiel. We have had experience with Linking Melbourne Authority for the - in our view - highly misleading sessions re the EW Link. They consisted of lots of photos on walls and a few staff to answer questions. Transurban has already an advertising campaign on commercial radio and is even advertising on Radio 3MBS Fine Music Melbourne!
Details of coming public information sessions:
1pm - 5pm, 30 May 2015 at St Augustine's Parish, 61 Somerville Road, Yarraville.Melways Map Reference 41 K7
4pm - 8pm, 4 June 2015 at St James Old Cathedral, Corner King and Batman Streets, West Melbourne. Melways Map Reference 43 E7
5pm - 8pm, 11 June 2015 at Scienceworks, 2 Booker Street, Spotswood. Melways Map Reference 56 B1
9am - 1pm, 13 June 2015 at Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray.Melways Map Reference 42 E5
Mitchell Silver, New York City's parks commissioner, believes Melbourne's parks don't have enough attractions ("US expert says Melbourne parks are lacking attractions", 26/5). Clearly, he did not take the time to visit Albert Park. If he had done so, he would have witnessed how this park has been sacrificed by successive state governments for the staging of a taxpayer-subsidised annual car race. Would New York residents be happy if Central Park was offered up for a similar purpose? I don't think so. (Joe Erftemeyer, Caulfield East)
Parking it on the grass
Mitchell Silver said that Fitzroy Gardens "did not seem heavily used" and there was not enough seating. He is also quoted as saying: "What will happen is that people will either sit in the grass or keep walking." This reveals cultural differences between Australians and Americans. First, most of us are working during the day but we appreciate our parks as they are still active as the lungs of the city. Second, we just love sitting on the grass. If catering for the elderly or disabled, we folk will come prepared with fold-up table and chairs. That way we can enjoy the true bush atmosphere of Royal Park or the elegance of the historic Royal Botanic Gardens without their being cluttered with useless, dated and visually intrusive park furniture. (Lewis Prichard, Hawthorn)
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.,
PO Box 197, Parkville 3052
Video and text inside: Recently the Federal Government released another Intergenerational Report. It would be easy to dismiss it as a political stunt. After all the well-known scientist they got to spruik it, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, has now done just that, correctly lambasting it for its failure to talk about climate change. Any discussion about the future which leaves out climate change is farcical.
And these Reports, first commissioned by Peter Costello, are absolutely a Trojan Horse for the right wing agenda of winding back the social contract, dismantling the benefits achieved in Australia with a lot of blood, sweat and tears over many years, in health, education, and retirement incomes, which make Australia one of the best countries in the world to live in. They run a scare campaign about population ageing designed to convince us that our health, education and retirement incomes systems are not sustainable. Speech by the Hon. Kelvin Thomson, Federal Member for Wills, to the Protectors of Public Lands Annual General Meeting Saturday 18 April 2015
This is just not right. Population ageing is not a bad thing at all. Countries with older populations are uniformly healthier, wealthier, have longer life expectancy and fewer problems than countries with younger populations. The group Sustainable Population Australia recently produced some great work from the academics Katharine Betts and Jane O'Sullivan about this and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in this issue. My take home message about population ageing is "Don't worry, be happy!"
But is the issue of Intergenerational Equity important? Bloody oath it is. Do we want to be remembered as a generation that wrecked the planet and passed on an inheritance and legacy of unemployment, mental health problems, drugs, conflict and terrorism to the next generation? Surely we have an obligation to pass on to our children and grandchildren a world in as good a condition as the one our parents and grandparents gave to us. We do not have a right to trash the joint.
So how are we going so far? Well let's look at deficit and debt, the two Ds, a bit like Daz and Dee from The Block. It is true that we need to balance the books. It is true that leaving behind deficit and debt is unfair to future generations, who have to pick up the interest bill.
It is worth noting that countries with large populations and rapid population growth tend to have greater problems of deficit and debt than smaller countries, or countries with stable populations. Rapid population growth leads to overcrowding and pressure on existing infrastructure. Residents and communities naturally object to this, so in order to head off public objection to rapid population growth governments have to build new infrastructure. This new infrastructure is very expensive, and leads to deficit and debt.
The Queensland academic Jane O'Sullivan points out that maintaining infrastructure in a population growing at 2 per cent doubles, repeat doubles, the infrastructure cost for governments, who have only two percent extra taxpayers to pay for it.
We have seen a classic example of this in Melbourne, with the former State Government secretly locking Victorians into a contract to build a tunnel through Royal Park that would have cost $8 billion. Seriously $8 billion for a tunnel! I recently had Professional Engineers in my office giving this outrageous cost as an example of the way the public sector is being stooged by private consortiums. Victorian taxpayers have dodged a massive financial bullet as a result of the new Victorian Government negotiating an end to this contract. It is remarkable that the Liberal Party and its media and corporate cheer squad have the temerity and audacity to criticise this. To lock Victorians into a multi-billion dollar contract with a secret side note days before an election was the height of contempt for the right of Victorians to democratically decide our future.
It is brazen and shameful that they should criticise an incoming Government for delivering what it promised - no East West Link. The $340 million cost is entirely the responsibility of the Liberal Party for its secret and devious attempt to foist this project on the Victorian people no matter how they voted. Frankly they should pay the money, not ordinary Victorians. At the very least they should hang their heads in shame.
Let me return to the double Ds, deficit and debt. During the good times John Howard and Peter Costello introduced measures which damaged the revenue and pushed up deficit and debt. The fiscal time bombs they left behind for subsequent governments included abolishing tax on superannuation income, cutting capital gains tax in half, introducing the Baby Bonus - now thankfully gone - and ramping up Family Payments.
The Abbott Government has gone down the same path. They reinstated the Howard Government’s fringe benefits tax arrangements for privately owned motor vehicles, which Labor had cancelled, at a cost of $500 million a year. They cancelled Labor's 15 per cent tax on superannuation income over $100,000. This reduced revenue by about $600 million a year. They abolished the carbon price, at a cost of $7.6 billion, and overturned the mining tax. One country which runs a whacking great surplus and has no debt is Norway, which years ago introduced a sovereign wealth fund. People say Norway is fortunate because it has lots of natural resources. And we don't?
The legacy of deficit and debt we are handing down to future generations is not unavoidable. For example we have allowed companies to avoid paying tax on their income.
In one financial year just 10 companies channelled over $30 billion from Australia to Singapore and avoided paying tax in Australia. In that year, 2011-12, an estimated $60 billion in so-called "related party transactions" went from Australia to tax havens. Energy companies have established "marketing hubs" in Singapore, but their principal purpose appears to be as a destination to shift profits in order to pay less tax. A report by the Tax Justice Network estimated annual tax avoidance by the top 200 companies at over $8.4 billion.
And as for infrastructure spending, the property developers who are the beneficiaries of the increased land value that comes from population growth ought to be the ones to pay for the costs of this growth. I support the Labor Government capping Council rates. Pensioners shouldn't be the ones paying for population growth; the beneficiaries should be.
My friends let's now look beyond the double Ds. How are we really going? Is there really intergenerational equity? Not in my book. The opportunities I and my generation had - free tertiary education, lots of job and career opportunities, affordable housing - seem a distant memory for way too many young people. They are now fitted up with an axis of financial evil - job insecurity, housing unaffordability, and student debt.
Job security has declined dramatically. Back in the 1980s well over half a million 15 to 19 year olds had a full time job. By January this year the figure was more like 150,000, an all-time low. There has been a dramatic switch from full-time to part-time employment. Back in 1980 just 20 per cent of workers aged between 15 and 19 were part-timers but the figure is now about 75 per cent.
This might not be a problem if those same young people were also studying and setting themselves up for more secure work once they have improved their skills and qualifications. But this is not happening. Youth unemployment is now at its highest for 17 years. The number of long-term unemployed has risen dramatically in the last seven years, and is now well over double what it was in 2008.
Well-qualified young workers are finding it difficult to break into high-skill jobs. Many young people have to continue their part-time university jobs after they finish their degree. And those who do have jobs have less secure jobs. Three weeks ago the Saturday Age reported a worker who only knew if he had work when he received a text message just 15 minutes before his shift was due to start at a clothing warehouse. As a statement of the bleeding obvious, it is impossible to plan his day or his life around that kind of insecure work. It is a throwback to the work arrangements on the waterfront a hundred years ago, when dock workers would stand in a line waiting to be picked out for a day's work.
The rise of casual, contract and labour hire jobs, with far fewer protections for workers, is a feature of the last 20 years. More than 2 million workers are now engaged as casuals and more than 1 million are contractors or in labour hire.
The personal and social consequences of unemployment and underemployment are negative and long-lasting.
Experts say that young people lose their hope, their health deteriorates, they suffer from depression and anxiety, and they become vulnerable to drugs and crime. Being out of work for long periods can affect physical health, mental health, and future employability. The job market is now also tougher for postgraduates.
Young people are also getting the rough end of the pineapple in relation to housing. Whereas I and my generation had opportunities to buy and live in detached houses, high-rise apartment towers in Central Melbourne are now being built at four times the maximum densities allowed in such crowded cities as New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
These hyper-dense skyscrapers are being built with little regard to the effect on the residents within, or their impact on the streets below, or on neighbouring properties.
And as if these issues aren't big enough, this week a prominent Britain-based international mental health commentator, delivering a public lecture for the Queensland Mental Health Commission, suggested the modern rat race could be making us unhinged! Gregor Henderson said that across the world levels of diagnosed depression and anxiety, and the prescribing of drugs to deal with those conditions, are rising alarmingly. Mr Henderson said there may be a link between the way the modern world is structured and the elements of emotional and psychological distress we are seeing.
He said that if we keep putting such a high value on economic product, this leads to materialism, consumerism and individualism, which are mostly short-term benefits. Our modern style of living is out of synch with our mental and physical wiring.
I certainly think one of the contributors to increasing mental health issues is the loss of our connection with nature. Numerous studies have shown that public open space delivers tangible and important benefits for physical and mental health. Mathew White and colleagues at the University of Exeter Medical School found that people who live in urban areas with more green space tend to report greater wellbeing - less mental distress and higher life satisfaction - than city dwellers who don't have parks, gardens or other green space nearby.
A study from Norway says that health benefits from nature arise from nature's stress reducing effect. Stress, as is well known, contributes to cardiovascular diseases, anxiety disorders and depression. The American biologist E. O. Wilson says that because humans evolved in natural environments and have lived separate from nature only relatively recently in our evolutionary history, we have an innate need to affiliate with other living things. That is why the work of civic-minded groups such as the Protectors of Public Lands is so important, not just for us, but for those who come after us, and I congratulate you on the work that you do to protect our remaining public open spaces.
People aren't just unhappy with their own lives. They're unhappy about the quality of their political leadership as well. One of the defining features of modern political life is a pervasive loss of faith in government's ability to solve problems, or indeed do anything much at all.
Sally Young, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne, says we are living through a lost era of policy making. She says that politicians of today are suffering a crisis of confidence about whether their policy making can make a difference. She contrasts this with the difference made in the 1970s by Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.
So if we are failing future generations, and I am convinced that we are, what can we do about it? I think employment is one key. We need to get fair dinkum about full employment. Now there are plenty of captains of industry and economists who immediately change the language and the objective of "full employment" to that of "creating jobs". But they are not the same thing at all, even though they may sound similar.
The objective of "creating jobs" is used as cover for the desire to reduce workers’ pay, conditions and rights. It is claimed that reducing these things will increase labour market flexibility and thereby create jobs. It is also used as a battering ram against the environment, with the need to create jobs used to justify all manner of environmental atrocities. We should not agree to surrender pay and conditions or our beautiful and unspoiled environment. This would be the opposite of intergenerational equity.
So how do we achieve full employment then, given its importance? I think five steps are crucial.
First, we should wind back our migrant worker programs, which have skyrocketed in the past decade. In a stable or slowly growing population, workforce ageing will help solve unemployment. As workers retire unemployed workers or young people entering the labour force get job opportunities. This is how things used to be. But when we are running massive permanent and temporary migrant worker programs, the unemployed and young people entering the market find themselves up against ferocious competition from new arrivals. The size of these programs puts us on a treadmill. No matter how fast we create jobs we still have unemployment above 6 per cent. More than 760,000 Australians are out of work, a totally unacceptable figure, and a recipe for drugs, crime, mental health issues, even terrorism. As recently as the year 2000 the then Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock said that net migration may average out at 80,000 per annum. A funny thing must have happened on the way to the Forum, because his government subsequently increased it to over 200,000 per annum, where it still sits.
Second we should focus on education, skills and training. What has happened to technical and further education is a scandal. Back in 2008 political parties promoted the deregulation of vocational education. 'Contestability', that is competition between the public TAFE Colleges and new private training colleges, became the name of the game. They competed for students and for government subsidies. The idea was that competition would lift standards and be good for students. The result has been the opposite.
Private training colleges have been quite unscrupulous. Their interest has not been in the students, it has been in making money.
They get students in and churn them through. They have no interest in whether the students get the skills they need to find work afterwards. As long as the students, or taxpayers, pay them, they're alright jack.
Private colleges have cherry-picked the most lucrative courses, leaving TAFE to deliver the balance. The creation of a private market in education led to the appearance of education brokers, signing up people outside Centrelink offices with inducements like free laptops. Consumer protection has been inadequate.
And then there is the change towards "competency-based" training. Whatever the virtue of the theory, in practice colleges have put students through courses in a matter of weeks. Quality assurance has been absent. Trainers sign students off as competent, but in practice they are woefully incompetent.
What we can do about this? The Australian Education Union TAFE Division has called for a cap on the funding available to private training providers, with 70% of government funding going to the public TAFE institutes, and TAFEs and private providers able to compete for the remainder. The union is also calling for the abolition of third-party delivery, in which training providers pay external businesses to deliver training courses.
Then there are the universities. We introduced student fees and uncapped student places. Now the Liberal Government wants to deregulate student fees. This would be a disaster. When I went to University there were no fees and places were allocated on the basis of academic merit. If Christopher Pyne succeeds, the system will have been turned on its head. Academic merit and performance will count for nothing. Your capacity to pay large fees, or more commonly your parents’ capacity to do so, will count for everything. How are academic standards and quality expected to survive such an onslaught?
The explosion of international student numbers has damaged the integrity of the system. On Thursday the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption released a damning report which said universities are too financially reliant on international students to fully confront academic incompetence, poor language skills, plagiarism and even bribery. “Students may be struggling to pass, but universities can’t afford to fail them,” the report says.
Education needs to return to being about academic achievement and quality, not making a profit.
Third we need to back science. The 2014-15 Budget cut a staggering $150 million from the science budget, including a $115 million cut to the CSIRO. The CSIRO says these funding cuts will cause the loss of nearly 1400 workers, over 20 per cent of its workforce, including 500 science and research staff. We can't compete with the rest of the world behaving in this short-sighted way. And we should rebuild engineering expertise in government, and insist that companies building infrastructure invest back into the engineering profession, for example through cadetship graduate programs.
Fourth we need to back manufacturing. During the mining boom we acted as if it didn't matter if all our manufacturing went offshore. But to have all our eggs in the mining and agriculture baskets is, once again, foolish and short-sighted. Recent developments around the iron ore price reinforce this. We need a diverse economy, and manufacturing provides good jobs in the middle of society - not rich but not poor. It brings with it research and engineering expertise; the kinds of things that distinguish successful nations from unsuccessful ones. We should be wary of entering into trade agreements that kill off manufacturing and render our economy narrow and vulnerable.
Finally we should back the home team - Australia. Our personal buying habits, our government buying habits, and our foreign takeover laws should support Australian jobs and Australian industry. It is remarkable that when the Victorian Labor government says it is going to use local steel that we have economic commentators saying you can't do that it's a breach of our trade agreements!
We should have food labelling laws that spell out what food is Australian and what is imported, so consumers can make an informed choice. We should not enter into Trade Agreements that contain Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses or other provisions which act as a barrier to governments carrying out the wishes of the electorate on matters like these.
There is much that we can do which will generate full employment, and it needn't involve trashing the environment. But if we don't do it, then future generations will be deprived of the opportunities that so many of us have had. And the big question for us now is, do we want to be remembered as greedy, selfish, ignorant and short-sighted, or remembered as visionary, intelligent, compassionate and generous?
It is believed that up until two weeks post election 457 visa workers from Spain and their families were still arriving to work on East West Link. However the latest news is that the Authority behind the East West Link is being disbanded by the Andrews Government. There are, however, still many issues left over from the Napthine Government and East West Link that need to be carefully monitored in the area of environment, democracy and heritage.
East West Link News: The good news received yesterday is that Linking Melbourne Authority responsible for the East West Link is being disbanded by the Andrews Government."Authority behind the East West Link ditched" by Clay Lucas. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/authority-behind-east-west-link-ditched-20150107-12jg0e.html
This spells the demise of this monster project which would have been an environmental, social and economic disaster for the State. Many seem to be in a state of disbelief at the news. Few have been commending the Andrews Government for the action taken to wind up the East West Link. In our view its a bigger win than the Franklin Dam victory.
One activist has asked "Now just what are we all gonna do with ourselves this year? " There is plenty still to do re East West Link and other issues. And any win is temporary, any loss permanent as David Suzuki has commented, so eternal vigilance is the order of the day:
Priority Issues Re Winding Up the East West Link :
1 Royal Park Heritage The former Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, included the Royal Park on the State Heritage Register but spelt out exemptions to allow the East West Link to be routed through the Park, thus - in our view - negating its heritage standing! Our organisation and the Royal Park Protection Group Inc. sought legal advice and were advised that this matter could be referred to the Supreme Court but the cost precluded us from proceeding. We hope to raise this issue with the Acting Planning Minister. We have raised it already with the Director of Heritage Victoria.
2 Status of New Sports Facilities in Royal and Princes Parks. As you might be aware the City of Melbourne received funding of up to $14 million to fast track development of sports facilities in Royal Park and Princes Park to compensate for the forecast loss of sporting facilities on the Ross Straw Field in Royal Park with the construction of the East West Link. We have been extremely alarmed over the loss of open parkland for passive recreation and informal sports and the addition of light towers to the Flemington Road sports ground next to the Royal Children's Hospital and in Princes Park. As far as we know, a memorandum of understanding between Linking Melbourne Authority and the City of Melbourne was signed but given LMA is being wound up and that the East West Link will not proceed, is this agreement still valid? We are fighting the installation of sports lighting. The light spill and the towers themselves would have a detrimental impact on the environment, on cultural landscapes, on heritage and residential amenity.
3 Zoo's Territorial Ambitions to expand its Parking in Royal Park. As you may be aware the Zoo had negotiated secretly with Linking Melbourne Authority to alienate a great slab of Royal Park after construction of the East West Link was completed for its parking. We propose to pursue this question with Zoo management to promote public transport and alternative forms of transport to the Zoo. This has already been raised with the Zoo Director.
4 Immigration of 457 Workers to Work on East West Link. Rumour abounds that as late as two weeks after the election workers from Spain and their families were still arriving under 457 visas to work for the East West Connect consortium on the East West Link. If any one has information on this subject can you let me know? Meantime see photo taken in Royal Park by Age photographer Paul Jeffers of the East West Link opponents grouped on the very spot that the tunnel was to emerge into Royal Park Park on the Ross Straw Field. Work was to start on this spot in January until the Andrews Government called a halt to the project. (See photo in Clay Lucas' article)
5 Supreme Court Cases re East West Link. Don't think we have forgotten the stand that Councils plus Tony Murphy took over the East West Link. We have yet to hear when the cases of Yarra and Moreland Council and Moonee Valley Council will be heard. It would be great to get a comment on the final decision on the Tony Murphy case in the Supreme Court.
Source: Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria
This article thanks all who attended the celebration today (7 December 2014) to give thanks to the incoming Labor Government and to all who have campaigned for years to save Royal Park and the Zoo from certain destruction should the East West Link be constructed. The article also contains a photo of a concerning note left by East West Connect for a resident, requesting some kind of ongoing involvement in the link.
The Zoo celebration event was sponsored by MCAT - Moreland Community Against the East West Link, PPL VIC - Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. and RPPG - Royal Park Protection Group Inc. Thanks go to the Zoo Director, Mr. Kevin Tanner, who addressed our group and escorted us to the elephant "paddock" (if that is the correct name) where the curator gave us a great report on the Zoo elephants and their histories. (The Zoo waived entry fees for our group.) I hope Channel 2 ran a report on the news. We finished the visit with lunch at the Lakeside Cafe.
Note the photo of a child, Alexandra, dressed as a unicorn holding a wombat with the message : "Thanks Dan 4 Saving the Zoo"
The 'Dan' in the sign refers to the new Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, who said he will not go through with the
East West link, which the outgoing Coalition government was hell-bent upon. The freeway would have affected the zoo.
This photo and the photo of the group (where one person is still reading the message on her poster) were done by Jill Quirk. Thanks also go to Michael Petit for MCAT who spoke about the threat to Zoo animals by the East West Link. And lastly to Rod Quantock the MC of the event and President of PPL VIC.
One of the objectives of PPL VIC mentioned to Mr. Tanner at today's event is to have talks about promoting public transport for visitors to the Zoo and revive the plan for a special tram on the 55 Coburg line to be painted with Zoo animals like the old tram on the Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade line which existed 10 years ago or so.
Donations needed to help Cover Legal Costs Incurred over East West Link Plus Heritage Listing
As people might be aware, not only did the Coalition Government sign contracts before the election and prior to proceedings in the Supreme Court, but actually commenced work in Royal Park 2 weeks before the election marking out trees at the Tunnel entrance plus a construction road up Brens Drive and through the State Netball and Hockey Centre carpark. Our lawyer wrote letters to the East West Link Connect consortium demanding that they desist from marking trees and stop work. We are therefore sending out a request for membership renewals for groups or individuals and/or for donations. As you will be aware Royal Park was included on the State Heritage Register but then Minister Matthew Guy listed exemptions for the East West Link this rendering the heritage listing useless. We are now seeking legal advice to delete the exemptions thus ensuring Royal Park is protected forever!
What's Happening over Work on the EW Link?
Received today was a report by a resident in Parkville that he received in the mail yesterday (see attached) a notice from East West Connect. He rang today Saturday and they said they wanted to put a machine on his balcony "to record the sound levels from the City Link highway for a week"! He declined. Please advise me if anyone else has been getting notices from East West Connect. We will investigate. .
Disturbing News Re Possible Clearfelling of Trees in Princes Park.
According to a number of reports trees on the perimeter of Princes Park including the 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig trees and the lines of eucalypts are marked out with yellow paint and the ground marked in pink. This could signify complete and wholesale axing of tree cover. The City of Melbourne received $14 million for the development of sports grounds including Princes Park to compensate clubs on the Ross Straw Field when it was thought this section of the Royal Park would be taken over by the East West Link. So the question arises. Is the development of Princes Park going ahead under false pretences now the EW Link has been cancelled?. Does any of this development conform with the Princes Park Master Plan? A cursory inspection of the plan would indicate that all the existing trees are in the Plan. We will question Councillors and staff. Please if anyone can supply photos of marked trees let me have them ASAP.
Source of article: Taken from a report by Julianne Bell, Secretary
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
PO Box 197
Protectors of Public Land Victoria Inc. wish their friends a Freeway Free Christmas. For this they need your support. They need your financial support. Seriously, this is serious. Their battle is ours and yours, but it needs funding. See inside for more detail.
Attached is PPLVic's message for the forthcoming "festive season" and for the New Year 2014.
Card by Rod Binnington
"Our wish for the New Year is that you contribute to our legal challenge to the East West Link. The Royal Park Protection Group Inc (RPPG) and Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc (PPL VIC) have engaged a legal team who made a submission and who will represent us at the hearing of the Comprehensive Impact Statement on the East West Link at the Assessment Planning Panel in February or March. (We are the only community groups so far with legal backup.)" writes Secretary Julianne Bell.
Protectors of Public Land Victoria are the only community group to have legal representation at the forthcoming planning panel hearings about East West Link. PPLVic is what stands between the East West link going ahead or dying on the planning table. They have the expert witnesses it takes to convince the panel -of which more will be revealed in March. It will in fact take a month to complete the hearings. The whole of March. PPLVic has one day to itself. If everyone who cared about this sent $10.00 - the equivalent of three cups of coffee cost - PPLVic will be able to fund its case. So, please give yourselves an enduring Christmas present and Fund PPLVics defense of Melbourne against this attack of the concrete barons.
Direct deposit of donations
Important: Direct deposit of donations can be made to Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. at MECU BSB 313 140 Account No 23145714. or to the "Royal Park Protection Fighting Fund": MECU: BSB 313 140 Account no. 23145824. (Ring MECU for any queries on 132888)
Please distribute this request to your group. Its urgent - its DDay. PPL VIC and RPPG are putting up one of the last defences in the battle to stop the East West Link. We need your help
"Both the process and the discussion paper are undirected, unsatisfactory and of little help to anyone or anything. Nothing so inadequate has ever been seen in the history of Melbourne strategic planning."... "The paper generally avoids any discussion of how to intensify established areas while not destroying amenity, or even whether it is possible to achieve both objectives. It does not discuss in detail the major options for intensification, mentioning only briefly the capacity to redevelop large brownfield sites, and arguing that medium and higher density residential development should not be regarded as a problem. It states that “there are different ways of increasing housing density without undermining the valued characteristics of local areas” – what are these and why would they not destroy valued amenity?"(Michael Buxton, Professor Environment and Planning, at PPLVic AGM on Saturday 23 February 2013.
Professor Environment and Planning, RMIT University
The process of developing a new Melbourne metropolitan strategy, and the discussion paper prepared by a ministerial advisory committee, are deeply flawed. The discussion paper seeks ‘to help generate debate and discussion about the future of our city”. But the process is neither properly participatory nor informative. The discussion paper does not canvass well supported and evaluated options. No detail is provided on how public comment will contribute to the development of policy. In short, both the process and the discussion paper are undirected, unsatisfactory and of little help to anyone or anything. Nothing so inadequate has ever been seen in the history of Melbourne strategic planning.
Some earlier plans for Melbourne have involved years of research and investigation, and the modeling of options. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) strategic planning was exemplary for investigation and consideration of options, particularly the 1954 and 1971 plans. Later planning, such as by the Cain government for the 1987 plan and the Kirner government in the early 1990s, considered a range of options for the future of Melbourne and associated strategic issues. Seven major reports into such subjects as activity centres, sustainability and environmental issues were commissioned during the preparation of Melbourne 2030 and informed the final plan. No additional research or investigations lie behind the new strategy process other than normal government activity, such as Victoria In Future and the Urban Development Program.
Metropolitan strategic planning should be long term and bipartisan, and accepted by key interest groups and citizens. This will be the sixth strategic plan for Melbourne in 25 years, together with a number of other minor plans. A plan on average about every four years does not provide for either certainty or continuity. There is little sense of what the government has in mind for the future of Melbourne, how this relates to previous planning and what this means for the future of the city.
The consultation process has been inadequate. Another weakness in the process is the government preempting major strategic initiatives by prior policy and statutory decisions. This continues the approach of the former Kennett government to metropolitan strategic planning. Kennett and his planning minister, Robert Maclellan, had no use for strategic land use planning and did none. Their metropolitan plan, Living Suburbs, was little more than a promotional document. The real planning lay in the statutory changes to planning schemes which implemented their ideology of development facilitation as part of deregulated governance.
The Baillieu government through its planning minister, Matthew Guy, is following a similar approach. Guy has introduced new planning zones which further deregulate planning rendering strategic metropolitan planning obsolete. For example, the new Melbourne strategic plan cannot include a retail policy which restricts out-of-centre development because the new zones will allow it, much as-of-right. A new plan cannot limit Melbourne’s outer urban growth because governments have provided 30 years land supply on the urban fringe. Baillieu and Guy supported the former Labor government’s abandonment of the urban growth boundary as a major strategic tool and then in government expanded the area of Melbourne by a further 6,000 hectares. Clearly, the metropolitan strategy can say nothing meaningful about restricting outer urban growth.
All this means that the new metropolitan strategy must avoid most of the key strategic issues affecting the future of Melbourne. So far there has been little left to discuss in the discussion paper except for a series of general principles (‘globally connected and competitive city’), truisms most people would accept (‘fostering strong communities’), and platitudes (‘a 20 minute city’). It remains to be seen whether the strategy itself can actually develop a strategic direction with meaningful implementation tools. The signs so far are not promising. The strategy would have to improve markedly on the discussion paper. The choice is for it to either make clear the de-facto planning policy of government or convince the government to abandon its direction. The first option is unlikely – the government does not want its direction blandly spelt out or the people will know what it is really up to. The second would seem impossible.
The discussion paper outlines its objectives through five principles, what needs to change in two principles, and implementation in two more. Overall, there is no clearly stated vision. Long term intention is fundamental to strategic planning. An acceptance of growth is implied through the statement that planning needs to be for a city of up to 6.4 million people by 2050. The paper advocates alternatives to business-as-usual activity, but such growth is business-as-usual. It rejects the use of land use planning as a tool to achieve change, arguing against intervention through the planning system to achieve alternative future scenarios: “The Metropolitan Planning Strategy must move away from regulation as the primary means of achieving planning outcomes”, it argues. This diminution of government leaves decisions to developers and other private interest groups such as large retailers who will act primarily in their own interests. This concept of the role of government fatally handicaps a future strategic plan. Only government can plan strategically in the public interest.
Networks to regional cities are canvassed but no detail is provided about how this concept might be achieved and how regional development could lower the projected size of Melbourne. How much growth should be transferred to regions; should it be concentrated in large regional centres or some located in smaller regional towns along fast rail routes? There is no discussion of the necessary links between regional growth, access, amenity, types of regional employment, education, improved infrastructure and other services. Regional manufacturing, for example, is declining while Geelong and Ballarat are embarking on their own versions of urban sprawl in standard single use suburbs far from town centres.
The paper argues for a ‘polycentric city’. Shifts in urban strategy have become more common in recent years from the centre-periphery model focused primarily on reinforcing a CBD, to networked metropolitan connections to regional settlements. However, it is crucial to define the polycentric approach proposed, and the functional connections between networked urban areas. The discussion paper’s notion of a multi-centred city seems to include the CBD, a limited number of activity centres, a few innovation clusters and the whole of inner Melbourne. This notion is unhelpful and confused. The opportunity was available to the discussion paper to remove confusion about multi-centred activity centre policy. MMBW district centre policy concentrated on a limited number of activity centres. Melbourne 2030 made every large or small centre an activity centre. However, the discussion paper does not adequately analyse the notion of polycentrism, wants a limited number of centres but defines a large differentiated part of Melbourne (the inner suburbs) as one centre and allows a multitude of local activity centres to be developed. The inner suburbs include most advanced business service and professional jobs and employee residences and contain a large number of activity centres. To talk of the inner suburbs as one element in a polycentric city makes polycentrism meaningless. The paper suggests that many local mixed use activity centres should be developed but some of these already contain important concentrations of employment, retailing and housing. No suggestion is provided on the size of proposed clusters, what would happen in each, or when local activity centres might transform to major ones. The three examples given of polycentric innovation clusters, Monash-Clayton, Melbourne Airport and Parkville biosciences precinct vary significantly from each other. Only Parkville has reasonable public transport facilities. Melbourne Airport is a large out-of-centre retailing precinct and is an undesirable location for such retailing. Similarly, large freight and logistics clusters are located along fringe metropolitan freeways, a similarly undesirable trend.
The paper is silent on the destructive impacts of out-of-centre retail development on existing strip centres and other impacts such as on traffic. Any comments by the discussion paper on this issue are irrelevant in any case because the real policy and power is in the new commercial zones which will lead to extensive out-of-centre retailing and commercial uses and accelerate the destruction of strip retail centres. The paper does not properly analyze the differences between elements of what it advocates leaving a confused mess.
Global connectivity sounds attractive but what in practice does the advisory committee believe it means? The discussion paper is little help here, repeating usual mantras of links to a global knowledge economy without analyzing possible future trends and alternatives. It is likely that this century the cities which relate satisfactorily to their hinterlands will survive best. This notion is largely ignored. Lip service is paid to the importance of peri-urban diversity and agricultural production but nothing is said about how these assets can help position Melbourne to survive. By 2050 most peri-urban agriculture will have disappeared on current trends. A metropolitan strategy should state clearly an alternative pathway to business-as-usual trends to achieve desirable alternative scenarios. But there is no consistent vision of the future for the Melbourne green belt. The paper mentions its importance as a food bowl, but then adopts the Tourism agency dogma that existing zones prevent tourism development. The Baillieu government appears set to emasculate native vegetation protection controls. The paper contains no endorsement of the need to prevent such major changes to policy.
Its discussion about urban form is another unsatisfactory element of the paper. Melbourne 2030 attempted to shift a large proportion of planned outer urban growth to the established metropolitan area through the use of an urban growth boundary. It proposed government intervention to achieve a desired future end. The discussion paper canvasses no such options. It is marked by an absence of discussion on the major pressure points of the inner city, activity centres and outer growth areas. It is reticent on the problems arising from Melbourne’s continuing sprawl in single use, poorly serviced suburbs and on the need for improved urban design there. It says nothing about the need for much higher average densities in outer urban areas, higher densities around new town centres, and a mix of lot and house types. The paper farcically states that the “green edge” of Melbourne should be strengthened but ignores the spoiling effects of a 30 year supply of outer urban residential land on proper planning through prior expansions of the growth boundary. There is no discussion of the reduction of this land bank in the context of an overall strategy for the city.
In discussing a distinctive Melbourne the paper says little about amenity and nothing about the importance of heritage as a crucial factor in the identity of citizens and as an economic asset. Heritage means money – destroy it and Melbourne’s greatest asset is lost. The paper generally avoids any discussion of how to intensify established areas while not destroying amenity, or even whether it is possible to achieve both objectives. It does not discuss in detail the major options for intensification, mentioning only briefly the capacity to redevelop large brownfield sites, and arguing that medium and higher density residential development should not be regarded as a problem. It states that “there are different ways of increasing housing density without undermining the valued characteristics of local areas” – what are these and why would they not destroy valued amenity?
The paper also is another lost opportunity to raise and discuss seriously social issues associated with inequity, particularly unequal access to services, and a crucial range of housing issues including affordable housing. Simply put, the discussion on these topics is more of the same avoidance that has characterised decades of policy discussion by government.
What is left?
Avoiding the major metropolitan strategic issues leaves only a series of five general principles and some trite proposals. The principles are; a distinctive Melbourne; a globally connected and competitive city, social and economic participation; strong communities; and environmental resilience. None are applied to detailed discussion or practical concerns drawing out issues, options and conclusions for elements in a functionally connected urban system. The principles are not related satisfactorily to each other. There is no sense of integration of ideas around a unifying vision for the future of Melbourne, just a grab-bag of ideas gleaned from somewhere and placed in little more than a list. Argument, substantiation and examination of evidence are all lacking. A metropolitan strategic discussion paper should place evidence, information and argued positions before people, canvass well considered options and propose an integrated strategic approach for the future. It should link spatial concerns to other sectoral ones. A brief mention is made of the need to integrate land use and transport planning – this too is a mantra which has hardly affected practice in recent years. There is almost no discussion of cross-sectoral policy and integrated institutional and governance arrangements.
Then there are the unexamined proposals. Perhaps the most trite is the proposal for a 20 minute city. Has a less useful proposal ever been put forward as a serious contribution to policy? This is a substitute for policy, what is left when all the effective decisions about the future of Melbourne are made outside the ambit of strategy, leaving only a shell with a brittle crust.
Speech given at Protectors of Public Land Vic (Inc). AGM on Saturday 23 February 2013. Thanks to Secretary and chief dynamo, Julianne Bell, for providing this text and organising the meeting.
"I am just amazed at the breadth and the depth of interest and knowledge about planning in groups like this, so I don't understand - given that - how the government gets away with what it does."(Prof. Michael Buxton)
Metropolitan Planning Strategy for Melbourne - Con Job or for Real?
"Looking at some of the faces here, lots of you know a lot about the Metropolitan Strategy as it exists, and have done lots of work in planning. So I am just amazed at the breadth and the depth of interest and knowledge about planning in groups like this, so I don't understand - given that - how the government gets away with what it does. There is kind of something wrong in the way we all collaborate and mobilize, and I don't know how to get around that because the development community is brilliant at getting around it. It has its paid 'peak groups', like the Property Council, the Urban Development Institute. And they lobby and they walk into the Premier's office - and you all go and do it, you know, going up to Canberra in your own time - it's so much harder for you. But, somehow, keep at it, because it's incredibly important."
Signs of Growth Lobby infiltration in audience at this meeting?
At this otherwise excellent meeting, conducted by courageous members of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., it seemed that pro-development people may have secreted themselves in the audience to quell attempts to address the problem of the Victorian Government's promotion of high immigration by making it sound as if talking about immigration numbers was somehow indecent. It isn't. The government, the mainstream media, and the property development lobby never stop talking about it. It is out there in the public domain. It is core political business. Two people seem to have led this muzzling from the audience, which, sadly, appeared to be successfully intimidated or confused as to what was wanted of them.
There could be another explanation as well - that people have become confused by ambiguous media coverage of Dutch MP Geert Wilders' visit and now fear that criticism of any immigration will stigmatize them. The Growth Lobby, which owns and runs Australian public and commercial media, is easily able to ensure that coverage of such events benefits their cause. The aim is to restigmatize criticism of high immigration numbers by confusing it with criticism about ethnicity. This needs to be sorted out, pronto.
How come business, media and government can rabbit on continuously about immigration but 'we' can't?
As Michael Buxton says in his videoed speech (cited above), "there seems to be something wrong in the way we collaborate and organize." What is glaringly wrong is that the growth lobby members, including the government, the mainstream media, and the property development lobby, all talk non-stop about immigration and population growth but still manage to make enough citizens feel that they have no right to do so, thus totally undermining every effort to stop overpopulation and overdevelopment. There is something very wrong when planning activist groups fail to support each other's leaders, simply caving into intimidation by faceless infiltrators. Factionalisation of planning activist groups, with some cliques doing deals with government and purporting to represent the wider majority, whilst selling others down the river, is just what the government and the developer groups want. Our environment and democracy is too important to be sacrificed for narrow political ambition.
Resolution Re Metropolitan Planning Strategy for Melbourne (MPSM)
At the Annual General Meeting of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. held on 23 February 2013 at the Flemington Community Centre in Flemington the Metropolitan Planning Strategy for Melbourne (MPSM) was considered and discussed. It was moved that the resolution of this meeting be sent as a submission to the Planning Minister and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on MPSM. Here is the resolution:
That this meeting considers that:
1. The Metropolitan Planning Strategy for Melbourne should concentrate on maintaining and enhancing Melbourne’s liveability and sustainability, emphasizing the need to control carbon emissions, to provide for the effects of climate change, and to plan for peak oil and food security, acknowledging that social and economic well-being depend on a sustainable environment.
2. To maintain and enhance Melbourne’s livability and sustainability the following highly valued but threatened assets need better protection and expansion/enhancement:
• Public open spaces, parks, gardens
• Green wedges, including open space for environmental conservation, agriculture and recreation
• Our residential streets and suburbs
• Natural environment and biodiversity, urban parks and reserves, nature strips and private gardens
• Recreation and other community facilities
• Shopping centres (which are threatened by proposals to allow supermarkets in commercial and industrial centres);
3. More - and more mandatory - not less, regulation of developers is needed. (The Advisory Committee has suggested we should “move away from regulation” as the primary means of achieving planning outcomes, but we are concerned that this will disempower communities and Councils.);
4. Urban sprawl needs to be curbed with no more development in the growth corridors until adequate infrastructure is provided to service existing and proposed outer suburbs: developers should pay for infrastructure;
5. Infrastructure planning and provision should focus on improving public transport, particularly rail projects, including the lines to Rowville, Doncaster, Tullamarine and Epping and not on freeways such as the East-West Link freeway/tollway;
6. Melbourne’s green edge should be strengthened by:
• Protecting the green wedges for non-urban uses including parkland, environmental conservation and biodiversity, agriculture, recreation, open space, landscape and heritage values
• A clearly defined, permanent Urban Growth Boundary that makes clear where urban Melbourne ends and rural areas begin
• Retention of S. 173 agreements to allow Council to curb future subdivision and inappropriate uses;
7. More rigorous governance provisions are needed to prevent vested interests taking priority over the best interests of the community, including more weight to local planning schemes and a ban on political donations from developers;
8. The Planning Zones Review should be extended to allow adequate time for community consultation and for consideration to be given to curbing current discretionary uses that have been used as loopholes to allow inappropriate uses into green wedges and other zones; and
9. Protectors of Public Lands (Vic) is authorised by the meeting to write to the Minister for Planning and to the Advisory Committee for the MPSM conveying the resolution.
Moved: Rosemary West, Green Wedges Coalition (GWC)
Seconded: Julianne Bell. Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC)
Resolution carried unanimously after a several amendments were made.
You are invited to the official opening, the inauguration, of "Doyle's Dunny", a new toilet block at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville. Iconic vegetation and indigenous and Melbourne Gardens traditions have been set aside for the siting of this enormous new stainless steel super toilet. The inauguration will be officiated by Rod Quantock Acting President of PPL VIC, as MC. Venue is Gatehouse Street Parkville entrance to Australian Native Garden, Royal Park, at 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013.
PPL VIC: Official Opening of "Doyle's Dunny" Entrance to the Australian Native Garden Royal Park on Gatehouse Street Parkville at 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013 You are invited to the official opening, the inauguration, of "Doyle's Dunny", a new toilet block at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville.
Background History of Project:
As you may be aware, the Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne, The Right Hon Robert Doyle, The Chief Executive Officer, Dr Kathy Alexander and Mr. Ian Shears of Urban Landscapes have gone to enormous trouble to have a special sewer line laid to the site, an area at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden cleared of indigenous vegetation and the historic 120 year old pepper tree (known as a "peppercorn") specially cut back to accommodate this stainless-steel, super size toilet block. (It is believed this tree was planted by Francis Meaker the first Park Ranger and Bailiff sometime in the late 19 th century.) The Royal Park Master Plan which recommended a stand of lemon scented gums at this entrance of Royal Park, not a toilet block, has been ignored. The Council has a new policy re toilet blocks and has discarded the old cast iron model, painted Brunswick Green to fit in with the heritage streetscapes and Gardens. Instead we have a stainless steel up to date model. Note that the area behind the toilet block has been cleared to stop any "anti social behavior", to use the Council staff's euphemism. This model and location were apparently given a blessing by the President of the Parkville Association and the Branch Chair of the Australian Garden History Society. Unkind opponents have nicknamed the edifice the "Silver Tomb" and have referred to it as the "biggest blot on the landscape in Melbourne".
Official Opening or Inauguration:
When: 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013 Where: In front of "Doyle's Dunny" (the popular name for the toilet block) at the entrance to the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville. This is opposite the intersection of Park Drive and Gatehouse Street. Note that it is expected that the toilet block will be open for business next week, according to Council staff. Transport: Tram down Royal Parade to Gatehouse Street stop. This is on the corner with the Walmsley House and the easily recognised huge Golden Elm (on significant tree register.) Parking can be found in Gatehouse Street, on the blue stone semi circular driveway at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden and in surrounding streets. MC: Rod Quantock Acting President of PPL VIC will act as MC. Dress: Smart casual. Decorations may be worn. Contact for enquiries: Julianne Bell Secretary PPL VIC Mobile 0408022408 Photographs 8a is of the front of the toilet block at the entrance to the Australian Native Garden. 7a is the back of the toilet block.(Its not actually on a slope it was the fault of the photographer who did not have a steady hand.)The pepper tree photo taken before works started shows the over-hang which has been removed .. Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. PO Box 197 Parkville 3052
Julianne Bell (Protectors of Public Land Victoria) and Jill Quirk (Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) Victoria and Tasmanian Branches) met with Kelvin Thomson last week for advice on contacting Federal Election candidates regarding population and urban planning. They are very pleased to see that he has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.
Kelvin Thomson Member for Wills has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Trade in the Federal Government. See article in the Sunday Herald Sun. I have written congratulating him on behalf of PPL VIC. He replied saying he appreciates our support.
Last week Jill Quirk, President of Sustainable Population Australia (Victoria and Tasmania) and I saw Kelvin for advice about making appointments to see Federal election candidates to discuss population and related issues such as urban planning. It was prescient of us as this was just before the announcement by the PM of an election date!
Kelvin is very generous of his time with community groups. He invited a number of representatives to meet Mr. Roy Beck of "NumbersUSA" who is "an anti immigration crusader" on 1 January 2013. (Mr. Beck was in Melbourne only for a few days.)
See attached the paper by Dr Bob Birrell and Dr Ernest Healy, Centre for Population and Urban Research Monash University "Impact of Recent Immigration on the Australian Workforce". It was released today and reported in today's Herald Sun. Bob Birrell will be interviewed to night on Channel 7 at 6:30 pm.
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
PO Box 197
Click on the pdf link below to view Bob Birrell and Ernest Healey's paper.