Family Fun Day

Come and join the Ardeer and Sunshine West Community and show your support for putting the powerlines underground. Sunday 7th November 1pm, Ardeer Community Park, Forrest St. Click here for more information.


Save Reconciliation Victoria
The Brumby Government has defunded Reconciliation Victoria, without measures to build on its success. Reconciliation Victoria has created opportunities for indigenous and non Indigenous Australians to come together to share knowledge and experience in a spirit of mutual respect for a fairer Victoria.

Filming councils is in the picture
The media has the same rights to attend and film Local Government proceedings as it does to cover Federal and State Parliamentary proceedings. That’s the verdict from Victoria’s Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne after requests from media outlets to film a meeting of the troubled Brimbank City Council.


Reconciliation Rocks at IramooReconciliation Rocks
Reconciliation Rocks is a joint collaborative event instigated by Western Region Councils covering Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley, Wyndham City Councils, Melton Shire Council and Victoria University. The event was held at Iramoo Sustainable Community Centre in St Albans.
The day attracted around 100 people who enjoyed a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, free indigenous themed barbeque, music and dancing. We got to wander amongst the grasslands and wetlands of Iramoo and learn about the work for local sustainability and biodiversity preservation by this important local institution.


The Solar Suburbs Program
About 2000 households have signed up with clear Solar at the last count. I am so pleased that Brimbank is leading with at least 280 households signed up.

Foundry Towers at Sunshine
A planning permit was issued by VCAT following an appeal against Council's November 2006 decision to approve the development.
The development is for 3 towers, two of these at 9 storeys and one at 8 storeys.There are however a number of conditions on the permit that must be met before works can commence.

Former detective appointed to Brimbank Council investigation
The Victorian Government has appointed a former detective with the Fraud Squad, David Walker, as an Inspector of Municipal Administration to investigate potential breaches of the Local Government Act at Brimbank City Council.

National waste policy to be finalised later this year
A national policy that will clarify the waste management responsibilities of local, state and federal governments is expected to be finalised by November. Container deposit legislation does not seem to appear in this clarification.


Funding for “Green Gym” announced last week
Council made an application for $30,000 towards a $60,000 Outdoor Fitness Station at Isabella Williams Memorial Park. The project will be delivered as part of Council’s 2009/10 Capital Works Programme and looks to be a very exciting project.


Mayor Troy Atanosovski decided to not allow television media into the chamber. Click here to see Brimbank Greens media release.

Isabella Williams Masterplan
The Isabella Williams Masterplan was adopted by Council tonight. Please phone the Council on 03 9249 4000 to enquire about the document - it seems to be unavailable on the website

Sunvale PS – only the greens support the community
I want to reiterate my concern that there has not been proper consultation over this issue despite the ill-thought out process being undertaken to give up this valuable public asset.
Again I would like to flag an alternative resolution if this one fails
That is “That council authorises the CEO to write to the state government stating that:
1. The site stays 100% in public hands; and
2. That Council will conduct an immediate consultation with the Sunshine community”

When community members became aware of the possible sale, they were led to believe a separate discussion on the development of the site would take place. This has not happened.
Even though this letter says its preferred option is 0.8 of a hectare retained for public open space, it also says it is open to negotiation and does not stress the importance of us getting a better deal because of severe disadvantage.
It also concerns me that the report is saying we advocate for affordable housing without specifying what ‘affordable housing’ is. We all know that affordable housing can too easily mean a multitude of things – none of which have been properly discussed with this community that will have to live with any development that takes place at Sunvale PS site.
If we push this through as it is we will be missing an opportunity to work with our community and together lobby the State Government for what could be a great community asset.

Sunshine UDF
This is a really important opportunity for improving the walkability of the centre of Sunshine.
I hope to get to see it implemented because I think it has the potential to bring our community together and revitalise the life of Hampshire Rd.
Our community has had concerns for a long time about the importance of fixing the interface between Sunshine Marketplace and the Plaza. This urban design framework offers some really exciting solutions that will give the town centre back rather than an ugly shopping centre that turns its back to the street.
I am still concerned about what progress has been made in discussions between Council and Centro. They are still looking perilously close to selling off their shopping centres and we are relying on whoever owns the space to work closely with us on its new design.
Unfortunately we have privatised a lot of the public space in Sunshine and it has caused real problems when it comes to working to fix public amenity and attractiveness of the town centre.


Say no to CPRS
Legislation to establish a national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has been introduced to the Federal Parliament and the Government remains determined to pass the package of Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bills in the winter session. Of significant interest to local government is the amended Bill states that legacy emissions from landfill will not attract a carbon liability under the CPRS. Unfortunately the legislation is deeply flawed, and the emissions reductions targets upon which it is based are recklessly faulty.

Community Safety Meeting held at Council
I had called on Council to organise a community safety meeting. This meeting was attended by a range of representatives from Victoria Police, local MPs, Councillors, the Department of Transport, and Connex.
While it was useful from the vantage point of officers dealing with these issues, there was no invitation by officers to local community members who live in our neighbourhoods and streets to contribute.


Dr Richard di Natale Greens lead Senate Candidate
Congratulations to Richard on yesterday's announcement of his preselection as the Greens lead Senate Candidate for Victoria. Greens members across the state voted to see Richard elected in the next Federal Election. The Senate needs a Victorian Greens Senator.

Twice Richard came within 1000-odd votes of winning the lower house seat of Melbourne in the Victorian Parliament in 2002 and 2006. The Age reports that he ran second to John So in the 2004 lord mayoral race. Richard has contested the Senate in 2004 and 2007 for the Greens and is now well-placed to be the party's first Victorian Senator.

Richard is a doctor who worked in rural and remote health and an articulate advocate for action on climate change, biodiversity, worker's rights, public health and education.


Concerns re: Council budget process

Councillors were presented with a draft budget and a couple of rate options a while back at an earlier briefing. I am concerned as it came back to as a 6.5% rate increase after no discussion. The discussion on that night became heated and some members of the ruling faction walked out. Cr Maria Kiselis and Cr Heidi Seitz stayed however, forcing Mayor Cr Troy Atanasovski et al to have to return and resume discussions. It was put to the rest of us that there would be no discussion because they wouldn’t accept the higher rate rise figure and that they would tell the CEO to include everything in the lower figure.

The discussions quickly broke down again and people stormed out making any further discussion impossible. The next thing we know a revised budget of the lower figure + 0.5% was presented to us “as the result of our discussion” or “our decision last time”, when in fact the group had reached no such decision.

Have your say on the draft 2009/2010 Council Budget, draft Council Plan 2009-2013 and the draft Road Asset Management Plan, which are now available to view online.

The Brimbank Community Plan was endorsed by Council on 24 March 2009. A copy of the Plan and Local Area Plans can be found here.

The Solar Suburbs Program aims to help as many households ‘go solar’ before the Federal Government's $8,000 rebate expires on 30 June 2009. Find out more here.


National Ride to School Day
National Ride to School Day, held on Wednesday 25th March, was the biggest yet with schools reporting the travel habits of over 100,000 students. The day was a massive success with over 1009 schools registered - an 81% increase on 2008 numbers.
Hopefully each year it is held, more and more kids are won over by how much fun it is to ride to school. A great campaign for healthy transport habits and respect for people-friendly urban environments.


Regional Rail Link to go ahead
Last week saw a significant new investment in public transport, with the State securing over $6 billion for projects. Demonstrating its commitment to deliver on the $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan, the State allocated over $3 billion for pub-lic transport projects in its 2009-10 Budget including the long-awaited extension of the Epping Rail Line to South Morang and a significant boost for network operations with the upcoming delivery of 20 new trains. Following the State Government's announcement, the Federal Government allocated $3.2 billion for the Regional Rail Link from the Building Australia Fund which will be the most significant public transport project undertaken in the state since the City Loop was constructed in the 1970s.


Development Assessment Committees
The Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, announced today Amendment VC56 will take effect from Friday.
The amendment makes him the planning authority for all Commonwealth “Social Housing Initiative” and “Building Education Revolution” projects. Whilst the school projects will be on school land and probably won't have any impact on local amenity, it denies the community any say in how they wish to see these projects develop.

The social housing initiatives are a big worry too. Firstly, it remains unhelpfully vague what is meant by 'social housing'. Are we talking developers building cheap and nasty units and houses on tiny blocks of land that will be sold off at market prices? Are we talking about supported accommodation? If so, what sort of support and services will be provided? Are we talking public housing? If so, are we talking about ghettos of people with high levels of disadvantage being lumped together?

We, the community need to be a part of these discussions and let it be known that we want high quality public housing that is of a standard any Australian would be proud to live in. So that living costs and environmental sensitivity are factored into the design and where people on very low incomes live side by side with middle class people with skills to lobby government for improved services. They must have high quality open space and playgrounds, a town centre (not a shopping centre) and have all the other facilities and services such as schools, community centres, and community health centres within easy walking distance.

Greens Call for New Elections at Brimbank Council. - Letter to the Age


Adele Carles - Stunning Result in Fremantle By-Election
The Victorian Greens congratulate The Greens (WA) and candidate Adele Carles who has won an historic by-election in Fremantle.
Adele made history on the evening of Saturday 16 May 2009, becoming the first ever Greens candidate to win a Lower House seat in any State Parliament in Australia.
It is the first time the Greens have beaten the ALP on primary votes. And we're looking forward to many more such occasions.
“The people of Fremantle have put the port city on the map, giving the Greens their first seat in the WA Legislative Assembly,” Adele said at the election night party.
“This is a victory for democracy. We have forever shattered the two-party myth in Australia. The voice of the community has finally come through in Fremantle. People have dared to look beyond the old parties which have continually let us down. It has shaken the dominance of the old parties and sends a strong message around the country that people are ready for change. What we have seen tonight makes history, but it is also the shape of the future. Fremantle is going to be Australia’s first truly green city.”


10 cents can change the world
Today saw Greens MLC, Colleen Hartland, present over 4000 postcards to the Minister for the Environment supporting the Greens Container Deposit Legislation.

A Green New Deal for Victoria
Friends of the Earth are putting together a paper, A Green New Deal for Victoria. It is a first attempt to articulate how we think Victoria can and should respond to the coming crisis of the recession, climate change and peak oil. They have done this as a blog to invite your feedback and involvement in developing this document. There is a huge amount of excellent thinking in the community about how to deal with these issues, and this is an attempt at collaborative, community-based approaches to developing solutions. FoE welcome your thoughts and suggestions on how to improve this document. Please send feedback before May 18. You can find it at:


St Aloysius College
I spoke to a group of year 10 students today about the role of a councillor. They were an impressive bunch and visits like these are one of the more fun things I get to do as a councillor.

Federal Budget
On Tuesday evening the Rudd Government unveiled their second Federal Budget.It includes a number of items relevant to Brimbank:
• Regional rail link funding of $3.2 Billion
• Kings Rd interchange to be completed by 2013
• East west rail tunnel, $40M to commence the project
To the relief of a lot of Australian households, the Rudd Government did not issue a surprise announcement withdrawing the Solar PV $8000 rebate (Solar Homes and Communities Plan)

Climate action on pause – without or without CPRS
Australia needs real domestic action on climate change. Unfortunately, the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is deeply flawed. The Government has announced that it will delay the Scheme by one year and deliver another $2.2 billion in compensation to Australia’s biggest polluters—in addition to $7.4 billion the polluters are already gifted with Australian taxpayers money. Meanwhile paltry targets lock the country into dangerous levels of emissions.

Lantrak Fined
The EPA have fined Lantrak Pty Ltd $5671 for dumping almost 1,500m3 of acid sulphate soil* at a clean fill site at Carrington Drive, St Albans.

*“Acid sulphate soils produce sulfuric acid which release toxic quantities of iron, aluminium and heavy metals into surface water, groundwater and other soil.”


On developments from the Ombudsman’s report
Council has had its first meeting with the municipal inspector Bill Scales (who is currently also Chair of the Port of Melbourne Corporation and Chancellor of Swinburne University). This meeting was held on Tuesday night following the planning meeting. Bill seems to be personable and capable, but still too close to the ALP and its interests. I suspect he confuse the pressure to quietening things down for Labor and restoring good governance, such is the culture of the place. Watch this space.

We have another meeting with Alison Lyons and Rob Spence from the MAV tonight which I imagine will focus on the issues we would like to air concerning governance and up skilling of councillors. I must say I am interested in having full and frank discussions about democratic process, the ethical and moral responsibilities councillors should feel as elected representatives, the importance of genuine representation of our community and the place of factions. Let’s see how we go!

A lot of the local press has been transfixed on the Ombudsman’s report; almost all of it is in calling for the sacking of the Council. My predecessor Miles Dymott and I have been the only ones fighting this self-interested behaviour of the Labor Party – but this is hardly recognised by the papers as newsworthy. Genuine informed debate to redefine elected representation in our region is still lacking, as is analysis of the depth of rot in Council’s governance structures. Although I was heartened to see one letter stating there is one councillor who is not corrupt!

I’m looking to outline again what it has meant to have a Green on Council. Miles achieved many things in his term on Council including consistently standing up to the abusive behaviour of the ruling faction towards both him and toward the community. For our community Miles fought successfully to restore funding to Sunshine’s pool redevelopment, our parks and our bike paths. He championed the redesign of the Sunshine shopping precinct and has always defended environmental initiatives, local environment groups, community groups and sporting groups.
The pair of us work consistently to oppose inappropriate housing development, to support policy and strategy that promotes a more democratic, healthy and environmentally sustainable outcomes for the Brimbank community. We hope many others will continue to join us in the coming months.

The Ombudsman’s Report – analysis in brief
· The Government dodged and weaved (before, during and after the release of the Ombudsman’s report) until it was impossible not to finally take the appropriate action. The continued reluctance to face the electorate speaks volumes.
· Whilst I welcome the report – which exposes the underbelly of Brimbank Councillors and the Labor MPs who have been exposed as their puppeteers – it is limited by a narrow terms of reference.
· In light of what has been inflicted on the community – by greed, ambition and factional in-fighting – the recommendations do not go far enough.
· None of the recommendations will trigger a culture change. That is what Brimbank Council needs. A complete clean slate and a shared understanding of what their role as Council are.
· The Brumby Government needs to restore democracy in the western suburbs. And I am under no illusion that this is an isolated case. Other Councils, documented in Hansard, have been either in need of scrutiny or have been scrutinised in the past: Glen Eira, Geelong, Banyule.


Planning and Environment Act Review.
At Tuesday’s planning meeting I supported a submission by Council to the Planning and Environment Act Review.
The Victorian government is reviewing the Planning and Environment Act, which came into being in 1987 under the former Cain Labor government, replacing the Town and Country Planning Act. In early 2008, the government flagged its intention to review the P&E Act. The Act is the legislation which underpins planning schemes, planning decisions, appeals to VCAT, planning panels and all land use and development in Victoria. What's in and not in the Act, and its successor Act, affects all Victorians.
To kick off the review, the government has released the Planning and Environment Act Review discussion paper, and submissions were due by 1 May 2009.
Brimbank Council has just finalised its submission to the review and had an extension of time until after the planning meeting last night.


Drive-thru to obesity
At the planning meeting tonight I spoke against McDonalds permit application for a car park and drive thru extension on Ballarat Rd Sunshine (see local news report here)

My main concerns are that it reinforces obesity and nutrition poverty, as well as worsen anti-social behaviours arising out of the ‘drive-thru’.

Obesity in Australia has reached epidemic proportions. 1995 National Nutrition Survey, 45% of men and 29% of women were found to be overweight, and a further 18% of men and women were classified as obese. By 2000 that figure had risen to 60% and currently is at 68%.

Brimbank has higher rates of obesity and diabetes than the Victorian average and higher numbers of fast food outlets. 68% of men and women are classified as obese, from 18% in 1995 (National Nutrition Survey. Obesity is now strongly associated with poverty and closer access to fast food areas is a characteristic of less advantaged areas.

My objections to this car park expansion are basically very similar to those of the residents.
An increase in the size of the drive-thru’ will bring more cars through it. And I fear:
a) that we are just allowing an expansion of McDonalds and their profits, to the detriment of the residents healthy, wellbeing and residential amenity
b) it will become more of an epicentre for anti-social social behaviour and pests (such as feral cats)
c) it will worsen an already increased amount of noise affecting nearby residents, increased effects of vehicle headlight intrusion on neighbours and odour impacts.

The residents have legitimate concerns including safety, vandalism in the area and the potential use of streets in the otherwise quiet suburban streets for illicit activities. Council’s adoption of the recommendation does not adequately address potential for anti-social behaviour and criminal activity and I believe it is not in the social interest to allow McDonalds to expand their ‘drive thru’.


Climate change - Act NOW
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Hobart on April 30 signed on to the Federal Government’s paltry National Renewable Energy Target (RET) and agreed to exemptions of up to 90 percent for the most intensive emitters of green house gases where these are export-related.

Broadband and the cycle of privatisation
It’s raining big budget government spending items at the moment. One of the recently announced ones was the “fibre-to-the-home” National Broadband Network (NBN) valued at $43 billion. The Commonwealth will have a 51 percent stake in the project that will deliver potential download speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second (Mbbps) to up to 90 percent of the Australian population – exceeding Rudd’s 2007 election undertaking by a long margin. It will generate 25,000 jobs a year over the eight years it will take to roll out.


Sack the ALP!
I am ploughing through the rest of the Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank Council and I am keen to extend the message that so far seems to be predominating in the media calling for the sacking of the council.
We can't rely on the Labor Party to fix this mess. Bringing in an administrator will be bringing in an ALP person. Suggesting the Local Government Victoria or the Local Government Minister (Richard Wynne MP) can fix it is nonsense when they are the ones who refused to address it up til now. Every ALP MP in this area has been implicated - right up to Premier Brumby who relies on them for his numbers.
I think we need to call for another election immediately, and let the people of Brimbank decide. Let them face the electorate having disgraced themselves and run down democracy in the West. I want to see people genuine in their commitment to our community step up and redefine our local politics for the public good.


Interview with 774AM Jon Faine
I am interviewed by Jon Faine, who has an instinct for inducing a sensationalist sound bite and cuts me off when I explain the importance of voting for the Greens.
Link to the interview


Released: The Victorian Ombudsman’s report into alleged improper conduct at Brimbank Council
This report is well overdue and very welcome. It is finally saying the things our community has been telling the Local Government Minister for years. Now we need action to eliminate these practises and ensure genuine democratic processes.
The Brimbank Greens call for new elections immediately.

Streets Ahead in Ardeer and Albion
This evening more than fifty Ardeer and Albion residents turned out for a well organised workshop which looked at making our neighbourhood safer for children and more welcoming for all. Next meeting is on the 1st June 2009.


Meeting procedure Local Law Review
Please see my comments at

'Social' not 'affordable housing' at Sunvale PS site
Officers have come back with a discussion after this matter was deferred from the last Council meeting. I am told that there was a mix up with the definition of the words ‘affordable housing’ where they really meant ‘social housing’. It should be noted though that no discussions around social housing have occurred with the Department of Human Services.

Council civic centre building
I was the only one who opposed this development at the last meeting and now some other Councillors are expressing concerns. Perhaps they are finally taking heed of the community’s protests against the civic centre - not at Errington, and not at all.


Roussac Reserve Park consultation
I attended the community consultation meeting for Roussac Reserve in North Sunshine. The community had lots of really great ideas about ways to improve safety, encourage appropriate bike use and I really liked the ideas for wetlands presented by Council’s urban design team.


May Day International Workers Day
The history of May Day is a history of the struggle of the working people to achieve a better quality of life, decent pay, working conditions and for a society that meets the needs of the people. The international labour holiday called May Day originated in the struggle of the American Trade Union Movement for an 8 hour day. The struggle reached its height in 1886 when on the 1st May about ½ million workers were involved in strikes and demonstrations for the 8 hour day.
May Day took place this year in the midst of a global economic crisis. Workers around the world are being reminded that capitalism has been an unplanned and crisis-ridden economic system that is poorly placed for furthering social and environmental interests.
Employers chasing maximum profits will use new technology to cut the cost of labour and increase output. They lower wages, abolish benefits and cut working conditions. Globalisation has allowed capitalism to double its global workforce. It has also created a worldwide wage competition and many high-wage jobs have been destroyed. Worldwide, production has rapidly expanded but the lot of millions of workers is slower to progress.