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.


Elections NOT an administrator

Ever since last year’s release of the Ombudsman’s report into the City of Brimbank, the State Labor Government has been on notice to do something, and being a political party up for election very shortly it acted.

The Labor councillors who have been acting inappropriately on Brimbank Council deserve to be dismissed; there is no doubt about that.

However, the Minister has the power to dismiss those councillors after proper investigation. He did not have to sack the whole council.

The Local Government Act 1989 – Section 219 says that
(1) The Minister may recommend to the Governor in Council that all the Councillors of a Council be suspended, if the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds-

(a) subject to subsection (1A), that there has been a serious failure to provide good government; or

(b) that the Council has acted unlawfully in a serious respect.

Clearly there has been no unlawful act by council so the government is trying to claim that there has been a serious failure to govern.

There has not been a serious failure to govern. There are individual councillors who have been found to have acted improperly and fail to understand their responsibilities.

There is not a majority of councillors that have been found to have conducted themselves improperly or fail to understand their responsibilities.

There may be a larger number of Councillors under investigation (the report fails to name these individuals so we cannot know), but this includes Geraldine Brooks - who is being investigated on trumped up allegations.

There are problems at Brimbank and they are:
1. Councillors who fail to understand their responsibilities and councillors who have used their position for personal or factional gain
2. Councillors who do not act in the community interest- but this does not constitute a failure to govern, it means we need to vote them out at the next election

Instead of sacking those councillors found to have acted improperly the Minister is replacing elected representatives with unaccountable, unrepresentative, Labor administrators and has removed the only Green on Council, someone, who genuinely represents the community interest, and was elected precisely because of these concerns that state Labor are claiming they are dealing with.

An administrator for the next 3 years is not the solution. The Brimbank Community deserve better. They deserve to keep the councillors who were working in their interests and they deserve access to new representatives via election.

Sacking Brimbank Council is less about dealing with the problem and more about drawing attention away from the next state election which will be hard fought for the ALP.

Community Meeting - Sunshine

On 19 August a community meeting was held in Sunshine. The discussion focused on the recommendations arising from the Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank Council. Attendees moved a motion to request Bill Scales (Municipal Inspector) to meet with them and provide an update on all matters relating to Brimbank Council. You are invited to attend……..

When: Monday 26th October
Time: 6:30pm
Where: Uniting Church Conference Centre, 28 Withers St, Sunshine

This meeting will be hosted by: Colleen Hartland, Greens MLC for Western Metropolitan Melbourne, and Geraldine Brooks, sacked Greens Councillor for Brimbank City Council.
Greens Fundraiser

When: Friday 30th October

Where: Polish Hall
6 Helene St, Ardeer

Join us for a great night of fun and good politics greens style. Join with us to help raise funds for the branch to carry out its work and support upcoming election campaigns
Ardeer Community Planting

Ardeer residents once again got together on Saturday to plant in the Ardeer Community Park. Another 400 plants were planted in a great mornings work. The rain held off until the plants were in the ground and we hope they will get enough to get a good soak in the next few days.

We hope to make this a regular monthly event and start a vegie swap where residents can bring their surplus vegies from their garden to share with neighbours
ALGA thinks Scales Report deserves closer scrutiny

The ALGA President Geoff Lake says "The decision this week to sack Brimbank Council is the second time since the Bracks/Brumby government came to power in 1999 that a council in Victoria has been dismissed. Since the release in May of an Ombudsman's report about the conduct of the previous councillor group at Brimbank, there has been widespread criticism of the council. NSW has its Wollongong and now, it seems, Victoria has its Brimbank. Both have become emblematic of what are the most rotten elements associated with government at the local level.

However, this week's report by Municipal Inspector, Bill Scales, recommending that Brimbank now be sacked deserves closer scrutiny. Scales was appointed in the immediate aftermath of the Ombudsman's report and was tasked with monitoring the conduct of the new group of councillors elected last November. The report cites four reasons to justify why the council should be sacked: an attempt by a councillor to have a parking fine reviewed, the leaking of confidential information, councillor conduct and an attempt by an outside organisation to influence councillors. The evidence supporting each reason is surprisingly weak given the severity of the conclusion that the council ought to be sacked and also given Scales' considerable experience (he once headed the Victorian Public Service).

However, it is the inclusion of the fourth and final reason that is the most breathtaking: the undue influence of an external organisation. This refers to a letter sent openly to councillors by a local branch of a political party expressing a view on an issue which is still to be considered by the council. There's nothing at all remarkable with a person or organisation writing to express a view on a council issue. Such representations occur every day in every council across the country. It is what democratic process is all about - the contest of ideas and the lobbying of decision makers. To suggest that this letter amounts to undue influence and a matter for which the council is itself accountable is bizarre and displays one of the most naïve conceptions of the local government environment that I have seen.

Viewed either individually or together, the reasons cited to support sacking the council are glaringly inadequate. There may well be grounds to support sacking the council, but this report does not demonstrate them. If there was a capacity for judicial review of this decision, I have no doubt a court would tear the report to shreds."


Brimbank Council Sacked

The individual Labor councillors who have been acting inappropriately deserve to be sacked, there is no doubt about that.

They have demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of their responsibilities and a disregard for acting in the community interest. Bill Scales highlights a few examples in his report, but there are many that he could have outlined that undoubtedly add up to a whole picture of improper conduct.

That said, I am very concerned that the whole thing is a diversion and not a solution.

I think it is suspicious that the administrator's term will extend beyond the November 2010 state election right through to 2012.

It allows the state government to sweep it all under the carpet and hope that the electorate will forget the corruption and neglect when it comes to the state election next year and the next local election.

Replacing elected representatives with unaccountable, unrepresentative, Labor appointed administrators will not help local democracy and I see a potential conflict of interest in a process where the person who recommends the dismissal of council gets the job of administrator in a process that has no public review.

Sunshine Council has been sacked twice already in recent history and it has done nothing to improve the outlook for our residents.
Sunshine still has the highest rate of unemployment, poor public transport, very high rates of diabetes, obesity and mental illness and our representatives are doing nothing to tackle these concerns.

It is very worrying that the community will now not have access to elected representation for the next 3 years. How is the community going to find out about how the council is spending its money, how are the decisions about a civic centre, Sunvale Primary School and major developments like Metro West going to go ahead without proper scrutiny and transparency? How will the community challenge decisions it disagrees with? How is it going to have a say? Administrators do not have to face election from the people if their decisions are not in their best interests.

Sacking Brimbank Council is more about drawing attention away from the fact that this Labor government has done nothing about dealing with corruption in its ranks, and nothing about the real source of inappropriate behaviour - senior labor figures. Where is the monitoring of their contact with councillors, where is the detailed review of MPs code of conduct? Where is the examination of undue influence of developers on MPs?

Residents are sick and tired of being neglected by their Labor representatives at all levels – not just on council.

Our community finally had someone who genuinely represented their interests (in Miles Dymott and now myself) and now that has been taken away.

In my first 9 months on Council I put forward motions on issues ranging from the budget, meeting transparency measures, abandoning the civic centre project in favour of parks, a commercial gaming venue rate increase, support for a container deposit scheme, condemnation of the urban growth boundary extension, opposed the development assessment committees, opposed the defunding of reconciliation Victoria, support for a net solar feed in tariff , and support for community consultation over a range of important local emerging issues. In most cases the vote in the chamber has been 10 against 1 - I'm the one!
This seems to demonstrate an unwillingness to support anything I put forward on its merits despite it being in the interests of our community. Yet the report utterly fails to report on this.

ALP rules indicate that even councillors who are not endorsed candidates but who are ALP members are required not to vote against ALP policy.

This appears to be in direct conflict with the oath sworn by councillors says they will act impartially and in the best interests of their community.

Greens councillors like me sign a greens councillors code of conduct that specifically directs us to act in the community interest even where it conflicts with greens policy.

I supported the Municipal Inspector and was really glad of the level of scrutiny his presence brought to Brimbank but it appears Labor doesn’t want to fix the problems they just want them to go away. I wish the report had named names and recommended suspending or sacking the named councillors - that would have been a more open process and would have been a sobering message to the remaining councillors. The Minister could have sacked those individual councillors found to have acted improperly.

Bill Scales promised to attend a community meeting in Sunshine on the 26th October that I organised to discuss what he has been doing to oversee the implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations.

Now more than ever, he needs to honour that agreement and discuss the important concerns that our community has about the transparency and accountability of the new council administration.



Here we go again. The Victorian transport agenda has been hijacked by the road and petroleum (and finance) lobby and actively promotes solutions that are not in the interests of the community despite irrefutable evidence...

The Sunshine community does not want a new truck road through our suburb and have been trying to find out crucial alignment details from the Dept of Infrastructure for many months. Suddenly a tender document appears that calls for a contractor to develop and evaluate a route for not only a dirty great road tunnel under Footscray, which the government did announce, but also a road out the other end, to take extra cars through the inner western suburbs

We also have to realise that the road they are planning is for trucks not cars.

This proposed road will shift the truck problem that currently exists in Yarraville, to a truck problem in Sunshine as trucks are led from the tunnel out through Sunshine and trucks seek alternative routes.

Spending the same money on public transport to move both freight and passengers would remove many more heavy vehicles from our roads than a new road.

If the state government actually spent money to upgrade the existing public transport system properly by making sure there are more trains, greater efficiencies, more buses and connections actually work, they would pull so many cars off the westgate that they wouldn't need to build a new road

We are shortly going to have a massive increase in petroleum prices and are going to have to grapple with peak oil. Now is not the time to invest in more big roads when public transport would clearly do a better job.
Errington ok- what about our other parks

At the last council meeting a vote was taken to remove Errington Reserve from the business case of the proposed new civic centre.

While this is a great outcome for Errington Reserve it is still not great news for all of the other parks and play spaces across the municipality that will lose out to a $30 million municipal office – parks and playgrounds that do not have a voice!

At that meeting I once again moved a motion to abandon the $30 million dollar council civic centre project, with the money to instead be spent on the improvement of parks and community facilities. Once again this was not supported by Council.

Our community needs family focussed parkland and recreational spaces for all ages. Time and again residents have made it clear they place a high priority on this.

At all the consultations around the community plan, not once did the community say they wanted a new office. The priority has always been parks and local community facilities, an arts and cultural facility, and improvements to our environment NOT a municipal office

It is clear to me from the presentations made to Council and from widespread discussions on this issue, the community does not want a civic centre on Errington Reserve. The community have also been clear in saying they don’t know if we need one at all!

The business case for a new municipal office is going ahead at significant cost to ratepayers in consultants fees but the project still doesn’t stack up. How has a civic centre taken priority over parks and other projects?


Bob Brown Comes to VU

It is the first time I have heard Bob speak (live) and it was very inspiring.

He spoke about the politics of the CPRS and about the role of corporations in setting the political agenda. How Labor and Liberal have so completely sold out to the big polluters and the big end of town.

It is so important in our world of dry, passionless mouthpieces that we have people like Bob who are passionate, caring and well informed and who are prepared to take up the struggle against the giant multinational companies who are destroying our planet.

Bob (like most Greens I think) is an optimist who believes that humanity has the capability to organise society in a way that will be sustainable and for the benefit of all before we destroy the planet.

There were some great questions from the audience and as ever Bob was so humble and generous with his time.