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.


Labor refuses to sign Honesty in Campaigning Pledge

Last week I asked the MP for Derrimut Telmo Languiller if he would sign an honesty in campaigning pledge. The reason for doing this was that in February 1984, the federal parliament passed an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to insert s. 329(2), under which it was an offence to print, publish, distribute or broadcast any electoral advertisement containing a statement that was untrue or that
was, or was likely to be, misleading or deceptive.

This amendment was later repealed and now the Electoral Act states only that advertisements cannot mislead voters as to how they mark their ballot papers or defame a candidate’s character or conduct.

All political parties and their candidates now have absolute control over the content of their advertisements and there is nothing to prevent them from making false or misleading statements.In recent years the Labor and Liberal Party's have been responsible for the publication and distribution of deceptive and dishonest material in a bid to discredit the Greens and other hard working and well respected candidates who are a threat to them.

In the absence of an industry watchdog that enforces a code of practice the Greens have proposed an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to incorporate a Truth in Political Advertising Unit to monitor and regulate political advertising to ensure it is true and accurate.

However in the absence of federal truth in advertising laws to deal with unscrupulous tactics to mislead voters the Greens propose that all parties and candidates sign onto a voluntary pledge, consistent with the 1984 Electoral Act amendment.
In the absence of federal truth-in-advertising laws to deal with unscrupulous tactics to mislead voters, The Greens propose that all parties sign this voluntary pledge.

To that effect I signed the following. We, The Australian Greens, will not print, publish, distribute or broadcast any electoral advertisement, material or communication containing a statement that is untrue or that is, or is likely to be, misleading or deceptive. We understand this pledge to be consistent with the 1984 amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Date ¬ 16/4/10

Name Geraldine Brooks

Telmo has written back to the Star Newspaper (not to me) saying that he won't be signing the pledge because he has already signed a pledge as a parliamentarian. He also goes on to attack the Greens for wanting a pledge because somehow this makes us guilty of the behaviour we wish to remove. This attack is fascinating when it is his party, the Labor Party that have been responsible for recent slanderous and defamatory flyers. At the last state election the ALP attacked the Port Phillip Greens, and Phil Cleary, in the Kororoit byelection they attacked Les Twentyman and more recently in Tasmania the Greens. I wonder if Telmo can show us this pledge that he signed in 1999 and the contents of it. Of course, it is not something I can sign given I have not been elected to parliament.

I am concerned that signing the pledge does not seem to have stopped Labor MPs from being party to slander and tries to prevent voters from electing representatives on their merits.

you can find the link to the story in the Star Newspaper here.


In the Media
This letter was published recently in the star in response to an application for pokies by a local club.

To the Editor,
Congratulations to Brimbank Council for taking a stand on pokies. I was thrilled to read about council’s decision to reject a planning permit application from Club Italia in St Albans to increase the number of gaming machines it has from 38 to 60. What would be the point of council having a gambling action plan if they were to ignore it?
Pokies are causing untold damage to our community, through stress-related physical and psychological ill health. Other adverse effects include family breakdown, domestic violence, criminal activity, disruption to or loss of employment and social isolation. Additionally, problem gambling may compromise their capacity to afford necessities such as adequate nutrition, heating, shelter, transport, medications and health services.
Pokies in Brimbank are taking people’s hard earned wages to the tune of $ 9.7 million, money that could be directly spent on shopping locally and supporting our local community.
I support council’s brave decision. We need to say no to pokies and start demanding adequate levels of funding for local sports and recreation so that clubs are not dependant on pokies revenue.
Taking action on this issue is long overdue. We need a state wide cap on pokies and the removal of ATM’s from gambling venues immediately.


Some of you received a Westlink News Community Update April 2010, dropped into your letter box over the last week.
In it, it announces a new $10 million two and half year study. This study and all that follows is conducted under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act, introduced in Victoria in 2009. It is administered by the Minister of Planning, the Honourable Justin Madden (he’s the one that’s been in the news recently over his staff suggesting they fake a community consultation).
Westlink will affect the communities of Seddon, Footscray, West Footscray, Sunshine and Sunshine West. One of the key elements is a road tunnel between the Port of Melbourne and Sunshine Road running under the Maribyrnong River and the communities of Seddon and Footscray. The key reasons for building Westlink are:
• to cater for an additional 350,000 people moving into the west over the next 15 years (i.e. more cars);
• reduce pressure on the Westgate Bridge (i.e. more cars and trucks);
• to improve freight access to the Port of Melbourne (i.e. more trucks)
The newsletter introduces us to a “Social Impact Assessment” team leader Ruth Davies (see here for Ruth’s LinkedIn profile) and to two new advisory groups (you can see why is costs $10 million) to help with the communication with the community, and vitally, to get the community’s input. There’s even talk of 2 way communication. There’s a online community survey (click here and select the Community Survey picture on the right hand side). Excuse me, but it sounds awfully like she has lots of experience selling unwanted projects to communities using social planning skills to try and make them palatable!
Of concern is that there’s not one mention of health issues. There is a link between ultrafine particles (a form of particulate matter prevalent in truck and car exhausts) and the following:
• Individuals with respiratory disease (e.g., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, acute bronchitis) and cardiovascular disease (e.g., ischemic heart disease) are at greater risk of premature mortality and hospitalisation.
• Individuals with infectious respiratory disease (e.g., pneumonia) are at greater risk of premature mortality and morbidity (e.g., hospitalisation, aggravation of respiratory symptoms). Also, exposure to particulate matter may increase individual susceptibility to respiratory infections.
• Elderly individuals are also at greater risk of premature mortality and hospitalisation for cardiopulmonary causes.
• Children are at greater risk of increased respiratory symptoms and decreased lung function.
• Asthmatic children and adults are at risk of exacerbation of symptoms and increased need for medical attention.
These findings where documented in a federal government literature review of published studies from around the world- it’s just over 300 pages – click here.
Have a read and start thinking about what the future developments will mean for our communities. We live in safe Labor seats; Labor is the party in power at the state and council level. Go and fill in the online survey, start talking to your neighbours and to your local council member, to your state level representative. We need to make sure that our air, our soil, our environment is not in a worse condition for all of us.


Victorian Government Landfill Levy.
I support moves by the Victorian Government to decrease waste in landfills through a landfill levy but proposals for mega in-vessel processing plants to divert green waste from landfill will create other environmental problems and cost ratepayers more.
Ratepayers will pay councils $15 more to have their rubbish removed due to the landfill levy and may have to pay more to make up the price differential between disposal to landfill and disposal to the Alternative Waste Treatment (AWT) facilities. The Metro Plan establishes a price differential between disposal to landfill and disposal to AWTs of between $20 and $51 per tonne depending on the resource recovery performance of the AWTs. This differential includes an assumption of a landfill levy of $10 per tonne. (The metropolitan municipal landfill levy is currently $9 per tonne.)
Using the higher end of the CPRS modelling, the price difference between disposal to new landfill and recycling would be between $6 and $37 per tonne. Using lowest end of the CPRS modelling, the shortfall would be as much as $48 per tonne.

Under the new proposals residents will be encouraged to deposit all their food waste and green waste into the rubbish bin instead of composting at home, because councils need to guarantee a certain percentage of waste volume to the in-vessel processing plants. The processing plants will then convert the rubbish into compost for commercial purposes.

Our community is already paying $10M in developing the business case for these mega in vessel plants and the state government will no doubt commit more of tax payers’ money to offset the predicted $30M set up costs for each facility. In addition, food waste will need to be transported everyday across Victoria to a small number of purpose built facilities instead of being processed locally.

The landfill levy must be returned to local councils. The money should be used to fund education for residents to turn food and green waste into compost for home and community gardens, and to set up council owned, small scale plants so that land fill is reduced, and residents are not paying to have it removed and processed for the use of big agricultural companies.


Housing Crisis in Victoria

I sent a letter to one of the local papers today in response to an article they ran about affordable housing.

To the Editor

When we bought our house in Ardeer in 1998 it was because it was affordable and we could not even contemplate buying where we had been renting in Spotswood. House prices and rents are now so high they have pushed many working people out of the market altogether and more and more families are being forced in to sub standard accommodation on the fringes of Melbourne with poor facilities.
Brimbank has been facing a severe shortage of affordable accommodation for some time now and Victoria’s housing affordability is in crisis - a crisis that the private housing market cannot fix.
In fact we need to understand that it is the private market which is the cause of the problem. Developers build houses for profit, not to meet the housing needs of all Victorians. When times are good for the housing industry and they are building houses hand over fist, the supply increases and the problem is not so acute for most of us, but when the market dries up the few who dropped off the edge before become a large number indeed as more people cannot afford to buy or to rent. And because of a rapidly increasing population in Victoria and years of inadequate state and federal funding for public housing the problem has been exacerbated.
Housing is a basic human right. It is the right of every person to have access to affordable, appropriate, safe, secure, healthy, environmentally responsible housing, and yet in Brimbank we have a situation where residents are forced to living in illegal rooming houses often with sub standard kitchen and bathroom facilities and paying extortionate amounts for the privilege.
While Labor has invested some stimulus money in public and community housing, it has a very long way to go to undo the years of selling off, neglect and underfunding – and of course the stimulus money was to keep industry going so now the GFC is over the spending is at an end. Labor has no plan.
Melbourne needs high density living if the population is going to keep increasing and we need much more public housing, but there is currently no plan to make it liveable.
We must have a Government-led plan to provide more public housing and at the same time:
- Efficient, high frequency public transport
- More high quality open spaces next door to housing (multi-use – parks, places for kids to hang out, community gardens)
- High quality sustainable design
- Govt-funded services for families (community health centres, schools, childcare centres etc)

If we are serious about addressing this issue we need to look at providing housing differently. We need to increase the public ownership of housing and we need to make it work really well.