Thursday, April 30, 2009

container deposit legislation

report from the roundtable - 28th April
Tonight's meeting was the deadline to submit resolutions to the upcoming Municipal Association of Victoria State Council meeting in May, 2009. The MAV is an association that advocates on behalf of municipalities throughout Victoria and if a resolution is supported by a majority of councils at the MAV state council then these matters are those that the MAV will advocate on for the local government sector.

Container Deposit Legislation is something that the Shire of Yarra Ranges council initially supported through a
resolution on the 12th February, 2008 (for a full run down visit blog) and given the current emphasis and interest in Container Deposit Legislation, I thought it important to raise the matter to gain support through the MAV.

There are so many benefits to be gained from container deposit legislation. Less litter in our environment, more money in the pockets of community groups, less need for raw materials as more materials are available for recycling and much greater rates of recycling.

It has been difficult to get support of CDL at past MAV State Council meetings, it will be interesting to see if the landscape has changed post the 2008 local government elections.

If you'd like to find out more about how CDL works come to Warburton to find out, see
blog for more details.

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tv take back scheme

report from the roundtable - 28th April
Environment Victoria are seeking support for a campaign for a national program on a TV Take Back scheme. It is a very worthwhile campaign and I was pleased to bring it to the attention of councillors at Yarra Ranges by moving the following motion:

That Council:
1. Support the introduction of a national “TV Take Back” scheme to ensure old televisions are recycled.
2. Write to the Victorian Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Innovation, Gavin Jennings, and the Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, calling for a decision at the May 2009 Meeting of the Environment Protection & Heritage Council to introduce a national “TV Take Back” scheme.
3. Submit a motion at the May 2009 Municipal Association of Victoria State Council in support of a national extended responsibility scheme on televisions.

How many of these are in landfills across the country? We can and should be recycling our TVs to recover the energy and materials that goes into making them, and to stop toxins going into landfill.
In speaking to the motion I explained that the changeover to the digital age for televisions had seen an increase in the amount of television sets thrown out. Certainly the recent hard waste collection in my local area had many, many televisions out on the naturestrip. The tragedy at the moment is that televisions are currently disposed of in landfill sites.

E-waste is growing at three times the rate of general waste even though there is a significant market opportunity for recycling old TVs. A recent study by VECCI conservatively indicated that the e-waste recycling market was worth around $50million per annum.

Recycling old TVs would be of great benefit by removing heavy metals from our landfill sites and recycling would also be enable recovery of some of the more scarce materials that go into the make up of televisions.

A TV Take Back Scheme fits well within the aspirations of our community which is well articulated in Vision2020, our community wants to work to a Zero waste society and a recyling scheme like this is one of the steps along the way to achieving that goal.

I am pleased to say that my motion was supported unanimously and I look forward to hearing how the motion to support the TV Tack Back Scheme goes at the upcoming Municipal Association of Victoria State Council meeting in May.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

all systems go for children's hub

report from the roundtable - 28th April
At this meeting of council the development of the Children's Hub in Upwey was considered. Approval of the hub would see the development proceed to planning application stage and inform the conditions around it's development, firstly that the proposed service be based on the business plan developed for the service and secondly that the design support the operational model for a 110 place long day care facility.

There has been extensive consultation around the development of the hub, for a bit of history visit
blog September 08, blog November 08 and blog March 09.

Me standing outside the soon to be redeveloped Sherbrooke Children's Centre. It is a great turnaround for the centre who, five years ago, were facing closure in 2009. The community should be very pleased with their efforts to save Sherbrooke Children's Centre, all those weekly campaign strategy meetings were well worth it.

To pull together such a diverse range of users of the site and move forward in a positive and inclusive way has been a great example of community consultation. There have been many meetings to talk about the proposal with contributions by the broader community, Long Day Care users, Upwey Hall users, Maternal and Child Health Services, allied children's services, Pre School and Toy Library. It has been a terrific experience to be part of the Project Control Group and the Community Reference Group as a councillor representative.

The staff of the shire have done a fantastic job of capturing the views and aspirations of the community and I thought it was important to put that on public record.

Both the State and Federal Governments have supported the development of the Children's Hub with a combined contribution of $2.1 million towards the project. The hub will be a great example of integrated children’s services which has been shown to deliver very positive outcomes for the early years and for families.

If we get it right in the early years we get it right for life. Investing in the early years is a great long term investment in our community. Studies have shown that investment in the early years pays back seven fold down the line. We have a development that we can be very proud of.

I'm pleased to say that the vote to support the proposed Children's Hub was unanimous.

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telephone tower for seville?

report from the roundtable - 28th April
Report from the roundtable is my regular report back from the meeting of council. I don't report on every subject, just those that I think might have a broader interest.

An application for the construction of a telecommunications tower was up for consideration in a very prominent location in Seville. A motion was moved to refuse the application and I was happy to second it.

The proposed positioning of the tower was in a visually prominent site along the Warburton Highway. It is an area that is frequented by tourists who enjoy magnificent unbroken views across to the Warburton Ranges on one side and the Dandenong Ranges on the other. I think that council has a responsibility to protect Yarra Ranges' natural assets and part of that is protecting our outstanding vistas and sight lines.

The siting of the pole was proposed for a hill top meaning it would be visible to passers by near and far. A 33.6 metre pole is extreme in height and the notion of painting it in a pale eucalyptus colour to disguise it is an absolute nonsense.

The installation of the pole is contrary to council's local policy on telecommunications facilities. Our policy is clear and states that poles must be sited 100 metres from a residential building (or community facility such as a primary school, etc). In this case the pole was located 88 metres from the nearest residential dwelling.

I think it is important to respect the wishes of the local community, there were 39 objectors to this application, all of them surrounding the proposed site.

I also think it is important to protect those spectacular vistas the Shire is renowned for and this proposed 33.6 metre pole would be a blight on our landscape.

I am pleased to say that the refusal was supported unanimously by councillors.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

monbulk aquatics trophy night

It was presentation night for season 2008/09 for the Monbulk Aquatic Club. I was pleased to be invited to attend to hand out Club Championship Medallions and the Shire of Yarra Ranges Handicap Trophy for 400m freestyle.

Guest speaker for the night was Emily Rooke, Australian representative for the World Triathlon Championships. She talked about the passion she had for her sport and the importance of writing down your goals.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges Handicap Trophy is a hotly contested perpetual trophy for the club and it is the one trophy that leaves people guessing who the winner is right up to the last minute. It was great to announce Ryan Pinchbeck winner of the trophy for this season, Ryan was greeted with a great cheer from the crowd as he came down to accept his trophy.

Me and Ryan Pinchbeck, winner of the Shire of Yarra Ranges Handicap Trophy 2009 at the Monbulk Aquatic Club presentation night.

It was a terrific night and there was a lot of talk and a great deal of excitement about the redevelopment of the Monbulk pool. I have been working with the club and community members as part of the Project Control Group for the redevelopment. Refurbishment of the pool is well overdue and I look forward to seeing the redevelopment project come to fruition.

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thanks mate

Today saw the running of the Thanks Mate Handicap at the Yarra Glen Racecourse as part of the thankyou event for emergency service workers and volunteers. Thanks Mate was put on by the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the Victoria Police as a way to recognise the outstanding efforts of our emergency services during the recent bushfires.

"To all our emergency service workers and volunteers - thanks mate."

I was very pleased to be there and had the great priviledge of awarding winning connections of Fly Half with their trophy for first place in the Thanks Mate Handicap.

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landcare gets planning

A stormy day welcomed members of the Johns Hill Landcare group to their planning day today. So rather than a walk through Pepi's land for inspiration, members gathered round the open fire at the Emerald Scout hall to talk about the future. I was pleased to be invited along and find out about some of their successes.

Before and after photos showed some great results for our natural environment, with many areas weeded and revegetated. The in depth study of the Puffing Billy corridor was a great piece of work and it will be extremely valuable to help inform where resources should be best put to improve the corridor.

Me and the Johns Hill Landcare Group, celebrating some of their successes and working on a plan for the future.

The purpose of the day was for the group to plan the where to from here for the next 3 years. The John's Hill Landcare group focuses mainly on Menzies Creek catchment and extends right through to Gembrook. Their vision is “working with the community to reconnect the bush between the Dandenong Ranges National Park and the Bunyip State Forest” with their main focus dealing with better protection and restoration of remnant bushland, and “connecting” and “creating” areas of bushland on both private and public land.

It was great to come along and I look forward to seeing more of their successes in the future.

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selby solar neighbourhood kicks off

Last Friday saw the launch of the Selby Solar Neighbourhood, which according to all reports went very well. Organisers hope to have a second information session for those who couldn't make it the first time or for those who are new to the neighbourhood.

The program enables resident homeowners who live within 10 or so kilometres of Selby to bulk buy and install a high-quality 1 kW solar electricity system at a heavily discounted price.

According to Neighbourhood Organiser Nat Neilson it also gives participants a final opportunity to claim the $8000 Federal Government rebate before it finishes at the end of June, Nat also advises that people who are ineligible for the current rebate can still apply and get the next rebate later.

If you are interested and would like to know more contact Nat Neilson at or on 0438 547 031.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

new toilets for belgrave

A big thank you to everyone for putting up with only having one set of public toilets in Belgrave for the last couple of months.

The construction is coming along extremely well, after a couple of hiccups in the early stages to do with engineering challenges.

Now the toilets are taking shape they look really impressive and are a fantastic example of good quality urban design.

Thanks for your patience, its great to see this project come to fruition. The next stage in our public toilet upgrade will see the toilets in the main street of Belgrave refurbished, a long overdue project but soon to be realised.

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patch eco garden officially open

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending the Patch Primary School’s official opening of their Eco Garden. In true Patch School tradition contingency plans for weather was required and the opening was held in the hall rather than outside near the garden.

The Patch School have done an amazing job creating their sustainable garden, environment education centre and chook house (the only one in all of Australia with a 'green roof'). All the children have contributed to the development of the space and it couldn’t have been achieved without the extraordinary vision of Michelle Rayner, the school’s environmental educator and the support of successive school councils and past principal, Michael McClare and current principal Debra Herrmann.

The children were fantastic and the celebration included performances by the Year 3 & 4 Choir singing All the World is Sacred, the Year 6s performing Solid Rock, including drumming, didgeridoo and bass guitar, 2 Year 6s performed a breathtaking instrumental consisting only of acoustic guitar and violin and the entire school sang a stirring rendition of From Little Things Big Things Grow.

Peter Kinrade, Patch School Councillor and me at the gateway to the garden. Peter showed me around the garden and the environment centre. The children, parents and teachers have built something that is from the heart, the garden is a very unique and special place to be.

The garden is part of the heart and soul of the school, the students feel a great connection with the garden and the environment. The garden has provided the students with vast range of learning opportunities including the importance of treading lightly on the earth. The Patch School should be very proud of their achievements, well done, you have set a fine example for other schools to follow. It was wonderful to be part of this special celebration in our local community.

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etchings from utopia

Earlier this week I attended the launch of Apmer Mwerrangker*, Beautiful Country… Ever Present Past - Etchings from the Utopia region, Central Australia at Burrinja.

The exhibition features iconic works by some of the most highly regarded Aboriginal artists of the Sandover region, the Urapuntja Artists of Utopia and is made up of 23 etchings produced in 1999 to 2000 at the Ampiliwatja community with Basil Hall of Northern Editions NTU.

It is well worth a visit, if you would like to know more about the exhibition follow this link to

(*Apmer Mwerrangker” is pronounced: ‘ab mirrah’ ‘ma rung gara’)

It is a very exciting time for Burrinja and its redevelopment, detailed plans of the new performing arts centre space are being drawn up and once complete the project will go out to tender for construction.

It will be a great to see the redevelopment get underway and it is very exciting to know we are very close to starting construction on this long overdue and keenly sought after facility.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

train failure inquiry - submit before 1 june

On 11 March 2009, the Legislative Council supported a Greens motion to set up an inquiry into the reasons for failures in the provision of metropolitan and VLine train services.

A 7 Member all-party select committee made up of Bruce Atkinson (Liberal) – Chair, Shaun Leane (ALP) - Deputy Chair , Greg Barber (Greens), Damian Drum (Nationals), Ms Jennifer Huppert (ALP), Edward O'Donohue (Liberal) and Matt Viney (ALP) will present its final report to the Council no later than March 2010.

Last year I conducted a survey at the Belgrave station as the Yarra Ranges’ ETC representative (see blog). 51% of commuters at the Belgrave station want more services on the Belgrave/Lilydale line and only 26% of commuters at the Belgrave station believe the train service meets their needs. It’s not surprising, the cancellation rate on the Belgrave line is high and does nothing to instill confidence in the train system.

The Committee is inviting written submissions from any persons and organisations who wish to express views on any aspects of this Inquiry. Given the scope of the inquiry, it has the capacity to consider broad ranging views and inputs.

The Eastern Transport Coalition will be developing a submission for the inquiry. The failure of the train system locally has seen a loss of confidence in the public transport system. Without a guarantee of reliability it is very difficult to continue to have faith in a system that may get your where you're going, but fail to deliver you home in a timely and reliable fashion.

Guidelines for making a written submission can be accessed via the
web with submissions due by Monday 1 June 2009.

Public hearings will be scheduled following the close of submissions.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

strong women are back

Due to the enthusiasm shown for their last women's event - Celebrating Strong Women of the Hills – the DRMC is holding a music/arts forum/network on Tuesday 28th April at 7.30pm to discuss future plans for women in music and the arts and what you, as women, would like to see developed now and in the future.

The DRMC are interested in ideas both small and large, individual and group. The DRMC are a dynamic group and their Celebrating Strong Women of the Hills was an inspirational event for women and men alike.

Bev McAlister, Me, Gwen De Lacy and Yvonne De Lacy at the very successful history forum held last year at Mont de Lancey as part of the Strong Women in the Hills series.

If you’re interested in women in music and the arts in the future, this is the forum for you.

Tuesday 28th April, 2009 @ 7.30pm
Where: Dandenong Ranges Music Council
Community Music Centre
Grounds of Upwey High School
1451 Burwood Highway
BYO: Plate of food to share
Please BYO any special dietary requirements (soy milk, herbal tea etc.)
Tea & Coffee provided
by phoning the DRMC on 9754 6566 or email

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

10cent deposit on drink bottles, cans & cartons - hear all about it in Warburton

94% of Victorians are in favour of a container deposit legislation, yet the state government is not yet behind legislation proposed by Greens upper house MP Colleen Hartland.

I invite you to come and find out more about the 10cents deposit campaign and the benefits of this legislation on Thursday May 14th, at the Wild Thyme Cafe in Warburton.

Key speaker for the night will be Liz Ingham who is Colleen’s electoral officer and also a regular columnist for Earth Garden magazine. I’ll also be there to talk about the Shire of Yarra Ranges’ perspective.

Find out
how the proposed legislation will work
how Yarra Ranges Shire Council and local community groups will benefit
how much litter will be reduced and
how to get involved

If you can’t make it on the night but still want to be involved you can join the campaign

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

melba maroondah intersection

report from the roundtable - 14 april
The matter of the Maroondah & Melba Highway intersection came up to council again, this matter was originally considered by council on the 27th January this year (see blog

After discussions with Vic Roads it seems there was no other option but traffic lights for this intersection.

A motion was put to install traffic lights at the site, I could not support this option.

This particular matter has been hijacked as an issue about a tree, but that's not what it's about, this matter is about how we manage traffic at the intersection.

I had an interesting conversation with an officer of Vic Roads who told me that in constrained areas the only option for traffic control is a roundabout as they need less space than traffic lights. For Vic Roads in this case to say there isn't enough room to install a roundabout is a bit of a furphy.

They could install a roundabout, if you can manage with roundabouts in constrained areas (and the roundabout in Belgrave comes to mind for me, it takes b-doubles, buses and all manner of vehicles) you could install one here in Coldstream. But there is no will from Vic Roads to do so.

I don't think traffic lights are the best outcome for managing traffic at this intersection, they are not safer, they impede traffic, they do not prevent accidents or fatalities. Traffic lights are not the be all and end all in traffic management and they won’t be here.

The vote was cast and a Division was called:
Crs Templer, Higgins, Warren, Heenan and Cox
Against: Crs Cliff, McRae, Avery and Dunn

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built environment framework

report from the roundtable - 14 april

Late last year council resolved to make Vision 2020 by Design available for public consultation. Vision 2020 by Design seeks to provide clarity around development throughout the shire to better reflect the community's aspirations.

I moved a motion to adopt Vision 2020 by Design as a resource document for the shire. The document will help give greater protection to townships throughout the Dandenongs (and the shire) because it will provide greater clarity about the design outcomes for the community.

It has had extensive consultation and is a great representation of the aspirations of our community in relation to the built form. It will help protect the unique character of our townships, villages and hamlets by giving guidance on what is an appropriate built form for the area.

It was terrific to see the document finally come to fruition.

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library goes wireless

report from the roundtable - 14 april

As part of my report from delegates I talked about a library tour of Melbourne I recently went on as part of a delegation of the Eastern Regional Libraries corporation board. The library we visited at Clayton was amazing with community members there making good use of the wireless internet available. People were positioned all over the Clayton library in every corner they could be, seeking out hidden power points anywhere and everywhere, all accessing the wireless internet on offer.

I was pleased to report that Belgrave and Lilydale libraries will be getting wireless internet later this year. This will make our libraries even more accessible for our communities.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

rise bushfire benefit & thanks mate in yarra glen

Today I went to RISE, a bushfire relief benefit concert, held at the Healesville Racecourse. A plethora of artists were on the bill and the weather turned on a treat for the event.

I went along in the earlier part of the day and enjoyed the music, the food (I can recommend the Healesville Scout’s bacon roll and Healesville High School’s burger) and the hot rod display had some magnificent machines on show.
The locals, near and far, came out to support this event, their ongoing generosity is overwhelming and a testament to their goodwill and community spirit.

Next Sunday “Thanks Mate” will be held at the Yarra Glen Racecourse. Thanks Mate is a thank you event for all emergency services workers & volunteers that assisted during the bushfires in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

It will include a tribute to all emergency service organisations with a parade down the straight, The Police Show band, Children's rides and amusements, a free sausage sizzle, show bags, roving clowns plus Yarra Valley food and wine. It is also a regular race day so you can enjoy all there is to enjoy about country racing.

Thanks Mate

Cost: FREE

When: Sunday 26th April – 11am to 5pm

Where: Yarra Glen Racecourse

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kalorama gets its hall back

The hall, built in 1910, restored to its former glory and reopened today will be used by the Mount Dandenong U3A, Mount Dandenong Primary School and the Mount Dandenong Historical Society to name a few.

I had the great privilege of attending the official re-opening of Farndons Community Hall (formerly known as the Kalorama CWA Hall) today. What a great day for the community to see this grand old lady restored to her former glory.

Back in 2004 the council of the day decided to close the hall, the sale of land advertised in The Age. The community where outraged by this decision and rightly so. The hall was a well loved community asset. The shire at the time had let the hall go into disrepair and the community could no longer use it, this was then used as a reason to justify the sell off of the hall and the land.

The community were galvanised into action when the council decided to sell off the hall.

After a very long community campaign and an election which saw a change of local councillors to ones who were far more sympathetic to the community, the future of the hall is secured.

With over 150 people attended the re-opening it was wonderful to be able to kick off the official opening.

The hall was packed to the rafters with community members and if today is any indication the hall is set to have a rosy future. It was a testament to the power of collective community energy to save the hall. It was a day that I never thought I would see, but thanks to the ongoing efforts of Jean Blencowe, her fellow committee members and a dedicated community we all had a great time celebrating this re-opening.

The new sign marks a new era for Farndons Hall.

Jean Blencowe never gave up fighting for Farndons Hall. The CWA sign behind us was originally put on the scrap heap, it was spotted by a neighbour who stored it for many years until they thought it was time to return it to its rightful home.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

child friendly community for yarra ranges

I invite Yarra Ranges families to attend a community seminar in Lilydale about ‘Child Friendly Communities’ on Monday, 27 April.

The seminar is part of the shire’s ‘Help Shape the Future for Children’
community consultation aimed at developing a new Family and Children’s Strategy and I am the councillor representative for the strategy.

Guest speakers at the seminar will include Dr Tim Moore, a specialist from the Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health and Rosalie Rogers from Bendigo City Council, which was the first city in Australia to be recognised as a Child Friendly City by the United Nations

The seminar will explore what can be achieved through becoming a Child Friendly Community. Child Friendly Communities are all about creating an environment where children are valued, supported, respected, provided for and actively included.

This seminar will be a great opportunity for families to hear how local communities can help children reach their true potential and what it takes to make a real difference to families and their children.

Research shows that for every dollar spent on children, the whole community benefits seven-fold, and the shire will continue to keep the investment of time and resources towards childhood development a high priority.

Get it right in the early years and you get it right for life. This is me pictured with the children from the Upwey South Primary School Choir.

The ‘Child Friendly Communities’ seminar will also give participants an opportunity to provide feedback for the development of the shire’s Family and Children’s Strategy.

Once developed, the strategy will be used to guide key priorities for action relating to the health, learning and development of children aged 0-12 years.

For more information or bookings for the seminar, or for other ways to become involved in the Family and Children’s Strategy consultation process, contact the shire’s Early Years Development Coordinator Anne Monichon on 9294 6243.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

more pc's for libraries

The Board of the Eastern Regional Libraries have been looking at benchmarks for PC’s in the library network. Many of the Yarra Ranges libraries fall short of the benchmarks in other states (Victoria does not have benchmarking data) and so I thought it important that I do something proactive to address the issue.

This year I have taken on the role of Chairperson of the Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation. In my short time as Chairperson I have learnt a lot about the potential of libraries, PCs are an important part of the mix of services our libraries offer the community.

I’m pleased to advise that I have facilitated the addition of 6 new PCs for libraries throughout Yarra Ranges. Two for Belgrave, 2 for Lilydale, 1 in Yarra Junction and 1 in Mooroolbark.

This will allow much better access for our community, PCs are very popular and always in high demand so these additions will help ease the ongoing pressure on library PC use.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

tecoma supermarket - vcat hearing date set

Save Tecoma have advised that they have received notice that the VCAT hearing to consider the Tecoma Supermarket application will be held on the 22nd June, 2009.

I spoke about the role of council and the planning process at the first public protest for the proposed Tecoma Supermarket application in October last year.
By the time the application was considered by Council we had received 531 objections to the proposal and 16 separate petitions against the application.

I have pencilled the date into my diary and will be observing the deliberations with great interest. It is my view that the application is an overdevelopment of the site, it’s a building that provides a three storey blank concrete wall to the majority of the population of Tecoma. It has significant amenity issues; traffic, noise and visual bulk to name a few….to read more about what I said about the application at the council meeting follow this link.

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time out for birdsland

As a result of the terrible fires that went through Birdsland I’m asking pet owners to abide by the temporary regulations banning dogs from the reserve. This will give injured wildlife in the reserve a chance to recover from the bushfire.

Birdsland was closed for five weeks after a large part of it was engulfed by fire, however it was re-opened in time for the Oxfam Trailwalker event.

A lot of wildlife was injured and staff from Parks Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment and
Wildlife Victoria have rescued many animals and removed them to Healesville Sanctuary where they are receiving veterinary care.

Many other animals that either couldn’t be caught or whose injuries were less severe, were left in the reserve where they will recover in time. Wildlife from the fire-affected areas of Lysterfield Park and neighbouring areas are also seeking food, water and shelter in the Birdsland Reserve.

The reserve is usually designated as a lead-only zone for dogs but since the bushfire, that has been temporarily changed to no dogs in the reserve at all.

Wildlife Victoria have said that recovering animals will be stressed at the moment with people being in the park, and even more so by the presence of dogs and other animals. Even the scent of dogs being walked on leads in the reserve is distressing to them.

There is signage all over the reserve asking people to consider the wildlife and for a short while, not bring dogs into the reserve. Unfortunately, some people are ignoring the signs and several people have allowed their dogs to roam off leads.

Birdsland is a very popular reserve due to its natural beauty, and if we want to see it returned in all its glory, we need to give the reserve and the wildlife time to recover. I hope the community understands and shows some compassion for our injured creatures.

The last thing I want is to see Birdsland closed again or to have to take further measures to ensure people do the right thing. We do want the reserve to be of benefit to all – for those who enjoy visiting Birdsland and the creatures who call it home.

Don’t forget to keep off burnt areas too, as plant seeds are starting to germinate and it is important to give vegetation the best chance to recover whilst it is in this fragile state.

If you need to source an alternative reserve to take your dog to for a bit of exercise whilst Birdsland is closed to dogs follow this
link, which details on and off lead sites throughout the Shire.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

handrails delivered

Last year when I was campaigning for the local government election in Belgrave a resident spoke to me about the lack of continuous hand rails along the laneways in Belgrave. She had suffered 4 strokes and had difficulties with mobility in the township. The lack of handrails meant she was unsteady on her feet and not confident about getting around using the laneways.

I made a commitment to her that I would follow up and see if I could rectify the problem. Although it took a little longer than I would have liked, persistent follow up with officers at the Shire saw the handrails installed last week. I’m pleased to see that the handrails have been installed and those with mobility challenges now have a handrail to use with confidence from one end of the laneway to the other.

The topography of Belgrave makes it a challenging town at the best of times and anything I can do to assist people to get around is a win for all in our community.

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bunny in belgrave

It was delightful to see the Easter Bunny in Belgrave on Saturday morning. His basket of chocolate eggs proved to be very popular with youngsters and adults alike.

As part of the Easter celebrations Donna Burgess, President of the Belgrave Trader’s Association, walked the street bearing trays of hot cross buns for local shoppers.

Shoppers were very appreciative of the extra effort put in by the Traders and readily tucked into the buns and eggs on offer. Well done to the Traders, you help build the community spirit the hills is known for. The Easter Bunny was a talking point up and down the street with locals readily stopping to have a chat.

You never know what you might come across when you shop locally. I’ve always been a great supporter of our local businesses and now more than ever it is important that we support them by shopping locally.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

end of cfa declared fire danger period

The CFA Declared Fire Danger Period is due to end from 1am on Monday, 20 April, 2009.

Burning off is only for the purposes of fire fuel reduction and should not be used as a way to dispose of green waste, garden cuttings or grass clippings.

Remember the Shire of Yarra Ranges has changed the rules in relation to burning off, if you live in a residential bushland area you can:

Residential Bushland areas
Residents can burn off four days per week including Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8am to 6pm, with the following exceptions:
No burning in June and July
No burning on a Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday
No burning on a CFA declared Total Fire Ban Day
No burning during the Declared Fire Danger period, including the use of incinerators, without a permit (each year the CFA declares the time frame for this period and displays signs to advise when it starts and finishes)
No burning on EPA declared Smog Alert Days.

If you’re not sure what burning off regulations apply where you live call 1300 368 333.


I have always supported the right of residents in the Dandenong Ranges to manage fire fuel on their properties. There are a whole suite of ways residents can deal with their fire fuel, although this summer the build up of fire fuel over summer was so great that I felt it necessary to call for a review of our green waste services as it clearly wasn’t keeping up, I was also keen to ensure council supported free green waste disposal at tips and transfer stations to help residents manage their fire fuel.

How to Burn
Fire should be a maximum of 1 metre high and 1 metre wide with a 3 metre clearance area above and around the fire.
Make sure the material you are burning is dry – burning wet or green vegetation produces excessive smoke and is prohibited under the local law.
All burning should take place no less than 10 metres from buildings and other structures.
Do not leave fires unattended.
Ensure there is a minimum of 10 litres of water nearby, a hose for covering all areas to be burned and hand tools for clearing.
Do not burn on nature strips or road reserves.
When burning consider your neighbours. Ensure that smoke is directed away from homes and washing.
Damage and expense caused by escaping fire is the responsibility of the person who lit the fire.
Do not burn if the wind speed is more than 15km/h.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

selby folk club turns 30

Friday night saw the celebration of 30 years of Selby Folk Club. The club organised a performance extravaganza at Burrinja which saw acts such as Leigh Sloggett, Peter York, Ange Takats, David Ross Macdonald and The Undesirables all perform. It was a great night, the place was packed with supporters of Selby Folk Club. It is quite an achievement to get to 30, the club is run totally by unpaid volunteers and to sustain themselves over the past 30 years is a real feather in their cap.

The aim of the club has always been the same - encourage local performers by giving them a supportive atmosphere in which to perform, and encourage local residents to come and hear live local music.

I had the pleasure of being 'barrel girl' for the raffle. Alex (pictured with me), gregarious front man for the club, revealed to the audience that he had learnt that the club actually started in 1971 (however it officially started out of Selby Community House in 1978).
I was pleased to be able to sponsor the club to help with their 30th celebrations. The Dandenong Ranges is a community that has a great and broad appreciation across the arts and judging by the turn up on Friday night Selby Folk Club will be around for a long time to come.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

thank you to agencies

Earlier this week I attended a Shire of Yarra Ranges civic reception to thank those agencies who have assisted Yarra Ranges during the bushfire recovery. Their efforts were outstanding, agencies worked together under challenging conditions to help our residents in a myriad of ways. Agencies and organisations thanked and represented on the night included:

Red Cross
Knox City Council
Salvation Army
City of Whitehorse
Victoria Police
Department of Primary Industries
Monash City Council
Department of Human Services
Manningham City Council
City of Casey
Maroondah City Council
SP Ausnet
Parks Victoria
City of Greater Dandenong
City of Boorondora
and last but certainly not least
staff of the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

There has been an overwhelming response by agencies and volunteers alike to assist our community through this tragic time. I am very appreciative of everyone's efforts and offers of assistance and support have come from all quarters with all manner of support.

Our thank you civic reception was held at Mitchell’s Training Restaurant at Swinburne in Lilydale. Here's head chef/trainer Antonio Frisini and me.
Antonio is very passionate about his trade and his students and is a great proponent of the Slow Food movement in the Yarra Valley.
I cannot speak highly enough of the efforts of all of our emergency services workers, the volunteers who support them, the staff at the Shire, agencies, councils and community members who have taken on significant roles assisting the community through this terrible time.

I am very thankful for all their hard work, their compassion and their dedication to helping fellow members of the community, it is very much appreciated.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

turning rubbish into money

Earlier this week, Greens MLC Colleen Hartland (pictured above) released Turning Rubbish Into Money, a report detailing the benefits of container deposit legislation (CDL). The report outlines the financial, social and environmental benefits of a 10cent deposit on drink bottles and is a precursor to the Greens introducing legislation for a 10cent refundable deposit on drink bottles, cans and cartons. Colleen commisioned the report to show that a 10cent deposit system is not only good for the environment but makes sound financial sense (visit VicGreens and follow the links to find out more).

Last year the Yarra Ranges Council considered the issue of container deposit legislation, the benefits were very clear, any legislated, mandatory broad based packaging and recovery scheme would reduce unsightly and dangerous litter in our environment. At the same time increasing recycling will save both energy and raw materials used in the production of packaging. There are many positive benefits to the community, the environment, government and industry.

Turning Rubbish Into Money highlights the benefits of CDL, benefits which South Australia has been enjoying for many, many years. The Keep Australia Beautiful Litter Index report 06-07 clearly indicates that there are far less CDL items in the litter stream in South Australia. Per 1000 m2 of land there were 1.59 CDL items in South Australia compared with 2.8 items in Victoria.

If you would like to know more about the CDL campaign follow this

The Shire's support of CDL resulted in an invitation to present to the Senate Committee Inquiry on Waste Streams (see

I presented to the Senate Committee on behalf of council and included the results of a waste audit for the Melbourne metropolitan region, a staggering 15% of the waste collected was made up of recyclable materials and finding their way to landfill, imagine if there was a CDL system in place, these recyclables would be making the community money rather than filling up landfill space. A recent audit of the shire’s public waste bins found that 50% of rubbish was recyclable.

In South Australia the Scouts make over $1 million a year from can and bottle refunds. Other charities and community groups also benefit financially. Imagine if there was a CDL system in Victoria, no more unsightly rubbish cluttering our streets, like these left over stubbies in Belgrave. CDL has massive benefits to community and the environment.

The Senate Committee final report highlighted support of the waste hierarchy:

"The waste hierarchy was supported by many as a meaningful tool to guide waste management as it seeks to minimise waste generation and maximise resource recovery. As Councillor Samantha Dunn stated:
The waste hierarchy—refuse, reuse, recycle, recover energy, treat, contain, dispose—should be used to guide all community consideration and management of waste products"

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