Monday, November 30, 2009

selby salutes some stayers

On Saturday night I had the great pleasure of attending the Selby CFA Annual Dinner, a great occasion attended by brigade members and their partners. This year saw the awarding of the 50 year service medal to John Peacock, awarded a life membership to the brigade in 1991.

Alan Marks, myself and John Peacock at the Selby CFA Annual Dinner.

John first became a member of the CFA in Belgrave, went on to Kallista and then settled in Selby in 1961 where he remains a member to this day. John recounted the early days of the brigade where a local spud farmer supplied the tray truck to fight fires whilst the firefighters only had knapsacks and rake hoes to do the job.

Fifty years is a wonderful effort from a man dedicated to protecting the local community, congratulations to John on your fifty years.

The night also saw Alan Marks receive Life Membership of the brigade. Alan has been involved with the CFA since 1977 and at one stage was the Group Officer for the region. Life Membership is a terrific way to recognise individual dedication to the CFA and the people they protect.

The brigade, like most across the Dandenongs, has seen an increase in membership of firefighters and auxiliary members too. The camaraderie of the Selby Brigade is outstanding, they are very well regarded in our local community, and their recent efforts to raise funds for Selby Tanker 2 reinforces the high regard the community has for the brigade (see blog).

It was a great night, wonderful to meet new and old members alike and celebrate the brigade’s achievements.

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walk against warming – 12 december

Walk against Warming, one of Australia’s largest climate events, is coming to Melbourne, (with events across Australia too). Whilst world leaders are in Copenhagen deciding what to do about climate change this is your chance to send them a message they can’t ignore.

It is time for leaders to take decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a safe climate for our future. So it is up to us to show them we care and we want action now.

To rsvp to Walk against Warming click on the image.

Plans this year are to meet at the State Library, walk down Swanston Street to Princes Bridge and then form a human sign SAFE CLIMATE – DO IT!

Details are:
Walk Against Warming

Saturday 12/12/2009 @ 12pm State Library, Swanston Street, Melbourne
For information on walks elsewhere in Australia please go

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logging our water catchments, it’s still going on

Recently a concerned local resident from Upwey organised Sounds of Change, an environmental awareness raising day at Earthly Pleasures Café in Belgrave. Around 50 people came to hear local artists and speakers.

I, along with Chris Taylor and Keith Sarah of Warburton Environment, talked about logging of Melbourne’s Water Catchments from our various perspectives.

I talked about the motion supported by the Shire of Yarra Ranges council in late 2007 to oppose logging in our water catchments.

“That Council supports a public statement opposing logging of water catchments in Yarra Ranges, and further that Council also makes representation to the Premier, the Minister of Environment and Minister of Water, and I propose that the statement is:

The Shire of Yarra Ranges does not support logging in water catchments.

Council recognises that:

1. Logging has a dramatic and detrimental effect on water yield in catchments.
2. Young re-growth trees need more water to grow thus releasing less water into catchments.
3. Logging reduces stream flow and yields to water catchments.
4. It takes 150 years for water yields to return to their pre logged status.
5. It is poor water policy to continue to log our water catchments.
6. Logging of water catchments adversely affects water quality through increasing sediment as does road construction through logging coupes.

We urge the government to consider a policy of no logging in water catchments.”

Yarra Ranges has the privilege of containing 51% of Melbourne’s water catchments and logging them continues to put Melbourne’s water supply at risk. After Yarra Ranges supported that motion in 2007, 14 other municipalities supported our position throughout 2008. This is an issue I have long been concerned about, click here for a speech I made at a rally in Warburton pre logging season last year.

Post 2009 bushfires, the forest in the burnt areas of our water catchments is in a far more fragile state. The best thing for Melbourne’s water supplies, fauna and flora would be to let the forest naturally regenerate however salvage logging is going on at an alarming rate in our water catchments right now.

I have recently heard that these salvage logging operations are creating fires and it has been determined that logging operations in these regions must stop by midday each day to mitigate the risk of bushfire.

Our communities are at risk of fire by salvage logging operations, already they are stressed by logging trucks continually passing through their townships and now they have the added concern of fire from salvage logging. No longer can we continue to put at risk our water supply and our endangered species. The time has come to close Melbourne’s precious water catchments to logging.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

indemnity for nsp’s - a state responsibility

report from the roundtable – 24 nov

I was appalled to learn of the need for a development of a Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan (NSPP) at this eleventh hour in the lead up to fire season (see blog). I was even more aghast to learn that the “Amending Act” the state government introduced to parliament this week would mean that liability for Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) would fall to local government once enacted.

I moved the following motion in response to the issue:

“That Council write to The Premier, the Honourable John Brumby MP, and The Treasurer, the Honourable John Lenders MP, with copies to our local MPs, requesting that the State Government provide ongoing indemnity to protect Local Government against any liability it may incur in relation to the use of a Designated Neighbourhood Safer Place by any individual when sheltering from bushfire.”

The liability for NSPs goes well beyond the scope of local government. When we think of a bushfire event it is a state emergency, not only the domain of local government. This liability has been imposed on local government without any consultation.

I have serious concerns about the term Neighbourhood Safer Places, they should be called Places of Last Resort which far more adequately reflects what they are. NSPs are places to go to when all else fails, when you fire plan is no longer effective, there is no guarantee you will survive, in fact you may well perish. Places of Last Resort is a term that far more adequately reflects the purpose of these sites.

Many in the community are regarding NSPs as a ‘fire refuge’, they should not have the word ‘safer’ within their title, it implies something that just isn’t so.

I think if we a genuinely serious about protecting life in the longer term we should be building purpose built facilities to protect our communities. NSPs do not fit the bill.

The onerous responsibility of liability is stark and the amending bill proposes where an NSP is on non council land, any liability for death or injury arising out of its use as an NSP during an actual or threatened bushfire, transfers instead to the relevant municipal council, the owner/occupier wont be liable but the council will be. Council will be liable for any death or injury of a person using an NSP as a shelter from bushfire too.

This is the worst form of cost shifting from state government to local government. This goes way beyond what any municipality should be responsible for. I hope that other municipalities who are at fire risk join with Yarra Ranges to urge the state government to rightfully take on liabilities for NSPs. It is a disgraceful turn of events.

I am pleased to say that the motion was supported unanimously.

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neighbourhood safer places

report from the roundtable – 24 nov

I felt compelled to address the issue of establishing Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) after a presentation by the Dandenong Ranges Community Bushfire Group where it was said that the identification of NSPs was ‘not happening’.

I assured the public in the gallery that the shire has been working very hard on this issue (to date 63 sites have been forwarded to the CFA for assessment). I explained that as late as the 13th November at 6:08pm (so realistically it may as well be Monday morning, the 16th Nov) council was informed that we now need to develop a Neighbourhood Safer Place Plan (NSPP) as part of the process. In a time where our emergency personnel have been working tirelessly we now find there is even more work for them to do.

It has been imposed on us by state government at a time when we are in the full swing of bushfire preparedness. Not only does council have to prepare a NSPP, it must be endorsed by council, then accepted by the Treasurer BEFORE we can start to nominate NSPs. It also holds up the endorsement of our Municipal Emergency Management Plan which needs to incorporate locations of NSPs. The development of the plan and sign off by the Treasurer will ensure that council receives indemnity from the state government should there be a death or injury of a person using an NSP as a shelter from bushfire or if there is a failure by council to designate a place as a NSP.

The timelines to the fire danger period are looming closer and closer and we find ourselves dealing with yet more bureaucracy around NSPs. I have no doubt that the Dandenong Ranges are the hottest of bushfire hotspots in the state and always have been. I have great faith in our staff and their commitment to seeing an NSPP delivered but am appalled by the lateness of this information. We have much to contend with and this timing is atrocious.

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coldstream carved up

report from the roundtable – 24 nov

This week’s council meeting saw five applications for second dwellings in various locations in the Coldstream estate. The Coldstream Neighbourhood Character study shows that the Coldstream community values:
- the rural landscape and quality of the landscape and vistas surrounding the town
- privacy from intrusive new developments and extensions
- retention of existing large trees and providing space for new trees
- the sense of openness and the sense of connection to the landscape of the Yarra Valley.

All of the proposed developments were in areas of ‘least change’ according to council’s adopted Housing Strategy, which indicates these are areas with a minimum lot size of 1,000 square metres. We have been through extensive consultation over the housing strategy, we understand clearly what our community’s aspirations are in relation to their townships.

Every application proposed far smaller lots than 1,000 square metres, varying from 1:446, 1:445, 1:446, 1:434 and 1:446. These lot sizes fall well short of community aspirations for the township as evidenced by recent housing strategy consultations.

One of the councillors supporting the developments argued that the additional dwellings would create demand and improve bus services, whilst another spoke of VCAT, a recent decision and how a refusal would fail and we had no choice.

What I ask is did that VCAT member live in Coldstream, did that VCAT member understand the expectation of single dwellings within Coldstream, did the VCAT member understand the neighbourhood character of the area, did the VCAT member understand the community’s aspirations for the township?

To suggest that additional dwellings would create demand and mean greater delivery of infrastructure and services is misguided. Experience in the highest growth corridors shows that this is far from the reality. Currently bus services do not come within the Coldstream estate and I do not think that these second dwellings will have any bearing of the level of service currently delivered to the township.

Objectors to all five applications furbished a petition from local residents which contained 596 signatures from local residents, with 686 signatures in total. In a quick reconciliation I calculated that 60% of households within the Coldstream estate opposed the developments.

By the time the third application came up we heard the neighbour speak passionately about what she valued in Coldstream, however her pleas fell on deaf ears. I urged councillors to reconsider, it was terrible to see Coldstream being carved up before our very eyes.

The fourth and fifth applications were for render/colourbond homes, completely out of keeping with the character of Coldstream. In the case of the fourth application I could only say colourbond/render/tin shed poor outcome for Coldstream.

The fifth application proposed a home constructed of colourbond and render coloured Monza Red. It was clear by this stage that a voting pattern had formed and would not be broken, but a red tin shed is a terrible outcome and the events of the night have set a dreadful precedent for Coldstream.

A division was called on each application, in every case the vote was:
For: Councillors Heenan, Warren, Higgins, Cox and Avery
Against: Councillors Dunn, McRae, Cliff and Templer

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greenfields for st thomas mores

report from the roundtable – 24 nov

At this week’s council meeting we had to consider the demolition of the Austral Hall at St Thomas Mores Primary School. The hall was included in a recent request to the Minister to apply interim heritage controls.

The school want to construct a grassed area for their students to play which has been funded by the “Building and Education Revolution”. The application was referred to the local historical societies and no objection had been put forward by them or any community member.

The hall, originally built by the community in a day in 1920, was gifted to the local Roman Catholics in 1938, who used the building as a church until the modern day St Thomas Mores church was built. The building has become very dilapidated and for some time has not been used by the school or the community.
Approximately 200 students attend St Thomas Mores Primary School, they have to go off site to play sport because they don’t have access to a grassed area in their own school.

I was happy to move the motion to approve the construction of the oval and demolition of the Austral Hall. When balancing up the pros and cons, providing open space for children to play figured far more highly to me than a hall that really was separate to the historically significant ‘beauty bend’ and was in a derelict state. The motion was supported unanimously.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

selby cfa gets a new tanker

It was with great pleasure that I had the official duty of handing over the community funded Selby Tanker 2 to the Selby CFA. In a project that has been in progress for 10 years the Selby brigade has raised $200,000 from the local community to pay for a new tanker.

Selby is a small town with a population of around 2,500. To raise $20,000 a year speaks volumes for the high regard the community has for its local brigade. The brigade and auxiliary have worked tirelessly doorknocking and sausage sizzling to raise the funds and it was a great occasion to see their efforts rewarded at their annual Fireman’s Fair with a sparkling new tanker.

The new tanker has many more safety features, greater storage capacity and a self contained light tower. It will be a great asset for the brigade and the local community.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

it’s all show for the monster petition

The Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition got off to a great start in the Shire of Yarra Ranges at the Lilydale Show. Community members were keen to sign and send a message to government about the poor or non existent rail services in the east.

This lady was very happy to be the last signature on a scroll from the monster petition, a resident of Chirnside Park, she was keen to support the ETC’s efforts for better public transport in the east.

The government’s Victorian Transport Plan delivers very little for the east, our communities are crying out for better rail and bus services. Last week the issue of lack of rail and high levels of car ownership was highlighted in
The Age. How much longer must our communities be burdened with expensive running costs and road congestion as they are forced to own multiple cars due to poor public transport services?

If you’d like to sign the monster petition look out for it at the following venues:


Fri 27 Nov Lilydale Library
Sat 28 Nov Lilydale Library
Sun 29 Nov Warratina Lavender Harvest Festival
Mon 30 Nov Mt Evelyn Main street
Tue 1 Dec Mooroolbark Library
Wed 2 Dec Mooroolbark Main Street
Thu 3 Dec Montrose Library
Fri 4 Dec Mt Evelyn Library
Sat 5 Dec Kallista Community Market
Sun 6 Dec Healesville Craft Market
Mon 7 Dec Yarra Junction Community Link
Tue 8 Dec Upwey Community Link
Wed 9 Dec Upwey Community Link
Thu 10 Dec Belgrave Library
Fri 11 Dec Belgrave Main Street (near the Commonwealth Bank)
Fri 11 Dec Belgrave Carols in the Park
Sat 12 Dec Chirnside Park Shopping Centre - tbc
Sun 13 Dec Chirnside Park Shopping Centre - tbc
Mon 14 Dec Off to the City of Manningham

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tecoma supermarket, too bulky, too big… and vcat thinks so too

You could not wipe the smile from my face when I learnt that VCAT had upheld council’s decision to refuse the Tecoma Supermarket application.

What a great victory for our community. I congratulate VCAT for listening to community concerns and saying no to a building that was way too bulky and would have left adjoining neighbours and most of the residents of Tecoma with an 11 metre blank concrete wall.

A highly controversial application, council received 531 objections and 16 separate petitions against the application with only 4 letters of support.

Me standing outside some of the buildings that would have been demolished if the application had got the go ahead.

Tecoma is a town that has great hills character, it’s built form is low scale and one of it’s hallmarks is its canopy of trees and open space. It has a population of around 2,000 people and has little capacity for growth.The application was to build a massive supermarket, a building 11 metres high with minimal setbacks, the tiniest of landscaping and 3 storeys high at the rear.

Its interface with the neighbours was atrocious. Not only the direct neighbours would be affected, but the majority of the Tecoma community would be looking at the back of an ugly 3 storey concrete block. I thought it was a complete overdevelopment of the site, it had significant amenity issues; traffic, noise and visual bulk to name a few.

I am so very pleased VCAT upheld council’s decision, if you’d like a copy of the decision email me at

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

tecoma supermarket - vcat agrees

stop press stop press stop press

VCAT have supported council's position to refuse the Tecoma Supermarket application. Great news for the community, particularly those residents who had to contend with an 11 metre blank concrete wall. More details soon.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

transition town training off to a great start

Last week dozens of participants joined with Transition Town trainers Janet and Jacinta at Birdsland to learn about energy descent plans and planning for a carbon and oil constrained economy.

It was great to be able to welcome participants to Birdsland, I was also able to report on councils resolution to develop a Peak Oil Response Plan for Yarra Ranges.

Reports back were very positive with three local groups formed in the Sherbrooke, Emerald/Gembrook and Montrose regions to do more work on transitioning our community for an oil constrained, climate change future.

The training was instigated by local Kallista resident, Kristy Henderson, who is part of the newly formed Birdsland Environment Collective. The collective is passionate about Birdsland and are keen to reinstate the heritage orchard and create a community garden.

They have great vision and energy for Birdsland and I look forward to seeing their plans come to fruition.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

jo tenner preselected for monbulk

Fundraiser to launch the campaign, this Sunday the 29th in Upwey.

to read on visit

Samantha Dunn for Eastern Victoria

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gm crops in nearby berwick - public meeting coming up

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Friday, November 20, 2009

fire danger period declared – starts 14 Dec

The CFA have declared that the fire danger period will commence 0100 hours on the Monday 14 December 2009 in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

After this date no burning off will be permitted.

It's time to get your fire plan in place.

Current CFA policy recommends that residents "prepare, act, survive, be fire ready".

It's essential that you prepare early, discuss it with your family and/or neighbours, but please make a fire plan.

The CFA has some really good information available on their
website. The CFA also run local community meetings to raise people's awareness of their bushfire risk, and work with residents to turn that awareness into action. You can find out where your next local community meeting is by visiting this link.

Our fire plan lives on the side of our fridge, but come bushfire season, it's reviewed and placed fair and square on the front of the fridge for all to see. I urge you to go to your local CFA community meeting and so you can make an informed decision to prepare, act, survive, be fire ready.

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making a monster of it

Yarra Ranges’ residents will have the chance to make their mark on the historic public transport Monster Petition as it travels throughout the shire over the next three weeks.

Today at Eastland, I formally received the Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition from Cr Alex Makin, Maroondah’s ETC representative.

The petition will kick off its tour through Yarra Ranges at the Lilydale Show over this weekend before travelling throughout the shire.

The Monster Petition is part of an innovative campaign aimed at putting pressure on the State Government for better public transport across Melbourne’s east.

The Monster Petition was
launched at Monash University’s Clayton campus in July and has since travelled through five municipalities, collecting signatures from disgruntled public transport users and community members seeking a fair go for public transport in the east.

It’s an ideal opportunity for Yarra Ranges residents to get behind the ETC’s campaign to improve public transport by signing up to the petition.

By collecting thousands of signatures we hope to show the government that the community is fed up with a second rate public transport system.

While the Monster Petition travels throughout the shire pages from the petition will also be available for signing at the council’s Community Links, libraries, aquatic centres and arts centres.

A list of petition locations and times is available on the Eastern Transport Coalition

Sat 21 Nov Lilydale Show
Sun 22 Nov Lilydale Show
Mon 23 Nov Lilydale Community Link
Tue 24 Nov Lilydale Library
Wed 25 Nov Swinburne University
Thu 26 Nov Lilydale Community Link
Fri 27 Nov Lilydale Library
Sat 28 Nov Mooroolbark Christmas Fair, St Peter Julian Eymard School
Sun 29 Nov Warratina Lavender Harvest Festival
Mon 30 Nov Mt Evelyn Main street
Tue 1 Dec Mooroolbark Library
Wed 2 Dec Mooroolbark Main Street
Thu 3 Dec Montrose Library
Fri 4 Dec Mt Evelyn Library
Sat 5 Dec Kallista Community Market
Sun 6 Dec Healesville Craft Market
Mon 7 Dec Yarra Junction Community Link
Tue 8 Dec Upwey Community Link
Wed 9 Dec Upwey Community Link
Thu 10 Dec Belgrave Library
Fri 11 Dec Belgrave Main Street (near the Commonwealth Bank)
Fri 11 Dec Belgrave Carols in the Park
Sat 12 Dec Chirnside Park Shopping Centre
Sun 13 Dec Chirnside Park Shopping Centre
Mon 14 Dec Off to the City of Manningham

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

interested in forming a monbulk landcare group?

Expressions of Interest – forming a Monbulk Landcare Group

The Shire of Yarra Ranges would like to gauge community interest in forming a Landcare Group in the Monbulk area. This has been prompted by a number of residents in the area who have expressed a need to create such a group.
Landcare is a grass-roots, volunteer approach to sustainable land management, that also provides community strengthening benefits. Forming a Landcare Group is a way that neighbours can benefit from the knowledge of each other, as well as free information and training sessions, access to grants, various schemes and liaison with state and local government representatives.

The aim is to see improvements in the environmental condition of natural resources in the area.

Landcare's strength lies in community involvement and will rely on your active support to function. Benefits are certain to outweigh the small amount of time needed by neighbours. I hope that you are able to attend this Start Up Session to get the ball rolling in forming the Monbulk Landcare Group.

When: Tuesday 24th November, 7.30 pm

Where: Monbulk Bowling Club, 11 Moores Rd, Monbulk (Mel ref 124 H1)

Please contact Kim Boswell, the Shire's Landcare facilitator, on 9294 6184 or email to RSVP or if you would like further information.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

multi-agency bushfire briefing sessions

The Yarra Ranges Council, CFA, Victoria Police, Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria will be presenting joint fire preparation briefing sessions to inform the community about the actions they are taking to prepare for the coming summer fire-danger season.

All members of the community are invited to attend and will have an opportunity to hear from each organisation and ask questions.

The sessions are designed to inform communities about the work all agencies have undertaken in planning and preparation for this year’s fire season.

Sessions will be held at 7.30pm unless otherwise advised on:
25th - Yarra Junction Recreation Reserve
26th - Olinda Community House
1st - Upwey High School
3rd - Silvan Fire Station
3rd - Warburton Upper Yarra Arts Centre, Mechanics Hall
8th - Ferny Creek Horticultural Society
8th - Mt Evelyn Community Hall
14th - Healesville Memorial Hall
15th at 7pm - Seville Public Hall
16th - Woori Yallock DSE/CFA meeting room

Meetings will be cancelled on days of Total Fire Ban.

These briefings are not designed to answer residents’ questions about preparing individual properties for the summer season. The CFA is, however, continuing to provide separate Fire Ready Victoria sessions around the region where residents can get information. The local brigades have been very proactive with signage detailing local briefings. If you haven’t been to a local brigade briefing and want to know when one is next on visit this CFA website

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Monday, November 16, 2009

monster petition coming to yarra ranges

The Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition is coming to Yarra Ranges. The petition touches down at the Lilydale Show on Saturday 21st November and will be there for the duration of the show. The Monster Petition will make its way around the Yarra Ranges over the next three weeks, for details of where and when visit the ETC’s website.

Me, signing the monster petition at its launch at Monash University in July, 2009.

Because the Monster Petition can’t be everywhere a looseleaf version of the petition will be available at all community links, aquatic centres and shire facilities.

The Monster Petition will be presented to parliament early next year to gain commitments from all political parties to deliver improved public transport services in our region. At the moment the Victorian Transport Plan delivers very little to the East and we want to see that change.

Students from Monash University were keen to sign the monster petition. Monash has no rail links with many students force to drive cars, the car park is a testament to students being forced to drive.

The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) represents seven Councils in the outer east and advocates for accessible and integrated sustainable transport in the eastern region of Melbourne to improve liveability and reduce car dependency.

Petition wording:
PETITION To the Legislative Assembly of Victoria
The Petition of residents and businesses in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne points out to the House that the Victorian Transport Plan does not make provision for the extension of much needed rail services and improved passenger facilities to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria seek a commitment from the Government to modify the plan to include:
1.A full and public feasibility study for a heavy rail line to Rowville,
2.A full and public feasibility study for a heavy rail line to Doncaster,
3.A greater commitment to the extension of the Metro rail tunnel from Domain to Caulfield,
4.A full and public feasibility study for an increase in capacity on the Belgrave/Lilydale and Glen Waverley lines.
5.Improved facilities for passengers, particularly at interchanges in central activity districts – Ringwood, Dandenong and Box Hill,
6.Fully accessible public transport facilities and vehicles.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

caldicott comes clean

Today I was in Belgrave to listen to Dr Helen Caldicott talk about the dangers of nuclear energy. I helped to sponsor the event, Clean Energy, as a way to increase local knowledge about the nuclear industry. I have been concerned about the ongoing recent suggestions that nuclear power is a solution to climate change in Australia. After listening to Helen it was abundantly clear that nuclear is a very poor solution to climate change.

Clean Energy was a great opportunity for locals to learn about the dangers of uranium mining and the nuclear industry.

Helen talked about the dangers workers face working in Uranium mines and the long term effect it has on the human body. She talked about the cumulative effect radiation has on people and the fact the 40% of uranium supplied comes from Australia. She went on to talk about the accumulation of radiation in the food chain and that the nuclear industry is the most dangerous, carcinogenic industry in the world.

We learnt that there are 440 nuclear reactors throughout the world, 104 of them in the USA, they are all wearing out and are currently undergoing maintenance works to extend their life for another 20 years, but after that their future is unclear. 30% of the spent rods are removed every year and put in cooling ponds which are 2 to 30 times more radioactive than those rods in the nuclear reactor. Uranium becomes one billion times more radioactive when fissioned and a nuclear reactor contains as much radiation as one thousand Hiroshima sized bombs.

I had a great chat with Helen about People for a Nuclear Free Australia, an organisation she founded.

The use of nuclear waste for weapons and the ticking time bomb that is genetic disease are good reasons to find better solutions to power generation across the world.

Dr Caldicott commissioned a report “Carbon Free Nuclear Free”, which documents how the USA could achieve a fossil fuel and nuclear free country by 2050, you can find it at this link.

Helen is also founder of People for a Nuclear Free Australia, if you’d like to get informed about the issues join at I encourage you to learn more.

Nuclear is not a solution to a clean, sustainable future. It is fraught with risks and will not solve the climate crisis.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

transition town training will be here soon

Next week a group of locals will join Transition Town trainers, Janet Phillips and Janice Walsh, at the Birdsland Education Centre to learn about energy descent plans and planning to prepare for a carbon and oil constrained economy.

From left to right: Michelle, Davey, me and Kristy, all very keen to see our community transition to a sustainable future.

Janet Phillips and Janice Walsh are from Transition Town Mount Alexander, Castlemaine. Both Janet and Janice are recognised by transition town trainers worldwide and come from community development and behavioral change backgrounds.

Originally instigated by local Kallista resident, Kristy Henderson, I was pleased to be able to support
Transition Town training for the Dandenong Ranges and establish funding through the Shire’s community development unit.

I look forward to welcoming people to Birdsland next weekend (21st & 22nd Nov) as they embark on their
Transition Town journey to build resilience into our local community.

If you’d like to know more about Transition Town Dandenong Ranges you can email Kristy at

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clive hamilton hits higgins

Last night I joined with greens supporters across Victoria to launch Australian Greens candidate, Clive Hamilton’s, election campaign for Higgins.

to read more visit:
Samantha Dunn for Eastern Victoria

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

mobile coverage for little yarra valley

report from the roundtable – 10th Nov
At this week’s council meeting we had to consider the installation of a 35mt telecommunications pole atop Mt Beenak. Often these applications are refused by council due to amenity and proximity to residential areas or sensitive community facilities.

In this case the pole was a welcome addition to the landscape. Mobile coverage is a rare commodity in the Gilderoy/Powelltown region of the shire. The monopole which will be installed on top of Mt Beenak will provide the Little Yarra Valley with much needed mobile coverage. The pole is well sited in a remote location away from sensitive land uses.

The 35mt slimline monopole will be of great benefit to Gilderoy and the surrounding region, it will be painted grey to blend into the environment, and local residents will get access to nextG mobile coverage as well as the many visitors who occasionally go astray in the region.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sounding out environmental awareness

On November 22nd, Earthly Pleasures café in Belgrave will host Sounds of Change.

Sounds of Change is an environmental awareness day involving local musicians and key community members as guest speakers.

The aim of the day is to spread knowledge and awareness about local environment issues to empower people to take action.


The day features local bands including;
The Jed Rowe band
Charles Baby
Great Earthquake
The Blues Stone A’capella and
Patrick Carr

Speakers include;
Cr Samantha Dunn
Jaxon Barnes
Sarah Rees
Chris Taylor and
Keith Sarah

Speakers will be talking about deforestation in the Warburton water catchment areas, climate change, land management and more.

Sunday 22nd November, 2009 from midday to 5pm ish
Where: Earthly Pleasures Café, 1677 Burwood Highway, Belgrave
Cost: Absolutely free

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

etc monster petition visits yarra ranges for a day

The Community Safety Expo held today at Lillydale Lake was a great opportunity for the Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition to make a cameo appearance.

The Yarra Ranges staff are keen to help out with the Monster Petition, here I am with Karen, one of our development and traffic engineers. Karen is very passionate about public transport matters and a keen cyclist too.

People visiting the expo were very keen to talk about their public transport woes and sign the Monster Petition, tallying an additional 235 signatures for today, signatures on the petition to date are over 5,000.

The Monster Petition returns to the City of Maroondah for the Maroondah Festival and will be at various locations up until the 20th November (see the ETC
website for more info).

The petition officially commences it’s tour of the Shire starting at the Lilydale Show on the 21st November, watch this space for more info or visit the ETC’s

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Friday, November 06, 2009

public internet in belgrave south

Residents looking for internet access can now head to the Belgrave South Community House where a fully fledged computer lab offers community members public internet access and basic office software too.

Here is local Friends of Hazelvale Valley volunteer, Anne Elizabeth, surfing the net to identify this handful of weed nasties.

Belgrave South Community House also has PC’s fitted out with keyboards for the visually impaired and a track ball mouse for those with mobility challenges.

If you’d like to know more visit the BSCH

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

early years plan – what do you think?

During Children’s Week I had the great pleasure of being part of the launch for the Shire’s Draft Municipal Early Years Plan, Help Shape the Future for Children .

The launch was held at the Teddy Bear’s Picnic at Lillydale Lake, children were kept entertained with story time by Eastern Regional Libraries followed by CARP who told the story of the quest to find Brown Bear.

Help Shape the Future for Children is based around three priority areas;
1. All children are healthy, develop well and are active in learning
2. All children are active participants in community life
3. All families are able to meet the social, emotional, learning and health needs of their children

I have been involved with the development of the strategy as the councillor representative on the steering committee. It has been a great privilege to share conversations and experiences with families, service providers and staff working in children’s services.

Help Shape the Future for Children is intended to be a dynamic and interactive planning process that recognises and relies of the contribution of a broad range of people and organisations.

If you, a community group or service you are involved with has an interest in working on community based initiatives around the three priority areas above we are keen to hear from you. We’d also like to discuss options for collaborative action planning.

If you’d like to give council some feedback on Help Shape the Future for Children, visit the Shire’s
website. We’d love to hear from you, but make sure you get your response in by the 4th December.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

yering station sculpture 09 exhibition - outstanding!

I had the great pleasure of attending the opening of the Yering Station Sculpture 09 exhibition and awards. In it’s 9th year, the exhibition is a eye-catching display of contemporary sculpture.

From left to right: Exhibition judges; Geraldine Barlow, Anthong McInneny & Jason Smith, exhibition coordinator; Savaad Felich and Cr Samantha Dunn pictured in front of the winning entry, Location by Dana Harris.
It is a great drawcard to our region with people from across Melbourne attending the opening.
Yering Station is a great space for contemporary sculpture, pictured here is Interlocked by Antonia Villella.

Savaad Felich, exhibition coordinator, has been a driving force in the success of the exhibition, his passion has seen the annual Yering Station Sculpture event become a not to be missed prestigious occasion on the Arts calendar.

Vehicle for Thoughful Observations by Marynes Avila, onlookers were encouraged to tie their own ‘wishing’ knot to add to the piece.

Brolga by Richard Walker.
I encourage you to go along and enjoy some stunning sculpture in a spectacular setting.

The exhibition runs through to the 6th December at Yering Station, 38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen.

‘If you go down to the woods…..’ by Genevieve McLean.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

berwick says no to gmo

This morning I met with concerned Berwick residents outside a farm growing genetically modified canola.

To read on visit
Samantha Dunn for Eastern Victoria

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

doing agribusiness in the shire

On Tuesday I went out on tour across the Shire with MPs of the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Sustainable Agribusiness in Outer East Melbourne. We spoke to an orchardist and a flower grower and heard about some of the difficulties they and their colleagues face farming in the current climate.

Here I am pictured with Colleen Hartland MP, Upper House member for Western Metropolitan. Colleen was keen to learn about some of the key issues affecting our farmers.

Number one concern was water, farmers frustrated that work on treatment plants would not see recycled water flow their way. Another key issue raised was the interface between rural practices and residential areas. Our farmers have seen residential houses grow up around them and find that many of their normal farming practices have to be modified to take account of the residential amenity.

The Parliamentary Committee took great interest in the key issues in Yarra Ranges. Here we are at Proteaflora where passionate General Manager, David Matthews, talked about his business, his vision for the industry and the benefits of being located in a key floriculture production region.

We heard of a case of a berry grower who cannot start picking fruit until 7am because of residential amenity, however it is much more advantageous to pick fruits early before the heat of the day.

Farm structures were another issue talked about, often producers of food, flowers and plants will use all manner of structures to protect their crops whether that be hail netting, igloos or glasshouses. This can be a source of tension when farms are close to housing.

Other issues included access to labour in peak season and the leaner times. Yarra Ranges is well placed to supply Melbourne with high quality fresh produce. Being only 50 kms away from the city gives us a great advantage and will put us in good stead when costs for freight increase.

The value of agricultural and horticultural production is estimated to be over $650 million and growing in the Shire. The major industries are nursery plants, viticulture and winemaking, floriculture, poultry and pig production, berries, orchard fruit, vegetables and beef production.

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