Sunday, February 28, 2010

council minutes - 23 feb

click on the image for a copy of the minutes

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reflex action launched

Over the weekend I spoke at the Kick Reflex out campaign launch at the Maryvale Paper Mill.

To read on visit

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Friday, February 26, 2010

save the bush – melbourne’s last intact remnant bush going, going…..gone

Earlier this week I went to the Save the Bush rally on the steps of Parliament to hear community groups speaking out about the construction of Peninsula Link and the destruction of some of Melbourne’s last remnant bush.
To read on visit:
Samantha Dunn Greens Candidate for Eastern Victoria.

From left to right: Sue Pennicuik - Greens MLC for Southern Metropolitan Region, Brian Walters - Greens candidate for Melbourne, Colleen Hartland - Greens MLC for Western Metropolitan Region, Samantha Dunn - Greens candidate for Eastern Victoria Region and Colin Long - Greens candidate for South Eastern Metropolitan Region.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

electronic bird scarers – more work to be done

report from the roundtable – 23 feb

At this weeks council meeting councillors had to consider the creation of a new local law to control the use of Electronic Bird Deterrent devices.

The devices emit a noise of distressed and dying birds and are used by some fruit growers to deter birds from eating their crops.

Concerns about the new law have been raised by farmers, environmentalists, tourism operators all raising different points of contention about the law.

I held concerns about the effect of the devices on wildlife particularly Helmeted Honeyeaters, Powerful Owls and other endangered species in the shire. After hearing submissions I moved a motion to defer council’s decision to make the new local law.

That Council defer the decision to make an Electronic Bird Deterrent Local Law 2009 until Council has considered the Green Wedge Management Plan recommendations and explore the opportunity for exclusion zones for Endangered fauna listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

In supporting the deferral I spoke about the complexity of the new law, which was created because of the impact on people, however we are yet to be certain about the impact on wildlife. I think we have a responsibility to protect our endangered species and needed to do some work on identifying exclusion zones for the devices to be included within the local law.

We are very fortunate in Yarra Ranges to have Powerful Owls and Helmeted Honeyeaters and to ensure their ongoing best interests we need to use the precautionary principle when considering the impacts of these devices on these and other birds.

It is an issue where no one will be happy, because the local law doesn’t fulfil anybody’s needs, there is much more work to be done. One submitter reported to council that the VFF have suggested council give more time to the consideration of the local law as the EPA are currently drafting new guidelines for farming zones. This may have a direct impact on the operation of the local law which relies heavily on the EPA’s N3/89 Interim guidelines for the control of noise from industry in country Victoria which was released in 2000.

The consideration of Electronic Bird Deterrent devices also raises an advocacy role for council for assistance to farmers trying to protect their crops. Netting is a much more successful way to protect crops, with very little crop loss and the added benefits of quietness, however it is very expensive for farmers.

We are a unique shire, rich in environmental assets, with stunning vistas, high quality produce from a range of growers and farmers and a large and growing tourism industry. Balancing these is a complicated matter. Given the complexity of all the issues it was prudent to defer the making of the local law, councillors agreed and voted unanimously for a deferral.

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smarter buses getting smarter

The Minister for Transport has just announced some improvements to the Wellington Road Smartbus route 900. The improvements will see the creation of a dedicated bus lane between Nantilla and Springvale Roads (opposite Monash University) approximately 600mtrs long as well as the extension of an existing bus queue jump lane at the Monash Freeway exit ramp to Brandon Park Drive.

It is good to see some improvements to the smart bus network in the East. It is a very well used route by the community in the East.

Whilst these improvements are welcomed more action is badly needed. One of the biggest problems with Route 900 is the lack of dedicated bus lane between Stud Road and the M1.

Our communities are crying out for better and increased services across all modes of public transport including a full and public feasibility study into Rowville Rail.

A heavy rail line to Rowville is a missing and an essential public transport link for Melbourne which will provide better transport options for students and teachers at Monash University, workers in the Scoresby Employment Precinct and the people of Rowville, Lysterfield, Yarra Ranges and everyone in between.

As Chair of the Eastern Transport Coalition I will continue to push Government to invest in real sustainable alternatives and a better transport system for our Eastern suburbs.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

nsps for the valley

report from the roundtable – feb 23

Council had to consider the formal designation of three more Neighbourhood Safer Places. Officers have been working through the long list of assessments for NSPs and recommended designation of the Halley Supple Reserve in Coldstream, Queens Park in Healesville and the Powelltown Public Hall.

Councillors formally designated the sites, however in the case of the Powelltown Public Hall, it was subject to conditions. The Hall will need additional works in order for it to properly be considered as an NSP. The works are in the order of $25,000 and the Shire is in discussions with the State Government to ensure funding to allow the hall to undergo basic passive fire prevention upgrades to assist in the defence of ember attack.

I hope the state government provides us with the assistance we need, NSPs have been imposed on us and we shouldn’t be the tier of government carrying the can for them.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

logging for pulp – our forests in jeopardy

On Saturday 26th February I will be joining Senator Scott Ludlam at the Kick Reflex out of our Forests campaign at the Maryvale Mill in Gippsland.

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save the gorilla comes to a library near you

As part of the ERL’s commitment to sustainability the library network is supporting Melbourne Zoo’s Save the Gorilla Campaign by collecting old mobile phones.

Every mobile phone contains the metal Coltan, this metal is mined from Gorilla habitat in the Congo River Basin. The mining of Coltan is contributing to forest loss and unrest in the region and is accelerating the loss of mountain gorillas at an alarming rate.

Each time you recycle your mobile phone the need to mine Coltan is reduced, not only that you are diverting your old phone from ending up in landfill and you will help Melbourne Zoo raise money to support the Jane Goodall Institute’s primate conservation work in Africa.

So remember, the next time you renew your mobile phone, recycle your old phone at your local library. Where is your local library? Click
here to find out.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

show shoot shine time

Over the weekend saw the running of the fifth Hillside Film Festival at the Cameo Outdoor cinema in Belgrave. The festival provides young Victorian Filmmakers with an opportunity for their work to be shown on the big screen.

From left to right: Tilla Buden - Festival Director, Corey O'Meara - Festival Producer and me on night one of the festival. The Shire of Yarra Ranges supports Hillside Film Festival with a cultural development grant.

On Friday night the festival opened with a screening of Surfing 50 States, a surf film made by Jonno Durrant and Stefan Hunt who went to the United States with the intention of surfing in every state in the US (and they did, water or no water). It was a great movie, innovative, quirky and resourceful, it captured the spirit of the Hillside Film Festival.

It was a great festival, 8 short films making the final cut for screening on Saturday night with The Laundromat by Timothy Melville taking out the winning prize. It has been terrific to watch this festival grow and grow over the past five years. From humble beginnings, the last two years have been a sell out. It remains a highlight on the arts calendar in the hills and I look forward to the next one.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

strike out street lights

report from the roundtable – feb 9

At the last council meeting I raised Maribyrnong City Council’s advocacy campaign around street lighting.

Maribyrnong are seeking support from local government for a statewide advocacy campaign to compel the state and federal government to take strong action to enable the upgrade to energy efficient streetlights. Changing the street lighting to more energy efficient lighting would save over 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Victoria alone.

It is a campaign well worth supporting. Local government has to bear a huge financial burden to change over street lighting however the benefits of doing so are immense because of the massive reduction in CO2 emissions and the ongoing savings in energy consumption and future energy costs.

The campaign will focus on raising community awareness of the issue and then target the State Government, the Australian Energy Regulator and key policy and decision makers to advocate for a state government contribution of $150 towards each street light changeover.

Yarra Ranges has 7,295 street lights and they contribute the highest amount of corporate greenhouse gas emissions for the Shire of Yarra Ranges (seconded by our aquatics facilities). We have currently budgeted $1.8 million towards the bulk change over of all street lights in 2010/11 as part of our Carbon Management Strategy.

Street lights contribute significantly to emissions of local government but many councils do not have the capacity to change to the more energy efficient lighting. A financial contribution from state government would ease the burden on local government and allow considerable inroads into reducing the state’s carbon emissions, there is no doubt this contribution is well overdue.


That Council:

Work in partnership with Maribyrnong City Council, the Municipal Association of Victoria and other interested Victorian councils to develop a street light advocacy and community awareness campaign targeting the State Government, private electrical companies and other key decision makers in order to facilitate:

1. State Government contribution of a minimum of $150 (either through direct funding or
market-based equivalent such as Victorian Energy Efficiency Target) per energy efficient street light changeover for every Victorian Council.

2. Changes being made to the ‘National Electricity Law’ regulations that would require electrical distributors to continually improve the efficiency of street light systems as new technology becomes available.

3. The banning of inefficient (80 watt MV) street lights within Australia by the end of 2010 in line with the COAG National Strategy on Energy Efficiency.

The motion was supported by councillors unanimously.

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early years plan – shaping our children’s future

report from the roundtable – feb 9

I had the pleasure of moving the motion to endorse the shire’s Municipal Early Years Plan – Help Shape the Future of Children. The development of the plan was a process I’ve followed closely as the councillor representative on the steering committee.

The consultative process was extensive, community conversations and forums, postcard questionnaires and feedback, roundtables with experts and practitioners, input from early childhood development experts and of course feedback from children too.

The plan identifies three key priorities in planning for families and children over the next three years in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

1. Yarra Ranges is a place where children are safe, healthy, active in learning and develop well.

2. Children are active participants in community life.

3. All families are able to meet the social, emotional, learning and health needs of their children.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges will work in partnership with our communities to improve the opportunities and outcomes for young children through:
Working towards a child friendly community
~ Engaging children in every aspect of community life
Focusing attention on vulnerable and isolated families
Creating conditions where families can help children to reach their full potential.

Children are often ignored in our society, their views not taken into account. I’ve long been a passionate advocate for their voice to be heard. I’m hopeful that
Help Shape the Future of Children will help to fill that gap and we will have a municipality that is truly a child friendly community.

The plan will officially be launched in March.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

50kph well overdue

report from the roundtable - 9 feb

For many years now, I have campaigned to get speed limits through our townships lowered to 50kph. In the four and a half years as a Yarra Ranges councillor, out of a total of 13 towns the shire has campaigned for we have successfully gained 50kph zones in only TWO townships. The townships we still want a 50kph zone for are Belgrave South, Coldstream, Montrose, Millgrove, Mt Evelyn, Mount Dandenong, Selby, Tecoma, Wandin North, Woori Yallock and Yarra Glen.

To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement. In our last attempt to make our townships safer back in April, 2008, the Minister for Roads, Tim Pallas, said that our townships didn't meet the Vic Roads guidelines in that there is not continuous retail development on both sides of the roads for at least 200 metres.

It is obvious that the guidelines do not take into the unique situation of Yarra Ranges. We have challenging topographies, reduced sightlines, rural roads, increased traffic volumes and an increased numbers of pedestrians. Because of our unique situation at Yarra Ranges I moved a motion calling for the Minister to review the guidelines as they do not take into account the specific safety needs and infrastructure constraints for communities in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

1. Council writes to the Minister for Roads and Ports, The Hon Tim Pallas, with a copy to local MPs, to request a review of the Vic Roads guidelines for outer metropolitan townships as this criteria does not take into account the specific safety needs and infrastructure constraints for communities in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.
2. The review particularly takes into account the townships of Belgrave South,
Coldstream, Montrose, Millgrove, Mt Evelyn, Mount Dandenong, Selby, Tecoma,
Wandin North, Woori Yallock and Yarra Glen which have not previously qualified for
a 50km/h speed limit under the current guidelines.

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the motion.

Do we have to wait for a tragedy before anything is done? Our community has long asked for these changes to speed limits. Given the Shire's poor road fatality record (the worst in the state) I would have thought that slowing traffic would be an easy ask of Vic Roads and the Minister.

I look forward to a positive response from the Minister and special consideration of our unique situation.

If you'd like to help, you can. If you live in a town where you want a lower speed limit write your own letter to the Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, and I'd really like a copy too (

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time to restore a safe climate

Yesterday I attended the launch of the Transition Decade, a collaboration between Friends of the Earth, The Climate Emergency Network, Beyond Zero Emissions, Sustainable Living Foundation, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Environment Victoria, and many others.

To read on visit:
Samantha Dunn - Greens Candidate for Eastern Victoria

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Friday, February 12, 2010

minutes 9 feb

click on image for a copy of the minutes

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

changing the planning and environment act

report from the roundtable – 9 feb

At this week’s meeting council endorsed our submission to the Planning Minister, Justin Madden, on the proposed changes to the Planning and Environment Act.

The proposed changes are currently in the form of a
Bill that was released for consultation in December 2009.

Many of the proposed changes will have serious negative impacts on the role of local government. The changes will see the further erosion of local democracy and the removal of citizen’s voices in relation to planning matters.

One of the suggested changes was to give equal consideration of environmental, economic and social considerations when assessing planning applications. The Yarra Ranges Council strongly opposes this change. This change would significantly weaken environmental considerations when assessing planning applications and would result in a compromise in environmental values and have a flow on detrimental effect on our environment.

The proposed changes would also see council’s position weakened when negotiating with applicants. Council is the local planning authority and these changes seek to diminish our role in facilitating the democratic process.

Local governments across Victoria also have significant concerns about the proposed changes. I hope the Minister is listening, there are a lot of councils against what’s proposed here.

If you’d like to read a copy of council’s submission click

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

station rats and other scum bags

Last week I had the great privilege of opening
Station Rats & other Scum Bags,
an art project with tiffany bishop and the SCUM PUPS at the Burrinja Gallery in Upwey.

Tiffaney Bishop, local artist (left), has done a great job assisting these young people with their works. Tiffaney works with compassion and dedication, committed to the project and the young people of Upwey.

Station Rats & other Scum Bags is an art exhibition with serious intent. The exhibition compassionately considers a community of young people living in and around Upwey, a community that is often criticised for their anti-social behaviour.

The exhibition is a slice of life of young people in Upwey in their space in and around the Upwey railway station. The exhibition touches on some of the emotional, social and cultural issues impacting on young people.

The young people of Upwey want to change the way they are viewed and this exhibition is a celebration of their positive energy and youth activism.

The work is a credit to the young people who created it (mostly 14 year olds) and to tiffaney bishop the artist who assisted with the project.

It is well worth a visit. Station Rats & other Scum Bags is on at the Burrinja Gallery until 14th March, 2010.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

one year on

The 7th February, 2010, one year on from Black Saturday, is a day of contemplation and a day of remembrance. Thoughts turn to those terrible events one year ago, the tragic loss of life, the devastating loss of people’s homes and the shocking loss of wildlife and bushland.

I took these aerial photos on a tour of the Ryrie Ward. In Yarra Ranges 12 people lost their lives on Black Saturday.

In Yarra Ranges the fires continued to burn for weeks after Black Saturday. Our community either traumatised by the fire that had been or in fear of the fire that threatened.

The tireless efforts of the CFA volunteers were heroic, there were amazing gestures of generosity from near and far as people responded to the tragedy that was unfolding before us.

One year on, we see recovery, rebuilding and regeneration. People starting the journey to get their lives back on track, new houses being built and the bush regenerating.

I took these photos out the back of Steels Creek in October, 2009. I had been told about the grass trees putting on a spectacular display and went to see for myself.

Our natural environment provides a backdrop message of hope to our fire affected communities. Gum trees covered in epicormic growth, species of plants only ever seen after bushfire, mass displays of spring flowers, blackened tree ferns with their lime green fronds, all in response to fire.

It will take a long time to recover from such a calamitous natural disaster, Black Saturday has affected many people in many ways. With understanding and care people will rebuild their lives, overcome the trauma and learn to live with the memories.

At this one year mark, my thanks again to all the volunteers who went well beyond the call of duty in responding to Black Saturday and still do to this day.

I also extend my heartfelt and sincere well wishes to all those people who lost loved ones in the fires, this day will be difficult for you but know that our thoughts are with you.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

climate change - where to after copenhagen?

a public forum in Belgrave
thursday 18 Feb
6.30pm for a 6.45 start, until 8pm

Earthly Pleasures Café - Bluestone Bar
1627 Burwood Highway, Belgrave

close to Belgrave Railway Station, plenty of parking at rear (Mel ref: 75F10)
Disability access: there are steps to navigate

Friends of the Earth have organised a free public forum to discuss climate change and the where to from here post Copenhagen negotiations. I encourage you to go along to contribute to this important and most critical issue.

The Copenhagen negotiations were a disaster for the world's poor. The chances of reaching a binding global agreement on climate change now appears even further away.

Yet climate change is real and already happening. As a global community we must act now to radically reduce our emissions. But what are the options for climate change campaigners here in Australia? How should we respond to the failure of Copenhagen? How and where should we be campaigning?

This forum will address:

* how we might respond to the failure of Copenhagen. Where to now for the climate movement?
* how to engage in international climate campaigning – including the problems of offsetting and the REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program - Ellen Roberts
* 'climate refugees'. How should Australia respond to the needs of our neighbours in the Pacific. Wendy Flannery

* climate campaigning in Victoria – how can we achieve a rapid transition to renewable energy here in Victoria? Cam Walker

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

This is a free event organised by Friends of the Earth.

FoE welcomes local community and environment groups to set up an information stall.

For further information, please call 9419 8700 or

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

council agenda - 9 Feb

Please click on the image for agenda files.

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