Thursday, June 28, 2012

cupboards officially open

I have long been a supporter of the Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service. For near on fifteen years they have been providing relief services for those in need.

Cr Samantha Dunn cuts the ribbon to officially
open DRERS new cupboards. Also celebrating the
occasion is DRERS manager, Tania Bevan,
founder, Frank Watson and volunteers John and Bob.
Their services continue to expand with demand and DRERS find themselves playing a key role in food distribution for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.

Their offices, in the old Belgrave schoolhouse, were packed to the rafters with boxes of food, making it difficult to distribute and sort. I was delighted to be able to provide a grant from my community ward fund to assist in building cupboards and shelves so DRERS could easily distribute food to needy locals.

My first official cupboard opening, it was great to be able to provide practical support to assist DRERS, they provide such an important safety net.

If you can spare some cash, food or blankets you can donate to DRERS, click here for more info.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

not the archies, local lad takes highly commended

Not the Archies is a great community initiative in the Yarra Valley supported by the Shire of Yarra Ranges. It provides an opportunity for local artists, young and old to submit portraits in the spirit of The Archibalds now on show at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art.

Cr Samantha Dunn with the Radley family from
The Patch. Proud Mum, Angie and Dad, Stuart
congratulate their ten year old son Archer who
took out a Highly Commended award.
The recent awards were a great occasion and it was terrific to see some Dandenong Ranges locals in the crowd.

I was delighted to see ten year old Patch Primary School Student Archer Radley take out a Highly Commended Award for a portrait of his one year old sister. Archer's parents were proud as punch of his achievement.

Cr Samantha Dunn with Dandenong Ranges locals,
Noah Symons - local artist and musician behind
Great Earthquake, portrait sitter, Kallista Primary School
Principal, Barbara Rose and local artist who painted
Barbara, Pauline Molenaar.
It was great to see local artist Noah Symons submit a portrait of David Eames (as well as be the subject matter of a portrait by Gabrielle Symons) and Kallista Primary School principal, Barbara Rose, subject matter of a portrait by another local artist, Pauline Molenaar.  

It's a wonderful community event, if you'd like to see all the portraits online, click here.

Violet Radley 1 year old, portrait by
her brother Archer, who's 10.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Yarra Ranges farms in jam over sales at farm gateYarra Ranges Weekly
by Claire Thwaites
26 June 2012 

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be inspired - ronni khan

This year’s Be Inspired women’s leadership event is shaping up to be another not to be missed occasion.

This year’s event features guest speaker Ronni Kahn, Founding Director of OzHarvest, a not for profit organisation that provides food for communities at risk.

Ronni Kahn grew up in South Africa and moved to Israel where she brought up her family. She arrived in Australia as an immigrant from Israel in 1988. 

Come and listen to Ronni’s amazing story of compassion and determination; hear about her quest to make a difference in the world and to create an organisation with sound business ethics that would positively impact society.

Be inspired by her journey and find out how she took a small idea – collecting edible excess food from a range of food outlets – and created an organisation that delivers around 15,000 meals per day to those in need.

Ronni will be joined by inspiring local women including Yarra Ranges Councillors Jeanette McRae and Samantha Dunn, Yarra Ranges Council’s Ian de la Rue Award recipient 2012 Margaret Brooks, and 2012 Swinburne University Scholarship recipient Jessica Cruff.

When: Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 5.30pm arrival for drinks and canapés, formalities start at 6pm.
Where: Swinburne University – Lilydale, LC Building, Room LC226, 50 Melba Avenue, Lilydale
Cost: Places for this free event are limited and bookings are essential
Book via: Roxann Jenkins on 9294 6370 or

Places are filling fast, so be sure to book straight away.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

belgrave lights up the night

Marina Dennis - parade organiser and the engine room
behind the festival, Emma Johnson - local artist who's
spend countless hours creating lanterns with the
community at the many lantern workshops and
Cr Samantha Dunn - Lyster Ward. I'm proud to be
able to support this event through a Yarra Ranges
Festivals and Events Grant.
Congratulations to organisers of this year's Belgrave Lantern Parade.

In it's sixth year, the community came out in droves to parade with their lanterns or to stand by and watch the passing parade.

The event wouldn't go ahead without countless hours of work by the organising committee and all the volunteers who came out on the night to help in a myriad of ways.

The Belgrave Lantern Parade is a wonderful event, I thank everyone involved, it is a wonderful celebration of creativity and community.
These powerful owl lanterns are superb. Created by
lantern festival artists, Emma, Jane, Renate & Glenn.

Liz Beaton from BRAG with her
whimsical lantern. The great thing
about the lantern parade is it gives
locals the chance to let their creativity

It was terrific to see Michelle Jones and the team
from Transition Sherbrooke march in the parade.

Our Young Environmentalist of the Year,
Jordan Crooka, was there with an amazing
hammerhead shark lantern as part of
promoting Fin Free Ranges.

Charmaine Jeffery, Belgrave Bendigo Bank Manager, is
a great supporter of the Lantern Parade.

Captain Neville Aldham from the Selby CFA was on
hand volunteering along with many of the hills

Fire twirling made up part of the post parade celebrations.

Here's Emma Johnson with this gorgeous sun lantern.
This lantern has featured in every parade.

This Viking Ship lantern is a family affair, first launched
last year, it was great to see it back again for parade
number six.

The streets were abuzz with people carrying lanterns of
all shapes and sizes. This whale lantern is spectacular.

This is the first year that Puffing Billy have been in the
parade, what else but a Puffing Billy Lantern!

Local band, Fat Chance, provided pre parade
entertainment while people waited for the night to come.

The Mater Christi Girls College band, The Deep End,
got the street rocking in pre parade entertainment.

This Owl and the Pussycat lantern is extraordinary and
has set new heights in creativity when it comes to
lantern design. Well done to lantern artist Jane, great

I am always impressed by the diversity of
designs in lanterns. It's great to be part of
such a creative community.

These Belly Dancers led the parade.
This peacock lantern is wonderful, it's creator makes a
new lantern every year, this year's looks great.

Nice to see the Dalek make another lantern outing,
accompanied by various spacecraft - great effort.

Nice to see this Echidna Lantern, the natural
environment provides great inspiration for the
Belgrave Lantern Parade.

Local artist, Simon Duiker, with this year's creation.

The zombies made an appearence this year.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

bikefutures 2012 - time to pencil it in your diary

BikeFutures 2012
EtihadStadium, Melbourne: Thursday 18 – Friday 19 October 2012

Johan Diepens, CEO and founder of Mobycon, the leading edge Dutch transport and mobility consultancy will give his vision of what the future holds for bike riding at Bike Futures 2012 in October.

Mr Diepens, a trendwatcher and strategist, will discuss different smart mobility solutions that are being introduced around the world.

He is one of the keynote speakers at Australia’s leading bike conference fornational and local leaders, planners, architects, urban designers and builders who use bike transport and recreation to advance their communities.

Now in its fourth year Bike Futures will tackle the issue of ensuringthat the growth in bike riding around the country now requires its own transport and planning response.

Harry Barber, CEO of Bicycle Network, said: “What was once seen as asub-culture is now fashionable, healthy and part of the transport solution”.

“While bike riding is a key factor in reducing traffic and public transport congestion, it does need a new approach that many political and planning leaders are now grappling with.”

“A multi faceted approach is required to meet the mobility needs of society,” he added.

The conference will also hear from Professor Ross Garnaut, author of Australia’s Climate Change Review, who will share his view on the environmental role the bicycle can play.

Bike Futures 2012 will discuss how to best provide bike infrastructure,essential for mobility, to changing the ways cities work. World leading experts as well as some of Australia’s leading practitioners will explain how to best respond to the issues confronting communities as they embrace the bicycle revolution.

Workshop themes for the conference will include:new and innovative bicycle treatments, bicycles and public transport, motor vehicle speeds in neighbourhoods, cycling and liveability, bike planning, shared paths and shared spaces, cycle tourism and bike separation.

The two-day conference is presented by the Bicycle Network and hosted byBicycle Network Victoria.

Public inquiries Bike Futures 2012:
Call Bicycle Network on: 1800 616 600

I very rarely promote conferences on my blog, but this one cuts the mustard so I'm happy to promote it to readers.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Fast food outlets grow in the suburbs
Herald Sun
by Brigid O'Connell
23 June 2012

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

vlga - local governments must retain rate powers

Local governments must retain rate powers

The Victorian Government has recently introduced amendments to the Local Government Act which will change the process for local governments to implement differential rates.  Differential rates are levied on particular types of properties at a higher or lower rate than the standard rate.  These rates respond to important local land use planning, economic development or social issues.  The State Government is seeking to implement new guidelines for differential rates and to provide the Local Government Minister the power to prevent local governments from implementing differential rates.

VLGA President, Cr Samantha Dunn, today said, “Many local governments have worked with their communities to develop differential rates which reflect council and community objectives.  Differential rates can be used to encourage beneficial land uses or to help communities address the impact of some land uses.  In particular, the VLGA believes it is vital that local governments retain the ability to develop rating strategies that help address important social issues.”

“The VLGA welcomes the six-month consultation process for the development of guidelines on differential rates.  We will be working with the State Government, local governments and community leaders to ensure that the new guidelines continue to allow local governments to address defined objectives by implementing differential rates and associated policies and programs,” said Cr Dunn.

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message in a bottle

Yarra Ranges Council has had long standing support of a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) for beverage containers. In 2008 we first endorsed a policy position to support Container Deposit Legislation.

Peter Cook, one of the key drivers behind
AFROCAB, Australians for Refunds on Cans and
Bottles, sets sail in the SS 10cent deposit boat.
I was delighted to be able to join members of AFROCAB (Australians for refunds on cans and bottles) for their launch of the "SS 10cent deposit" boat at Lake Auravale. The boat made entirely of bottles and cans found in the environment.

Peter Cook has worked tirelessly to raise the profile on this issue. In 2005 he and Marion Cook formed AFROCAB so they could represent the views of Australians who want something done about the growing number of cans and bottles that litter the countryside.

Locals join Peter for the launch of the SS 10cent deposit
boat at Lake AuraVale.
Pictured left to right: Linda Ballis, Lee Fuller,
Cr Samantha Dunn, Peter Cook, Rose Ovenden,
Marion Cook,Graeme Eadie and John Ballis.
It was terrific to join with other passionate locals from the region who came out to join the launch.

A Container Deposit Scheme would bring significant benefits to Yarra Ranges council, particularly in relation to reducing costs in cleaning out street drainage pits, gross pollutant traps and public bins.

There'd also be savings on kerbisde recycling due to the increased value of containers that remain in the bins. There's enormous potential for community fund raising as well as income for individuals.

A CDS would see a greater incentive for recycling by the hospitality industry and at events and festivals. Material would be diverted from landfill and there's the environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced water consumption.

I commend AFROCAB on their commitment and dedication to raising awareness on this issue and look forward to government, either federal or state, just getting on with legislating to enable a container deposits scheme in Victoria. 94% of Victorians support it.

If you'd like to watch the boat launch event, click here.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Money for jam push
Mail Newspapers
by Mara Pattison-Sowden
20 June 2012

Bottling facility in hot water
Mail Newspapers
by Mara Pattison-Sowden
20 June 2012

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samantha in the press - environment

Onboard the SS 10 cent deposit
Yarra Ranges Weekly
19 June 2012

Weeds get the skip
Mail Newspapers
by Casey Neill
20 June 2012

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samantha in the press - tafe

Council split on education union action
Mail Newspapers
by Mara Pattison-Sowden
20 June 2012

Swinburne TAFE faces staff and course cuts
Leader Newspapers
by Angus Livingston
19 June 2012

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recognising reconciliation

Cr Samantha Dunn and Aunty Dot Peters at
the Yarra Ranges reconciliation lunch, this year
held at the Healesville RSL.
Reconciliation week is an important week in Yarra Ranges.

One of the features of the week is the annual Reconciliation Lunch, this year's lunch themed Recognition Reconciliation.

It was about recognising the advancements that have been made toward reconciliation but by the same token recognising there is still more work to do.

Since 2010 Council’s Indigenous Advisory Com-mittee (IAC) have been involved in activities designed to set a new strategic direction for our work in Reconciliation.

Research conducted by a Swinburne University student is providing a rich background on key areas such as cultural development in the urban context and culturally respectful evaluation.

Since 2006 Yarra Ranges Council has employed an Indigenous Development Officer and established an Indigenous Advisory Committee to assist council in the delivery of its priorities, which include:
  • Maintaining an Indigenous voice on Indigenous issues
  • Acknowledging and protecting Indigenous cultural heritage
  • Engaging Indigenous young people
  • Promoting health and wellbeing
  • Building stronger relationships and new partnerships with the wider community in order to promote business and employment opportunities.
This year will see council launch our Indigenous Employment Strategy and in collaboration with our Indigenous Advisory Committee, develop a new 3 to 4 year action plan that will focus on opportunities for participation in contemporary cultural activities.

Yarra Ranges has the highest indigenous population of the Eastern metropolitan councils and we take great pride in our indigenous cultural heritage.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

samantha in the press - environment

Mt St Leonard logging: shire sends SOS to CanberraYarra Ranges Weekly
by Claire Thwaites
19 June 2012

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think women for local government

A formidable group of women, from left to right:
Cr Stefanie Perri - City of Monash, Cr Di Blackwood -
Baw Baw Shire, Minister for Women's Affairs
Mary Wooldridge, Minister for Local Government
Jeanette Powell, Cr Sue McMillan - Knox City Council
and Cr Samantha Dunn - Yarra Ranges and
VLGA President.
My role as Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) President has seen me attend many Think Women for Local Government forums.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of officially launching Think Women for Local Government.

I was delighted to be joined by a wonderful group of strong women who spoke of their experiences as women in local and state government.

The Think Women for Local Government project is funded by the Office of Women and being delivered by the VLGA. The project's mission is to get 700 women to join the sprint to the 2012 local government elections.

Women make up 51% of Victoria's population but we're only 29% of local councillors across 78 different municipalities (Brimbank isn't included as it's under administration). In the 2008 local government elections the numbers of women elected dropped and no women stood in a quarter of wards and subdivided municipalities.

The VLGA is working with the Victorian Government, local governments and community partners to boost the number of women candidates standing in October.

In the lead up to the 2012 elections its sobering to note that there are five local governments with no women councillors at all and fourteen with only one woman on board.

Women bring different experiences and a promise of better diversity to city and shire halls. It's about bringing balance to the decision making table.

If you're interested you can register to access the Think Women for Local Government site here. You can also visit the More Women for Local Government facebook page here.

Local government is very rewarding and has provided great opportunities to get things done at the local level for the community as well as develop personally.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

samantha in the press

Leader local grants can change lives
Free Press Leader
by Emily Webb
18 June 2012

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monbulk pool update, the mud edition

It's been terrific to follow the progress of the reconstruction of the much loved Monbulk Pool.

The pool's refurbishment is possible with $8.5 million funding from the Shire of Yarra Ranges, State and Federal government. (Council has contributed the lion's share of funding at $7 million).

Current works include preparing for the ground floor slab for the new Gym and Office areas and seeing the steel installed for the gym floor (soon we might see framework go up for the walls and roof of the new gym too). 

The old pool structure has been removed and the remaining hole is nearly ready to progress with a process called 'blinding concrete' completed. 

I'm a member of the project control group that meets regularly to discuss the progress of the development. I'm learning a lot about how an aquatic centre is constructed!

It's an exciting project for the Lyster Ward and one I know many community members are looking forward to seeing completed. I worked hard to secure funding for the project through council's capital works budget. It's wonderful to see that work being transformed into bricks and mortar.

If you're on facebook you can follow the progress of the construction by liking the Monbulk Aquatic Centre page here.

I'll keep you posted with more updates, maybe post mud, there's plenty of it on site at the moment!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

water bottling bottled

report from the roundtable - 12 jun

There's a site that's come before council a couple of times over the time I've been a councillor, it's the Water Bottling Plant out in the Don Valley.

Tonight it was before us again seeking a retrospective permit (that means the works have already been constructed without a permit). The works include the construction of seven water tanks, machinery shed, two shipping containers and a bore shed.

The submitter for the objectors put forward a compelling case, a very experience town planner herself, Ms Jacka presented a range of documents to council with irrefutable evidence that there has only ever been permission for two tanks on site even though there are seven on site. The photographs provided by the submitter highlighted how industrialised this site was.

Cr Chris Templer (ward councillor for O'Shannassy) moved a motion to approve the permit, but this motion lapsed for failure to get a councillor to second the motion. 

Cr Jeanette McRae moved a motion to refuse the application, to which I was happy to second. 

In speaking to motion I talked about the importance of the Rural Conservation Zone. It is a zone which recognises significant environmental values. It is not a zone that suits industrialisation.

The purpose of the zone is to protect and enhance the natural environment and natural processes for their historic, archaeological and scientific interest, landscape, faunal habitat and cultural values.

In no way did I think the application aligned with this purpose.

The Rural Conservation Zone also aims to protect and enhance natural resources and the biodiversity of the area and encourages development and use of land which is consistent with sustainable land management and land capability practices, and which takes into  account the conservation values and environmental sensitivity of the locality.

Did this application meet this purpose, in my view it did not.

The zone also provides for agricultural use consistent with the conservation of environmental and landscape values of the area and seeks to to conserve and enhance the cultural significance and character of open rural and scenic non urban landscapes.

A highly industrialised water bottling site does not meet this purpose.

Add to that the fact that the site has an Environmental Significance Overlay and a Significant Landscape Overlay, it is completely inappropriate to contemplate such a development in this location.

I'm pleased to say the majority of councillors supported Cr McRae's refusal motion.

Voting for: Crs Jeanette McRae, Samantha Dunn, Len Cox, Noel Cliff, Terry Avery, Richard Higgins and Tim Heenan

Voting against: Crs Chris Templer and Graham Warren

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

samantha in the press - elections

Stand for council: women told to get on the hustings
Free Press Leader
by Laura Armitage
16 June 2012

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archibalds on tour

Michael Vale - Night of the wolverine,
 a portrait of Dave Graney and Clare Moore.
Last weekend saw the official opening of the Archibald Prize 2012 at Tarrawarra Museum of Art.
It was a great occasion, opened by John Wood - Yarra Valley local, whose portrait (painted by Raelene Sharp) took out the Packing Room Prize this year.

The room was abuzz with much conjecture about the 41 portraits selected as finalists for 2012.

It was terrific to meet Yarra Ranges locals Dave Graney and Clare Moore, subject matter for Michael Vale's portrait.
Luke Cornish - Father Bob.
Father Bob Maguire was delightful, it was wonderful to meet him and winning artist, Tim Storrier, was very generous with his time.

The exhibition  is well worth a visit and runs till 8 July, open Tuesday – Sunday, 9.30am to 5pm (Closed Mondays).

To book online click here.
Winner of this year's Archibald Tim Storrier with
The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch).

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Friday, June 15, 2012

draft local laws out for comment

report from the roundtable - 12 jun

At this week's council meeting, councillors unanimously endorsed the draft General Provisions Local Law for public comment.

This is a statutory process required to give notice to council's intention for make the local law. 

I'm pleased to say that that this version of the local law is a far more sensible approach than the draft that was out for comment in November/December last year and is a good reflection of the community feedback received. 

The General Provisions Local Law 2012 consolidates a range of already existing local laws to reduce the administrative burden of undertaking separate review processes each time an individual local law sunsets. 

The consolidated local laws include the Scare Gun Control Local Law 2002, Streets & Roads Local Law 2005, Animal Control Local Law 2007, Consumption of Liquor in Public Place Local Law 2007 and the General Provisions Local Law 2010. There's also some additional new local laws proposed.

New inclusions cover off on:

  • Use of parks and reserves and Council buildings
  • Street parties, festivals, circuses and events
  • Rubbish collection
  • Collection of monies
  • Feeding of cockatoos
  • Damage to trees and vegetation in public places
  • Electoral signage on public land
  • Behaviours of persons in public places
  • Interfering with road barriers and signage on roads and bridges
  • Sale of vehicles on Road or Council land
  • Entry without paying fee
  • Smoking in children's playgrounds or other prescribed places
  • Objectionable noise and noise from burglar alarms and amplified sound equipment
  • Rubbish dumping
  • Interfering with Council drainage tappings and stormwater pits
  • Interfering with watercourses
  • Gates and openings from private property onto Council land
  • Cigarette butt receptacles
  • Heavy vehicles on private property
  • Dilapidated buildings and dangerous land
  • Noise and nuisances caused by building works
  • Collection and disposal of trade waste.

If you'd like to know more or submit your comments visit the shire's website here

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

council supports TAFE4All

report from the roundtable - 12 jun

At this week's meeting I moved a motion (item 9.1) in relation to the state government's funding cuts to TAFE.

I'm pleased that the motion (wording below) was supported by the majority of councillors. 

For: Crs Samantha Dunn, Richard Higgins, Len Cox, Noel Cliff, Tim Heenan, Terry Avery and Graham Warren
Against: Crs Jeanette McRae and Chris Templer

Yarra Ranges joins with 16 other councils in Victoria concerned about the effect on their local communities, who have voted to advocate to reverse the decision to cut funding from TAFE.

For Yarra Ranges students, the effects of the cuts are likely to be very detrimental to their ability to access training. Already students in Yarra Ranges are disadvantaged due to poor public transport services, if the funding cuts mean students need to travel even further for their studies this could be disastrous for ongoing vocational education and training. 

The Lilydale campus of Swinburne TAFE had 1,479 students enrolled in 2010.

The overall cost impact of the Government’s decision for Swinburne is likely to be in the order of $35 million in 2013, whilst exact figures are not yet known

for the Lilydale campus, it is evident that there will be a significant impact.

It is highly likely that such impacts include a reduction in the number of courses offered and to the shared support services to TAFE and higher education. Added to this, the flow-on impact to the pipeline of TAFE students who articulate into higher education will be significant owing to the budget changes.

We also know that the education sector is the sixth most important sector for output and is the third most significant sector of employment in Yarra Ranges. Any impact to this sector will be immediately felt within our municipality owing to is location on the urban fringe and difficulties in generating employment opportunities within the local region.

It goes without saying that the negative social impacts to our community by reduced access and opportunities for higher education will be significant and long term in effect. Given the lack of replacement strategy in the interim to improve skills and productivity of those relying on TAFE education, the budget cuts will have far reaching negative impacts on local communities.

This week the local paper ran a story on the job cuts at Swinburne, I encourage you to have a look: Swinburne TAFE to axe jobs.

I also encourage you to support the TAFE4All campaign.

That Council:
a) Resolve to write to the Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Higher Education and other relevant ministers, seeking that the State Government reverse its decision to cut the training and salary budgets of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges across the state.
b) Express concern that the cuts will put up to 1,200 jobs at risk and appear designed to put TAFE into direct competition with private providers, which will lead to fee rises, course closures and the eventual privatisation of TAFE.
c) Consider the cuts are particularly ill conceived in a period where there are increasing job losses in other industries and an Australia-wide skills shortage.
d) Support the joint Australian Education Union (AEU)  – National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) TAFE4All campaign.
e) Write a letter of support for the campaign to save TAFE funding, to the Australian Education Union and the National Tertiary Education Union.
f) Send a copy of this motion and campaign information to the MAV and VLGA 
requesting that they also make representations to the Government seeking reversal of its decision.
g) Call for a report investigating the economic, social, community service, and 
educational implications of any proposed cuts in Yarra Ranges.
h) Send a representative to the public meeting being held by the NTEU at the Melbourne Town Hall on 20 June at 12pm.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

you're invited tony

report from the roundtable - 12 Jun

At this week's council meeting I moved a motion (item 9.2) to invite the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to Yarra Ranges to visit the habitat of threatened species being impacted by logging.

The motion was carried, councillors voting for the motion were Crs Samantha Dunn, Len Cox, Jeanette McRae, Noel Cliff and Tim Heenan. Whilst Crs Graham Warren, Terry Avery, Chris Templer and Richard Higgins voted against the motion.

In speaking to the motion I talked about the recent court case of MyEnvironment v VicForests and the statement made by Justice Osborn where he recognised the the deficit in the reserve system given the 13 year drought and extreme bushfire events to hit the Central Highlands.

To quote Justice Osborn "MyEnvironment has demonstrated a strong case for the overall review of the adequacy of the reserve system intended to protect Leadbeater's Possum habitat within the Central Highlands Forest Management Area. The (2009) bushfires have materially changed the circumstances in which the existing system was planned and implemented and there is, on evidence, an urgent need to review it."

The Shire of Yarra Ranges prides itself on being home to three of Victoria's 4 state emblems, we proudly talk about our municipality in terms of it's importance to the cultural and environmental heritage of the state. (The Leadbeater's Possum is Victoria's state emblem)

It is of great concern to hear Professor David Lindenmayer, world expert on Leadbeater's Possum, talk about a population in collapse. In fact only recently the last three remaining Leadbeater's Possums were removed from Lake Mountain and taken to Healesville Sanctuary in an attempt to save the species. So what we have already at Lake Mountain is a local extinction. 

The Minister, Tony Burke, has powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), should the Minister perceive a serious threat, a critical habitat may be registered for any nationally listed threatened species or ecological community and in my view there is certainly a serious threat to Leadbeater's Possum habitat. 

According to Prof Lindenmayer there will be no old trees left in the landscape by 2065, this is disastrous for the many hollow dependent fauna in our environment. According to research undertaken there's only 2000 hectares of forest left in the Central Highlands that hasn't been disturbed by logging or fire. That's 1.2% of intact forest left, the situation is critical. 

I think it is important that the Minister understand what is happening in the Central Highlands so he can determine if there's a role for him and the EPBC Act. 

In terms of the second part of my motion, that council write to the Federal Minister to detail our concerns about loss of Leadbeater's Possum habitat, there is ample recent information  to inform our submission. 

Most recently was our submission to the VicForests Timber Release Plan where council articulated its concerns around the protection of threatened species habitat and coupes adjacent to Special Protection Zones and the Leadbeater's Possum Permanent Reserve System. We also detailed concerns about the retention and long term protection of habitat elements for native fauna species and highlighted issues around fragmentation and habitat connectivity. 

We are a council who has long been concerned about our endangered species. The science is in, we have species in decline, whilst the threats to habitat still exist. The Minister needs to understand first hand what is happening across the landscape in Yarra Ranges and the Central Highlands. 

The motion received a majority vote of council. 
I certainly hope the Minister takes us up on our offer of a visit. 

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