I was disappointed to learn that a deliberate decision
was made by organisers of the No Maccas Rally to not invite me to speak at the rally
coming up this Saturday. Originally organisers said it was for community only, I
completely understand, however I am perplexed that local MPs can speak but I don’t
fit the bill of local community. So below is what I would have said if I was
Firstly I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the
Wurundjeri people, and pay my deep respects to elders past and present.
It is terrific to see you all here today and it comes
as no surprise to me that the community continues to come out in droves to
fight this development in Tecoma.
For those who don’t know me, I’m councillor Samantha
Dunn, local councillor for the area and I have been living and breathing this issue
since McDonalds first met with the shire in February 2011. After following the
application through to the council meeting, where I put up a refusal motion,
which received unanimous support from councillors, I became part of the community
campaign to prepare for the VCAT appeal. Myself, TVAG and community members
spent countless hours, meeting week after week to coordinate the efforts at
VCAT, an enormous effort it was.
It was a dark day for all of us when we got the news
on the VCAT decision, to approve this development in Tecoma.
What this has highlighted to me more than anything is the flaws in the appeals
system. A system where community aspiration doesn’t come first, not even second,
a system where the community’s voice continues to be disregarded.
It is wrong that this application with its 1,090
objections, 670 community members attending the council meeting, 330 objectors
through VCAT fails to even be a consideration of the tribunal when they have
the power to make the decision, a decision that will change the township of
Tecoma forever. That is the system, but
that is not democracy.
We’ve heard from the Minister for Planning that numbers at VCAT should matter,
that the Minister would support any discussion with VCAT to reform its policy on
objector numbers, well I ask what work has been done, when will we see a change,
how many other communities need to fight only to have their voices ignored too?
Will we see a time when communities are empowered to be an equal part of the
appeals process rather than being confronted with the unlevel playing field as
it currently is.
We all know that this development will add to the traffic
chaos on Burwood Highway, we all know that there will be ongoing amenity
impacts to those residents in the surrounding area, we all know we are all
going to contend with far more rubbish in our local area.
When I put up a refusal motion to council back in 2011 there were 15 different
grounds of refusal, the community spent 3 days telling the tribunal hundreds of
reasons why this development was not appropriate for this site in Tecoma. There
are plenty of reasons why this is a bad outcome for Tecoma and you think so
too, that’s why you’re here today.
I have asked the Minister for Planning for a meeting, I don’t
want him to forget that he committed to meeting with myself, the shire’s strategic
planning officers and community members late last year and I’ll be making sure
that this meeting doesn’t fall off the radar.
I’ll also be encouraging all of you to be part of any council
consultations that assist in shaping our towns in the hills, there’s a few
coming up, more than ever it is important that your voice be heard and my blog
is the best way to keep up to date with upcoming consultations.
I congratulate you all on your resolve to protect what’s
special to the people in the Dandenong Ranges. Not once have I ever doubted
your passion and commitment to our community and our region. It is that resolve
that makes our community strong, it’s that resolve that says in no uncertain
terms you are part of a close knit community. Not once have you let McDonalds
forget you exist and I’m sure you never will.
Well done for coming out today, I have no
doubt you will continue to make your presence felt and keep fighting the good
fight for Tecoma.
Labels: cr samantha dunn, mcdonalds, tecoma