Monday, March 31, 2014

racv, monash uni join etc transport summit

The Eastern Transport Coalition, RACV and Monash University will each be stating their case for the critical need for improved public transport in Melbourne’s east during the Commuters Count Transport Summit held on Wednesday, April 9.

It’s about time there was a concerted effort to see an integrated public transport network for Melbourne’s eastern suburbs if we want to see continued economic growth and social connection for local communities who continue to be overly car reliant.

For too long we’ve been waiting for projects like Rowville Rail, critical to supporting Monash University as well as reducing road congestion.

Paul Barton from Monash University will be speaking about their concerns at the summit, as will Brian Negus, RACV’s General Manager for Public Policy.

The Commuters Count Transport Summit is a unique event bringing together representatives from each of the major parties alongside other key stakeholders in the transport arena, and is a great opportunity to examine policies and promises prior to the state election.

If you’d like to hear the discussion you’re most welcome. The summit will be held:
When:Wednesday, April 9 from 9am
Where: City of Greater Dandenong community facility at Springvale Reserve, Newcomen Road, Springvale
Cost: absolutely free of charge

Don’t forget to like Commuters Count on facebook and use hashtag #commuterscount on Twitter.

Speakers at the Commuters Count 2014 Transport Summit include:
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Gary Blackwood,
Shadow Minister for Planning, Major Projects and Infrastructure, Brian Tee
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Greg Barber
RACV’s General Manager for Public Policy, Brian Negus
Paul Barton from Monash University
Executive Director of Bus Association of Victoria, Chris Lowe will be one of the panel members

You can find the Eastern Suburbs Transport Poll results on the ETC website here,

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

kallista keen to keep green

I was delighted to be able to join with the class of 2013 at Kallista Kindergarten to plant a tree in the George Tindale Memorial Garden as part of their nature kinder program.

In a wonderful agreement between the kinder and Parks Victoria, the preschoolers visit the garden every week and undertake nature based activities.

The George Tindale Memorial Gardens is one of the jewels in the Dandenong Ranges, known for it's gorgeous European influenced gardens. There's a great collection of cool climate, acid soil loving plants including magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, fuchsias and hydrangeas and dotted about the garden are some stunning sculptures.

I'm pleased to report visitors to the garden can now enjoy one of the newest plantings, an "Acer Palmatum dissectum "Raraflora", also known as a Weeping Japanese Maple, planted by the kids from Kallista Kindergarten as part of their nature program.

Due to the success of the nature program at Kallista Kinder it will be extended to both the 3 and 4 year old cohorts in 2014. It's a great story of partnership, where children get up close and personal to nature in a beautiful local setting.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

samantha in the press

Election news;
Labor MP says "vote Green" at Healesville Freeway Reserve rally
by Luke Henriques-Gomes
The Eastern Weekly
24 Mar 2014

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Monday, March 24, 2014

selbyfest 2014, community at its best

Congratulations to organisers of the 2014 Selbyfest, a great celebration of all that is community in the hills. Centered around Selby Community House and the Minak Reserve, one of the shire's top 10% of high biodiversity reserves.
That's the Kettle TeaHouse behind me (in the dome),
a lush space full of soft furnishings, yummy cakes and
of course tea, a wonderful addition to Selbyfest.

The day was jam packed with plenty of activities, showcasing the broad range of talented hills folk. There was an extraordinary range of community stalls, highlighting the many activities going on locally, whether it be arts, landcare, fashion, wild animals, there was something for everyone at Selbyfest.

Selby Primary provided great entertainment, their rendition
of Eye of the Tiger was terrific,

Local brigade, Selby CFA, were well represented, providing traffic management and car parking coordination and of course the sausage sizzle, they report a good day out with 400 snags sold on the day. There was plenty of food to choose from and it was great to see many local food businesses selling their wares at Selbyfest.
Captain Koala made an appearance - thanks
Selby CFA!

Great to see local community radio station 3MDR there, with a live broadcast going all day as well as an exhibitor stall to fly the 3MDR flag.
Hugs for Kids (in Belgrave) kicked off the fashion parade,
Bec doing some rousting of her models. Hugs for Kids
prides itself and unique, handmade and locally made products.

The fashion parade is one of the Selbyfest highlights and I was delighted to be able to MC this year's parade once again. I was also very pleased to give special recognition to Tracey Van Vloten, Selby Community House Program Coordinator, she's been the driving force behind the organisation of Selbyfest and in accepting her gift she said "it takes a village".
The Limerence models strut their stuff, Limerence
is located in Belgrave and stock all Australian made
fashion and art. It's great to see this local business
participate in Selbyfest. The shoes were supplied by
new local business in Upwey, Shoe Boutique.
Selbyfest is a great example of community, my thanks to all the volunteers who make it happen, they do it freely and are very committed to the local community. Yarra Ranges Council is proud to be able to support Selbyfest through our Community Festivals grant program.
In an impromptu catwalk, Tracey struts her stuff and
her gift for her outstanding efforts coordinating

The Voicemob performance was captivating,
bringing together a number of hills choirs, this is the
4th official flashmob performance of Voicemob, a project
aimed at encouraging flashmob signing, singing and dancing.


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Thursday, March 06, 2014

samantha in the press

Honesty-box economy still pays off in the hills where quaint shopping system survives
Free Press Leader
by Therese Allaoui
5 Mar 2014

Wee hours Fluid
Mail Newspapers
by Jesse Graham
4 Mar 2014

Site set for makeover
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
Mar 2014
Properties may go
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
Mar 2014
A trusty trade
Leader Newspapers
by Therese Allaoui
Mar 2014

Pool fate not cut and dried
Leader Newspapers
by Therese Allaoui
Mar 2014

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

build it now, we've waited long enough

Public transport priorities will be a major factor influencing votes at the upcoming State Election according to new research results released by the Eastern Transport Coalition as part of its Commuters Count election campaign.

Conducted by Essential Research, the Eastern Suburbs Transport Poll of more than 1000 residents in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, found that 64 per cent of residents rated improving and expanding public transport as a top or very high priority, and the majority of respondents surveyed said they were more likely to vote for a party that committed to building key rail projects.

Significantly, the research also found that three out of four people believe that the delivery of rail projects needs to be accelerated and delivered sooner than the 2025-50 schedule the State Government has currently set for Melbourne Metro, Doncaster Rail and Rowville Rail.

We've been waiting long enough for public transport projects in the east, residents aren't prepared to wait another couple of generations.

The survey revealed that people believe the current timing for major rail infrastructure projects is unacceptable, with 75 per cent saying Melbourne Metro, Doncaster and Rowville Rail should be built sooner.

How many more studies can we be subjected to, time to get on with the building, not the stalling.

Residents in Melbourne’s east have had enough of public transport plans and studies that don’t produce results because they are unfunded or pushed so far into the future that they are continually relegated to the bottom of the list.

Don't forget you can tell the ETC what you think on the Commuters Count facebook page or tweet us using #commuterscount.
Some selected highlights of the poll include:
  • 64% think improving and expanding public transport is the top priority or very important ranking with education and above water, new roads and the environment
  • Three-quarters of respondents believed that the rail projects should be built sooner - only 10% thought the timing was acceptable and a further 7% thought they did not need to be built at all.
  • 69% agree that if all the projects are not built there will be serious impacts on traffic and quality of life in Melbourne while only 17% think that the transport system will cope until the Government can afford to build them.
  • 55% believe it is similarly important for the State Government to invest in major road and rail projects. 
  • 28% think the rail projects are more important and 14% think the East-West link is more important.
  • There was strong support for Government investment in infrastructure. Only 18% think that it is more important for the Government to reduce their spending to return the budget to surplus.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

call outs and transparent decision making

report from the roundtable – 25 feb

At the last meeting of council I happened to ask about an application as we’d received a petition objection to the application that night. I was concerned about the length of time it was taking for the application to come back to council as it was, for all intents and purposes, a repeat application with revised acoustic treatment (for a Go Kart facility in Chirnside Park). 

It was advised that the application had been ‘called out’ by the Ward Councillor, Cr Andy Witlox, meaning that the application would not come before council for a decision and the decision would be made by planning officers who through the call out had been given the ‘delegated authority’ to make the decision.

Given 11 households were represented on the petition I went on to ask whether objectors would be notified that the application had been called out and wouldn’t be coming to council for a decision as per the expectations of the objectors. Usually any application with more than 5 objections would come to council for a decision. It was confirmed that objectors would only be notified once a decision had been made and would have appeal rights through VCAT. 

I went on to ask if objectors had been notified or were aware of the call out. This could not be confirmed.

This is of concern to me, in terms of being in the spirit of open and transparent decision making. I’ve also discussed call in/call out powers with councillors from other councils and it seems that different councils approach delegations in many different ways, some not having any ability to call out planning applications at all.

Next time council reviews its delegations and call in/call out powers I’ll be suggesting some policy changes to ensure we have a more open and transparent process that both considers the needs of the applicant and the objectors. 

Here’s an extract of our minutes from the night:

12.1 Petition - Objection to Planning Permit YR-2013/1026, 238-240 Maroondah Hwy (Part Lot 1 LP88498) Chirnside Park.

Cr Dunn referenced a petition received by Council objecting to a go kart application in Chirnside Park. Cr Dunn asked the following questions to Andrew Paxton, Director Planning Building & Health:

When will the application be brought back to Council?
Andrew Paxton advised that the application had been called out by the Ward Councillor for a delegated decision. 

Will the objectors listed in the petition be notified of the application coming to Council as part of the planning process?
Andrew Paxton advised that the 11 objectors to the application would not be advised of the callout of the application by the Councillor, but would be notified of the decision and would have 21 days to appeal the decision. 

Had there been any meetings or correspondence with objectors in relation to the call out?
Andrew Paxton advised that he did not know the answer but would be able to obtain the information and advise Cr Dunn.

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Monday, March 03, 2014

commuters count summit, public welcome

Public transport in the outer suburbs will be the topic of discussion at the Commuters Count Summit in April.

Yarra Ranges residents are invited to join in the day, organised by the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC).

The ETC represents close to 1.1 million people across seven council areas, including the Yarra Ranges.

Former chairperson Yarra Ranges Councillor Samantha Dunn said the summit was part of the group’s ongoing advocacy efforts for improved public transport in Melbourne’s outer east.

“We know that public transport will be a major issue in this year’s state election and we are keen to see the interests of the outer fringe of Melbourne represented,” she said.

“We believe there needs to be a much greater commitment to public transport infrastructure.”

Local government, business, MPs and education providers will present at the summit to discuss how current and future state budgets could be used to satisfy the transport needs of the region.

The ETC recently submitted to the state budget planning process aiming to increase the investment in rail and public transport infrastructure.

The April Summit will further discuss how this could be achieved.

More information on the ETC is available online.

Residents can join the summit:

When? Wednesday 9 April 9am – 1pm
Where? At the Community Building, Springvale Reserve, Newcomen Road, Springvale.

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