Caulfield Racecourse Reserve

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield)—My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water. The action I seek is that the minister undertake an urgent review of the trust of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve and the Melbourne Racing Club.

As we know, some 12 months ago there was an Auditor-General’s report on the review of the mechanics of the trust of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. Unfortunately since that Auditor-General’s report came out there has been little activity. The trust has hardly met and the Melbourne Racing Club has continued on, and it is my understanding that a lease is still not in place in terms of the mechanics of the facility.

This is really important for the future of what is the largest open space in my electorate. It is an under-utilised space where there should be more sporting activity, which I have called for on numerous occasions. We have the lowest amount of open space anywhere in the city of Glen Eira. This is a great opportunity for the minister to work with me and others to ensure that we get a result. The Glen Eira council has been calling for some action for some time. I know that racing is fundamental to Caulfield and that we need to ensure there is a permanent site where racing has a home, but there is uncertainty with the lease and a lack of action, and this is a missed opportunity. The centre of the racecourse is hardly frequented or used by the people of Caulfield, and we really need some action.

I suggest that there be a complete review of the trust and that the minister look at working together with me as the local member to see what we can do to ensure that the Auditor-General’s report is implemented, that there is transparency going forward, that ultimately the people of Caulfield get the best possible facility and the best use of open space and that the future of racing is guaranteed.

Response

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Minister for Industry)—…..I thank the member for Caulfield for raising an issue about the Melbourne Racing Club and the trust arrangements that are in place for Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. He is correct in pointing out that the Auditor-General raised serious concerns in relation to the way that the structure of that trust was established and the potential for and real conflicts of interest that exist. I have had representation from the member for Caulfield and the member for Bentleigh, who is a former trust member, about some of those issues.

We have appointed new board members in order to get the trust up and functioning again. The trust and the Melbourne Racing Club are currently doing strategic land use plans for the park. That of course does not address the main issue. We have looked at a range of options for what we could do regarding the governance arrangement, and legislative changes are required. As I have indicated to the member for Caulfield, I am keen to work with him as the local member and also a representative from the opposition and people from outside on trying to get a long-term solution and a new governance arrangement for Caulfield.

Members raised a range of issues for a number of ministers, and I will pass those on to those ministers.

The latest announcement on the Caulfield Racecourse raises a myriad of questions:

  • If the MRC is so very committed to comprehensive ‘public consultation’ then why is there no widespread advertising of this? A tiny paragraph was all that was in today’s Caulfield Leader and there is nothing up on Council’s website. In the past, Council has notified readers of Trustee Meetings. This time – nothing!
  • The announcement states that the Trustees have appointed Patrick Pty Ltd. Thus, has there been a Trustee meeting to ratify this appointment? If so, where are the minutes?
  • Was this appointment tendered?
  • What are Patrick’s terms of reference? Who determined these?
  • Who is paying John Patrick – the MRC, or the Trustees? How much are they paying?
  • Is it sheer coincidence that the consultant just happens to be the same consultant who has worked extensively for Glen Eira City Council? (ie Caulfield Park pavilion, Centenary Park pavilion, Booran Road Reservoir, etc)
  • What role, if any, will council have in the final decision making? Does a Land Management Plan require formal council approval as any development application might?
  • Exactly what does “inner landscape portion” mean? And what is the SIZE of this ‘inner’ section? Does it assume the current size, where fences have persisted in their relentless encroachment onto public land?
  • Will the mushrooming fences in the centre now be removed?
  • Is the removal of training now a forgotten item?
  • Is the creation of sporting fields in the centre dead and buried? Was it ever feasible and likely? Will we see one token soccer pitch and that’s it?
  • What does ‘Strategic Land Management Plan’, really mean? Are we talking buildings? Does this cover freehold as well as crown land?
  • Is it the MRC’s intent to finally ‘solve’ the ‘park issue’ at the top of Glen Eira Road by turning it into a multi level car park? Will this ‘plan’ indicate this?
  • Is Monash Uni and Stonnington involved in this plan? If not, why not, given the intensity of proposed residential development in the area?

A year has now passed since the Auditor General delivered his report. The creation of the Land Management Plan was one of his recommendations. What of the others? What is happening regarding:

  • Lease negotiations
  • Governance
  • Resolving conflicts of interest
  • Regular Trustee meetings that adhere to governance practices
  • Why has no parliamentarian (apart from Sue Pennicuik) raised these issues in parliament?
  • Why have our council representatives also been silent?
  • Given the failure to implement the vast majority of the Auditor General’s recommendations, why has the Minister not dissolved the trustees and appointed a Committee of Management?
  • Why has the Department continually rubber stamped the MRC applications in agreeing to a 4 storey screen on crown land, a cinema and now 31 antennaes that will be over 15 metres high but deemed as not ‘visually obtrusive’?
  • And why oh why have our councillor reps (Lipshutz, Hyams & Esakoff) been utterly silent on what is going on when it is council, on behalf of the MRC and John Patrick, who emailed sporting groups about the ‘consultation’. If Council knows and is acting as the ‘middle man’, then why haven’t our illustrious reps spoken out and informed their constituents of what they know. A fair question might also be – have they even bothered to inform their fellow councillors? Do all councillors know what is going on with the ‘consultation’ and council’s role?
  • All of which leads to the even broader question of what proportion of resident and sporting group ‘suggestions’ will be taken up by the MRC? And what recourse do residents have if the hired help (Patrick) comes up with a ‘design’ that continues to exclude and ignore the ‘public park’ aspect of the racecourse but continues to allow the MRC to reap millions from Crown land?

150826-Stronger-Councillor-Conduct-Standards-To-Be-Introduced

Why is everything made so impossibly difficult to achieve in Glen Eira? Why is this administration so obstructionist and so determined to scuttle any councillor or resident suggestion? Why does no councillor take this administration to task and refuse to accept skewed, inaccurate and/or substandard officer reports?

The latest agenda is typical. In response to a Request for A Report on ‘Public parks & private memorials’ we have a total of two pages plus a draft ‘policy’. The wording of the Request for a Report as presented in this latest version is:

  1. That Council draft a policy to provide for individuals, corporations and unincorporated bodies to donate park furniture.
  2. The Policy must address and provide for the following:

2.1 That any park furniture be supplied by the Council;

2.2 Whether the Donor can nominate the park and where in the park the furniture is to be situated;

2.3 That notwithstanding 2.2 above, the Council be the final arbiter of where in the park the furniture is to be situate;

2.4 The size and type of plaque to be affixed to the donated park furniture;

2.5 Whether Council may re-site donated park furniture

2.6 What is to occur in relation to the plaque in the event that the donated park furniture is damaged, destroyed or permanently removed;

2.7 The period of time that the plaque shall remain;

2.8 The right of the Council to reject donations

2.9 Any Administration fee;

2.10 Any other matter Officers consider appropriate.

  1. The Policy must be presented by the last Council Meeting in June.

First off, it is now the end of August and not June! The ‘escape clause’ for not meeting the time line set by the resolution is this gem: A paper was considered at the Assembly of Councillors on 7 July 2015. We note that discussion on this issue was only recorded in that Records of Assembly meeting. Hence, not only was the resolution ignored, delayed, but it specifically noted the requirement for tabling at an open council meeting – not the behind the scenes secrecy of an assembly meeting! Further, in March 2015 another resolution had been passed asking that a policy be drawn up. Thus, an issue which is so minor has taken up countless hours of ‘discussion’, officer time, and verbal diarrhea in council meetings.

Readers should also note that ‘park furniture’ has now been reduced to simply ‘park benches’ and nothing else. Not what the councillors’ request for a report stated. ‘Park furniture’ is surely more than a mere ‘bench’.

The barely two page ANONYMOUS report is as always, short on facts and figures, short on substantiated argument, and big on scare mongering. There has not even been the attempt to cut and paste from the equally skewed report of March 2015. Here is an example: –

If the Draft is implemented, it is foreseeable that it may be the basis for disputation including over, cost, placement, wording etc. It may detract from the implementation of the Open Space Strategy.

How amazing that countless other councils throughout the state do not adhere to this fear. Some examples:

Port Phillip –

This Policy applies to structures, public open space, memorials, urban art, plaques, named civic buildings or rooms and other entities, where the naming is intended to commemorate a person, organisation or event.

http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/default/o29962.pdf

Moorabool

Memorial – Park furniture (i.e. park bench, seat or picnic setting), garden, art works, artefacts, tree, stone/rock or etched paving designed to preserve the memory of a person or group. This may also include memorials in the interior of buildings i.e. Halls. Memorials may also include donations to build facilities (i.e. clubrooms) as a memorial to a community member. (http://www.moorabool.vic.gov.au/CA257489001FD37D/Lookup/policies2015/$file/Memorials%20Policy%20jan15.pdf

Melbourne City council – https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ParksandActivities/Parks/Documents/policies_plaques_memorials.pdf

Darebin – https://www.darebin.vic.gov.au/~/media/cityofdarebin/Files/YourCouncil/HowCouncilWorks/MeetingAgendasMinutes/CouncilMeetings/2011/18Apr/Item-86-Appendix-A–Civic-Recognition-Monuments-and-Memorials-Policy-March-2011.ashx?la=en

There are many more that we could have cited such as Bayside, Greater Dandenong and Hobson’s Bay. What is undeniable, is that the siege mentality of this administration means that any perceived threat to its unilateral control and power must be opposed – despite formal council resolutions. Note – that by demanding the drafting of a policy (not once, but twice), it is implicit, that Council should accept donations for ‘park furniture’ and ‘memorials’. The anonymous author’s recommendation to reject the policy as an option is thus entirely inappropriate.

Our thanks to an alert reader for notifying us of the following. For the full statement, please see: http://www.crrt.org.au/Notices/Upcomingmeetings.aspx

15-353 PR -Community Consultation Caulfield Racecourse

Submissions to the State Government’s ‘Better Apartments’ discussion paper closed at the end of July this year. Other councils tabled their draft submissions and these were ratified by a council resolution. In Glen Eira, not for the first time, nothing has been made public – except a link to the government’s website. We don’t even know whether council bothered to put in a submission and we certainly don’t know the content of any such submission. However, we do have an inkling of what might have gone into any formal submission judging by an officer’s report from July 2014 in response to a request for a report on apartment sizes. The ‘do nothing’ motion was carried by councillors.

Here is a reminder of what was stated at the time (all extracts from the minutes of July 22nd 2014)–

It is likely that if a minimum dwelling size is dictated, it would tend to become the default size and counter productive to dwelling diversity.

The current system largely leaves dwelling size to the developer whose interest is in responding to the housing market. It is considered that it is difficult to argue that town planning is best placed and therefore should intervene in dwelling size to a greater extent than it currently does.

Should Council wish to advocate for minimum dwelling sizes, this standard could best be accommodated in ResCode, the State Government’s design standards for multi-dwellings, for all Victorians.

A minimum size standard could lead to less diversity of dwellings, which would be less responsive to community needs.

Thankfully, not all councils are of like mind nor as bereft of good governance practices. For others, Council submissions are in full public view and are endorsed by councillor votes. Not so in Glen Eira. Here are some examples from published submissions that every Glen Eira resident needs to be cognisant of – if only to show once again how little this council cares about residential amenity when it is likely to be counter to the pro-development agenda that is ruining the lives of many. What Glen Eira sees as ‘detrimental’ such as mandatory apartment sizes, others insist upon! This in itself speaks volumes about the underlying philosophy that permeates and controls Glen Eira City Council.

FROM THE BOROONDARA SUBMISSION

http://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/-/media/Files/Your%20Council/Meetings%20and%20Agendas/Urban%20Planning%20Special%20Committee/20150720/UPC3%20Better%20Apartments%20submission.pdf

Council therefore submits that certain aspects of apartment design should be prescriptive to ensure consistent outcomes. This is of particular importance with regards to design elements that impact on the internal amenity of apartments. Council considers that minimum standards relating to apartment/building depth, ceiling height and apartment size should be mandated to achieve consistent outcomes.

Council does not believe that the policy-based approach is appropriate to achieve the desired outcomes. Reliance on a reference document similar to the current Guidelines for Higher Density Residential Development, as suggested by the discussion paper, is not an appropriate implementation method. Reference documents do not carry the necessary weight to influence decision making.

The development sector is driven by a desire to maximise financial returns on any investment. Any loopholes or weaknesses in the planning system are therefore exploited to maximise returns. Council considers that discretionary controls are a weakness that too often gets exploited by the development industry.

Council strongly supports the introduction of mandatory minimum apartment sizes.

There is significant research internationally and locally that provides strong support for the setting of minimum apartment sizes and the health benefits for residents.

FROM THE PORT PHILLIP SUBMISSION

The size of an apartment can be fundamental to achieving a high standard of amenity. Apartments need to be of sufficient size and layout to provide usable and comfortable spaces while accommodating basic furniture, providing sufficient circulation and adequate storage.

Council strongly supports the application of minimum apartment sizes

Specifically mandatory minimum standards should apply to:

  • Sunlight
  • Daylight
  • Separation distances
  • Apartment size
  • Private open space.

 

FROM THE PLANNING/HOUSING INDUSTRY (THAT SOUNDS LIKE GLEN EIRA CITY COUNCIL!)

http://www.planning.org.au/documents/item/6883

While setting minimum apartment sizes is encouraged in principle, this should be considered against the impact it may have on construction costs and consequently, housing affordability. If a correlation genuinely exists between the two, setting an apartment standard may not be ideal. However, more empirical data and information is required to make an informed decision on this matter. Functional considerations may provide a better way to determine the utility of design; for example, can a bedroom door be opened when a double or queen bed is placed in the room?

http://www.udiavic.com.au/files/document/filename/223/Submission%20-%20Better%20Apartments%20Discussion%20Paper.pdf

Avoid developing policies or performance based provisions which impose or suggest minimum or maximum requirements, sizes and ceiling heights.

To ensure that the current role of apartments in providing affordable housing options is maintained, minimum and maximum requirements, sizes and ceiling heights must be avoided.

http://www.planning.org.au/documents/item/6869

While we support the application of minimum apartment sizes as a key measure towards improving apartment liveability, we are cautious about the prospect of mandating minimum sizes, as a lot can be achieved through good design and layout.

 

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