There were 2 Rights of Reply Tuesday night from Pilling and Magee. Both were supposedly in response to the Southwick remarks in parliament regarding the removal of the Caulfield Park trees.  We highlight these as the supreme example of political grandstanding (especially by Magee) and the puppet performance by Pilling reading out his scripted lines. Laugh out loud, dear readers!

PILLING: claimed that Southwick was ‘not correct’ and that his statements were ‘inaccurate and misleading’.  Pilling denied that the cutting down of trees was on ‘party lines’ but that at ‘every’ stage there was ‘unanimous support’ by councillors. The ‘true number of trees removed is 21′ and many of these trees were in the range of ’15 to 20 years old’. Southwick only contacted council via a letter dated 9th December and on the 12th Pilling answered. He then quoted from that response letter. He read that the alternate proposal won’t ‘address or solve’ the ‘purpose of these works’ and that there was misunderstanding about the ‘need for buffer zones’. The proposed ‘works’ are the same that happened to ovals 5, 6, and 7 in 2008 and over 300 new trees planted. The master plan was ‘adopted after extensive community consultation’ and council has ‘reviewed’ it to ascertain whether the proposed action is ‘still relevant’. Said this was ‘the case in this instance’ and ‘even more so because of increasing pressures’ of high density development. The works are about ‘reducing risk and ensuring safety’. Went on to state that the works were advertised over a month ago and that ‘all councillors’ have had ‘continued dialogue’ with residents and as a result ‘endeavoured’ to ‘reduce the number of trees removed’. The ‘benefit’ of the ‘reconfiguration’ is that ‘over 100 children’ can now ‘participate in organised sport’. All of this is highlighted on council’s website. Concluded that the ‘long term benefits to the community’ outweigh the ‘short term loss’.

MAGEE: said that he ‘appreciated’ Pilling’s right of reply for council but that he wanted to do his own right of reply. Started by saying that Southwick ‘made a couple of fatal errors’ in his speech. Magee then spoke about pre-election and how Southwick had promised to ‘open up the racecourse’. ‘Well now the centre of the racecourse is full of fences’ and a ‘failed miserable playground which is only used during racedays’. Quoted Southwick as claiming this is a Greens/Labor council. Magee then said that the works are part of the ‘warm season grasses’ program and that Lipshutz moved that motion and ‘the last time I looked Cr Lipshutz was not a Labor person’ and he doesn’t remember Lipshutz ‘sitting next to me in an ALP meeting singing ‘Solidarity forever’. Thought that it was ‘disappointing’ that Southwick ‘does say these things’. He could have rung council but instead said something in parliament and Magee will now say something back and Southwick will probably do the same and it is all ‘very childish’. ‘What’s important here is that we are all working for the benefit of our community’ and getting more open space. ‘If Mr Southwick had kept his promise and opened the centre of the racecourse’ then council wouldn’t need to ‘pull down’ the trees because there would be enough sporting grounds. Claimed that the ‘last thing’ council wants to do is remove the ‘loving’ trees. If Southwick ‘wants to condemn us for it, then I condemn him’ and ‘this is his fault’, ‘his inaction, his broken promise’. Southwick didn’t ‘open the centre of the racecourse’ and left council ‘with no alternative’. Said that ‘it’s atrocious that we have to do something like this to a beautiful park like Caulfield park – but we have to’ and ‘it’s Mr Southwick’s fault, not council’s’.

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