MAGEE: outlined the leases – $45,000 for ‘head lease’; Neerim Road stables ‘$10,000 a year’. Explained how much properties near the racecourse pay and noted a McDonald’s store pays $180,000 rent per annum and Hungry Jacks pays $271,000 per annum in rent. All the racecourse is paying is ‘around $80,000’.

DELAHUNTY: said that ‘there’s much that we don’t know’ and she certainly didn’t know as much as Magee but she does know some things by ‘virtue of having met with people from the MRC’. Said that she knows that leases are currently being ‘negotiated’ and that they’ve ‘expired’ but been ‘extended’ to give more time to the negotiations. Stated that there had been 2 separate valuations – by two sections of the trust. These two valuations are so vastly different that ‘they can’t come to agreement’ about how much to charge. As a result an ‘independent body must be involved’ and that’s the valuer general. Also said that to get this done then council has to ‘take the steps’ that Magee proposes. Stated that council’s position was that it wasn’t getting the ‘commercial returns’ from crown land and therefore it was an ‘inappropriate situation’ for residents everywhere. Even though this might be a little ‘late’ given the current lease negotiations when both valuations from the trust are ‘so different’ it’s still important to ‘take a stand right now’. (time extnesion at this point). Stated that council thought the reserve should be ‘governed by a committee of management’ and the money from the rents go back to the governing body which will ‘disperse that’ for the 3 purposes that were in the original grant – ie public park and recreation. This would be very ‘timely’ when considered against the need for ‘how much public open space in that part of Caulfield’ given population increase and that these people shouldn’t be ‘looking out the window at horses training and nothing else’ on the racecourse.’ Essential that all commercial activities on the land be ‘valued properly’. What ‘really’ makes ‘me sick’ is the ‘pokies on crown land’ and therefore ‘government subsidised gambling’. Didn’t want to ‘put up with’ this and it was ‘an absolute disgrace’.

PILLING THEN ASKED IF MAGEE AND DELAHUNTY WOULD BE PREPARED TO REMOVE PART 2A OF THEIR MOTION. BOTH REFUSED TO ACCEPT THIS PROPOSAL. Pilling then asked for speakers against the motion.

OKOTEL: said that she wasn’t against the entire motion just part 2A. Thought it was ‘important’ that there is an independent ‘watch dog’ to see exactly what the land’s worth and she ‘endorses’ the comments on that. She was against 2A because the negotiations had been ongoing for some time and were ‘about to conclude’ so to ask the Minister now ‘to step in’ is poor because ‘my understanding is that the minister would be reluctant to step in’. Also if council asked him then the outcome might only be to ‘frustrate the negotiations’ and could only damage the ‘relationships’ that council has with the MRC and therefore ‘not be to the benefit of residents’. Didn’t think that having both 2A and 2B ‘doesn’t make sense’ since it should be ‘either/or’. She thought that the ‘best for the public interest’ would only be the motion about the valuer general coming in to ‘review the lease when it is finalised’. At that stage council would be ‘informed as to what is in the lease’ and therefore that’s preferable to the current situation where ‘we’re in the dark’. Said that once the lease is signed then ‘it will be brought to light’ and then council may ‘have input into it’.

SOUNNESS: realised that council has got ‘representatives’ (ie councillor reps) and that they’re trying to represent council ‘as best as possible’ but they’re ‘only 3 voices’. Said he ‘recognised’ that the trust was an ‘opaque body’ and a lot of ‘questionable decisions’ in its history. Thought that this was ‘a bit of a risky manoeuvre’ when one set of decisions are replaced with another and ‘that may not necessarily produce a good outcome’. He’d ‘heard’ a lot about the racecourse and it was a major issue and would ‘always be messy’. His ‘experience’ of such bodies is that they ‘do occasionally go rogue’ but they can be brought back ‘into line’ with ‘political will’. Gave the example of Fox and the sea front land. So he thought this was a ‘risky scenario’ but overall ‘still a worthwhile one’.

LOBO: judging by what Magee has outlined it ‘looks like Mickey Mouse’ is ‘handling the place’. Asked if this was ‘democracy in Australia and Glen Eira in particular’. Claimed that there’s no democracy but ‘soft dictatorship’ . Pilling then interrupted and said that the comments were ‘unwarranted’. Lobo responded with ‘okay’. Thought that the 8500 sq metres was ‘daylight robbery’ and that council didn’t get ‘a cent’ from any of the money collected. Crown land he claimed was given to the people but it’s ‘only council’ who are fighting and that ‘the people of Glen Eira have to get together’ and ‘not only write on blogs’ or ‘letters’. Urged people to ‘make yourself known’ and to ‘shake them up’. Said that the motion ‘may be a bit late’  but it’s like a ‘child being born at the last moment’ and decisions have to be made. Stated that the councillor trustees ‘should work’ towards getting the best for residents because it’s residents ‘who have put us in’ and the trustees ‘don’t tell us anything confidential’. People can’t go to meetings. Everyone has to ‘take the bull by the horn’ and if not this will continue ‘for another 150 years’.

DELAHUNTY THEN ASKED OKOTEL THAT SINCE SHE SAID SHE HAD ‘FURTHER INFORMATION’ IN THAT THE LEASES NEGOTIATIONS WERE ‘ABOUT TO CONCLUDE’ whether Okotel could ‘elaborate on her understanding of that’ and ‘how she’s come to that understanding’.

OKOTEL: said that her ‘understanding comes from confidential discussions’. Wanted ‘advice’ then about what she could say. Pilling then said that she could clarify what she meant and whether ‘she meant to say those words’.DELAHUNTY THEN INTERVENED AND SAID THAT IF OKOTEL IS CLAIMING TO HAVE ‘CONFIDENTIAL DISCUSSIONS WITH PEOPLE’ WHO HAVE ALREADY DECLARED A CONFLICT OF INTEREST THEN SHE SHOULD ALSO LEAVE THE ROOM AND NOT BE PART OF THE DEBATE. Pilling said that ‘it’s up to her to clarify’. OKOTEL THEN AGAIN WANTED TO ‘TAKE ADVICE’. At this point major confusion with Burke muttering in Pilling’s ear. He then basically ‘adjourned’ whilst Okotel and Newton left the chamber. They returned in about 2 to 3 minutes.

People in the gallery then complained that they couldn’t hear what she was saying – ‘not a word’.

OKOTEL: said that she had this question ‘in my mind’ in the ‘pre-meeting’ and that the 3 councillors weren’t in that meeting. Said that in this meeting she asked ‘how far away’ are the negotiations from being completed and that she thought this was ‘pertinent’ as to whether there would ‘be time’ for the ‘minister to get involved’ and that Magee told her ‘that we don’t have much time’. Reiterated that Magee said this whilst the others weren’t in the room.

Pilling then asked Delahunty if this ‘satisfied’ her.

DELAHUNTY: ‘it does’ but it confirms that it’s ‘conjecture and not actual knowledge’. Then asked if ‘any councillor’ has spoken to or ‘been lobbied by any of the three councillors who have declared a conflict of interest and left the room’. All councillors said ‘no’.

PILLING: agreed with Okotel on 2A because it was ‘pretty late in the piece’  and it’s a ‘blunt instrument’. Said that 2A in its second part ‘doesn’t achieve what we want’ . It’s got ‘limited value’ . Said he ‘acknowledge the general passion’ but wasn’t ‘sure this is the best way to go’. thought 2A was ‘counter-productive’ and that blame should be laid on ‘successive state governments’.

MAGEE: one of the valuations was ‘just on one million dollars a year’. Said that he’s got ‘no issues’ the MRC ‘as an entity’. They do a ‘great job in administering the racecourse’ and they do what ‘they’re allowed to do’. Nor does he have issues with ‘our three council trustees’. claimed that they’ve been ‘very generous’ to him ‘with their information’ and they’ve ‘told council what they’re allowed to discuss’ and he ‘respects how they’re conducting themselves’. Said that in July 2012 he wrote a letter to the Premier asking for appropriate ‘governance arrangements’ relating to leases. Said that ‘shortly after that I was removed’ and that’s the first time in 150 that a trustee hasn’t been reappointed. The only response he got from the Premier was that the matter was in the hands of Minister Smith and he hasn’t heard from Smith. Went on and referred to the Select Committee on crown lands emphasising that this committee represented all political parties. Since 2008 ‘not one action has taken place’ since the report. (an extension of one minute). Read from the report regarding lack of minutes,meetings closed to public and lack of public park. Ended up by saying that the Trustees weren’t the right body ‘to administer’ the leases or the land and it ‘should be a committee of management’.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED. VOTING FOR: MAGEE, DELAHUNTY, LOBO, SOUNNESS. VOTING AGAINST: PILLING AND OKOTEL

PS: we are in error. It has been pointed out to us that when Delahunty asked each councillor if they had been lobbied by any of Hyams, Lipshutz or Esakoff that Pilling did not answer the question. We wonder why!

Advertisements