Lipshutz, Hyams and Esakoff declared an ‘indirect interest’ and left the chamber.

Moved to accept ‘as printed’ by Pilling. Seconded by Okotel

PILLING: Thought that the conditions imposed by the officers addressed the ‘concerns’ of objectors such as ‘timing, the sound’ plus that the screen is ‘well away from residential areas’. Admitted that this is a ‘different usage’ but with all the ‘checks and balances’ he is ‘supportive of this recommendation’.

OKOTEL: said that there is ‘no designation’ for use of the land so council has to consider the application under ‘planning grounds’ . With the imposed conditions she thought it ‘appropriate’ since the cinema will only happen when ‘other uses are not occuring’. The screen is ‘350 metres away from the nearest house’ and that is ‘quite a considerable distance’ and hence ‘wouldn’t affect the amenity of the neighbours’. The liquor license is ‘available already’ and there won’t be any ‘additional’ licenses.

SOUNNESS: said that he was ‘speaking against the motion’ only because he felt that ‘there should be someone speaking against it’. The racecourse is a ‘site that is somewhat vexed’. Said that the reports and decisions that have ‘come down’ suggest that the operational aspects of the racecourse show that it isn’t ‘always a clean operation’ . He ‘supports’ the motion and the chance of use. Although the conditions ‘seem to be quite useful’ he doubts whether council has got the ‘capacity’ to ensure compliance. Was ‘sure’ that there were answer to such questions about who operates the land.

DELAHUNTY: asked Torres the question about the state of the lease.

TORRES: said he understood that ‘there is no current lease’

DELAHUNTY: would vote in favour but thought that the conditions were ‘perplexing’ since ‘they can’t be met under the current arrangements’. Said that in chairing the planning conference it was ‘interesting to hear the different interpretations of language’ from residents versus the MRC. Said that the department has ‘sent a letter to the MRC suggesting that’ it’s in favour of the permit if the Trust agrees to it. The MRC therefore has ‘interpreted this as under existing use’ and current lease, but there is no current lease. She will vote in favour because she is all for ‘more people using their land’ even though there will be ‘some profit taking’. She hoped that since the conditions can’t be met it ‘forces the parties back to the table’ to negotiate.

OKOTEL: asked whether the conditions imposed would be ‘enforceable’

TORRES: said that for any planning permit that ‘conditions are enforceable’ and that not only by council but that ‘any member of the public can apply’ to VCAT.

LOBO: said he was ‘surprised that the MRC is getting everything’. It’s supposed to be for public park as well as racecourse and ‘we are running short’ of sporting fields. Another ‘sicking point’ was that there is provision for 150 car spaces but ‘they are expecting 500 people’. So are they expecting families or ‘lovers’ to come?

MAGEE: said he doesn’t have any ‘problem with the screen being there’ and the community using the racecourse. He does have a ‘problem with the Auditor General’s report’. One of the recommendations was for a plan to be produced for the racecourse and when the plan is produced ‘it may not be consistent with’ the cinema. This cinema might not be ‘consistent’ with the wishes of the Trustees or the committee of management if it is formed. Said that the condition about Trustee approval means that ‘it must have unanimous approval’ and ‘not a majority of the trustees’ because there is no ‘trust, just a group of trustees’. Said that the Auditor General’s report was ‘scathing’ and he is ‘surprised they haven’t all resigned’. He would have resigned straight off. Said that the Auditor General’s report was ‘instigated’ in part by himself since he had written to the Auditor General. This ‘could be a community asset although there will be some profit taking’ from Crown Land. He has no problem with the MRC because they only do ‘what the trustees allow them to do’. ‘They are a good citizen’ and that ‘they run the racecourse very, very well’. They’ve been ‘allowed to do the wrong thing’ for 150 years. Hoped that things change this year.

DELAHUNTY: wanted Magee to confirm that she hadn’t been misunderstood about whether the conditions were enforceable if the lease negotiations fell apart. Magee confirmed that there was no misunderstanding. Reiterated that the new lease had to be a unanimous decision by all the trustees.

PILLING: acknowledged concerns about governance but this is a planning decision and that the Auditor general’s report was a ‘separate matter’. His decision is ‘purely on planning and he thought there were ‘merits’ to the proposal in ‘allowing community people in there’.

MOTION PUT: LOBO WAS THE ONLY COUNCILLOR TO VOTE AGAINST.

COMMENT

This discussion raises far more questions than providing answers. Here are some:

  • Since when does the Trustee’s decision have to be unanimous? At the last trustee meeting, the vote was clearly split. (See: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/news-flash-the-mrc-god-given-right-to-rule/
  • Or is this a condition that the department has now imposed on the ‘negotiations’? If so, then why can’t the public be informed as to what is actually going on and what the parameters of the negotiations entail? Further, why is it taking so long to achieve a lease?
  • Contradictions are apparent once again. When it came to the McKinnon Bowls Club renting out their third green the argument was that public land not be used for commercial profit. Delahunty was adamant on this. Not a mention this time around. So the question becomes – why is this different?
  • Magee’s applauding of the MRC as ‘good citizens’ leaves us speechless!
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