Item 9.1 – MRC application for 30+ radio towers

Esakoff, Hyams and Lipshutz all declared a conflict of interest and left the chamber. Magee moved to accept the motion to refuse, plus that council write to the Minister & Department, plus all relevant MPs seeking permission to create 6 sporting ovals in the centre of the racecourse. Seconded by Delahunty.

MAGEE: stated that the application ‘in itself’ was fairly ‘innocuous’ but ‘far reaching’ since it ‘encroaches further and further’ onto crown land. For years there has been this encroachment by the MRC – ie ‘training track after training track being developed’, ‘large screens being built’ and application to ‘increase the size of the Tabaret’. There are 3 purposes for the racecourse (park, racing, etc) and that racing is ‘well and truly catered for’. Said that this application is to set up a ‘permanent structure on usable crown land’. Went over the lack of open space, the number of kids unable to play sport because of lack of grounds, and that ‘teams are capped’ turning away stacks of kids. There is a master plan being done and all the sporting clubs are saying this is a ‘great opportunity’ to have this open space for sport in the centre. Now council has the ‘opportunity’ to apply for use of the land. The MRC writes to the ‘authority’ and council is now wanting to do the same. Claimed that it ‘would be very hard’ for the Minister and Department to ‘actually refuse us’ given that they have approved the screens, etc. ‘We have waited far too long’ and ‘this open space belongs to you’. Said with this motion council will see who opposes them so they will have ‘someone to talk to’.

DELAHUNTY: said that it’s a ‘hard act’ to follow Magee since he is so ‘passionate’ and speaks so ‘eloquently’. Racing is already ‘well catered for’ so ‘this doesn’t meet the objectives of’ the Crown Land Grant. Council takes the Open Space Strategy ‘very seriously’ and the application ‘flies in the face of those strategic objectives’ so it behoves council to refuse the application. The motion is moving forward towards achieving sporting fields and open space.

SOUNNESS: said he wasn’t speaking against the spirit of the refusal but thought that the bit about the ‘tipping point is weak’. If this went to VCAT it would ‘prove to be a less than successful’ outcome. Endorsed the other part of the motion and there should be the opportunity for the ‘public to enjoy’ the course. Repeated that he has got ‘reservations’ about the ‘tipping point’ since there have been ‘other applications’ that were equally the ‘tipping point’.

PILLING: endorsed part 2 of the motion but on the refusal said that while he understands Sounness’ points he doesn’t agree since there will be visual impact to Queen’s Avenue since the land is already raised and did think that council ‘can justify’ the motion.

OKOTEL: supported the motion because this would create a ‘visual impact’ and park users ‘aren’t being adequately catered for at the moment’. Said that ‘at the moment’ access is ‘restricted’ and ‘what’s pleasing’ is that ‘now action is taken’ in the attempt to ‘move forward’ and ‘discover who might be responsible for that blockage’ to permission. The motion ‘will weed out’ those responsible ‘for the blockage’.

LOBO: all applications are about ‘horse racing, horse racing’ and they ‘don’t regard’ the community. They have ‘denied the rights of the community’. There is a lack of sports grounds and council even had to hire ‘independent consultants’ to work out what sporting grounds are needed. The MRC has ‘done nothing but given grief to the community’. The lease ‘has expired’ and hasn’t been ‘renewed for years’; the Auditor General delivered his report and ‘caulfield racecourse does not seem to care’. Council ‘doesn’t get a cent from huge earnings of Caulfield racecourse’ in fact they pay reduced rates.

MAGEE: said that the 2008 report from the parliamentary committee was ‘scathing’ and so was the VEAC report and then the Auditor General’s report. A year down the track and none of his recommendations ‘are yet to be implemented’. Stated that ‘in his heart’ he thought there would be ‘changes’ and that the new Minister would do her best to make things change. Said that the motion means that council is ‘moving forward’ and they can see if there is anyone who is trying to ‘stop us’. The MRC do ‘look after the racecourse very well’ and is one of the best courses in the world and council wants racing to stay but they also want to ‘share the ground’.

MOTION PUT. ONLY COUNCILLOR TO VOTE AGAINST – SOUNNESS

COMMENTS

  • We commend Cr Sounness for being the only councillor to take the officer’s report to task – however mildly and for his attempt to refer to ‘planning law’ rather than grandstanding.
  • This is a planning application, yet the only comment made in relation to planning was the dubious claim about ‘visual amenity’. For a council that continually rams down residents’ throats the idea that ‘planning law’ must apply – this so called ‘debate’ illustrates how little ‘planning law’ has been dredged up to support the officer’s recommendation and the subsequent motion. In our view, councillors, for whatever reason are going through the motions, doing as they are told, and literally scraping the bottom of the barrel to find anything of substance to say.
  • Question – why has council waited for nearly a decade before moving the motion to seek permission for sporting fields? Surely this could have been done eons ago?
  • Musical chairs on Esakoff, Hyams, and Lipshutz’s ‘conflict of interest’ continues. When it suits, there is a conflict of interest. When it doesn’t suit, this goes out the window! Consistency is definitely not a strong point within council!
  • If the Open Space Strategy is so important, then where was council when it either granted permits, or caved in, over the removal of fences, access, leases, financial payments, etc – not to mention the C60, outdoor screen, cinema, etc. etc.
  • In typical contradictory manner, council now seeks permission and then a permit to create six sporting fields – without knowing the cost. Funnily enough other items on the agenda included the arguments that council can’t do something because they either haven’t got the money and don’t know the cost so the accepted recommendation was the usual – ‘let’s do nothing’ (ie pavilions, rose gardens, depot removal from Caulfield Park).
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