Tuesday, October 11, 2016

More Bikes and Less Pokies

Moonee Valley has a great bike plan, but we need to put more money behind it.  Prioritising cycling and walking in the budget is a must if we are to have a safe, healthy and sustainable community.  Bikes are best...

Unfortunately, I was the only candidate in Myrnong Ward to respond to a survey put out by the Alliance for Gambling Reform - see the article in The Age and the survey responses

I support the removal of all misleading and deceptive features programmed into pokies and I support local governments having proper authority over the location of poker machines in their respective communities. Moonee Valley has one of the highest venues for losses in Airport West and has higher losses per person than surrounding municipalities.

From: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/call-for-councils-to-have-more-sway-over-pokie-venues-20160930-grs5cm.html 

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Vote in this year's council election

Your ballot paper should have arrived.  If you haven't received it by now, please contact the VEC on 8619 1751.

Number all boxes, SIGN and DATE the envelope and return by post it by 6pm Friday October 21. 


This year, you won't receive an indication of how each candidate would like you to order your votes on the ballot paper.* 

If you would like to support me, please vote:

 '1' for ROSE ISER 

and number all remaining boxes from 2-11 
preferencing progressive, honest, community focused representatives.

Some candidates in Myrnong Ward, Moonee Valley, are distributing their own 'How to Vote' cards. I am not.

The order of candidates on 'How to Vote' cards (HTVs) is most often the result of preference swaps or deals, not the actual order a candidate 'prefers' the other candidates.  

Here is some useful information about candidates' political party membership and preference swaps that are understood to have taken place this election:

Rose Iser - Independent - not a member of any party; not issuing HTV card; no preference swaps

Nicole Marshall - ALP member; not issuing HTV card; no preference swaps

Jim Cusack - ALP member; preference swap with Greens candidate

Jack Giles - Greens member; preference swap with Jim Cusack

Miriam Gillis - ALP member; preference swap with Liberal member candidate

Robert Cricco - Liberal member; preference swap with Miriam Gillis

Tony De Fazio - Independent; preference swaps unknown

Paul Filia - Independent; preference swaps unknown

Scott Agresta - Independent; preference swaps unknown

Cam Nation - Independent; preference direction from another candidate in VEC statement

Benjamin Smits - Independent; VEC statement indicates second preference direction; no response to candidate questionnaire; no contact phone number provided.

This information is based on phone conversations with Jim Cusack, Miriam Gillis and Robert Cricco's team, HTV cards distributed by candidates, and the VEC statements online at:

*(A disallowance motion was passed by opposition parties in the Victorian Parliament Upper House to stop the VEC distributing candidates' How to Vote instructions).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's your wish for Moonee Valley?

In the past two weeks, I've knocked on 500 doors and had over 250 conversations with Moonee Valley residents.  I've asked you...

"What's your wish for Moonee Valley?"

You've said:
  • sensitive planning that respects neighbourhhood character of streetscapes and private open space of small blocks
  • a heritage overlay for Marshall and Clarence streets in Newmarket and other parts of Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds
  • more efficient collection of hard rubbish to keep streets safe and clean
  • a focus on urban design in planning
  • adjustments to parking restrictions to accommodate residents
  • attention to footpaths for prams, wheelchairs and children
  • plan for Travancore park to be implemented
  • maintaining parks and green spaces
  • care that weeds are not transferred between green spaces via lawnmowers and other machinery
  • care for vulnerable people facing drug and alcohol addition
  • parking around school areas to be better enforced
  • better enforcement of permit parking
  • funding for more community services
  • employment opportunities
  • respectful responses from the Office of Housing to issues at public housing sites
Kathy's wish is for us to retain our sense of community.

Elhadi's wish is for better security for the Flemington housing estate so that families feel safe at night.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 Council election

I invite you to find out more about me and my work on this website. It's a record of council and community work since 2008. 

Local government decisions have a lasting impact on our community and so Council elections are important.

If you have any questions at all about the election or my candidacy, please call me on
0414 959 427.

Thanks - 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Previous achievements on Moonee Valley Council

From 2007-2010, I served as the Councillor for Flemington, Kensington (now City of Melbourne), Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds.

During this time, I advocated tirelessly for:

Action on climate change
  • funding for annual targets to lower Council's emissions
  • support for residents to install solar panels and water tanks
  • funding for bike paths to enable children and commuters to ride safely
Environmental protection
  • funding for parks and open space
  • strategies for healthy water ways 
  • sustainable water plans for open spaces and street trees

Community inclusion
  • publications in multiple languages for our large population without English as a first language
  • the inclusion of local artwork in street enhancement projects
  • a strategy for sporting facilities for netball
  • funding for childcare and support for kindergartens
  • support for aged, disability and diversity services
  • heritage protection for suburbs with significant neighbourhood character and inadequate protection
  • consultation with residents on issues affecting them
  • appropriate venue management to restore neighbourhood amenity in Moonee Ponds Mt Road precinct
I fought:
  • over-development at Lombards and 1 Ascot Vale Rd
  • against the destruction of parkland by the proposed East West Link
  • over-development of small blocks resulting in loss of amenity for neighbours
  • poor governance 
  • inequity in spending 
  • the sale of parkland.
In 2007, I was one of the only Councillors to vote against the sale of a portion of Debneys Park that eventually paved the way for the construction of the Lombards tower.

I value investment in environmental and community services that make our suburbs even more vibrant, healthy, inclusive and sustainable.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Local issues - planning, planning and planning

Talking with residents in Travancore and Flemington over the weekend, planning continues to be the most discussed local issue.

Travancore and Flemington are close to the city, so we expect some development and increased density.  But we don't expect, or accept, that our beautiful streets and neighbourhoods need to be spoilt, or that residential amenity should be sacrificed for developer greed.

Areas particularly under threat of over-development are those abutting main roads and commercial precincts including Racecourse, Mt Alexander, Epsom, Ascot Vale and Maribyrnong roads.  

Residents living in areas without heritage protection, like Newmarket, are under increasing stress as a stream of developments are proposed in the area.

So what can we do?

VCAT recently rejected an 8 storey (25m), 62 dwelling development at 436-442 Mt Alexander Rd.  This was in an area designated by Council for 3 storey dwellings - or 5 storey for key sites.  VCAT found that:

  • the Council had done extensive strategic work on the Mt Road corridor and had set preferred heights
  • the site had direct residential interfaces and
  • the proposal failed to address the interfaces in an acceptable manner

What this demonstrates is that where Council puts in the strategic work to specify heights, residential interfaces and other preferred design elements - including neighbourhood character and heritage protection, VCAT can support the intent of these planning guidelines.

This means Council needs to continue to put in the work at the strategic level to detail the preferred heights and design elements in areas that are likely to be subject to development.

Council officers also recommended approval of the proposal at 436-442 Mt Road demonstrating, as one resident put it, a real gap between elected councillors and officers at Moonee Valley. 

It's an ongoing project, but Council putting its shoulder to the wheel and doing the hard strategic work is essential.

From the VCAT decision:

  1. With respect to the proposal’s height, scale and form, the proposal is not acceptable having regard to the site’s physical and strategic context. The strategic direction for the corridor has been the subject of extensive policy development and the resultant planning scheme controls give effect to that policy development. Preferred maximum heights have been established and, while these are not mandatory, the extent to which this proposal seeks to exceed those heights is not acceptable on this site. The review site has direct residential interfaces and the design of this proposal has failed to address those interfaces in an acceptable manner. The amenity impacts of this proposal on its residential neighbours are unacceptable.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Photos by Philip Smith www.photosmith.com.au

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Photo by Philip Smith www.photosmith.com.au


I've been writing this blog sporadically since 2008.  In the archives, there are many articles about Moonee Valley Council activities between 2008-2010 (see menu on right hand side).

Since 2010, I've used the blog as a travel diary and a space for reflections on politics, life and community conundrums.

There many be something of interest to you - thanks for reading.

You may also be interested in the eastwestlinkblog which is still online.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Apologies world

Dear rest of the world,

The Australian psyche is a most peculiar thing.  

We are generous, laid-back and fun-loving.  We love pranks, scandals and breaking the rules. We scorn authority, privilege and toffy monikers.  And we're smart.  

But we're not great global team-players.  I'm really very sorry about that.

We often forget we're a small number, on a large island, in a vast world.  Our geography has stunted our sense of international camaraderie. 

Consequently, we (a people borne from boats-arrivals across the ages) have forgotten that we're not acting alone on planet earth. Our conduct takes place in an international context in which we are just 0.3% of the human population. 

Displaced people, asylum seekers and unsettled refugees outnumber us 3:1 making up 0.9% of the world's population.  

And only a fraction of these are resettled through the UNHCR each year.  Only a fraction of displaced people have attempted to reach Australia by boat.

Such small numbers.  We've forgotten the bigger picture.

Of course, we don't want any people to die at sea during their journey to Australia.  But when we focus on journeys to Australia alone, we're blinkered to all of the deaths occurring in other seas as desperate people search for better lives for themselves and their families.

By trying to look after our own shores, we've lost sight of the global reality of conflict, persecution and people movements caused by fear or famine.  

Shutting off one tiny sea route won't make a jot of difference to the global problem.  It will just mean that dead bodies wash up on the shores of other nations, not our own.

What's wrong with us that we think we alone can abandon Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and the Refugee Convention... and the 1967 Protocol?  All of these instruments protect the right of people to seek asylum when they face persecution.

If Australia expects Pakistan and Jordan to accept millions of asylum seekeres into camps, we need to pull our weight.

We are a generous people.  But we are frozen in the headlights of racism and fear.  

Funding safe ways for people to resettle in Australia is part of the answer (hooray for an increase in intake from 13,000 to 27,000 refugees... although it's not until 2025).  

But abandoning the obligation to accept asylum seekers is not, and never will be, acceptable from a developed intelligent and generous nation like Australia.

The government and key members of the opposition have forgotten the necessity of being a global team player on the issue of asylum seekers.

Apologies world.