Saturday, August 16, 2008
It has been interesting to read about Moreland Council being asked to purchase VicRoads land to maintain its public use. Despite an Upper House Inquiry last year into the use and development of public land and open space in Victoria, the State Government is still requiring local Councils to use rate-payers' money to purchase public land it nominates as being surplus to the Government's needs. Moonee Valley City Council has put aside $150,000 in this year's budget as part payment for a pocket of land along the Moonee Ponds Creek at Bent St, Moonee Ponds. The price-tag has not yet been made public. This land was declared surplus by the State Government, but rather than taking up the Council's offer to manage the land, invest in recreational facilities and maintain it as public open space, the public purse has had to open for Council to purchase public land. The transfer of land from one tier of government to another should not be at a cost the community.
On the evening of Friday 15th August, I attended a meeting organised by local Somalian women about a drug they say is affecting their families and young people. The drug, known as KHAT, is imported from Somalia. The importation of KHAT is illegal in the USA, Canada and NZ and many Somalian men and women in Flemington would like the Federal Government to make its importation into Australia unlawful. They also call on the State Government to make the sale and production of the drug illegal and to provide assistance for users and their families through harm minimisation policies and resources. I will investigate the availability of assistance and resources at the level of local government.
Disappointingly, on August 11th, VCAT handed down its approval of the Development Plan for a 23 storey tower as Stage 2B of the Benson's development on the former Lombards site. In accepting the height as reasonable for the site, the VCAT member referred to expert opinion from within Council and the PDP's recommendations. The member argued that although Melbourne 2030 "discourages" intense developments outside activity centres, where there is net community benefit, such a development can be contemplated. Council now needs to consider the planning permit application for the development.
I recently enjoyed an afternoon of cultural celebration hosted by the Oromo Women's Group in Flemington. The women explained their cultural background and the challenges they currently face - such as learning to drive as demonstrated in an hilarious short film. Through the work of the group, the women are supporting each other in their Australian context. They are hopeful that the Occasional Child Care facility at Flemington Community Centre will soon commence enabling greater participation in education and support programs.