Friday, August 27, 2010

Helping Hands Mission
One of the nice parts of Council work is receiving invitations to community functions that might otherwise pass me by. Last night I attended a fundraising dinner for Helping Hands Mission. Run by Melanie, it is an emergency support organisation that hands out food parcels, clothes, toiletries to families and individuals in need. She runs a Mobile Op Shop and has taken goods to communtiies throughout Victoria helping farming families. She now wants to help local families and we are going to work together to set up Mobile Op Shops locally.
Working at the policy level is important, but when policy lags and lumbers along, people like Melanie just make good things happen to change lives of people in hard times.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An awkward encounter
Today, Wingate community centre in Ascot Vale launched its recycling program for public housing residents. Council staff have worked on beaut looking boxes for residents. The Wingate staff are working on community education and soon all residents will be able to do their own household recycling. All very rosey. Right?
Enter the state and federal elections to complicate the cheerful event. The retiring state MP brought along the new candidate for the area - he is the Minister for Re....spect after all. Respect for milk cartons and cat food cans and public housing residents and anything else beginning with 'R'.
That's all fine - not a big deal. Except that someone at Council was upset that Council was felt to be sidelined in the event. Wingate staff were already upset that political protocals and egos potentially upsetting the recycling bin before the day had begun.
I accepted an invitation to attend, was informed the Mayor was not attending and turned up with some stats on recycling in Moonee Valley up my sleeve.
All smiles. Photos snapping. Not sure whether to move right into the frame or left out of it: "Did you want me in or out of this shot?"
An unexpected response: No. Rose just wants to be in photos because she is standing in the state election. You'll get your chance later Rose.
"I am here filling in for the Mayor and didn't know if you wanted Council in the photo."
"You can be in 40 photos later" and some more about me wanting to be in photos for the election. It's hard to think of a punch line when ambushed in front of four cameras. Now feel sorry for all Chaser victims. I should have stood firm and said cheese. But I walked away.
Does this petty behaviour really happen? From sitting Victorian MPs? Lucky it wasn't from the Minister for Respect.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Politics and parties
Moonee Valley Council may not be perfect, but on election eve and again tonight I sat with a Socialist left Labor, two Labor right, an ex-Liberal independent and then me, a Green, and talked through council issues. We shared a drink and planned a few reforms for Council business; discussed local issues and wished each other well the next day. Anyone doubting the potential of multiparty decision making can take a look at how people talking together about ideas can reach balanced consensus. It's a good democracy we live in when our federal politicians need to talk outside their party. Having said that - we are not perfect!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Did I hear someone say 'indigenous rights'?
The sound is quite unfamiliar - haven't heard it much since we all said 'sorry'. Heard it today from The Greens candidate for NT - a big blackfella who shed a tear when he talked about the impact of intervention on indigenous communities in the NT.
Say it loud; say it clear - indigenous rights are about more than a word and a TV opportunity. The first Australians are out of sight and out of mind in this election. And for that, I am sorry.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Planning - enter the ring
Sometimes planning mediation meetings are a emotional affair - like the one tonight. Six units in a three storey complex with 75% site coverage (standard is 60%) and built to boundary at back and front.
Old lady living behind has nurtured her vegie garden for 30 years and is worried about whether it will still get sun. A couple in street opposite already have difficulties getting the rubbish collected because the truck can't get down the street for the cars. A heavy industrial design in an Edwardian Street - unified by the use of red brick. Not a water tank or solar panel or garden bed on site. All justified under the banner of mitigating urban sprawl.
The old lady walked out disgusted. The couple left early. No compromise on design, density or setbacks. We will meet again... at VCAT.
A well designed, environmentally sustainably designed, landscaped and integrated set of 3-4 units could work. With a tank or panel or four. Carrots and regulations required to induce better homes and gardens.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Council meeting - yes we can!
Ah the sparks flew tonight. It's hard to keep quiet - well I find it difficult, anyway. When the Chair has lost control, Crs are all talking over one another, and a motion is being challenged and debated before it has even been seconded, I have to speak. "Could we just ..."... "How about we..."... trouble was I couldn't get a word in. Chaos ensued - people talking, arguing, chatting ... desperate times called for desperate measures... "Can I call a point of order?" I was rather startled by the repsonse from the Chair: "No you can't." Sorry? "No you can't".
Oh yes I can! Tonight, colleagues and I voted for 360L Recycling bins to be available for residents; voted to support the importance of three year old kindergarten; voted to tell property owners if we are considering planning amendments affecting them; voted to have tram stops in Racecourse Rd improved; voted to develop policies about road closures so residents have certainty; and I presented a rubbish bag of bottles left in a residential street .... oh yes we can!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Toy Library needed in Moonee Valley
A parent apporached me last week hoping to set up MV's first Toy Library. She was aware that for a brief time many years ago, I was President of the Kensington Toy Library. Toy libraries are an excellent resource for parents - I recall my children's delight at the new toys we borrowed - as well as another point of contact with other parents for those working through the trials of parenting. We will see what we can do in MV to progress this idea. I am also exploring CD stock in our libraries in MV.
I walked the streets of Essendon for three hours today sharing the pictures of Richard and Tim with locals. A beautiful walk past some well established and heritage homes and gardens. Essendon certainly is a diverse electorate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Still campaigning on childcare
A Council is threatening to close down a childcare centre; a federal election is ignoring childcare; private operators have the ear of the government over parents; three tiers of government and no clear responsibility for childcare... sounds like 2006 State election when I first campaigned on childcare for The Greens after convincing the City of Melbourne not to opt out of childcare. But it is 2010 and not much has changed.
We have welcomed quality reforms and new standards. And 38 or so of the 260 childcare centres promised in 2007 have been built, but the rest gives a great weighty sense of déjà vu.
Today I attended a forum on Early Childhood Education and care run by Sue Plowright – Greens candidate for Melbourne Ports. A new national model for the delivery of childcare is needed... and has been needed for over 30 years. There was an academic present today who remembers carrying her daughter to a childcare rally. Her daughter is now in her 30s.
We talked about how childcare centres become a family’s ‘village’ – an extended setting of care for a child that is a healthy replacement for the ‘village’ provided quality is high and places can be found. This election, we haven’t heard enough about reforming the delivery of childcare. Let’s try the State election.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Early voting for the federal election
Early voting for the Federal Election has been going on for two bitterly cold weeks. Today, I was rostered to smile through blue lips and hand out How to Vote cards in Hall St, Moonee Ponds for four hours. The wind was ferocious and even my snow-jacket couldn't prevent bone-chill and shivers.
After an hour of racing after blow-away cards down the street and fumbling with numb fingers, I retreated across the road for a hot-chocolate. I entered the toasty warm cafe and was accosted by two older gentlemen who had been watching from the bar stools at the window.
"So, you're a Green. I won't be voting for them," said one. I let him continue partly becuase I still couldn't move my frozen lips.
"Bob Brown and Christine Milne - where were they on Black Saturday."
We chattered for a while and I offered to find him an answer if he emailed me his contact details. His friend, Wayne, smiled quietly as he listened. Hot chocolate then beckoned. I ordered the largest available and eyed the cakes. I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"Let me pay for that. You've been working hard picking up all those papers." I thanked Wayne and wondered if chatting in coffee shops was more worthwhile than standing in the wind - but out I trooped.
News:

1 Ascot Vale Rd
Council has received amended plans ahead of the VCAT hearing commencing on September 20th. The plans are not significantly different from the plans council rejected last month – 20 storeys reaching a similar height. Council will make a decision on the amended plans in early September. The plans are on Council’s website. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Community Grants
Council’s Community Grants will be opening soon. There are information sessions throughout August. Look out for details in Valleyview: August 3rd, 10:30am at Flemington community centre; August 11th, 6pm at the Civic Centre; August 23rd, 1pm at Niddrie Hub. Applications for grants close August 30th.

Flexicar in Moonee Ponds and Flemington
From www.mvcc.vic.gov.au : Moonee Valley City Council and Flexicar have joined forces to give residents and businesses another sustainable transport option by introducing a local carshare scheme. The scheme enables residents and businesses, who do not own a vehicle, to book and access a four-door Honda Jazz, when they need to make certain trips by car. Flexicar and Council will on Monday (2 August) launch one car in Margaret Street, Moonee Ponds near Moonee Ponds train station, and another in Racecourse Road, Flemington near Newmarket train station and tram route 57. Later in August a third carshare car park will be available in Union Road, near the intersection of Maribyrnong Road in Ascot Vale. Residents who sign up for the program receive a personal access card and can book online or over the telephone to hire a vehicle by the hour. Anyone interested in signing up to the program should visit www.flexicar.com.au or call 1300 36 37 80.

Energy Efficient Streetlighting
From www.mvcc.vic.gov.au : Moonee Valley City Council is calling on the community to get behind Council’s efforts to replace street lighting with new energy-efficient lights on all local roads. Moonee Valley has joined the Municipal Association of Victoria and 40 other councils to call on the Victorian and Federal Governments to help fund a bulk changeover to energy-efficient lights. The Give Our Streets the Green Light campaign aims to achieve a 78,000 tonne greenhouse gas emissions reduction and a $7 million cost saving to Victorian local government each year. Over the life of the lights, that equals 31.2 billion black balloons, or 341,917 cars off the road for a year. You can visit the campaign website at greenlightourstreets.org.au to fill out the online petition, download fact sheets, posters and other resources, and send a letter of support to local MPs and Ministers.

Win a set of bike lights
Enter a council competition to win one of 50 sets of bike lights. Check out the MVCC website for competition details then email entry to lbagnati@mvcc.vic.gov.au. Competition ends August 15.

Spirit of Moonee Valley Awards Open
From www.mvcc.vic.gov.au : The Spirit of Moonee Valley Community Awards gives us the opportunity to honour our local community members who have gone beyond what is expected of them to contribute to the wellbeing of our City. The awards recognise volunteers within the community, including individuals, groups and businesses and celebrates their commitment to improving the quality and sustainability of the Moonee Valley lifestyle. The 2010 categories are:• Contribution to Arts and Culture• Contribution to Sport• Contribution to Neighbourhood• Contribution to Family• Contribution by Youth (under 25 years)• Contribution to Older Persons• Contribution to Environment• Contribution by Business to the CommunityFrom one of the above category winners, Moonee Valley’s Citizen of the Year will be selected. Nominations are now open and will close 5pm on Friday 20 August 2010. Download a nomination form (pdf, 77kb) or get a hard copy from the Civic Centre, Libraries and Community Centres, or by telephoning the number below. Nominations can either be posted, hand delivered, faxed or emailed.

Consultation:

Mt Alexander Road Precinct Action Plan
Council is seeking feedback on a plan to balance residential amenity with business activities. The draft plan can be found on the MVCC website. Comments are required by 24 September.
Draft Municipal Parking Strategy
Council is also seeking feedback on a draft parking strategy. The draft plan can be found on the MVCC website or at Council libraries. Comments are required by 16 August.

Events:

Early Years Forum: August 4th

From www.mvcc.vic.gov.au : Following extensive community consultation, Moonee Valley City Council has adopted its new Municipal Early Years Plan (MEYP) and has organised to officially launch the document at an important forum on Wednesday 4 August at 3pm at Windy Hill. The MEYP aims to ensure local children’s services are effective, targeted, robust, and meet the needs of families in Moonee Valley today and into the future. The MEYP focuses on services for children birth to eight years.

Environment Forum – Transitioning Communities: September 6th
Join me on Monday 6 September at 7pm for Council’s Environment Forum – Transitioning Communities

Council meetings – August 3rd and 17th
Meetings for August are on Tuesday 3rd August (6pm Citizens’ Forum and 7pm Planning Meeting) and Tuesday 17th August 7pm (Ordinary Council Meeting). All meetings are held at the Civic centre and are open to the public.

Planting days
Sunday August 1st 10am Aberfeldie Park – National Tree Day Event
Saturday August 7th 11am Spring Gully Reserve, 200m downstream from Keilor Rd Carpark – West Side of Creek E Keilor, Melways Ref. 15 G20
Saturday August 7th 2pm 5 Mile Creek Reserve, End of Government Rd Essendon, Melways Ref. 28 J2

Hockey Lane Consultation: August 9th
Monday 9th 6pm, venue TBC Residents in Hockey Lane have been notified of this meetings.

Eid Festival Event: September 18th
Debneys’ Park – from 12pm with morning prayer event.

And finally: a Media Release
Water saving infrastructure needed to drought-proof ovals and parks
Relaxing water restrictions on sports ovals without providing necessary funds for drought-proofing open space is short-sighted, says Rose Iser, Greens Councillor and candidate for the state seat of Essendon.
“Moonee Valley and Essendon sports grounds need real investment in effective, sustainable water infrastructure, not just a short-term allowance to water during Spring” Cr Iser said.
“With our water supplies at no more than 36%, the Victorian Government today irresponsibly announced that from 1 September 2010 councils will be able to water 100 per cent of sportsgrounds. The Thomson dam is only at 23% of capacity. The short-term allowances during the wet months of Spring will not assist community members in the long-run.”
“Funding is needed for stormwater harvesting and other sustainable infrastructure to ensure the health of our parks and sports ovals long-term, not just ahead of this year’s state election.
“Many of our ovals have struggled over the past ten years of drought, but using our precious stores of potable water this spring won’t solve the problem for the years to come,” Cr Iser said.