The Victorian Parliament is currently debating the “Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Bill” that arises from the scathing 2014 Auditor General’s Report into the “Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve”. It’s taken 3 years to get to this point and it’s our assessment that the Bill misses the point.
Since the Auditor General’s Report much has be promised, yet it is hard to relate those promises with the content of this Bill. Rather than addressing the inequity between the Reserve’s three separate yet equal purposes of “racecourse public recreation ground and public park” by aligning Racecourse and Community usages with those purposes, we argue that the Bills provisions favour racing rather than public interests and fall short of addressing the issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report. For example,
- the purposes have been redefined to align more closely with existing inequitable uses and the Minister is given the authority to assign/vary the weightings assigned to the purposes.
- Ministerial appointment of Trustees, without adequately defining selection criteria. Appointment is for a period of 3 years with re-appointment for an indefinite number of terms is permitted.
- Ministerial determination of lease periods of up to 65 years. This is contrary to past practices and inconsistent with commercial practices and the Reserve’s defined purposes
- Inadequate management and financial reporting requirements (both Parliamentary and Public) which are not in line with contemporary practices. Likewise with Conflict of Interest provisions.
- Provides for a 20 year Strategic Land Management Plan that lacks performance reporting requirements and can be amended without public scrutiny.
- Ministerial determination of allowed activities – “detrimental” is a key determinant, however, detrimental is not defined.
The inadequacies of the Bill, combined with the Government’s planned dramatic increases in commercial, residential and educational activities in an area widely known to be lacking in parkland and sporting facilities, has prompted both the Stonnington and Glen Eira residents groups to jointly conduct this event.
As per the Auditor General’s report, the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve, has three separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public recreation ground and public park. As a result of poor performance by the Trust (in managing the reserve) and successive State Governments (in overseeing Reserve Management) Racing has been permitted to dominate the Reserve to the extent that current usage of the reserve’s 54ha (valued at $2bn+) is allocated as
- 11 hectares (20%) is under lease for racing purposes. The Annual rental of $170K is generally returned to the MRC for racing related projects.
- 37 hectares (69%) is used for racing purposes without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement, and
- only 6 hectares (11%) is available as open space for the potential use of the community. That 6 ha comprises facilities that do not meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times. No accessibility issues and time restrictions are applicable to racing usage.
JOIN US IN REMINDING OUR POLITICIANS OF THE FORESIGHT OF OUR FOREFATHERS.
In 1884, 8 years after the management of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was vested in a Board of Trustees, the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) sought sole management of the Reserve. The response from the then Minister for Lands was:
“…. he thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve” … and …”The vicinity of the Caulfield racecourse would no doubt soon be thickly populated, and the value of the reserve to the public would then be widely enhanced”.
THAT TIME HAS ARRIVED.