Category Archives: Auditor General

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE REQUIEM

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.  

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The “Requiem” will be held in the Centre of the Racecourse.   The Centre may be accessed by the

  • Glen Eira Road Tunnel – vehicle and pedestrian access
  • Guineas Tunnel, Neerim Road and Queens Avenue Gates.

 

 

 

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CAMP MAGEE (a.k.a. Camp Caulfield) – OPEN UP THE RACECOURSE

Update 2/6/2016 – CAMP MAGEE TEMPORARILY HALTED

Camp Magee has been temporarily dismantled  – the magnitude of public and media attention generated by the “Bear” has been such, that the State Government is “more actively” progressing their review of the MRC’s occupation of the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve.

Therefore, Camp Magee and next Saturday’s wrap up session are now deferred to give the newly appointed Minister (Lily Ambrosio) time to assess the current situation and determine the best way forward.

The “Bear”, with his tent,  promises to return if required (something we hope doesn’t eventuate).

A big thank you to the “Bear”, the media and the public for their efforts in highlighting this significant issue.

For those of you who missed viewing the centre parkland while Jim was in residence,  don’t let that deter you from visiting the centre parkland.   It’s an awesome sight and a tremendous community asset that is under utilized by the community.

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Update 31/5/2016 – The Age 31/5/2016 – The Age

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GERA original posting – 28/5/2016 below

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Cr. Jim “Bear Grylls” Magee has set up a week long camp* on the 5584 sqm of neglected crown land  located near the Glen Eira Road roundabout.  This land was a major part of the infamous land swap and was to become parkland that provided visual and physical above ground pedestrian access to the public parkland in the centre of the racecourse.

The purpose of “Bear” Magee’s camp out is to highlight the inequitable racing vs public use of the Crown Land known as the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve and the need for Government action.  The camp out will end next Saturday (4/6/2016) at 1.00 p.m. with  a wrap up session attended by the  Minister responsible for the Reserve’s management (the newly appointed Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change – Lily D’Ambrosio), the Minister for Sport (John Eren) and various media representatives.   Residents are also urged to attend to show their support for the “opening up” of the Racecourse for public parkland usage.

* You can follow “Bear” Magee’s progress on Twitter

For those of you who don’t know, we re-iterate – the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in 1858 with the grant being formally enacted in 1876.  Under that Grant and all subsequent legislation, the primely located Reserve has 3 separate yet equal purposes of racecourse, public park and public recreation ground (ie. 33% racing and 67% public usage).

As per the scathing Auditor General’s Report (September, 2014), since the late 1990s mismanagement by the Board of Trustees and lack of Governmental oversight, has resulted in the Reserve’s current 54 hectares (valued at $2 bn) having the following usages*

  • 11 hectares (20%), is leased by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) for a flat rate of approx. $170,000 p.a.   The lease revenue is paid to the Trustees who generally return it to the MRC to fund racing related projects (as opposed to parkland related projects).  All revenue derived from the commercial activities (including the Glasshouse Tabaret) held on the Reserve land is retained by the MRC.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement.
  • 6 hectares (11%) is open space for potential use by the community 328 days p.a. (ie. excluding racing – 27 days p.a. and major MRC commercial event days – 10 days p.a.) and during prescribed hours (ie. 10 am. to dusk).   The 6 ha is not visible from the surrounding streets, is difficult to physically access and comprises limited facilities that don’t meet park users’ needs.

* ie. 89% racing and 11% public usage

In short, the Auditor General’s Report (which concurred with the findings of the earlier 2008 Legislative Council Select Committee Report on Crown Land Management) found that the current Crown land management arrangements over the reserve are untenable from a public interest perspective  …. attention urgently required”.

21 months after the tabling of the AG’s report there’s been talk but little action on the part of the Government.  Meanwhile

  • the above usages and leasing arrangements remain in place, to the advantage of the MRC and the detriment of the public.
  • the centre of the racecourse, which is the area originally set aside for public usage, sits empty most days (except for the 27 race days and 10 major event days p.a. when it is used as a car park) and every evening after dusk
  • innumerable children and adults are unable to play sport or train within their own Municipality because demand far exceeds supply.

“Bear” Magee is asking, on behalf of residents, for the Reserve’s current inequitable usages to be aligned with the three separate yet equal purposes.  Undertaking a week long camp out (without any facilities) in Melbourne, in June, is no mean feat.     GERA thanks him for his efforts and is a strong supporter of the cause.  GERA also urges residents to show their support by

  • going to view what they are missing out on (by accessing the racecourse centre via the Glen Eira Road Tunnel), then stopping for a chat with “Bear” Magee afterwards, and
  • attending the camp out wrap up session next Saturday.

Finally, words of wisdom from the past

The Argus, 16th August, 1884 (8 years after Grown Grant was enacted).

Extract of a meeting between the  Minister of Lands (Mr. Tucker) and VATC (Victorian Amateur Turf Club, later became the MRC) re management of the reserve being vested in the VATC

 “It seemed to him (Mr. Tucker) that to agree to the proposals of the club would be to limit to some extent the right of the public to use the ground for the purposes for which it was originally reserved – namely, for recreation and a public park. … 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.   …  Mr. Tucker said he thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve. ”

28/5/2016 – Residents wanting to play sport at the Glen Eira Road Tunnel Entrance Gates

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Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – Opportunity for Change

For those of you not aware, the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trustees are preparing a “Strategic Land Management Plan for the racetrack and inner landscape portion of the Caulfield Racecourse” and are holding two community consultations which “will be an important part of “developing an overall vision and rationale for the Masterplan”

The notice appears on their recently revived website

Consultation details provided are

Glen Huntly Road Park Function Room (Corner Neerim and Booran Roads, Glen Huntly)

Wednesday 9th September 2015    7.00-9.00pm
Wednesday 16th September 2015  7.00-9.00pm

We urge residents to attend the community consultation sessions to express their views to the Trustees and to lodge written submissions with the Landscape Architects assisting the Trust’s development of the Strategic Land Management Plan.  Submissions should be lodged by Friday, 2nd October, 2015.  Download Trustee provided Submission lodgement details and sample questions

This is a unique opportunity that could bring about significant change.

The consultation arises from the September, 2015 Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report that was extremely critical of Trustee’s management of the reserve that had allowed racing to dominate the Reserve, exclude the public and become the public face of the Reserve. A reserve that was set aside by an 1858 Crown Grant, enacted in 1875, for three separate yet equal purposes, i.e. racecourse, public park and public recreation ground.

The end result of this mismanagement (both by the Trustees and State Government) is graphically and simply illustrated in the AG’s Report via an analysis of the usage areas with the Reserve.  Of the Reserve’s 54ha (valued at $2bn)

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease, from the Trust, for racing purposes (with Trust leasing income being at a “peppercorn rate” (ie. $170K pa) which is generally returned to the racing industry for racing related projects and
  • 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.   Such a basic inequity in reserve usage is further exacerbated by the AG’s comments that the 6 ha comprises facilities, which although recently upgraded (in 2011 as a Ministerial condition of the ”Triangle Landswap”), that do not adequately meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times (not available on race or major event days, other days 9.45 a.m. to dusk).  On the other hand, such accessibility issues and time restrictions are not applicable to racing’s usage.

* In 1876, at the first Trustee’s meeting, the centre of the racecourse (also known as the “Flats”) was set aside for public usage. Within the context of the current racecourse, that area is estimated to be 25ha (since specific measurements are not publicly available, this “guesstimate” was provided by a surveyor) and comprises approximately half of the 37 ha (25ha – 6 ha = 19ha) used by racing without any legal entitlement or payment.   In terms of the “Flats” it has been consumed by training tracks (a clearly commercial activity, that is not essential to a racecourse) or in the case of 1.1 ha “Car Boot Village” which the 2011 landscaping plan identified as unrestricted public access area, has since been designated a restricted public access area.  While no rationale for re-designation is publicly available, a recent planning permit application noted that the “Car Boot Village” area has permits for future commercial activities.  These permits provide for the temporary installation of  private function facilities (ie. marquees, liquor service and toilet facilities) until 1 a.m.  365 days p.a. in the “Car Boot Village” area.

2011 Landscaping

Clearly, this inequitable distribution should be addressed, particularly in the light of the size of the land and it’s potential to meet the open space demands (especially for active sports) of the intensive developments in the surrounding area, ie.

  • Within Glen Eira (the least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne)
    • Caulfield Village Development – 2000+ dwellings
    • Monash University – currently 10,000 EFS (effective full-time students) to increase to 25,000 EFS and increased provision of student housing.
  • Within Stonnington (the second least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne)
    • 18 storey residential tower – Cnr. Tooronga and Dandenong Roads
    • 4-6 storey developments along Dandenong Road between Tooronga and Grange Roads

While GERA welcomes this initiative of the Trustees which, we have been advised will review usage of the entire (54 ha) reserve, we also have serious concerns re reports that racing is proposing night races which,

  • as per racing media reports will generate significant live broadcasting rights revenue from Asia and the Middle East but
  • does little for evening public park and recreation ground usage and also begs the question of why current public access to the reserve is not permitted after dusk whereas paid patrons are.

This is a unique opportunity that could bring about significant change and residents are urged to attend and views to the Trustees.

As, included in some of our previous posts, the following provides “food for thought”

In 1884, 9 years after the Restricted Crown Grant was formally enacted, a deputation from the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) was made to the Minister of Lands (Mr. Tucker) requesting Reserve management be transferred to the Club.

Mr. Tucker       “… to agree to the proposal of the club would be to limit to some extent the right of the public to use the ground for the purposes for which it was originally reserved – namely, for recreation and a public park. … 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”.

 VATC                         “… permission might be granted to the public to go on the reserve”

 Mr. Tucker       “… thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve”.

Source: The Argus, 16/8/1884

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