Sunday’s (7/10/2012) “Meet the Candidates” well attended community forum provided lively discussions between the candidates and residents. GERA received very positive feedback, from both candidates and residents, on how informative and enjoyable the forum was and how greatly they appreciated the opportunity to participate in the forum.
Although all 33 candidates were invited, regrettably some didn’t respond and not all were able to participate. Despite the importance of “community” being featured in all current Councillors’ election material, it is regrettable that only 3 (Forge, Magee and Penhalluriack) of the 8 current councillors seeking re-election attended. All candidates who were unable to attend missed a valuable opportunity to present their platforms to residents and openly discuss current issues with the other candidates and residents. Details of the 11 attendees, by ward – Camden, Rosstown, Tucker are presented.
As mentioned in our Forum flyers and website announcement, the meeting comprised an opportunity (approx. 3 mins) for candidates to briefly outline their responses to the 11 questions* GERA asked in their meeting invitation or other issues they felt were significant. This was followed by the “formal” question and answer session and an informal one on one question and answer session. What follows is a synopsis of the candidates’ presentation and the “formal” question and answer session.
Bear with us folks, this will be a longer than usual post but it is in your interest to persevere – the decisions Council makes have a bigger impact on our daily lives that most think. Council is more than maintenance, rates, rubbish and the statutory provision of services (eg infant welfare, immunisation etc.). It is Council that manages traffic flows and parking, who decides what gets built where, provides expansion and maintenance of open space, determines rates and is responsible to managing a budget of $132 m in a prudent and accountable manner for the benefit of the community.
CANDIDATES PRESENTATIONS (the candidates determined the order of the presentations and they are presented in that order)
Jim Magee – Incumbent Councillor, Independent, Tucker Ward
Long term resident of Tucker Ward. Unsuccessfully stood for Council in 2005 but again stood and was successful in 2008. Appointed as a Trustee of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve, elected Chairman of the Trustees 2012. If successful in 2012 council elections, will not stand for re-election in 2016.
Biggest issues – Open Space, Facilities (seniors’ facilities in general and child care facilities in Tucker)
Mary Delahunty – Independent, Camden Ward
Member of a well-known political family with both Liberal and Labor members. Elsternwick resident, with a young family, who is passionate about local government. Has a Masters in Finance.
Believes Council does well with the statutory requirements (eg immunisation) but believes community connectivity and consultation (particularly open space, planning and traffic management) need considerable improvement. Is concerned about Council’s debt.
Kate Dempsey (Dr.) – Independent, Camden
Long term Camden resident (27 years) and activist. Has a successful consulting business focussed on local government and educational institutions. Has not had business dealing with Glen Eira Council. Was selected, after extensive selection process, by Council to be a Community Representative on the formulation of the 2012 Community/Council Plan+. Standing for Council because of skills/knowledge arising from local authority consulting business and negative experience with Council in developing the 2012 Community/Council Plan.
Does not oppose development per se but is opposed to development that is out of keeping with character of area and inadequately planned. Knows how Council should work and Glen Eira Council works – the two are not the same.
Dr. Kate Dempsey’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided on both our website and her facebook page. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
Newton Gatoff – Independent, Tucker
Long term Glen Eira resident with a career in local government.
Standing because of issues related to planning, governance, finances (burgeoning debt which prevents other projects being undertaken), community engagement and the inability of the current council to work together in the interests of residents. Over ten to twelve years the same issues have been re-appearing and remain unaddressed. Re-electing the same Councillors has not been effective over the past 10 or so years – it’s time for new people who will work together to address the issues.
Newton Gatoff’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided both our website and his facebook page. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
Cheryl Forge – Incumbent Councillor (for 2.5 years), Independent, Camden Ward
Long term resident Camdem resident. Glen Eira and Save our Suburbs activist who opposed the C60 MRC Caulfield Village Development. Became a Councillor (2 years ago) upon the resignation of former Mayor Helen Whiteside. Appointed as a Trustee of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.
The issues related to Racecourse development, traffic and parking, and overall Glen Eira planning issues need to be addressed by Council. Her platform of zero rate increases takes into consideration existing loans, proposed future loans and the capping of staffing numbers (via natural attrition) and pegging salary increases. Is frustrated by the time taken up and ratepayers resources being wasted on the CEO’s legal actions.
Brett Hedger – Greens, Tucker Ward
Long term resident.
“Council isn’t working for us and hasn’t worked for us and for over 8 years”. Of the candidates for Tucker Ward “11 out of the 14 represent the status quo” The major issues facing Glen Eira and Tucker Ward are Child Care, Open Space and Development.
Brett Hedger’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided both our website and his facebook page. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
Frank Penhalluriack – Incumbent Councillor, Independent, Camden Ward.
Long term successful Glen Eira business man with Liberal leanings but is not a member of any political party. Opposed the C60 development and Council’s decision on the Alma Club.
One of the major issues in Glen Eira, and particularly Camden, is the lack of open space. Recognises the need for Crs. Magee and Forge (both Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve) to be re-elected so that they can continue fighting for greater public access to the Racecourse Reserve. Another major issue is the Auditor General’s classification of Glen Eira Council as a high risk Council due to high debt servicing costs and low liquidity ratio. Both debt servicing and low liquidity have resulted in delays in other projects (eg Duncan McKinnon Pavilion). Successful businessmen and women, who will accountable to the electorate, are needed on Council to ensure finances are wisely spent and managed.
Frank Penhalluriack’s unedited response to our 11 questions is provided on our Website Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
Wilmars Mickelsons – Greens, Rosstown Ward
Long term resident who grew up in Glen Eira and has also raised a family in the municipality.
Believes Cr. Pilling is the most community minded Councillor on Council and that Glen Eira Council doesn’t engage with the community. Main issues are engaging the community and, particularly for Rosstown, ensuring the future of the Carnegie Pool.
Wilmars Mickelsons’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided on our website. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
James Steedman – Independent, Camden Ward
Although a recent resident of Glen Eira (late 2011), has a long history of public service with the Australian Federal Police (still serving) and a long professional association with policing in the municipality.
Does not believe there is much wrong with Glen Eira Council (his experience has shown there are some better and others worse) and if elected pledges to work as part of a team of Councillors focussing on providing good long term outcomes for the residents.
James Steedman’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided on our website. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
Rose Read – Greens, Tucker Ward
All the Greens council candidates share a common commitment to enhancing openness, transparency and accountability in Glen Eira. Unfortunately, although Council has a big impact on daily lives, most residents do not focus on Council until services are not available. Throughout her professional career she has seen what other Councils have achieved and what can be done when Council works as a team and pledges to build a better Council that will work as a team. Open Space is a major issue in Glen Eira.
Don Dunstan – Independent, Rosstown Ward
Long term resident of Glen Eira with a long term commitment to community service (served 3 terms as a Caulfield Councillor, founder of the Glen Eira U3A, involvement with the Adult Education Council.).
Major issues are much needed improvements to open, transparent, accountable governance, community participation, open space, traffic and parking and management of financial resources
Don Dunstan’s unedited response to our 11 questions are provided on our website. Please note that the responses are the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of the Glen Eira Residents’ Association.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Candidates responses are recorded in the order in which the candidates responded to the questions.
Question – Council should not be political and aligned with political parties. Your opinions?
Mary Delahunty (Camden) – responded that neither the Labor or Liberal parties endorsed candidates at the local government level as the Local Government Act requires Councillor’s to work together impartially in the interests of the residents. Thus, political affiliations are not a valid consideration at the local government level.
The majority of other Candidates disagreed and argued that political affiliations bind Councillors to party policies and influenced their voting patterns. It was, therefore, important that political affiliation be declared by all Candidates during the election campaign.
When further asked if they had received any political party or political organisation election funding, all independent candidates said ‘no’. The Greens candidates stated that, while they had received advice and some financial assistance from the Greens and local fundraising, the primary source of funding was personal coffers. (GERA Note: Candidates acknowledged that genuine and effective campaigns cost in the vicinity of $5 – 7,000 – stooges pay a lot less)
Question – Why can’t residents speak and ask questions of Council/Councillors at ordinary Council Meeting.
Jim Magee (Tucker) – stated that in 2008 Council voted to change the local law to require public questions to be submitted in writing prior to an ordinary Council Meeting. The local law could be changed but is unlikely to be changed by the present incumbent councillors.
Question – Glen Eira, particularly Camden Ward, was once beautiful, now it is ordinary. What do you propose to do to achieve better planning outcomes and given the pledges for zero rate increase how is this to be achieved given Council’s current financial state?
Frank Penhalluriack (Camden) – the cost of salaries has increased by 32%, we need to cap staff numbers (via natural attrition) and peg salary increases. Cut waste and prioritise spending – examples – cut waste by renovating existing public toilets rather than installing excel public toilets, defer spending on warm season grasses
James Steedman (Camden) appreciates the legacy of previous councils and recognises the need to maintain and improve on that legacy. Planning controls are in place and need to be enforced. Separate the Open Space Levy and ensure that it is spent in the areas where it is raised.
Kate Dempsey (Camden) questioned how Council spends money and sets priorities without discussion with residents (example – concrete plinths in parks). Need to minimise waste. Residents need to be better informed (what is going on and what is going up). Additionally Council needs to improve its advocacy at VCAT.
Newton Gatoff (Tucker) – Glen Eira does not have, yet needs, structure plans (structure plans** are all encompassing plans that consider all aspects of development (eg built form, height) and their flow on impacts (traffic and parking, drainage etc). Structure plans allow the community to get ahead of the developer/development and not get rolled at VCAT.
Cheryl Forge (Camden) – structure plans and height controls required. Need Council to work together (example – approval of $500K cost of concrete plinths in Camden Ward’s Caulfield Park; Camden Councillors voted no, all other Councillors approved. Voting and approval not made in an open Council Meeting.
Question – A question of consistency – why are some Places of Worship, Medical Centres and Child Care Centres allowed in residential areas and others not? (examples – Morrice Street Child Care Centre – rejected by Council, VCAT hearing pending and Kooyong Rd & Edwards St Medical Centre allowed)
Frank Penhalluriack (Camden) – State Government legislation which sets the framework for the local planning scheme allows it.
Mary Delahunty (Camden) – With the proposed changes to the planning zones this is very important. The Glen Eira Council submission on the zones is deficient. The proposed new planning zones will have a major impact on Glen Eira. Glen Eira needs a strong Council who will balance “making things easier” with “loss of rights”
Question – Why does Council approve developments that are not in compliance with ResCode?
Jim Magee (Tucker) – each project needs to be individually reviewed for ResCode compliance. ResCode does not apply to developments over 4 storeys. With regards the proposed planning reforms – minimal change areas may be advantaged by the changes but any other classification/zones will lose out. For example, under the proposed changes, Heritage will always lose out when it’s a choice of Business/Commercial development vs. Heritage.
Newton Gatoff (Tucker) – Structure Plans are recognised by VCAT. Without structure plans, under the new zones, Camden Ward will suffer the most. Tucker Ward (in particular Centre Road) is a good example of random developments and adhoc subdivisions occurring.
Question – Who decides (approve/deny) planning permit applications?
Jim Magee (Tucker) – Councillors only see the applications that are in the “too difficult” category. All others are decided by the Planning Officers.
Don Dunstan (Rosstown) – 98% of applications received are approved by the Administration with or without residents being advised. This is not what happens in other Councils or in Glen Eira in the past – where the administration is/was authorised to approve only “minor” applications (fences, signs). Councillors’, via delegations of authority, have broadened the Administration’s authority at the expense of residents.
Question – The questionable Community Plan 2012, as defined by the current council, will be inherited by new council. How do you propose to deal with this?
Newton Gatoff (Tucker) – the new Council needs to start afresh and should not be bound by the “cut and paste” (old to new document) mentality of the 2012 plan. The 2012 plan does not adequately represent the views expressed by the residents at the community consultations.
Kate Dempsey (Camden) - was a community representative on the Community Plan Committee and as a result of that experience is standing for Council. Essentially the community plan is a rubber stamped view of the administration that does not reflect residents views – the community representatives on the committee (3) were consistently over ridden by Council officers. It should be redone.
Rose Read (Tucker) – the community reaction to the 2012 plan, is to rip it up and start again as it does not reflect the wishes of the community. To achieve this voters need to elect Councillors with the will and the numbers.
James Steedman (Camden) - the 2012 plan should reflect what the community want and, therefore, what Council should do.
One of the residents agreed with the above comments and commented that consistently independent surveys and residents’ comments, at the community plan resident consultation meetings, indicate that residents’ expectations are much higher than the current councillors and administration achieve. There is a huge gap between expectation and performance.
Another resident commented that the current Council/Administration is continually stripping away the communication process and in doing so is failing residents.
Question – Open space (Glen Eira has the least open space in metropolitan Melbourne), how would you fund acquisition and maintenance of new parkland?
Mary Delahunty (Camden) – commented that it was a disgrace that Council couldn’t afford to acquire the Alma Club. Council needs to have reserves that enable it to stand in the market place and acquire new land. Council also needs to have a strategic plan.
The majority of Candidates felt that revenue raised from the Open Space Levy should be set aside to acquire open space rather than, as is currently done, spent on general park maintenance. The revenue raised by the open space levy should be spent in the area/ward in which it was generated.
GERA note: Annual Accounts for past two years show Open Space Levy generates $1.6m revenue per annum.
Question – Lack of public transport and parking at GESAC is a significant issue. What do you think of the proposal to install a drop off point in Gardiners Road?
The majority of Candidates felt that a drop off point in Gardiners Road was inappropriate and that it should be a priority to address the parking and transport issues caused by GESAC. (GERA comment: The current Council is adopting a wait and see attitude).
In answer to a resident’s question, Jim Magee (Tucker) commented that he was unaware of any analysis of transport requirements, based on GESAC usage/patronage and postcodes, being undertaken.
Question – Given the significance of preferences in elections could each candidate advise to whom they have assigned their second preferences
Mary Delahunty (Camden) – Joshua Spiegel
Kate Dempsey (Camden) – Thomas Sounness
Cheryl Forge (Camden) – Frank Penhalluriack
Frank Penhalluriack (Camden) – Cheryl Forge
James Steedman (Camden) – Bernie Kuran
Don Dunstan (Rosstown) – Undecided
Wilmars Mikelson (Rosstown) – Neil Pilling
Newton Gatoff (Tucker) – Oscar Lobo
Brett Hedger (Tucker) – Rose Read
Jim Magee (Tucker) – Henry Buch
Rose Read (Tucker) – Brett Hedger
Question – What do you see as the major traffic issues confronting Glen Eira and what holistic approach would you take to managing traffic in an activity centre.
Mary Delahunty (Camden) – current traffic management is not strategic or done on an LATM (Local Area Traffic Management) basis – both approaches are desperately needed. We need to prioritise LATM development and consult with the community. LATM development to be included in the budget.
Don Dunstan (Camden) – we need to control overdevelopment and its flow on impacts of traffic and parking etc. Where development occurs we need to ensure that transport services compliment the increased demand.
James Steedman (Camden) – Public transport, sustainable transport and parking requirements need to be integrated in the planning scheme
Newton Gatoff (Tucker) – implementing structure planning for an area integrates traffic management and parking demands in the planning for an area. In structure plans traffic and parking are considered on a holistic basis for the area. Need to look at potential of pedestrianizing some shopping strips (eg Centre Road)
Cheryl Forge (Camden) – grade separation at railway crossings, proper traffic and parking planning.
Jim Magee (Tucker) – do not allow developments which do not provide adequate parking
Kate Dempsey (Camden) – develop structure plans and advocate railway crossing grade separation. The Caulfield Village traffic and parking is/was inadequate.
Wilmars Mikelson (Rosstown) – railway crossing grade separation and provision of alternative sustainable transport option.
Brett Hedger (Tucker)– need to develop a Road User Hierarchy which ranks road users according to vulnerability and sustainability (pedestrians and cyclists first, single occupant vehicles last) and manage traffic accordingly.
Rose Read (Tucker) – need to encourage behavioural changes in motorists to increase safety. Need to analyse traffic flows within Glen Eira to understand where people go before developing traffic management plans.
Frank Penhalluriack (Camden) – until adequate public transport (including railway crossing grade separation) is provided in metro Melbourne (years and years away), council needs to switch thinking and focus to what is required now.
That’s all folks!!! GERA did warn you that this post would be much longer than our usual postings.
GERA hopes that the information provided assists you in determining which Candidate to support when you cast your ballot on 27th October. GERA thanks the candidates and residents who attended the forum for their input.
* To give all candidates (those attending, and those unable to attend, the forum) an opportunity to present their platforms to residents, GERA included in the candidates invitation to the forum 11 questions of interest to residents. No candidates unable attend the forum responded to the 11 questions. Of the candidates attending the forum, 5 submitted written responses to the questions – these responses are included in the above “Candidate Presentation” section.
+ The Community/Council Plan, as outlined in various GERA posting (see Community Plan Forums) is “supposedly” a guiding document which is the result of extensive community participation. It represents the communities aspirations and expectations – as such all other plans (Council’s strategies and financial plans are designed to meet the expectations and aspirations expressed in the community plan). The 2012 Community/Council Plan approved by Council has been widely criticised as not representing the views expressed by residents at the community consultation meetings.
** See GERA posting on Structure Planning (1/1/2012)
Authorised by M. Healy, 100 Eskdale Road, Caulfield North