Council swamped with cash for housing lots

Council swamped with cash for housing lots

By Tim Carroll. Exclusive. A developer has promised to pay Frankston Council about $450,000 to approve an increase in housing developments alongside an environmentally sensitive area earmarked for a reserve, according to a contract released under a Freedom of Information search. Local environmentalists said developers would help pay for development, rehabilitation and long-term maintenance of the 52-hectare site if the council agrees to recommend the project and obtains state government approval. ‘The council has a serious conflict of interest in this matter in that it involves the payment of a substantial amount of money in return for a favourable decision,’ said Barry Ross, secretary of the Defenders of the South East Green Wedge. Individual Frankston councillors, such as Glen Aitken, said they were unaware of the development meeting prior to a meeting earlier this month that sent a request to the state government to seek public views. The 11-page contract was drawn up by leading law firm Maddocks and includes an offer from P & A Burdett Enterprises to pay $450,000 to the council upon it agreeing to increase residential lots from 25 to 36. Development potential of the area increased after a 2006 announcement by the Victorian state government that 50 hectares of bush at the former Burdett’s Quarry site in Langwarrin would be protected. Under the arrangement, the land was rezoned into a rural conservation area within the South-East Green Wedge and removed planning controls that allowed extractive industries, such as quarrying. It included a land swamp where more than eight hectares of remnant bushland now zoned residential will be included in the Green Wedge. It is...
Super expensive golf course a development that might never tee off

Super expensive golf course a development that might never tee off

EXCLUSIVE Caitlin Caldwell and Christine Brennan. A $10 billion union-backed industry superannuation fund has come under fire from Labor MPs and locals for paying more than two times the going price for a golf course bordering coveted green wedge land before seeking planning permission or rezoning for redevelopment. Industry Super Property Trust, the nation’s largest unlisted property fund manager whose 35 super fund members include representatives from the controversial building union CFMEU, paid $125 million for the Kingswood Golf Course that was valued at $52 million. ‘The price paid for the Kingswood Golf Club land seems very high, considering the land has not been rezoned and the claim by Kingston Council that no rezoning application has been received or considered,’ says Labor shadow state attorney general Martin Pakula, who previously described the deal as ‘extraordinary’. Shadow Planning Minister Brian Tee is warning that even if the City of Kingston votes to rezone the land he won’t ‘simply rubber stamp such a recommendation’ if elected this week. Local members of parliament have also questioned how the industry fund can be confident about approval for rezoning before applying and whether it has any idea about how many dwelling might be allowed on site, which will determine the profitability of the deal. ISPT declined to comment about purchasing the land, which is about 22 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, bordering hotly contested green wedge land and Dingley Village. But the fund has a history of buying golf courses and other sporting venues for residential redevelopment. The lower valuation for the purchase is based on it remaining a golf course with the higher believed...
Rivalry for new Euroa seat heats up

Rivalry for new Euroa seat heats up

By Ronelle Richards The rivalry between Labor and Nationals candidates for the seat of Euroa escalated on a radio interview on Friday morning. The interview on local radio ABC Goulburn Murray featured the National’s candidate Ms Stephanie Ryan, the Labor candidate Ms Clare Malcolm and Liberal candidate Mr Tony Schneider. Discussion became heated when Ms Malcolm declared she hoped the seat of Euroa would become marginal, regardless of which party is elected. ‘If I am successful, what I’m really pleased for the community is that this will be a marginal seat, and a very, very marginal seat,’ Ms Malcolm said. ‘In a marginal seat results happen regardless of who the government of the day is. You just have to look at seats of Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong and that’s my hope for this community.’ Ms Ryan declared the comments were ‘staggering’ because they suggested that Labor would only commit resources to a marginal seat. ‘The Nationals in coalition with the Liberal Party have committed almost $50 million through this campaign for the seat of Euroa,’ she said. ‘From what I’ve been able to tally up they (Labor) have committed about $1 million dollars.’ The interview continued acrimoniously with Ms Malcolm asking why the National Party haven’t delivered on previous election promises over the past four years. ‘You’re making all these promises now in the hope of getting elected,’ she said. ‘Euora Health beds, Nagambie Ambulance – they have all been asking for this (support or funding) for years. The Nationals have not delivered for this community.’ Ms Ryan returned fire, saying she strongly disagreed with Ms Malcolm’s statements. ‘I...
Oakleigh: It’s no longer all Greek

Oakleigh: It’s no longer all Greek

By Marisa Rametta and karla Duckworth The suburbs that form the electorate of Oakleigh have long been known as Melbourne’s Greek heartland, and this is likely to have an impact on the outcome of the race for the seat in the 2014 election. According to 2006 census data, the total Greek-born population of the City of Monash (much of which comprises the electorate of Oakleigh) was 4877 persons. This is significantly more than the next highest recorded council in the Melbourne East district, the City of Manningham with 3365, and represents nearly 9% of the 54,325 Greek-born people living in Victoria. The peak of Greek migration to Australia was between the 1950s to the 1970s, but a decline in recent cases of Greeks moving to Australia has seen a drop in the numbers of the Greek-born population. This is reflected in the median age of Greek-born citizens in Australia being 63 years of age, in comparison to the 37 years for the total Victorian population, according to the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Growing up in a Greek community in Australia can have both positive and negative aspects, according to voter Arthur Kalamatianos, 38. In tight-knit communities, there can be a tendency for nosiness, with ‘everyone sticking their noses in to everyone else’s business’, Kalamatianos said. This is outweighed, however, by the community’s social nature, the kindness displayed by its members, as ‘everyone likes to help each other out’, and the way that Greek parents ‘always put their kids first’. According to the cultural profile released by the Migrant Information Centre as part of its multicultural equity and access program, the...