covering statewide issues

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... read more

Domestic violence: ‘politicians need to take women and children seriously’

 Matilda Marozzi ‘Carol’, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is a survivor of domestic violence. She says her former partner had been emotionally manipulative and abusive during their relationship. ‘He treated my dogs better than me,’ she told UniPollWatch. Now, a number of years after she found the strength to leave him, he is using the justice system to maintain some control over Carol and their son. ‘I’m so re-traumatised, I am so re-triggered by this whole process,’ Carol said. ‘I’m scared, often in the court system these perpetrators seem to behave like sociopaths. They can actually really turn it on. They can turn on the tears, they can put on this whole performance that makes it look like I am in the wrong.’ One particular holiday is seared into Carol’s memory. ‘From a week before we left he was incognito,’ Carol told UniPollWatch. ‘Leading up to it he is still saying,  “yes, we are going on this trip”, but in a very threatening angry tone. He wouldn’t answer any questions about what the plans were.’ Later, Carol found out she was pregnant. Her then partner began threatening her saying, ‘this better be a healthy child and it better be mine’. Although Carol had tried to leave many times, when she became pregnant, she still wanted the relationship to work out. ‘Throughout the pregnancy, the only messages I got from him were pretty much threats,  you know, “you need to be put down like a sick animal”, this kind of stuff.’ After the child was born her then partner, once again wanted to be involved in Carol’s life. It... read more

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... read more

Climate change and women’s health: a forgotten election issue?

MATILDA MAROZZI Women’s health groups are calling on politicians to investigate the impacts of climate change on Victorian women’s health as a top priority. A document circulated to politicians by the Women’s Health Association of Victoria (WHAV) calls on government to ‘invest in a comprehensive analysis of women in a changing society’ including to ‘investigate the impacts of climate change (and related natural disasters) on the health of Victorian women’. The CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, Susan Glasgow, says the impacts of climate change on Victorian women’s health became apparent after the Black Saturday bush fires of 2009. ‘Women were impacted more because of caring responsibilities for school aged children, being homeless, supporting their partners and so on,’ Ms Glasgow said. She advocates for more research into the effects of climate change on women’s health as vital for governments wanting to implement effective health policies. These requests come as Victoria’s fire season forecast for this summer has been upgraded from average to “potentially major”. Less than a week out from polling day, the major parties have made no specific commitments in relation to women’s health and climate change. Climate change needs to be a top health priority for people across the world according to convener of the Climate and Health Alliance, Fiona Armstrong. ‘As the planet warms … it is changing our weather patterns and leading to much more severe, extreme weather events like heat-waves, floods [and] bush fires, Ms Armstrong told UniPollWatch. ‘These have impacts on health … in terms of their direct impact on people if there are injuries or illnesses that are occurring... read more

Has domestic violence in Victoria been side-stepped?

 MATILDA MAROZZI Kids will die without court reform: survivor A domestic violence survivor has called for urgent reforms to the Victorian court system to ensure women’s and children’s safety is not put at risk. ‘You have to wait until a child is no longer here and then they go, “Oh, gee”. This is what is going on with the court system right now,’ the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told UniPollWatch. She points to the murders of Luke Batty and sisters Indianna and Savannah at the hands of their fathers last year as proof the current system is failing children affected by family violence. ‘[The courts should] consider the perpetrators’ profiles carefully, as they can be retaliatory when women stand up for the rights of these children,’ she said. ‘This is when these kids can get killed.’ In an interview with UniPollWatch early in the 2014 election campaign, Labor Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews labelled family violence the ‘biggest law and order challenge in our state today’. ‘It’s a crisis,’ Mr Andrews said. ‘Too many women are dying, too many children are being impacted beyond measure.’ If elected, Mr Andrews has promised to instigate a royal commission into family violence to be completed by the end of 2015. The Coalition state government has dismissed the promise of a royal commission into family violence as an expensive delaying tactic. ‘We have a plan and we are investing in what we know works based on the best advice of victims of family violence, frontline family violence workers, Victoria Police and the courts,’  Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said in a statement.... read more

The fight over windfarms in Macedon

Windfarms are a big deal in the seat of Macedon. The Ballieu Coalition Government legislated for a blanket ban on windfarms within two kilometers of a residential zone.Some in this electorate oppose windfarms on aesthetic, health and fire-risk grounds. Supporters simply want a choice and see this form of renewable energy as inevitable and good for local jobs and the environment. Both sides invoke “community” to justify their positions. Sumeyya Ilanbey from RMIT University reports on a rural electorate facing one of the most contentious of... read more

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