Sept 11: City of Melbourne – Lack of sensitivity in Citizenship ceremony planning

The City of Melbourne has scheduled September 11 for the holding of a Citizenship Ceremony.

Citizenship  ceremonies, like birthdays and anniversaries, are a date to remember.  Those unfortunate new citizens  who are scheduled to become citizens at this ceremony will have to endure the rememberance of this date for the rest of their lives.  A date for money not celebration.

The Fisherman Doyle rejected

Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle’s, land grab deal has come under fire with local representatives rejecting the City of Melbourne’s proposed land grab bid to transfer land from Fishermans Bend from the City of Port Philip

State Member for Albert Park Martin Foley, who represents the State seat of Albert Park and the Fisherman’s Bend precinct, has criticised the deal calling on the State Government and Planning Minister to commit to “inclusive and effective consultation”.

The City of Melbourne can not even manage a building site on Swanston Street not to mention problems associated with traffic management and Melbourne’ bicycle network.  Why make them think they are best to take over control of the Fishermans Bend redevelopment?

Confidence in the City Council is in decline. the Council holds most of its meetings behind closed doors and its minutes of meetings are not accurate or true. It’s failure to ensure public safety on the Swanston Square project site are just a few of problems facing the Council.

Port Phillip Mayor, Amanda Stevens, said ‘The City of Port Phillip is outraged at the Lord Mayor’s suggestion that over 200 hectares of our city should be transferred to the City of Melbourne”

In the absence of rational debate about a possible merger between the two cities and  the establishment of a Greater Melbourne the best solution for the redevelopment of the Fisherman’s Bend site is an independent development authority that includes representatives from both Municipalities and the State Government.

Melbourne Fishing around to manage Fishermens Bend redevelopment site

Do we really want the City of Melbourne managing the proposed Fishermans Bend re-development?

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has unilaterally proposed that the City of Melbourne’s external boundaries be altered so it can propose to the State government that it be the proposed redevelopment authority.

The proposal which first appeared in the Age had the City of Port Phillip up in arms with Port Phillip Councillors attending the City of Melbourne meeting expressing their dismay at the proposed boundary change without first consulting the Port Phillip Council.

Bowing to developers pressure the State Government is most likely to appoint an independent development authority to over see the Fishmens bend site as it did in redeveloping Docklands.

There were clear problems with the Docklands development but do we really think the City of Melbourne will do a better job given they can not even mange a safe work environment for the Swanston Street CUB development site?

Given that the redevelopment will have a significant impact non the City of Port Phillip should not Port Phillip have the lead say in the re-development plans? 

A Crean restart and end to devisive leadership speculation

There are conspiracy theorists out there that claim Simon Crean sacrificed himself to put and end to Kevin Rudd’s challenge rumors.

Kevin Rudd has been constantly undermining and  destabilising the Labor Government ever since he lost the leadership.

The white-noise and background static was drowning out what is an impressive message and record of good governance. The economy is growing, we have relatively low unemployment and the government has embarked in a impressive and progressive agenda of social reform.

Clearly Kevin Rudd has not acted honourably.

Rudd should have taken in the lead from Ted Baillieu who, having lost the support of his caucus.  resigned and moved silently to the back bench.

Rudd was extended an olive branch and allowed to retain the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. Something that was generous to say the least.

Kevin Rudd and his ego was his own undoing. He placed his personal interests above the interests of the Party and that of the country.

Much of the white noise came from a lazy media that could not take the time to report on policies and issues of substance.  Instead they became embroil in the media frenzy feeding of false leadership challenges. Even when there was a snow flakes chance in hell of Gillard being ousted.

Julia Gillard, in my view, has been an outstanding leader. She has pursued an ambitious and progressive policy agenda and held toghther a parliament that predicted to faulter.  Her successes are our successes. She deserves our support and thanks and gratitude

Hopefully we have seen the end of Kevin Rudd’s campaign of destabilisation and the media will reject any temptation of rumour mongering and adding fuel to the disgruntled and spiteful members of the ALP caucus and the opposition to undermine her success

If any journalist again reports or speaks of a leadership challenge without naming names you can bet for sure that this another example of unprofessional and untrustworthy reporting.

Simon Crean in calling on the challenge said he did so to provide a circuit breaker. It might not be the circuit breaker he had first sought but hopefully it has and will provide the necessary break and clean air that is essential if Australia is to duly assess the choices we will have to make in September.

The choice is clear Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard.

Gillard in my view has, by far, more integrity then Abbott.

I have known Gillard for near on 30 years, she was my branch president and I served on the Carlton Branch executive with her for six years. I knew her when she was John Brumby’s Chief of staff. She is more than capable of leading the ALP and is the best choice. I have no doubt that she can win the next Federal Election

She has and continues to maintain my full support


High Court ruling empowers the Nanny Council

The Australian High Court has enforced the power of Local Councils to impinge on human rights and civil freedoms, opening up the possibility of the establishment of gated municipalities based on ideology.

A majority of the High Court held that the Local Government Acts empowered the Council to make the impugned provisions. The impugned provisions were a valid exercise of the Council’s statutory power to make by-laws for the good rule and government of the area, and for the convenience, comfort and safety of its inhabitants

The decision of the high court will encourage ideological Councillors such as Green Councillors Cathy Oake, Rohan Leppert to impose restrictions such as Richard Foster’s proposed Citywide smoking ban.

In the absence of greater oversight of local councils we are likely to see the rise of the Nanny Council

Unlike State and Federal Parliaments there are minimal checks and balances on local council’s creating local laws designed impose their will over minority communities.

It is now incumbent on State Governments to reign in and limit the right of local Council to impose local laws in isolation with State and Federal laws.

Sir Sig. Australia Day 2013

Congratulations to Sigmund Jorgensen in his Australia Day award and recognition for service to the visual arts and to the community. 

His award is well deserved. A friend., mentor and associate.

Sigmund has been a major inspiration , not just in my life but too many others.

His contribution to the Arts and the Eltham community is significant. Founder of the Monstavat Melbourne Jazz Festival, Cliche Restaurant and former Nillumbik Mayor.  All those who have had the opportunity to meet him have been enriched by their association. A creative thinker and artisan.  SBS radio boadcast earlier today an extensive interview with Sigmund covering his many achievements. 

Monstalvat is more than just a building, it is the people behind Monstalvat that make Monstalvat what it really is.  A mountain of salvation dedicated to Art, Architecture, Music and Culture. Sigmund is very much part of that legacy that has enriched our lives.

Doyle’s supporters disenfranchised, denied representation

Analysis of the October 2012 Municipal polls shows that the Lord Mayor’s Robert Doyle’s “Team  Doyle” was disenfranchised by distortions in the electoral system.  Over 8% of the electorate had no say in who represents them. Team Doyle polled 38% of the vote yet only managed to elect three Councillors disproportionate to their support.

The problem arises in the way the City  Counts the vote.  The method of  calculating of the quota used in the election is is not proportional. With nine vacancies the quota used to determine the outcome of the election is calculated by dividing the total number of votes recorded by (the number of positions vacant plus one – referred to as Droop Quota).  In the City of Melbourne’s case the total vote was divided by 10 … not 9. The quota instead of being 11.1% is reduced to 10% with up to 10% of the electorate denied representation.

By comparison the Greens, who polled just 15.5% (Less than half of that polled by Team Doyle), managed to increase their representation disproportionally, elected two Councillors – not based on merit but only due to a distortion in the proportionality and method used in counting the vote.

The reason why the method used to calculate the quota was adopted was to facilitate a manual counting process.  It allowed the outcome of the election to be decided early without having to fully count all ballot papers.

Plea for pure democracy

With the use of computer based technology in counting the vote there is no justification or merit in disenfranchising voters. The system should be pure proportional, not semi proportional, with the quota equaling the  total number of votes divided by the number of positions (i.e. x/9 in the case of the City of Melbourne)

Team Doyle’s surplus of 8% should have been counted and their supporters should have had a say in who represents them.  This is an issue that the Lord Mayor should take up and call for a review of the current electoral procedures in 2013.

Extraordinary revelations: Council decisions made by a nod and a wink

Melbourne City Council endorses decisions made by the Administration on the basis of verbal presentations. No Minutes no documents and no reports.

Replies forwarded by Melbourne CEO, Kathy Alexander (See below) claim that there is no documentation of discussions or decisions made at the City of Melbourne Councillor Forums.

On November 27, the City Council considered a a number of issues presented to the Council at a Councillor Forum. Issues listed for discussion included Melbourne Street Trading policy (Horse and Carriages) and other issues of significance related to policy development and administration.

The City Council, just days before Christmas, implemented changes to Council’s policies removing Horse and Carriage permit zones from outside Town Hall. There was no consultation with stake holders and no written reports published or made available to the elected Council. Previous City Councils have rejected moves to remove horse and carriages from trading in Swanston Street which was recognized as poviding a valued service and tourist attraction to visits of the City.

Clearly a decision has been made and acted on. Exactly who made the decision and under what authority they had is unclear.

This is systematic of a serious flaw in the administration of the City Council. Most controversial decisions are made just before Christmas when there is little to no public scrutiny or media attention. The decisions are made in the back rooms by unknown persons and without any oversight of public scrutiny.

The fact that issues are being presented and decided on at Councillor Forums without any documentation presented to the City Council is beyond belief. City Councillors are either complicit to the deceit or left in the dark and not properly informed. This reflects poorly not only on the recently elected City Council but more so on the administration. Issues considered by the Council at secret closed meetings are not presented or discussed at more formal meetings of Council.

Closed meetings where public policy is discussed by Council Officials leaves the Council wide open to allegations of corruption and denies public access to the decisions and administration of the City. There is no published record of decisions made under delegation.

The “Councillor Forums” are a means of subverting the requirements of section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act. The suggestion  that Councillor Forum presentations are verbal and there is no minutes and no documentation allows the Council to claim that the meeting does not fall under the provisions of s89. A claim that is still under dispute as the forum by any name is still a meeting of the Council.

This matter is currently before the Victorian State Government Local Government Inspectorate whose charter is to oversee the compliance of the Local Government Act. If these meetings (Councillor Forums) are allowed to continue, unabated, with Council decisions being made behind closed doors in the absence of public scrutiny or proper documentation then public confidence and accountability of government will continue to decline.

— Copy of reply received —

Subject: RE: Minuets and reports of Council Forum held on November 27, 2012
Received: Thursday, 27 December 2012 13:36 

Dear Mr van der Craats
I advise that in accordance with Section 80A of the Local Government Act, no Minutes are documented for Council Forum meetings which are verbal presentations.
Kind regards
Kathy Alexander | Chief Executive Officer
City of Melbourne | 90-120 Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000 | GPO Box 1603 Melbourne, 3001
T: 03 9658 9835 | F: 03 9658 9440 | E:
We value: Integrity | Courage | Accountability | Respect | Excellence.

City of Melbourne: Secret Registers not available on the internet

The City of Melbourne is required by law to maintain a number of registers that contain important public information. Whilst some registers are made public and published on line many are not.

The Council under pressure, be it somewhat reluctant, has published a list of councillor Expenses and travel register.  The Councillor expense register is somewhat misleading as creative accounting had removed some of the costs that were previously included and have now been removed from the expense list.   The Councillor Expense register is a list of money paid to Councillors in addition to the allowances already paid.

Missing from the new Councillor expense list is money reimbursed to Councillors for overseas travel and the cost of internal catering and the Lord Mayor’s “Free Booze bar”

We want to start a campaign for full public disclosure and publication of all registers that are required to be maintained to be accessible via the Council’s web site and not hidden away behind an administrative wall  designed to limit public access to this information.  The cost alone of granting administrative access to the registers warrants the information being freely accessible via the internet.

Details of the allowances fixed for the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and councillors under Section 74 or 74A of the Local Government Act 1989. View the Allowances page Yes
The total annual remuneration for all senior officers in respect of the current financial year, set out in a list that states: Contact Council Business No
(i) ranges of remuneration of senior officers, where the difference between the lower amount and the higher amount in each range must not exceed $10,000; and
(ii) the number of senior officers whose total annual remuneration falls within the ranges referred to in subparagraph (i).
Details of overseas or interstate travel (but not interstate travel over land lasting less than 3 days) undertaken in an official capacity by councillors or any member of Council staff in the previous 12 months.  The register includes the names of the councillors or Council staff and the date, destination, purpose and total cost of the overseas or interstate travel. View the Travel Register page Yes
Updated quarterly.
Names of Councillors and Council officers who were required to submit interest returns during the financial year and the dates the returns were submitted. Contact Council Business No
If you would like to view the register complete this form and send to Council Business.
Agendas for and minutes of ordinary and special meetings held in the previous 12 months except if the minutes record parts of meetings which have been closed to members of the public under Section 89 of the Act. View Agendas, reports and minutes Yes
A list of all special committees established by the Council and the purpose for which they were established. Contact Council Business No
A list of all special committees established by the Council which were abolished or ceased to function during the financial year Contact Council Business No
Minutes of the meetings of special committees which were established under section 86 of the Act and held in the previous 12 months, except if the minutes record parts of meetings which have been closed to members of the public under section 89 of the Act. View Agendas, minutes and reports Yes
The register of delegations kept under Sections 87, 88 and 98 of Local Government Act 1989 and the date on which the last review took place under Section 98(6). Contact Council Business No
Submissions received over previous 12 months under Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989.  Contact Council Business No
Agreements to establish regional libraries under Section 196 of Local Government Act 1989. There were no agreements to establish regional libraries during the financial year. No
Details of all property, finance and operating leases involving land, building, plant, computer equipment or vehicles entered into by the Council as lessor or lessee, including the name of the other party to the lease and the terms and value of the lease. Contact Council Business No
Register of Authorised Officers appointed under Section 224 of Local Government Act 1989. Contact Council Business No
A list of donations and grants made by the Council during the financial year, including the names of persons or bodies which have received a donation or grant and the amount of each donation or grant. Contact Council Business No
A list of the names of the organisations of which the Council was a member during the financial year and details of all membership fees and other amounts and services provided during that year to each organisation by the Council. Contact Council Business No
A list of contracts valued at: Contact Council Business No
$150,000 or more for the purchase of goods and services; and
$200,000 or more for the carrying out of works,
for which the Council entered into during the financial year without first engaging in a competitive process and which are not contracts referred to in Section 186(5) of the Act.
A written record of an assembly of Councillors (for a period of 12 months after the date of the assembly). View Council meeting reports Yes
(Presented to Council Meetings).
Election campaign donation returns for inspection at the office of the Council during normal office hours. Contact Council Business No

Melbourne’s Christmas Pageant Lacking Cultural Sensitvity

The City of Melbourne’s Christmas Pageant and Christmas Tree in the City Square is a  disgrace. It portrays a Northern Hemisphere European Christmas story and ignores Australia’s traditions.  The Organisers unaware of Australian Christmas traditions broadcast European Carrolls in preference to Australian Carrolls such as “Six White Boomers” which have a unique Australian theme.

The Christmas Tree itself is a European tradition as is the commercialization of Santa clause which has surpassed the original meaning of the Christian Mass.

Putting aside the arguments of whether the Council should be promoting sectoral  religious beliefs the failure of the organizers to provide an Australian context to the festive season is unforgivable.

If they are going to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars in a Christmas event then they could at least give it an Australian feel and theme. The staging of the Christmas event is lackluster, flung together with little thought and lacking imagination or creativity.  Score 2 out of 5