July Maroondah Disability Forum

Maroondah’s Disability Forum operates on a quarterly basis to allow Council to gather input on accessibility issues within the City of Maroondah and to report on the progress on resolving such issues.

July’s meeting included a presentation from Eastern Recreation Leisure Services which works with sporting clubs to ensure an inclusive sporting program to cater for all people as well as providing an information service to allow people with disabilities to locate and access sport and recreation services and facilities.

At the previous forum concerns were raised in regard to the lack of accessible access during path and road constructions. This issue has been pursued through both the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) and Standards Australia. As a result HREOC has published a list of frequently asked questions in regard to alternative paths of travel during construction works, which is available from www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/faq/Access/access.html.

The meeting also provided an update on the Scoot Wheel ‘N’ Move program which is looking at improving access within Eastland as well as publishing an information booklet and the holding of an expo on mobility issues scheduled for the 5th of December. Scoot Wheel ‘N’ Move aims to identify access issues and find solutions relevant to motorised scooter and electric wheel users in Maroondah.

The next Disability Forum is scheduled for Monday the 30th of October from 10 am to 12 noon at the Ringwood RSL.

MAV: Melbourne 2030 and Urban Planning Discussion Forum

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is the peak representative and lobbying body for Victoria’s 79 councils and is the official voice of local government within Victoria.

Given the MAV’s status as a peak body, the State Government’s Melbourne 2030 planning framework has received considerable attention given that a five-year review of Melbourne 2030 is planned for 2007.

The discussion forum was held to provide local government with an opportunity to discuss a cohesive approach towards this review with the aim of lobbying the State Government to improve Melbourne 2030 as part of the review and implementation process.

Throughout the discussion there was a clear consensus for a detailed implementation plan to accompany Melbourne 2030, a concern that has been echoed by various organisations including the Planning Institute of Australia, Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) and Save Our Suburbs (SOS).  Additionally there was concern over the government’s failure to integrate transport and land use planning with participants strongly disapproving the State Government’s lacklustre Transport and Liveability Statement.

It is imperative that the State Government responds to the concerns raised by local government through the review of Melbourne 2030. Melbourne 2030 has added significant financial costs for councils and yet the State Government has failed to demonstrate clear leadership in areas such as integrating transport and land use planning.

Melbourne 2030 requires a fast, frequent and readily available public transport network it is clear that local government expects the State Government to deliver more than just rhetoric.

Ringwood Historical Society – A Photographic Journey Through Time

Tonight I attended the July meeting of the Ringwood Historical Society which featured a pictorial overview of the development that has occurred along Main Street Ringwood with a specific emphasis on the area between Ringwood Street and Warrandyte Road.

Extensive work was undertaken by the Ringwood Historical Society in collating and researching the photographs and images to present a pictorial history that covered the years between 1890 to 1970.

In 1882 the steam railway was extended from Camberwell to Lilydale and a station with a station being constructed at Ringwood. With the construction of the railway a township began to form opposite the station with a particular focus on the lots that would later be bound by Warrandyte Road and Ringwood Street.

Among the most impressive buildings was the former Ringwood Town Hall which featured as a major community and civic venue. This grand and historic building was tragically demolished in 1970 at a time when such heritage was undervalued by society. One cannot help but question the wisdom in demolishing a building that conveyed such a sense of history and pride.

In realising Ringwood’s future it is crucial to appreciate its history and to learn from past experiences.

This area of Ringwood is receiving a renewed focus with the continued advocacy for the much needed redevelopment of Ringwood Station and the desire to improve and encourage walking and other forms of sustainable transport. Previously many years ago the town centre of Ringwood provided the very objectives that we are now aspiring to achieve.

For more information on the Ringwood Historical Society please visit www.rhs.org.au.

Maroondah Journal: Third track 'not on' says govt

In 1999 the then Bracks Opposition pledged to construct a third track from Box Hill to Mitcham with the promise of delivering ‘flier trains’ to provide express services from Ringwood. This promise was again reiterated for the 2002 State Election but has subsequently been quickly forgotten by the State Government.

The Maroondah Journal has again investigated the broken promise over the third track to Ringwood:

Provision for a third rail line to Ringwood has been incorporated into major capital works in Ringwood and Box Hill, but the State Government says it is not a priority and will not commit to the project.

The much criticised Transport and Liveability Statement dubbed Meeting Our Transport Challenges confirmed that the Bracks Government has failed eastern suburban residents by omitting any rail improvements for the Ringwood and Belgrave/Lilydale lines for the next 25 years.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said he held no hope for a third rail line being built in the next 25 years.

“The Transport and Liveability study omitted the third rail line in its entirety.”

There are more economical and easier means to provide regular express services from Ringwood without the need for the third rail line. The use of passing loops located at Mitcham, track improvements near Ringwood and upgraded signalling would provide the capacity for regular express services without the cost of the third track.

“If the Government did their job properly, they could get away without a third track.”

Unfortunately the Government appears intent to neglect the needs of outer eastern rail users while unnecessarily spending up to a billion dollars on triplication for the Dandenong line.

MAV: Workshop on Community Engagement

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is the peak representative and lobbying body for Victoria’s 79 councils and is the official voice of local government within Victoria.

The MAV has been particularly focused on community engagement and governance to ensure that the community is actively engaged in council decisions.  To provide a glimpse of similar projects internationally the MAV organised a workshop convened by Joe Goldman from AmericaSpeaks, an eleven year old non-profit US based organisation that seeks to engage citizens in local democracy.

The workshop covered the usage of technology to improve access to governments and councils as well as the types of workshops and forums that are available to engage the community.  It is imperative that the community is engaged from the onset to ensure that decisions can truly be influenced by public opinion rather than merely asking for comment once decisions have been made.

Given the changes that are expected to occur within the Ringwood as part of the Transit Cities program it is impetrative that the community is provided with the opportunity for ongoing discussion and participation regarding the future of Ringwood.

Direct and meaningful community engagement and not just consultation is required to ensure that the community and council alike share a cohesive and strong vision for the future.

Community Events and the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC)

Over the past fortnight I attended a number of community focused events, including the 31st Army Cadet Unit, the eastern suburb group of the Order of Australia, which aims to provide a local meeting point for the recipients of this distinguished award.

I also attended a presentation by the Friends of Kolkata, which is a non-profit organisation that coordinates welfare and education projects and volunteer opportunities in partnership with two non-government organisations in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

All these events highlight in differing ways the ongoing community service that is provided through organisations and by residents of Maroondah.

In addition I also wish to speak on the public launch of the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) formerly known as the Eastern Region Integrated Transport Group (ERITG) which occurred last Monday. This launch signifies the beginning of a renewed regional focus towards the advocacy for improved public transport.

In the interests of advancing open discussion, I wish to table the ETC media kit consisting of:

  • The launch media release;
  • A fact sheet on the group;
  • And the advocacy Brochure.

The advocacy brochure in particular outlines key priorities for the region, several of which are relevant for the City of Maroondah:

I quote:

  • Upgraded modal interchanges in Ringwood as we continue our push for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station
  • An improved bus system which features “increased frequency, route reform and 7 days a week operation”, all of which were identified as high priorities in Maroondah’s Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS) as adopted by this council in February of this year.

While the State Government did recently unveil its Transport and Liveability Statement, dubbed Meeting Our Transport Challenges, with its headline figure of $10.5 billion, it must be remembered that appearing to throw money at an issue does not necessarily solve it.

In particular the plan provides very little for the eastern region, for example rail improvements along the Ringwood line as previously promised in both 1999 and 2002 do not appear at all in this plan.

The issue that ultimately unites the eastern region is the level of bus services, or in our case the lack thereof. Here like in other areas of the plan, the government does provide money for bus services but actually fails to resolve the key issues.

The bus network must be re-designed from to ensure that main roads are provided with a level of service comparable to the train and tram networks.

On first appearance this may seem to be a big ask, but yet our inner city counterparts enjoy a network of tram services that operate on average every 15 minutes through to midnight. As outer suburban residents we are expected to make do with bus services that in four years times, may if we are lucky, operate until 9pm and run every hour.

Families are doing it tough with rising petrol prices eating into budgets and this will ultimately affect our local economy. It is clear that an alternative to car dependence is required and is why the mission statement of the ETC calls for such an alternative.

Accountability is crucial, as otherwise aspects of the plan may not reach fruition. As a recent example the government has still failed to deliver a promised hourly Sunday bus services along Maroondah Highway despite the announcement being made in late 2005.

As part of the region and part of the Eastern Transport Coalition it is imperative that we ensure that the Transport and Liveability Statement is not only implemented but also improved and ultimately accounted for.

Delegates' Reports

Delegates’ reports are presented at each council meeting to provide an opportunity to report on committees, events and other activities attended by a councillor.

These reports consist of two components:

  • A written report that is tabled at each council meeting and which lists the events and committees attended by a councillor;
  • A verbal report, which can be used to encourage discussion, and provide further details on these committees or activities.

Beginning on the 17th of July 2006 I will be including any speeches I give in regard to my delegates’ report on this website. I believe this will enhance transparency and discussion as well as demonstrate the many roles that a councillor has within the community.

The tabled delegates’ report is available within minutes of council meetings on the Maroondah City Council website.

Blackburn and The End of Suburbia

Following the success of the Rowville End of Suburbia screening the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) in conjunction with Environment Victoria (EV) and Friends of the Earth hosted an End of Suburbia screening in Blackburn at the Blackburn Lake Visitors Centre.

Like Rowville the event attracted almost 100 attendees and was followed by discussion from the public. Short presentations were also featured by myself, as PTUA outer east branch convener and Dr. Sherry Mayo of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO).

Addressing the audience at Blackburn with Dr. Sherry Mayo

ASPO-Australia is an association of researchers, professionals and others with an interest in the study of peak oil and is part of a wider network of organisations affiliated with the original Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.Since the Rowville screening of the End of Suburbia discussion in regard to the causes behind rising petrol prices has progress significantly with Four Corners on the ABC conducting a report on Peak Oil.

With transport costs being on average one of the highest items in a household budget, around 15% of costs but as high as 20% in suburbs poorly by public transport, it is clear that rising petrol prices are causing considerable strain on household budgets and that an alternative to car dependence is urgently required.

Please continue reading to view a transcript of my speech delivered this screening of the End of Suburbia.

Continue reading “Blackburn and The End of Suburbia”

Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF)

The Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) is an advocacy group comprising of seventeen local councils which endeavours to promote effective, efficient and equitable transport in metropolitan Melbourne by providing a forum for debate, research and policy development, and by disseminating information to improve transport choices.

The MTF organised a public forum entitled Just the Ticket! Destination – Sustainable Melbourne which featured speeches by Federal Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull, Marcus Spiller, the Director of SGS Economics and Planning and Janet Rice, Mayor for the City of Maribyrnong and Chair of the MTF.

The forum focused largely on the need for improved public transport and the economic benefits it would provide Melbourne.  Responses were provided by Carlo Carli, the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Bill Pemberton, Transport Spokesman for the Greens and Terry Mulder the Shadow Minister for Transport.

It was evident in Carlo Carli’s response that the State Government has little vision for Melbourne’s public transport system as evidenced through the failure to provide institutional reforms to Melbourne’s planning and transport bureaucracies.  Both Bill Pemberton and Terry Mulder spoke about the failure of the government to address the current deficiencies that exist at an institutional level, which sees VicRoads provided with instant access to the Transport Minister, while the Public Transport Division struggles through layers of bureaucracy and an inability to recruit the necessary expertise in planning a public transport system.

Institutional reform, which saw the creation of an integrated Transport and Planning Authority, was crucial to transforming Perth’s public transport system it is clear that Melbourne urgently requires similar reforms.

For more information on the Metropolitan Transport Forum please visit www.mtf.org.au

Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) – Meeting with Terry Mulder, Shadow Minister for Transport

Tonight’s Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) meeting was attended by Terry Mulder, the Shadow Minister for Transport to discuss public transport issues within Melbourne’s east.

Terry Mulder as the Shadow Minister for Transport has been widely consultative and willing to engage community groups, councils and residents for the formulation of the Opposition’s Transport Policies.

With the State Government’s Transport and Liveability failing to address Melbourne’s public transport needs it is crucial that the State Opposition releases a comprehensive transport policy that will offer relief from rising petrol prices through substantially improving Melbourne’s public transport system.

Terry Mulder stated that he views public transport as a key issue for the State Election so the signs are encouraging. The recent announcement by the State Opposition to fund a detailed assessment of the long proposed Rowville rail line is a sign of this commitment and we hope that further announcements to address inadequate public transport will follow.