National General Assembly of Local Government

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is the national body that represents the 673 councils within Australia. ALGA was formed as a federation of state and territory associations such as the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and other state or territory local council organisations.

As a national body, ALGA is suitably poised to advocate on behalf of local councils and their constituents at a national level.

The National General Assembly of Local Government provides the opportunity for councils to debate issues of national significance, with approved motions being used by ALGA for advocacy to the Federal Government.

Since I had proposed a motion on behalf of Maroondah City Council I attended this year’s National General Assembly from the 26th to the 30th of November in Canberra.

Motion – Sustainable Cities and Transport:

In September 2005, The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment And Heritage tabled its report on an inquiry into Sustainable Cities.

The Standing Committee’s vision is for Australian cities to be vibrant and healthy – environmentally, socially and economically. In order to work towards this vision, the Committee identified that there is a need for the Australian Government to assume a significant leadership role.

The report outlined seven key recommendations relating to improving transport sustainability within Australia. Of significance is the recommendation that the Federal Government significantly boost funding for sustainable transport and in particular, urban public transport.

Recommendation six in particular states that “the Australian Government significantly boost its funding commitment for public transport systems, particular light and heavy rail, in the major cities.”

There is growing acknowledgement around the world that at the national level, government has a key role to play in the provision of urban public transport. In the United States, the Federal Government provides approximately 50% of capital funding for public transport. The UK Government’s current ten year plan will see a £120 billion investment in transport, with explicit provision for rail, light rail, buses and other sustainable transport projects.

In contrast, the Australian Federal Government is reluctant to make a commitment to fund urban public transport infrastructure, even though the opportunities for greater involvement are increasing.

This motion is even more relevant given projected fuel costs and limited long term supplies of fuel with Australian Oil fields “coming to end of productive lives” (Peter Costello April 2005).

This motion calls for the Commonwealth Government to embrace the recommendations of the Standing Committee’s sustainable Cities Report and to adopt the transport recommendations as a matter of urgency.

The specific wording of the motion was as follows:

That the National General Assembly calls on the Commonwealth government to adopt the transport recommendations as outlined in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage – Sustainable Cities Report (September 2005).

I am pleased to announce that delegates at the National Assembly passed this motion, as well as others relating to sustainable transport, meaning that ALGA, as a national body for local government, will be making representation to the Federal Government for funding of urban public transport.

The success of sustainable transport motions reflects the growing desire and need for the Federal Government to view urban transport as an issue of national importance and as such follow the lead of other countries around the world in funding urban public transport.

Federal involvement would not excuse State Government inaction:

While the operation and provision of public transport will ultimately remain as a State Government responsibility, there is clear need for the Federal Government to provide national framework for sustainable transport and to provide matched funding for key urban public transport projects similarly to how AusLink provides funding for freight projects.

The call for Federal funding and involvement should not be seen as excusing the State Government’s poor performance of public transport. Instead federal involvement in public transport, would help ensure a national approach to sustainable transport measures and would therefore hold the State Government accountable when it fails to act in regard to public transport.

Maroondah Leader: Expo offers latest in mobility technology

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the upcoming Maroondah Mobility Access Expo, which will be held at Federation Estate on Tuesday the 5th of December.

The event is an initiative of the Maroondah Scoot Wheel ‘n’ Move working group and will feature several information sessions and opportunities to meet independent living providers and support organisations.

Councillor Alex Makin said the working group was made up of local people who used mobility aids and were passionate about improving access in the Maroondah community for everyone.

For further details on the Maroondah Mobility Expo please contact Deanne Keogh at Maroondah Council on 9298 4364 or visit

Media Release: Expo for mobility in Maroondah

If you use a scooter, wheelchair or other mobility device, or know someone who does, then the Maroondah City Council Mobility Access Expo is an event not to be missed.

Councillor Alex Makin said the Mobility Access Expo is a first for Maroondah, and one of the initiatives of the Maroondah Scoot Wheel ‘N’ Move working group.

“The Scoot, Wheel ‘N’ Move working group is made up of local people who use mobility aids, and are passionate and dedicated to improving access in the Maroondah community for everyone,” said Cr Makin.

“The free Mobility Access Expo will be held at Maroondah Federation Estate on Tuesday 5 December from 10.00am to 4.00pm, providing numerous information sessions and opportunities to meet independent living providers and support organisations,” said Cr Makin.

Another initiative of the Scoot Wheel ‘N’ Move group has been the development and publication of a booklet for users of motorised scooters and electric wheelchairs. ‘Maintaining Your Mobility in Maroondah’ will be launched during the Expo at 10.15am.

“This booklet will assist people to make an informed purchase choice based on their individual needs, as well as providing information on how to manage a motorised scooter or electric wheelchair responsibly while out and about in the community,” said Cr Makin.

Brochures detailing the complete range of exhibitors, information sessions and times for the Maroondah Mobility Expo are available from Council’s Customer Service Centres, or visit Council’s website at

Please register your attendance by calling Deanne Keogh on 9298 4364. This will ensure any additional requirements for attendees can be met.

The free Maroondah Mobility Access Expo will be held at Maroondah Federation Estate, 32 Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood on Tuesday 5 December from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Maroondah Volunteers Recognition Evening

Volunteers provide, provide an immense service to the community and Maroondah’s volunteers recognition evening highlights the volunteers who have dedicated their time to causes such as Meals on Wheels, bush care, conservation and sporting clubs.

Maroondah is truly fortunate to have such a strong number of volunteers who spend their time improving the quality of life for the community. In particular a number of volunteers who achieved milestones of 10, 20 and 30 years of service were recognised.

Volunteers provide a foundation for Maroondah and ensure that the community is able to participate in sporting clubs, the arts or enjoy well-maintained bushland. Without such volunteers Maroondah would lose a vital social fabric.

Pinemont Preschool 40th anniversary

This afternoon I was invited to attend the 40th anniversary and unveiling of the new garden area for Pinemont Preschool, located in Ringwood North. The new garden area, like earlier accessibility works, was funded through a community grant provided by Maroondah City Council.

Like most other kindergartens in Victoria, a voluntary parents committee manages Pinemont, which is responsible for the upkeep of the preschool and also the implementation of projects such as the new garden area.

The new garden area will provide the kindergarten with an outside reading and activity area and harnesses the beauty of the natural environment around Pinemont.

Eastern Transport Coalition: Integrating Transport and Planning

Tonight’s Eastern Transport Coalition meeting featured a presentation from Associate Professor of Environment of Planning, Michael Buxton of RMIT University.

Professor Buxton urged the Eastern Transport Coalition to view the Melbourne 2030 five year audit as an opportunity to push for truly integrated transport and land-use planning. Melbourne 2030, while containing sound theory, has been largely flawed in implementation due to the State Government failing to provide the necessary public transport and community infrastructure required to mitigate traffic congestion and improve environmental quality.

Furthermore Melbourne is vastly becoming home to very different cities, with a vibrant and diverse inner city area and sprawling middle and outer suburbs that lack necessary transport and community infrastructure.

Unfortunately the Government seems intent to continue its poor record of public transport projects with no rail or tram extensions being forecast for the next ten years. Furthermore while $7.2 billion was spent on major roads over the past seven years, just half on the $10.5 billion promised by the Government’s Transport and Liveability Statement (known as Meeting Our Transport Challenges) will actually be allocated towards public transport.

Melbourne 2030 and Meeting Our Transport Challenges have failed since they lack cross-sectoral integration between land use planning and transport. Furthermore the Department of Treasury and Finance (which controls the budget process) has refused to sign off on the goals of Melbourne 2030, including the goal of increasing public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020.

As a classic example of the failure with Melbourne 2030, Ringwood, despite being designated a Transit City, is still without a firm commitment towards the desperately needed redevelopment of Ringwood Station.

The Eastern Transport Coalition, as a regional council grouping that includes almost one million residents, has a great opportunity to call for public transport improvements and a coordinated State Government approach on behalf of residents.

30th Anniversary of the Life Activities Club Croydon

This afternoon, at the Ringwood RSL, I attended the 30th anniversary of the Life Activities Club Croydon, which provides a social network for retirees and people over 50. Life Activities Clubs, of which there are approximately 30 around the state, operate in an autonomous nature but are loosely connected through Life Planning Australia.

Maroondah is fortunate to have such a rich social network for retirees. The Life Activities Club Croydon complements similar clubs such as Enjoying Planned Retirement and other Senior Citizens clubs that operate within Maroondah.

Delegates' Report: Community Partnerships in Removing Zone Three

Tonight I will be reporting on the Eastern Transport Coalition meeting held on the 19th of October and the outcome of our ‘fair fares’ campaign.

The Eastern Transport Coalition’s campaign in seeking the abolition of zone three was obviously a success with both major parties; first the Victorian Liberal Party and then copied by the ALP to commit to the remove the inequitable existence of zone three fares.

This campaign and this wonderful outcome was only possible due to the support of the wider community. I am pleased to say that the survey results at Heatherdale undertaken by Maroondah City Council, received one of the highest level of responses.

I’ll table the analysis from the Eastern Transport Coalition but over 60% of people chose Heatherdale Station simple due to the cheaper zone two fare.

ETC survey results for Heatherdale Station
Securing the commitment from the State political parties to abolish zone three demonstrates the success that can occur when council’s work both together with other like-minded councils and with the community.

The successful outcome of this campaign was due to each and every person that responded to the Eastern Transport Coalition’s survey, the advocacy of Maroondah City Council and the strong partnership that has been established with the eastern council’s through the Eastern Transport Coalition.

This outcome demonstrates the strength and power of advocacy when councils work together with the community to ensure positive outcomes. I would like to thank everyone that completed the survey and did their bit to remove zone three.

To any sceptics out there, it is worth remembering that there was a time when people said zone three would never be removed. Proactive partnerships with the community, councils and the region ensured that zone three will soon be history.

Maroondah Journal: No funding pledged for Ringwood Station

As part of its public transport election coverage the Maroondah Journal has focused on the lack of political commitment from the State political parties towards the redevelopment of Ringwood Station:

Maroondah councillor and Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said he saw the station as a “cornerstone commitment” needed for Maroondah.

The redevelopment of Ringwood Station is a crucial project to encourage a vision of public transport usage and urban amenity as envisaged as part of the part of the Ringwood Transit City concept.

“Neither party has committed to funding the project,” he said. “Labor just seems to be dragging its feet in Ringwood in preference to Dandenong. In Ringwood it seems as if every year it is just us standing there with our cap in hand waiting.”

Unfortunately, with the exception of Dandenong, the Government has failed to provide a long-term funding stream for the designated Transit Cities (such as Box Hill, Ringwood or Footscray) meaning that there is little, other than rhetoric, to the State Government’s Transit City program.

“It is difficult to utilise for people with a disability,” Cr Makin said. “We aren’t asking for a redevelopment for the sake of a redevelopment; we need it just to meet essential public transport requirements.”

Ringwood Station currently fails to met federal accessibility requirements as prescribed in the Federal government’s Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 meaning that Ringwood Station is largely inaccessible for people with a disability.

In addition Ringwood Station is also perceived to be largely unsafe and its dilapidated appearance hampers the potential of the surrounding area.

It is time that the Bracks Government showed respect for the Ringwood Transit City program and pledged to deliver both the redevelopment of Ringwood Station and a multiyear investment program for Ringwood. Plans for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station have existed since 1999 and it is now time for the Government to commit to the project rather than deliver nothing but rhetoric.