Croydon Conservation Society Film Night: An Inconvenient Truth and the End of Suburbia

Urban sustainability and the environment have continued to remain at the forefront of the Maroondah community with the Croydon Conservation Society holding a film night, showcasing Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and the End of Suburbia.

An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary surrounding former US Vice-President Al Gore’s presentation on climate change. Through the presentation Al Gore explores the impact of climate change on ocean levels, the polar ice caps and the migration trends and habitat of wildlife. In particular Al Gore stresses the need for immediate action to curb greenhouse emissions and draws a comparison between the worldwide action that resulted in the agreement to phase out CFCs. The phasing out of CFCs came into force in 1989 through the Montreal Treaty of 1987 and has often been hailed as one of the most successful international treaties in regard to its commitment and implementation.

It is interesting to note that at the time there was much controversy surrounding the effects of CFCs and the needs for a treaty, a situation that appears to have repeated itself in regard to climate change and the Kyoto treaty.

The second documentary, The End of Suburbia explores Peak Oil and the ramifications that rising petrol prices and the end of cheap fuel will have on suburbia. Peak Oil, where the supply of oil is unable to cater to rising demand, has risen in prominence within Australia due largely to overall trend of rising petrol prices. In particular the film explores why alternative fuels cannot simply substitute the current dependence on oil meaning that sustainable forms of transport such as public transport will be need to be improved. Hydrogen is a net energy loser (since it consumes more energy in its production than it actually provides) and biodiesels, such as ethanol, would currently require all agriculture land currently used for food production to be diverted to fuel production, obviously leaving a chronic shortfall in food sources. Evidence of this is already seen within a number of developing countries that have experienced rising food prices due to the increase of biodiesel production at the expense of food production.

While debate may still surround climate change and peak oil, the discussion is shifting from one of doubt to one of questioning the magnitude of when these events will occur. In this regard it seems imperative to begin mitigating the risks associated with both climate change and peak oil.

2007 Maroondah Staff Recognition Function

Maroondah’s Staff Recognition Function provides the opportunity to commend long-serving staff on achieving 10, 20 and 30 year milestones of dedication through working at the City of Maroondah or its former incarnations of the Ringwood or Croydon City Councils.

Tonight’s function acknowledged a number of employees who have achieved these milestones through their tireless work as part of Maroondah City Council.

Peak Oil, Petrol Prices and Climate Change Conference

Peak Oil and the impacts of climate change have risen in prominence this week with both the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and a coalition of community groups led by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) organising conferences on these issues.

I attended the Peak Oil, Petrol Prices and Climate Change conference which was organised by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), Environment Victoria and the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and held at the DOI Theatrette at Nauru House.

Peak Oil, whereby the supply of oil is unable to meet demand, was first theorised by Marion King Hubbert in 1956. Despite the constant crticisms throughout the reminder of Hubbert’s career, he successfully predicted the peaking of US domestic oil supplies. On a world-wide scale peak oil it is predicted that peak oil will occur somewhere between 2010 and 2020, the exact figure being difficult to determine due to the uncertainty surrounding the actual level of oil reserves within the Middle East.

The conference attracted prominent speakers such as Professor Peter Newman, one of Australia’s leading urban transport academics, Dr. Jago Dodson, who investigated the vulnerability of Australia’s cities in responding to rising petrol prices and Dr. Ian McPhail the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, who recently highlighted the State Government’s poor performance in regard to public transport and land use planning.

Areas of vulnerability to petrol prices within Melbourne

Areas of oil vulnerability within Melbourne (darker areas represent a higher vulnerability to rising petrol prices)

Regardless of the actual date of peak oil, it is clear that petrol prices are continuing to rise due to the demand for oil from countries such as India and China. Rising petrol prices place an increased financial burden on car dependent households, such as those located in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. These suburbs are dependent on car travel largely due to State Government neglect in providing fast, frequent and readily available public transport.

While Maroondah Council’s 2007/2008 Budget approved the hiring of a new full-time Transport and Sustainability Officer and the recently adopted Pedestrian Strategy will assist in focusing council on improving and increasing the level of walking within the municipality, we are still lacking any clear leadership from the State Government towards improving public transport.

Media Release: Community grant assists the Ringwood Spiders

It’s winter, it’s footy season and football teams everywhere are out there kicking goals trying to achieve the ultimate prize.

But, for one football team in Maroondah, the ultimate prize is simply getting together each week and enjoying a good game of footy, no matter the score.

“The Ringwood Spiders football club (formerly the Ringwood Blues) began in 1992, and for fifteen years they’ve provided an opportunity for people with an intellectual disability to enjoy the camaraderie and sheer joy of playing footy,” said Councillor Alex Makin.

“Based at Jubilee Park, the Ringwood Spiders play on a regular basis as part of the state-wide Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) league, which includes teams from right across Victoria,” said Cr Makin.

“Council is very pleased to be able to provide funding assistance through the annual Community Grants program to assist the Ringwood Spiders with their activities – the latest match was against Moonee Ponds on Sunday 1 July at Jubilee Park, and the players were the winners,” said Cr Makin.

“The matches always attract a large crowd of local people, including members of our community who are living in assisted residential homes nearby. It becomes a big social event, one that the spectators can relate to easily and one where they can relax and simply enjoy themselves,” said Cr Makin.

“This is what Council’s Community Grants program is all about, providing funding to assist community organisations to develop and increase opportunities that increase access for Maroondah residents who have limited options due to special needs, low income, social isolation or ethnic background,” said Cr Makin.

Applications for Community Grants can be made from April each year, with applications closing in June.

For more information on Community Grants please contact Council on 1300 88 22 33 or visit the website at

Maroondah Leader: Cash boost fills cracks highlighted by drought

As part of its feature on Council’s Budget, the Maroondah Leader has also extensively reported on the $1 million sustainability fund which was passed as part of the Council’s Budget.

Cr Alex Makin said council infrastructure had been hit hard by the drought, but this raft of sustainability projects, approved in the 2007/08 Budget last week, would address many long-term problems.

Money from this fund will be used to reduce Council’s water usage, monitor water and energy usage and to provide financial assistance to clubs in providing alternative sources of water. This includes the installation of water tanks at Karralyka, Council’s depot and the civic centre and grants for tennis, bowls and other sporting clubs.

“We’re not saying that this one cash injection will fix everything, but it’s a big step,” Cr Makin said. “It’s going to save money in the long run because the money saved from water bills will go back into sustainability projects in next year’s budget.”

All savings that are achieved through the reduction in water usage will be monitored and reinvested within the sustainability fund. This means that Council will have resources available to address further sustainability challenges, such as energy usage within future budgets.

In addition there are a number of other proposals, which will be undertaken subject to approval from the Water Authorities and grants from State and Federal Governments. This includes the potential to harness water at the Croydon Town Park wetlands.

Further details, including the list of confirmed projects for the Sustainability Fund, are available within the council meeting agenda.

ETC delegation to Canberra

As the Maroondah representative on the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC), I will be travelling to Canberra on the 14th and 15th August alongside John Bennie, CEO of Greater Dandenong and Mick van de Vreede, chairperson of the ETC.

This trip will involve the direct lobbying of Government and Opposition MPs to seek federal funding for public transport, as well as providing an opportunity to meet peak bodies such as the Australasian Railways Association and the Australian Local Governance Association.

Congestion, through delays in delivery schedules and opportunity costs, has been estimated to cost $2.44 billion for Melbourne’s eastern and southeastern suburbs and this car dependence contributes $3.2 billion worth of greenhouse emissions. While the State Government must not be excused for its poor performance and broken promises over public transport it is imperative that the Federal Government shows leadership in maintaining and creating sustainable communities.

The trip to Canberra is one facet of the ETC’s campaign to ensure a sustainable future for Melbourne’s eastern and southeastern suburbs.

Maroondah Leader: Rate rise sparks discord

Maroondah Council has passed its budget for the 2007/2008 fiscal year. While the budget unfortunately includes a rate increase of 7.4% it facilitates a number of initiatives that will finally commit Maroondah towards a path of urban sustainability.

The Maroondah Leader reported on the discussions that took place in regard to the Council Budget:

Cr Alex Makin said he had been concerned over a lack of detail in the draft budget, but with his questions answered by council officers he now supported the budget.

While the decision to pass the budget was not unanimous, petty politicking over our future sustainability should not be tolerated.

“No-one likes to put rates up, but this budget will ensure a solid foundation for the future,” Cr Makin said. “It looks at the issue of long-term sustainability and we need to bite the bullet by putting money into projects like water conservation.”

The budget includes $1 million of initiatives aimed to reduce Maroondah’s water usage and improve our urban sustainability. Transport emissions and energy usage are also being addressed through the appointment of a new full-time Transport and Sustainability Officer and an audit of Maroondah’s energy and water usage through a new utilities monitoring system.

This budget ensures that Maroondah is following a path of urban sustainability to ensure that natural resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Further details, including the list of confirmed projects for the Sustainability Fund, are available within the council meeting agenda.

Media release: ETC takes campaign to Canberra

The Eastern Transport Coalition will be taking its campaign for the Federal Government funding for key eastern suburbs public transport projects to Canberra in August.

ETC Chairperson, Cr Mick Van De Vreede said that the ETC would travel to Canberra to seek support from the Government and ALP to reduce road congestion in the outer eastern suburbs.

“We are approaching the Transport and Environment Ministers and Shadow Ministers to meet with us and discuss how the Federal Government can help the environment and reduce road congestion by funding key public transport projects.

“Both Labor and Liberal members of the Federal Governments Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage have recommended that the Australian Government fund public transport infrastructure for suburbs and developments on the outer fringes of our cities.

“We have projects in the outer east that would benefit from such funding, which are;

  • the need to upgrade the Belgrave and Lilydale lines
  • improve and create transport interchanges
  • rail to Rowville
  • rail to Doncaster
  • improvements to facilitate road based public transport
  • funding for upgrade of Dandenong line

“We hope that the trip helps to inform federal politicians about these much needed projects and I look forward to meeting Ministers and Shadow Ministers and hearing their views about funding for public transport infrastructure in the outer east of Melbourne,” Cr Mick Van De Vreede concluded.

For more information please contact;

ETC Chairperson Cr Mick Van De Vreede 0438 029 932
CPR Communications, Robert Larocca 0409 198 350

Karralyka Music Morning Season

Today I attended Karralyk’a Morning Music program. The season now in its tenth year, includes seven shows held at either 11am or 2pm and includes a wide variety of musical acts.

Karralyka has blossomed in recent years to provide a number of premiere musical and theatrical shows meaning that there are shows available for all tastes and genres.

For further details on the Music Morning Program please visit

EV's Parent Information Night

This evening I attended an information session for parents prepared by Maroondah’s Youth Services Team, which outlined the events hosted through the EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon.

The Information Session had a particular emphasis on the FReA program which consists of twelve young people who are responsible for organising and managing musical gigs at EV’s, including promotion, stage management, signing of bands and catering. This year’s FreeZA group have called themselves Amplified Productions and have already organised a number of events, including the youth stage at the Maroondah Festival.

The information session concluded with the indie artist night organised by Amplified Productions. The evening predominately featured local bands allowing these groups to be seen and heard by their local community.

EV’s holds a number of programs available for Maroondah’s youth, for more information please visit