Final Eastern Transport Coalition meeting for 2007

The Eastern Transport Coalition has had a number of successes over the course of this year, including the removal of zone three in March, further bus upgrades and train timetable improvements along the Dandenong line.

Tonight’s meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on 2007 and to begin discussions around the priorities for 2008. The Eastern Transport Coalition will be issuing a submission in regard to the recently announced Liveability Inquiry from the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) and will be seeking discussions with the incoming Rudd Government to ensure that there is federal leadership to enhance the sustainability of our cities.

Next year will be crucial in the campaign for sustainable transport in the outer suburbs, with the results of the Eddington Inquiry due in March. The outcome of this study will determine whether the State Government, now led under John Brumby, is serious about the need to enhance public transport in our suburbs.

Rising petrol prices and the need to reduce greenhouse emissions demonstrate the need for public transport improvements. It is time for both Federal and State Governments to stop the blame game to deliver the infrastructure necessary to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of Melbourne and its outer suburbs.

Eastern Transport Coalition meeting for 2008

The Eastern Transport Coalition consists of seven outer eastern metropolitan councils (Maroondah, Knox, Whitehorse, Yarra Ranges, Manningham, Monash and Greater Dandenong) and is a regional based advocacy group that lobbies for better public transport in Melbourne’s outer east.

The Eastern Transport Coalition meets on a monthly basis to discuss the transport priorities of the region and to further its advocacy for public transport. I have been Maroondah’s delegated representative on the Eastern Transport Coalition since my election in November 2005 and have been re-appointed as the delegate for 2008.

I have served as the Deputy Chair of the Eastern Transport Coalition and was re-elected into this role for 2008.

For more information on the Eastern Transport Coalition please visit

Maroondah Journal: Cr stripped of committee roles 'won't apologise'

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the events that transpired at the council meeting held on the 10th of December.

Councillors are appointed as delegates to council committees and these positions were decided at this council meeting. Unfortunately the committee positions, which were moved by Cr. Peter Gurr, completely excluded Cr. Jo-anne Taylor.

It is disappointing that Cr. Peter Gurr, has chosen to end the year with a personal attack on Cr. Jo-anne Taylor, despite the fact that she is an incredibly dedicated and community minded representative.

Cr. Alex Makin said it had been “nothing but a blatant personal attack on one councillor”. He said he wanted the committee list reviewed for the council’s first meeting next year.

While Cr. Taylor and Cr. Maureen Naylor and myself spoke against the motion proposed by Cr. Gurr, the exclusion of Cr. Taylor was unfortunately adopted with the support of Cr. Les Willmott (who also spoke in support Cr. Gurr’s motion), Cr. Natalie Thomas and the current mayor Cr. Tony Dib.

Given this blatant attack on Cr. Taylor, I have submitted Maroondah’s first ever notice to review to seek amendments to the following committee delegations:

  • Maroondah Partners in Health, Safety and Well-being Committee
  • Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)
  • Roadsafe – Melbourne Eastern Ranges Inc.
  • Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee
  • Eastern Regional Housing Group

A notice to review has the potential to rescind a part of a council decision through having the matter re-heard at the next council meeting. This means that the positions on the aforementioned committees will be re-considered at the next council meeting which is to be held on the 18th of February.

“This hopefully gives an opportunity for some of the councillors to re-evaluate their behaviour and come in with a positive outlook”.

I trust that my council colleagues will choose to begin the new year with a positive approach and a desire to work with all of their colleagues. It is a shame that Cr. Gurr, a person that I have normally respected, has chosen to personally attack his colleagues rather than work constructively for the betterment of the Maroondah community. It is also surprising that Cr. Natalie Thomas has blindly decided to support the exclusion of Cr. Taylor, despite never actually speaking in favour of any motion in the open chamber.

Cr. Taylor regularly attended her delegated appointments and her specialised knowledge in areas such as emergency management means that she has a significant contribution to make within these committees and the wider community.

The community suffers while there is continued infighting in council. The notice to review to be held in February will determine whether some of my colleagues are on council for the right reasons.

Media Release: Rudd Government can end blame game in public transport

The Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) and Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC), jointly representing 26 Melbourne Councils, have asked the Rudd Federal Government, to contribute to funding major urban public transport infrastructure projects.

Both organisations also called on the Victorian Government to seek changes to Auslink to allow funding of public transport.

Cr Jackie Fristacky, MTF Deputy Chair and Cr Alex Makin, Acting Chairperson of the ETC, said there is broad agreement on the need for the Commonwealth to resume funding public transport, in the same manner as it does roads.

“The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) recently resolved that it will continue to campaign forfederal funding of urban transport systems, a position supported by both the MTF and ETC.

“The new Rudd government has a policy supporting Commonwealth funding; the Federal ALP platform states:

“ensure that Australians have access to adequate transport services by providing appropriate financial assistance to State governments to improve and extend public transport systems in urban areas.”

“The Victorian Government advocated in 2006, for Auslink to include urban public transport.

“With a consensus that we need to take strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are urging the new government to implement this policy and do what the last Federal ALP Government did, fund urban public transport.

“There are many projects in Victoria that require substantial capital investment and which would deliver large benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and prohibitive costs of transport for struggling families.

“The Victorian Government could seek Commonwealth contribution to any one of a number of projects; examples being,

  • Rail to Doncaster
  • Rail to South Morang
  • Rail to Rowville
  • Rail to Torquay

“We look forward to the end of the blame game in public transport,” Cr Fristacky and Cr Makin concluded.

For more information or comment:

Cr. Alex Makin (ETC) Mobile: 0408 311 645
Cr Jackie M Fristacky (MTF) Mobile: 0412 597 794

Maroondah Citizens' Advice Bureau end of year function

The Maroondah Citizens’ Advice Bureau provides crucial support for some of Maroondah’s most vulnerable residents through providing advice, food assistance and referral services through a largely volunteer based organisation.

Today’s function provided an opportunity to thank the volunteers, staff and committee of management that assist in delivering the services provided by the Maroondah Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Volunteers contribute significantly to the organisation, through providing advice to clients and undertaking a mandatory course to provide the skills required to fulfill this role.

I have been part of the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau Committee of Management since 2006 and have had a particular interest in raising the community awareness of the organisation.

North Ringwood Community House end of year function

The North Ringwood Community House held its end of year function today to provide an opportunity to thank tutors, staff and the committee of management who are part of the house. I was co-opted onto the Committee of Management during the middle of this year providing me an opportunity to further my involvement with the community house.

While the North Ringwood Community House continues to grow strongly, there are a number of unique challenges awaiting the house in the future. Currently the community house, which is based at the Holy Spirit Primary School in Ringwood North, does not own the land it is situated on and this limits the potential for the house to undertake plans to offer new services to the North Ringwood community. A potential relocation will need to be examined and will require support from Maroondah City Council and other levels of government.

The North Ringwood Community House provides a range of courses, including accredited training courses in a friendly and unique atmosphere. For more information on the North Ringwood Community House please visit

Final Croydon Conservation Society meeting for 2007

Tonight I attended the final Croydon Conservation Society (CCS) meeting for 2007. The society, which was formed in 1964, is Maroondah’s longest running and largest environmental society and has provided a critical voice for improving sustainability within the municipality.

Tonight’s meeting provided an opportunity to discuss policy submissions, such as input into Maroondah’s planning scheme amendments, and plans for the following year. The redevelopment of Eastland is expected to begin during 2008 and it is imperative that initiatives that improve sustainability are part of these works.

The recently adopted planning scheme amendment, C58 for the Ringwood Transit City, includes a section on promoting sustainability within the transit city. This will encourage new developments to not only include footpaths, where required, but also to improve water and energy usage, through the use of water tanks and energy efficient designs.

For more information on the Croydon Conservation Society please visit

Walking school bus end of year function

The Walking School Bus program encourages schoolchildren to walk to school in a safe and friendly environment. The ‘bus’ consists of parents who walk children to school along a predetermined route to and from school. Through participating in the program, children are able to engage in regular physical activity, helping to reduce the looming health issues of childhood obesity.

Walking is also critical to revitalising our suburbs and encouraging a culture of walking will improve our urban sustainability, through reducing car dependence, traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions.

The Walking School Bus program, which is principally funded by local councils (with some assistance from VicHealth), was initially revoked by Maroondah City Council in 2005 before having its funding reinstated in 2006 amid a successful community campaign and the support of councillors such as myself and Jo-anne Taylor.

Today’s function provided an opportunity to thank the teachers, parents and council officers who are involved in the program. Maroondah Council will continue its commitment to the Walking School Bus program with funding being secured for 2008. This ongoing funding will provide support for the thirteen schools that are involved in the program.

While cost shifting has occurred with the Walking School Bus program (which was initially jointly funded between VicHealth and councils), it is imperative that our children do not become the target of cheap political point scoring between different levels of government. The Walking School Bus program provides a number of benefits and its continuation is definitely warranted.

Official opening of Ringwood Street

The new look Ringwood Street, complete with new paving, street furniture and underground power cables, was launched today by Maroondah City Council and Shaun Leane, MP for Eastern Metropolitan Region.

The changes to Ringwood Street have created an accessible pathway from Maroondah Highway through to the Ringwood bypass making it easier for all people to be able to travel through Ringwood. The improvements to Ringwood Street demonstrates a council commitment to the Ringwood Transit City and the revitalisation of Ringwood.

The rejuvenation of Ringwood will continue in 2008, with works expected to begin on the town centre and the hopeful commitment from the State Government towards redeveloping Ringwood Station.

Media Release: Celebrate International Volunteers Day and become a volunteer

WANTED: Enthusiastic Maroondah residents with a few spare hours a week to undertake a vital community project. Job satisfaction guaranteed!

If this sounds like you, Maroondah City Council would like to hear from you!

Councillor Alex Makin said in recognition of International Volunteers Day, Maroondah City Council is encouraging local people to discover the ‘job satisfaction’ of being a volunteer by helping others in the Maroondah community.

“International Volunteers Day was officially celebrated around the country on Wednesday 5th December, and provides a fantastic opportunity to recognise our local volunteers as well as encouraging more people to get involved in volunteering,” said Cr Makin.

“Whatever your age, gender, background or abilities, there are plenty of ways to help, and plenty of people in Maroondah who would greatly appreciate it,” said Cr Makin.

“At the moment we have a real need for people who are able to drive Council’s ten seater bus to assist people who are living in supported residential services to get out and about,” said Cr Makin.

If you are able to offer your time for this volunteer role, you would need a current valid Victorian Drivers’ licence and undertake a practice drive of the bus.

“The trips are conducted in small groups to encourage friendships for residents who have limited access to social opportunities,” said Cr Makin.

“We are also looking for someone to assist residents in learning and doing a variety of craft activities such as paper crafts, pottery, embroidery, etc at the accommodation, so if you have a crafty bent and some time to spare, we’d love to hear from you,” said Cr Makin.

“Additionally, Council’s Meals on Wheels service are always on the look out for volunteers, not just as drivers, but also as a ‘jockey’, providing assistance to the driver,” said Cr Makin.

“Volunteering is very rewarding work and very flexible! If you can spare a few hours a week, fortnight or month I would strongly encourage you to contact Council and find out more about how you can get involved,” said Cr Makin.

So why not become a volunteer and help others in your local area, meet new people and discover the joy that comes from giving something back to the community?

For further details or to register your interest please call 1300 88 22 33.