Tuesday 27 June Council Meeting

Highlights from tonight’s meeting:

  • Councillors voted against an increase in their pay
  • The Budget was passed
  • The Council plan was passed
  • And the Councillors discussed their tennis skills.

And here we are on this freezing night. The Mayor has opened by paying tribute to Mr McFarland (will have to check details) – a former Councillor who has recently passed away.

Present: Crs Surace, Byrne, Cusack, Gauci-Maurici, Lawrence, Marshall, Nation, Sipek

Apologies: Cr Sharpe is on leave of absence 19/6 – 22/7 (?) inclusive

Confirmation of Minutes – Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Lawrence/Nation –  Carried unanimously.

Declarations of Conflict of Interest None  (Editor’s note – as an objector to 177A Mt Alexander Rd, I have an interest in the last agenda item … but it’s a confidential item.)

Presentations None

Petitions and Joint Letters Nope

Public Question Time No Qs tonight

Reports by Mayor and Councillors

Cr Sipek hasn’t had time to do his report and will report next time.

Cr Nation talks about watching La La Land with volunteers at the Clocktower centre, and how demoralising it is to watch young achievers… He qualifies that it is partly inspirational, but partly depressing to see how much others have achieved.

Both Crs Nation and Marshall congratulate Ella Noonan on her fundraising swimming efforts. Cr Marshall also talks about watching out for the future of Wingate Community Centre during the redevelopment of the Ascot Vale Housing Estate to ensure it remains the buzzing community centre that it is.

Cr Byrne speaks about another inspiring speaker (and at 38 weeks asks if she can remain seated).

Cr Cusack talks about a play focusing on indigenous history (Corindoo? will check) and Naidoc week.

Cr Gauci-Maurici mentions two events connected to Buckley St Level Crossing Removal.

Cr Lawrence also mentions inspiring speakers – Kevin Sheedy, as well as Traders meetings and the importance of local retail precincts. And then, while talking about how heartwarming citizenship ceremonies are, Cr Lawrence forgets the Mayor’s name.

The Mayor talks about meeting Tim Pallas at a breakfast who told her to talk to Jacinta Allan about the level crossing at Buckley St. And then some more inspiring speakers and wonderful organisations.

All reports carried unanimously.


9.1 Council Plan 2017-21 integrating the Health Plan

Cr Marshall moves a motion to adopt the Council Plan, write to those who lodged submissions, have a report re upgrades to Moonee Ponds Activity Centre, and a review of the utilisation of swimming pools (aquatic leisure facilities) to look at user fees, and how lanes and pools are allocated.  Cr Sipek seconds.

(The parts about Moonee Ponds Activity Centre and swimming pools are in response to two of the submissions made to the exhibited plan).

Cr Nation declares a conflict of interest with respect to a conflicting duty (Cr Nation operates a swimming training business) and leaves the room.

Cr Marshall talks about how the plan sets out the agenda for the Council for the next four years, and key priorities. “I love that it has a partnership approach throughout,” she says. “It’s very progressive in relation to environmental issues.”

“There is a recognition of the importance of heritage in the plan”, active transport, protection of waterways, redevelopment of EKLC, Niddrie Hub. “It’s not dull and boring… it has dot points” and it’s easy to read.

Cr Sipek says it is the “score card” for Council and the “umbrella for all the other plans that come underneath.” “I don’t think anyone’s going to read every single page of this.” (There’s a challenge!)

Cr Cusack talks about the importance of the integration of the health plan (while the person behind me has an almighty coughing fit – he’s ok). 

Cr Lawrence talks about “a road map” that is for “the people who work and live in Moonee Valley”.

Cr Byrne talks about the “big ticket items” for Rosehill ward – the Niddrie Hub, and preparing options for a high-ball stadium, and priorities to address family violence and gender inequality, and traffic congestion.

The Mayor talks about Moonee Valley’s ageing population (I misheard her initially and thought she was referring to all of the racially provocative headlines today about the census data – but, happily, no).

Cr Marshall closes by referring to the submissions made including a submission by the Moonee Ponds Traders – and the part of the motion that is directed towards developing a plan for MPAC, before working out how money should be spent.  She also talks about the motion looking at how swimming facilities are allocated – to make sure this is fair and transparent.

Carried unanimously.

9.2 Budget 2017/18

Cr Gauci-Maurici moves the officer’s recommendation with an amendment removing the $1.03M that was allocated for Buckley (Doutta) Pavilion Improvements. Now we are in the middle of a discussion on the floor about the wording of a fourth point. The Mayor asks whether Cr Sipek is moving an amendment – but no it’s an “informal alteration”. And we have a set of words quite quickly… “work with Doutta Stars in relation to the Pavilion in a future Master Plan”.

The motion is seconded by Cr Marshall.

Cr Gauci-Maurici talks about her amendment – and the need for due diligence in funding projects in the budget. (Then I am momentarily distracted by a text about maths homework).

Cr Marshall goes through the rate-rise (capped) and the various amounts being spent on infrastructure. She refers to the provisions for community infrastructure, upgrades to local road network, investments in open space.

Cr Marshall mentions that previous Councils have tacked pieces onto pavilions that didn’t solve problems in the long-term. “I would rather work with the club to see how a pavilion can work appropriately.” “Let’s not burn clubs again by doing that bits and pieces approach.”

Cr Cusack talks about putting thing “on a queue in a taxi-rank” and how facilities can be “multi-purposed” for a growing and diverse population.  “The demand on our services is growing all the time.” He talks about a facility being used by Wingate centre in Union Rd that is already at maximum use and capacity. “Our budget is focused on delivery as best we possibly can.”

Cr Nation talks about appropriate spending of limited funds in “new fiscal environment”, but points out that the capital works program is almost double that of the previous budget. He talks about $4.9M on libraries and the use of libraries and work or collaboration spaces. He talks about shared facilities for sports that used “square” playing fields.  He talks about the need to run an official Council organisation – “$46 in every $100” of rates is spent on corporate, organisational costs

Cr Sipek says that there are three important numbers: “69, 28 and 3”.  He says that 69 cents in the dollar is wasted to the feds, 28 cents is wasted by the state and 3 cents in every dollar is what local government gets back.  And now local government is capped as well. “But we will power through this.”

He commends the officers for the 6.1% surplus in a capped environment with “great capital works” … “a great achievement”. But he is not happy that the money is being withdrawn from the Doutta Stars pavilion. He is content with the amended (informally altered) motion –  “It’s not a loss for the Doutta Starts, but we can revisit it in the future.”

Cr Lawrence speaks about improvements to efficiency, and the tension with spending money on new facilities in a fiscally responsible manner. “Our revenue base is not going to increase.  We’ve only got X amount of residential and commercial properties we can rate.” He asks how we can raise funds. (Hmmm… Debneys Precinct, 1 Ascot Vale Rd…)

Cr Byrne says she wasn’t really sure where the debate was going tonight and that she was worried the good things about the budget would be overshadowed by the Doutta Galla issue. She says there are 27 pavilions in MV and Council has improved one pavilion each year – seven since 2011. “Doutta Stars is a great club that provide a lot for locals in Moonee Valley”. “On 19 April the MV Leader put out on Facebook the budget plan, and the first comment” was about Buckley Park recently getting a new pavilion and querying why council would spend money in that area again.

Cr Byrne says Council was recently contacted by a young female sports-player pointing out that a pavilion did not have female toilets and female players need to use the disability access toilet. Cr Byrne indicates that upgrading pavilions to have female toilets is a priority.

The Mayor talks about a growth in the population of 2.5%. She says the Budget is influenced by the Council Plan and will meet the plan’s priorities.  She thanks council officers.

Cr Gaucic-Maurici says when Council began working on the budget in January, she had no idea of the number of services Council provides to the community.

Carried unanimously.

9.3 172 Spencer Street, Essendon (Lot 129 Block E on LP 3151) – Construction of four dwellings

The motion, moved by Cr Gauci-Maurici is to approve the proposal. There are some conditions added to meet concerns about overlooking, and the building next door which had not been accurately considered.  She says the proposal is highly compliant.

Cr Lawrence says the amendments have modified the plan.

No one else speaks. The motion is carried.

All for the motion except Cr Sipek.

9.4 7   Myrnong   Crescent,   Ascot   Vale   (Lot   44   on   PS005216) – Construction of three dwellings

Cr Cusack moves an alternative motion – to refuse due to: bulk, scale, form, neighbourhood character, cultural identity; various standards from cl 55 – energy, landscaping, walls on boundary, north facing windows; is an overdevelopment; and will cause adverse traffic impacts.

Cr Cusack talks about the character of the area and the effort in the area to revive and refurbish homes. Cr Cusack points out that the picture in the agenda is not the subject property (which solves a mystery – I was most confused). 

Cr Cusack talks about the traffic congestion in Myrnong Crescent – and the cyclists that are currently detoured due to the bike lanes being fixed along CityLink. (There is lots of chatter in the gallery – but I’ve just realised it’s the media officer and local journo chatting – to be honest, it’s really distracting.)

“Why would you do it?” asks Cr Cusack. This proposal got in before the changes to the planning scheme. (And now I am completely distracted by the media officer talking and have lost what Cr Cusack is saying… but he has finished and the gallery is clapping).

Cr Nation talks about the unique homes in the area and the problem of putting three double storey dwellings in this pocket of Ascot Vale being in no way consistent with the character of the area. (I have to reflect on the unsightly development that was passed unanimously by Council a few years ago that brought three very large double story buildings to the corner of Baroda and Mooltan Sts…. Hmmmm).

Cr Nation points out that there was an earlier application in 2013 that was refused, and another application in 2015 that was withdrawn that may be more appropriate.

Cr Marshall says the proposed development would present a mass of buildings along Myrnong Crescent. She says two dwellings with a nice design would be better outcome. The walls on the boundary were 3 metres over the standard.

A few claps.

Cr Cusack closes by talking about the development of Mt Alexander Rd, and putting intensive development along transport routes. And the homes along Brisbane and Myrnong streets being single storey. “Think seriously about this part of Myrnong Crescent,” he says to his colleagues.

Carried unanimously.  Claps.

9.5 184-188A Sterling Drive, East Keilor (Lots 257, 258 & 259 LP94072 and Lot 1 PS417032N) – Construct buildings and works to extend an existing residential aged care facility in a General Residential   Zone   and   Melbourne   Airport   Environs   Overlay (MAEO2)

Cr Sipek talks about the proposal to increase the aged care facility. Cr Byrne says the officers have helped to address concerns that were raised at the deputations meeting. Cr Surace says the major concern from residents was car parking, and that the development presents a community benefit.

Carried unanimously. Clapping. (Although I thought the person behind me was snoring a moment ago).

9.6 Review of Councillor and Mayoral Allowances

Cr Cusack is finding his papers…. then moves motion for $29,630 pa for Councillors and $94,641 pa for Mayor.

Cr Cusack talks about the media debate about remuneration – that some wish to see Mayors and Councillors paid less. He says the amounts are for the next four years, and that there are arguments in support of the remuneration amounts.

He says Councillors put in many hours, pointing out that audience members just need to come for items of interest, but Councillors have to stay on top of diverse things, be a leader in the community, make tough decisions and do it on a regular and consistent basis.  He says the community has grown, and delivers more services. He says officers do not and cannot represent community. The amounts are “not outrageous at all”.

Cr Nation speaks against the motion – he says “we choose” to be Councillors and “we make sacrifices” to work life, business life and personal life. He says the increase is about $700-800 a year.  He says this “won’t give us time back” with families, but it does send a message to community that “we are choosing to go at the very, very top” of the range for category 3 Councils which can be between $12K and $29K.  “We can’t do everything we want to, but we’ll pay ourselves” the most we can. The issue is not the quantum, but the message: that we as councillors are forgoing an opportunity to reduce our remuneration.

Cr Marshall speaks against the motion as well. It’s a role you undertake because you genuinely want to make a contribution to the community. She says you make sacrifices as a Councillor, but you do that because it is an honour and a privilege to serve the community. Cr Marshall refers to the increased to federal politician entitlements. She also says that it is about the message: “there are people out there doing it tough; it’s a time for use to show some leadership.” “Show people that we’re not all bad.”

Cr Lawrence says he is not in favour or against. He says there is a great deal of time “lost” when being a Councillor. Councillors do work extremely hard. “It is a privilege to be one.” He is disappointed that a donation element to the motion has been removed. “Councillors are givers.” “I don’t think that the community realises the amount of time and effort that Councillors put in.”  “It’s constant.  The phone calls you take from residents. You are at the beck and call.” “It’s an important role.” “This is a decision that each Councillor has to weigh up in their own minds.”

Cr Gauci-Maurici says she can’t agree to an increase when Council has said no to sports groups and others.

Cr Byrne says that if she was doing the Councillor role as a job and was told that she would be paid $29K, she would say “get stuffed”. But she says the role means more to her than the wage. She says about the $800 extra “take it or leave it, I’ll be here anyway, unless I’m pushing out a baby”.

Cr Cusack closes debate saying he “feels like he’s on a hiding”. He says the increase is frozen over the next four years. He says it is important that Council gets remunerated, and that the amount will flatline over the next four years due to CPI. He says it is “lovely and altruistic”, but that community need and expect people to be doing things on their behalf. “Our yard stick is about what service” we are giving the community.

Motion lost.

For: Cucsack, Surace, Sipek

Against: Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Byrne, Marshall, Nation

Cr Nation moves a foreshadowed alternative to leave the remuneration as it is. He says it is not a wage. He talks about the fact sheet that is given to schools about the role of Councillor not being a job, but being a responsibility. “It’s about setting an example.”

Cr Byrne says she is surprised, but that it is really great to have listened to feedback from the community. “We are here because we actually want to represent the community and we are not here for the money.”

Cr Lawrence says that the community think “we work here full time.”

Cr Marshall said that before she was elected she didn’t think Councillors got any money, and that she is aware that not all people would be able to put in the time, and so that might be a disincentive to run for Council.  Cr Marshall suggests the money saved be put back into the grants.

Cr Cusack agrees that money in the budget not taken up in the remuneration should go to grants.

The Mayor says this is not possible – but Cr Marshall clarifies that there was money in the budget and Cr Cusack moves a formal amendment, seconded by Cr Marshall.

Cr Sipek seeks clarification about whether it should go to major or minor grants. Cr Cusack says it should go to bi-annual grants.

The amendment is debated. Cr Cusack, Marshall and Nation all support the amendment.

Cr Byrne now asks about whether all the money from the last bi-annual grants was spent. The answer from officers is that because of the election, there was $30K left.

Amendment carried unanimously.

Cr Cusack resumes speaking to the original motion – with the amendment. The Mayor asks him to close the debate, but Cr Cusack says he does not wish to be gagged.

He says he has spent his whole life volunteering and says it would be great to get some money for some of the voluntary work, but he does point out that the low pay could be a barrier for some.

Cr Lawrence says his only hope is that the motion ends up on the front page of the local paper and Councillors get the recognition they deserve.  The Mayor says she entirely agrees.

I laugh out loud. Loudly.

9.7 Proposed second wicket at Strathnaver Reserve

Cr Gauci-Maurici moves the motion to confer the grant but make sure the facilities remain multi-use. Crs Byrne and Marshall reiterate these points.

(Sadly, I had a computer malfunction – multiple interruptions tonight. Trying now to catch up.)

There are members from the soccer club here tonight.  There were questions about whether there is a Masterplan for the reserve, and Cr Marshall indicated that some work needed to be done to improve the relationships between the users of the reserve.

Cr Cusack is speaking about not giving support to narrow interests, but rather to support clubs working together. “We need to find a way through this” – so cricket and soccer clubs can both grow and support their junior players.

Cr Lawrence says that the extra pitch was meant to be to support a woman’s team – and then there is a comment about the Australian women’s team. Cr Lawrence talks about pitches on different ovals not being used – and refers to Cr Sipek as the “Minister for Sport” – which causes much mirth – from some Councillors.

“Are we all done?” asks the Mayor.

Cr Gauci-Maurici says both clubs add value to the community.

Cr Lawrence abstains.

Motion is carried.

Cr Sipek moves the next three reports en bloc. Carried unanimously.

I was looking forward to the Draft Animal Management Plan … now I will have to read it for myself…

9.8 Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Renewal Approval

9.9 Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017-2021

9.10 Report on Assemblies of Council

10 Notices of Motion

10.1 Notice   Of   Motion No.   2017/17- Exploring possible options regarding Tennis court usage for leisure

Cr Bryne moves her motion. She says that every summer she has the urge to buy a tennis dress and become a tennis star. Cr Byrne says that we don’t have many courts in MV that can help people to play tennis and access courts.

I think I am now the only one in the gallery.  The soccer and cricket people have left.

The idea behind the motion is to start a process to see what methods can be used to allow people to access tennis.  One such scheme is the ‘book-a-court’ scheme. but there might be other programs.

Cr Cusack seconded the motion and speaks about balmy summer evenings… a long way from tonight.

Cr Lawrence is an “ardent tennis player”. He is talking. I am tired. Cr Lawrence asks one of the officers a question, but the officer was otherwise occupied.

Cr Nation speaks and says he is a tennis hack. He says it is quite difficult to find free courts in MV.  The MV tennis website is apparently a blank page. (Although I actually just checked and it’s not blank – 

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 9.37.56 pm

Image: MVCC website –  https://www.mvcc.vic.gov.au/

Cr G-M hesitantly supports it – even though her husband might play more tennis….

Cr Marshall speaks too – but not about her tennis skills.

Carried unanimously.

11 Urgent Business None

I get to go – 

12 Confidential Reports

12.1 Understanding and Meeting Competitive Neutrality Obligations

12.2 Community Service Subsidies 2017/18

12.3 23 & 25 Russell Street, Essendon (Lot 3 LP7523 and Land in PS 527604D) – Construction of a multi storey building comprising a shop and dwellings, reduction in the car parking requirements and waiver of the loading bay requirements

12.4 177A Mt Alexander Road, Flemington (Lot 1 TP803253F) – Construct a multi-storey building in a Design and Development Overlay (DDO3) and Environmental Significant Overlay (ESO2), use of the land for dwellings, reduce car parking requirements, waive loading bay requirements and alter access to a road in a Road Zone, Category 1

13 Close of Meeting


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