Council Meeting 12 September 2017

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Tonight’s Council meeting at 6:30pm will include Council voting to support marriage equality. YES!

The details of the meeting can be found below, but firstly, here is Cr Cam Nation’s speech on Marriage Equality:

“I am rising to support this motion, that Moonee Valley City Council adopt a Marriage Equality Statement as outlined in Council’s LGBTIQ Action Plan 2015-17.

This plan was unanimously endorsed by Council back in 2015, and over the past two years with the great support of our LGBTIQ Working Group, Moonee Valley City Council has completed 94% of the thirty-three proposed actions, with tonight’s proposed motion to develop a position statement on marriage equality and promote this to our community, bringing finality to an Action Plan which is industry lauded and which has been a reference tool for a number of other Council’s who have since adopted their own LGBTIQ policies & action plans.

Before I detail why I believe it is vital OUR council adopt this position, let me make it very clear that ANY matter that can have a beneficial or detrimental impact on members of OUR community, is OUR issue.

We pride ourselves on this fact, and preface every public address with the words: Moonee Valley is proud of its diverse community and acknowledges the contributions that all people make to this vibrant and inclusive city.

This concept is shared in our recently adopted Council Plan (2017-21), which has the guiding principle of Moonee Valley as a City that is clean, green and beautiful, made up of vibrant, diverse and sustainable communities, that people experience as friendly and safe to live in.

In addition, our Public Health & Wellbeing Plan, which now forms part of our Council Plan, has the principle aim of improving the quality of life for all people who live, work, learn and play in Moonee Valley, by ensuring health and wellbeing matters are prioritised across all areas of Council.

And therefore for our Council NOT to take a stance on this issue, particularly on this most significant day where all Australians will start deciding if their fellow Australians have access to a basic human right,  would be inconsistent with the principles of the guiding documents that we have endorsed as a Council unit. We routinely state that our tier of Government is that which is closest to the community, so the responsibility falls on US to educate and advocate, and to stand-up for one of the most oppressed minorities in our community, when they need us the most. We need to stand behind them, particularly for the duration of this Australian Marriage Postal Survey, and champion our Council’s view on the basic principles of equality.

Our endorsed LGBTIQ Action Plan outlines that Marriage Equality is a basic Human Right, but I would go further, and say that this is not just a human rights issue, this is more so a health and wellbeing issue. This is us, as leaders of our community, telling an already marginalized group of individuals, that they are equal. That Council views them as equal. And that we advise our fellow members of the wider community to view them as equal.

I have previously in this chamber spoken of the quite harrowing statistics surrounding mental health amongst the LGBTIQ community, and how the mental health of LGBTIQ people is among the poorest in Australia.

One of the most disturbing statistics is the rates of suicidality amongst the LGBTIQ community.

Compared to the general population:

  • LGBTIQ young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide then their peers
  • Transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly eleven times more likely
  • And people with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over are nearly six times more likelyThat is
  • 16% of LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 have attempted suicide
  • 35% of Transgender people aged 18 and over have attempted suicide
  • 19% of people with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over have attempted suicide
  • And a recently published study outlined on SBS last week, reported that over 50% of young people who identify as transgender, had attempted suicide at sometime in their short lives.

Now bring that back home, and think of how frightening it is, that if you were raising a child, like all of you around the chamber have or are, that based solely on who they are – something that is outside their own control, there was a 50% chance they would attempt to take their life before they were 18.

So how is this relevant to our Council making a stance on Marriage Equality?

It’s pretty simple. These statistics, these figures, these lives, are directly related to the experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse experienced by members of the LGBTIQ community.

These individuals are reminded on a daily basis of not being equal. None more so than not having access to the basic human right of marriage, by our antiquated Marriage Act, which may I add is a parliamentary act in this secular society, and not one that is governed by the church, that states marriage is a union of man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. I won’t even touch on the inequality of how the union of a man and a woman part is strictly adhered to, but the entered into for life part, isn’t.

For those who we deem as our LGBTIQ elders, particularly those living in Moonee Valley, this will hopefully be close to completing the final chapter, of a long, long battle, to be recognized as equal. I only need to remind those of you sitting around the chamber, that homosexuality was a crime in Victoria up until December 1980. There are LGBTIQ elders in our community, who up until the 1st October 2015, despite the law formally changing in 1981, were unable to expunge earlier criminal convictions – and carried a criminal record with them – for the crime of being homosexual. This is one of the many legacies of inequality that our LGBTIQ community have lived with on a day to day basis – another is obviously what we are hopefully making a stance on tonight, being their ability to marry the person they love.

So in closing, I ask my fellow Councillors to please consider the guiding principles of our Council Plan. Please consider the guiding principles of our Public Health & Wellbeing Plan. Please consider our endorsed LGBTIQ Action Plan, and the significant effort made by our LGBTIQ working group to roll out every single action in this plan. Please understand the significance of this current moment, when we as leaders of OUR community, have the chance to advocate for change. Please consider every LGBTIQ community member in Moonee Valley, both those who have experienced pain and hardship over a long battle for basic equality, through to those young members of our community who need to be shown that Moonee Valley says that they are equal. That they are accepted. And that they are loved.

For most people, a marriage equality statement, may just be a few words on a set of council minutes, but for a certain minority of our population, who experience basic inequality every single day, it is an immensely significant few words.”

Back to the meeting….

The Flemington Estate hearings started yesterday, so I haven’t had time to read the agenda for tonight. A few planning matters to start with.

Quite a few people here.

1. Opening; Welcome, including the acknowledgement of the Traditional Custodians of this land and the recital of the Councillor Creed.

2. Apologies: Cr Sipek is on leave.

3. Confirmation of Minutes: Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

Cr Byrne raises an amendment re Matthews Ave – terminology re issuing the permit. Carried unanimously.

4. Declarations of Conflict of Interest: NIL

5. Presentations: A presentation from a delegation who … this sentence seems to have stopped … I will have to check the minutes!

6. Petitions and Joint Letters:

Cr Gauci-Maurici tables a petition signed by over 400 people re the retention of Strathaird Reserve as open space.

Cr Byrne tables a petition from 19 residents from a street in Niddrie re safety concerns.

7. Public Question Time

First Q from Anne Woods in Strathmore: what was the date of the correspondence to the State Govt re Strathaird Rsve (and have responses been received)?

Answer: On 8th August, a number of letters were sent by MVCC to the Premier, Ministers for Roads, Local Govt, Energy, and the local MP, and Treasurer. A response has been received from the Minister for Energy advising the letter has been sent to Minister for Finance; and from others that letters have been forwarded to Minister for Roads. MVCC is yet to receive a response from those Ministers.

Second Q: what it the current situation re land in Mascoma St?

Answer: it isowned by VicRoads. It was sold in May 2016, but then withdrawn from sale. A subdivision was lodged, but withdrawn. Council would have concerns re development on this site.

Third Q: the minutes of the Essendon Airport advisory group from June state that Council declined to purchase Strathaird Reserve and that the land could not be developed as residential due to acoustic issues and standards. Is Council aware that the land is unable to be residential zone?

Answer: the quoted minutes from Essendon Airport have not been verified; Council is aware of ANEF thresholds and the limits on developments; ANEFs are prepared by Airport owners; the parcels are in residential zone; but comments from CEO re other land was re distance from helicopters and the runway.

Qs from Sharon Mumford: re the article in Moonee Valley Leader referring to multiple parcels of land for sale. MVCC said the land would be valued as $15M.

Answer: Of the 15 parcels referred to, four parcels are in the Open Space Strategy: 11 Grace St and Treadwell St, Kerford St Rsve, Elm Grove Rsve, and Collier Park.

Next Q: MVCC has said there is $10M to spend on open space. What steps has MVCC taken to spend this money?

Answer: Looking for land in suburbs including: Airport West, Niddrie, Flemington, Essendon West.

Q from Eugene from Strathmore – with reference to MV Leader there was mention of four parks.

Answer: The article referred to the same parks as above. They have an estimated value  in excess of $17M (or $7M? Will check).

Q = Danny Pearson stated open space in MV won’t be sold for 18 mths. (Didn’t catch Q)

A = no sale negotiations going on re specific parcels of land. MVCC has sought clarification about some parcels of land, but no response.

A final Q re surcharges on payments by credit card at MVCC.

Answer = MVCC does not charge surcharges, except that if ratepayers pay rates by ‘Forms Express’ there is a surcharge, but this has been reduced. No avenue for any surcharge rebate adjustments.

8. Reports by Mayor and Councillors: Not this meeting.

Reports

9.1 144 Holmes Road, Moonee Ponds (Lot 183 on PS002252) – Construction of three dwellings in a Special Building Overlay

Cr Marshall moves motion to refuse permit re bulk, scale, form and layout, neighbourhood character and various clause 55 standards and objectives.

Cr Nation seconded. Siri interrupted to say that she “would be able to assist” if she could better understand what was being said …. and I was distracted from capturing the criticisms with tech issues.

Carried unanimously.

9.2 34 Robinson Street, Moonee Ponds (Lot 1 on TP538175A) – Construction of two double storey dwellings to the rear of an existing dwelling and a reduction to the car parking requirement

Cr Cusack moves the officer’s recommendation to grant a permit. Cr Marshall seconds.

Cr Cusack says issues arise from the property at the rear. He speaks about parking options, but says a challenge at VCAT would not be successful.

A person in the gallery asks if she can speak. The Mayor says unfortunately not.

Cr Marshall says she is mindful of the impact of a number of applications on residents, but that each application has to be assessed on its merits.

She says there have been some changes in over-shadowing and over-looking through permit conditions to effectively deal with some of the issues of concern.

Cr Nation says he regrets rising to concur with his fellow ward councillors: that he can pick holes in the application it is not perfect, it is sufficiently compliant.

Carried unanimously.

Many residents leave sighing heavily.

9.3 10 Beryl Street, West Essendon (Lot 22 Section 5 on PS002314 and Lot 1 on TP644504Q) – Construction of four dwellings

Cr Marshall moves motion. Cr Sharpe seconds. Application is now for three double storeys. “We do the same exercise as we spoke about previously and look at how the rules apply” to the application.

Cr Marshall talks about the traffic issues being able to be managed through a LATM.

Cr Byrne says she won’t support this motion. She says she refused the application in February and some aspects of the development have not changed: there are still ten bedrooms on the site; private open space still inadequate; overlooking; traffic; public transport is considerable distance. “It does look compliant”, “but I want Councillors to remember that it was also complaint in February and we fought it … and got a little win.”

Having sat at the Flemington Estate hearings for the past two days discussing 845 new dwellings on the estate site, I am having trouble adjusting my perspective to subdivisions and townhouses. It seems there are concerns about the interaction with local schools and public transport. There are also concerns about interaction with a one way street, medical facilities, and a swimming school.

Cr Cusack says VCAT would be unlikely to knock back this proposal.

Cr Marshall says she wants to make sure the overlooking issue is addressed in the conditions. She seeks clarification. The Council officer says the mechanisms are for permanent screening.

Cr Marshall says this is a highly compliant application.

Motion carried:

For: Crs Sharpe, Nation, Marshall, Gauci-Maurici, Cusack

Agst: Crs Lawrence, Byrne, Surace

There is a request to move forward motion 9.10

9.10 Marriage Equality Statement

Cr Nation moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Gauci-Maurici seconds.

Cr Nation says the action plan includes MVCC adopting support for marriage equality. He says Council should do everything it can to support diversity – and that this commitment is outlined in the Council Plan, and the Health and Wellbeing Plan which is part of the Council Plan.

“For our Council not to take a stance on this issue, would be inconsistent” with MVCC’s stance on other issues, he says.

“We need to stand behind” our marginalised LGBTIQ community, he says.

“It’s not just a human rights issues; it’s a health and well being issue.”

He talks about mental health of LGBTIQ people including the risk of suicide. Cr Nation is slightly emotional as he speaks – “Bring that back home…” and we have an adjournment for a few moments for Cr Nation to have a little break from what is clearly a very important and emotional issue for him.

The gallery remains respectfully silent and Cr Nation retires with some supportive Councillors.

We resume.

Cr Nation continues. “Think of how frightening it is that if you are raising a child” and as a result of who they are, they are more at risk of mental health concerns.

“These individuals are reminded on a daily basis of not being equal.”

He talks about the Marriage Act and the irony that the “man and woman” part of the Act is strictly adhered to, but not the ’til death do us part’ (although he uses the words in the Act, which I didn’t catch).

“We have the chance to advocate for change.”

“For most people a Marriage Equality statement may just be a few words in the minutes”, but for others it is a very important, life changing matter.

Cr Gauci-Maurici thanks Cr Nation. She reads some of the commitments in the Council’s plan, and talks about the terrible nature of the hurtful and incorrect statements put forward in the debate, and says for her “it is a no-brainer”.

Cr Lawrence says this is a highly charged issue on both sides of the debate – and we need to respect different views. And we need to listen. ‘”It is a national issue.” “What is failed to be realised is same-sex marriage is a lot more complicated.” He then mentions religious freedom and that Cmth laws fail to protect religious freedoms. Same-sex marriage should not lead to penalties to those who don’t wish to carry out same-sex marriages.

He says ordinary business people who wish to uphold the traditional meaning of marriage need to be protected from discrimination and attack if the law is changed.

“It’s OK to vote no.”

OK – I normally try very hard to stay independent. But I disagree vehemently with Cr Lawrence. 

Cr Marshall speaks – she says the motion is simple in one regard given that it is the endorsement of a Council Plan that has been through considerable consultation. She says it is the world’s most expensive opinion poll.

Cr Marshall says she is pleased she was married before 2004 and did not have to hear it said that marriage was between a man and a woman. She talks of the changing history of marriage.

“The idea that we are being surveyed about human rights is very wrong,” and that it might set precedents for the way we make decisions.

Cr Marshall quotes Attorney-General Brandis: “this is about one issue, and one issue only.” “It is not about attacks on religious freedom. It is about state sanctioned marriage. It is about civil marriage. it has been heartening to see so many religious organisations come out and support equal marriage”.

“VOTE YES!”, she says.

Cr Cusack speaks too, in support. Although he adds the qualifier that MVCC is not telling anyone how to vote. (I am!!! VOTE YES. It’s a nice thing to do.)

Cr Cusack says it’s not about religious rights, or raising children. “It’s about changing an Act that is discriminatory about a number of people in our community.”

“If other people’s rights are being pulled apart then we are no damn good if we stand back and don’t do anything.”

Cr Byrne raises to support the motion. She says [the survey] is a waste of money, that Crs are leaders and should start acting like leaders. “Let’s do it”, she says.

The Mayor asks Cr Nation to take the Chair while she adds some comment. She says she has questions in concern – item 7, re people putting the logo on emails (I think). She says she expects that will be at their discretion. She also raises some queries about the transparency of expenditure on merchandise. She says everyone has a right to their opinion, and that’s about respect.

Cr Nation closes debate. He says he finds it offensive to …. and that any watering down of the anti-discrimination act (to give people the right to discriminate on the basis of religious freedoms) would be wrong.

For: All except

Cr Lawrence abstains.

Claps. And people depart.

9.4 34 Wilson Street, Moonee Ponds – Proposed Sale of Land

Cr Sharpe moves. Cr Lawrence seconds.

Cr Marshall asks “what does Moonee Ponds get out of this?”

Cr Sharpe says the heritage protection has been placed over the site. No submission were received.  She supports the sale.

For: All except …

Agst: Cr Marshall

9.5 2016/17 Annual Financial Report

Cr Sharpe moves with Mayor and Deputy Mayor to certify.

No one speaks.

Carried unanimously.

9.6 2016/17  Performance  Statement and Governance and Management Checklist

Cr Cusack moves. Cr Gauci Maurici seconds.

No one speaks.

Carried unanimously.

9.7 Planning Scheme Amendment C179 – Significant Tree Review 2017

Cr Marshall moves. Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall speaks.

Over 600 trees were identified. Then 200 assessed as meeting the strict criteria. It is now going out on consultation. MVCC is seeking interim controls.

Cr Cusack speaks.

Carried unanimously.

9.8 Moonee Valley Early Years Plan: Progress Report 2016 – 17 and Action Plan 2017 – 18

Cr Sharpe moves. Cr Marshall seconds.

Cr Sharpe’s iPad has died and she can’t bring up the report. Time has been spent formulating the plan. Cr Nation shares his iPad. She urges people to read it.

Cr Marshall says it is an impressive array of highlights and how important the Council childcare centres are to the community.

Cr Gauci-Maurici and Cr Cusack talk about the thousands of children who have benefitted from the investment into childcare services.

Cr Lawrence speaks.

I am wondering about Family Day Care and where that issue has got to….

Carried unanimously.

9.9 Adoption of the Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017 – 2021

Cr Cusack moves recommendation. He talks about connecting this plan to health and wellbeing plans – the importance of our furry friends to our happiness. So true.

Cr Byrne has seconded and speaks about: registration online, mobile de-sexing units, and more off-leash parks (yes please!!).

Carried unanimously.

  1. Notices of Motion: Nil
  2. Urgent Business 
  3. Confidential Reports: Nil
  4. Close of Meeting

And we are all going home.

 

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