Monthly Archives: June 2017

Electoral Tribunal sends Koonung ward back to the ballot box

Voters in Koonung ward may find themselves back at the ballot box after the Municipal Electoral Tribunal today found the results from the 2016 election void due a failure to properly inform all ratepayers on their eligibility to vote.

Last October’s election results were challenged by Ms Stella Yee, a resident of Doncaster who came fifth in the Local Council election on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election.

Mr Warwick Winn, Manningham Council CEO issued a statement saying “Magistrate Smith found the Victoria Electoral Commission (VEC) ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers as to their eligibility to enrol to vote’”, he said.

Magistrate Smith also found the numbers of non-resident ratepayers who were prevented or disenfranchised from taking part in the election were significant enough that their inclusion in the election process probably would have affected the outcome of the election.

The three Manningham councillors, Cr Dot Haynes, Cr Anna Chen and Cr Mike Zafiropoulos will continue in their roles as elected officials for the time being, VEC have seven days to appeal the decision.

If the VEC accept today’s decision the next step will be to inform the Minister for Local Government who will then need to set a new election date.

The Warrandyte Diary will have more on this story as it develops.

Warrandyte women line up with Sheagles

WOMEN’s FOOTY is a big hit in Warrandyte and although the Bloods may not have a team in the Victoria Amateur Football Association (VAFA) Women’s Premier division, Warrandyte locals are making a big impact with four of our girls playing for the Marcellin Sheagles.

Nat and Zoe Macdonald, Lexie Hipwell and Taylor Padfield, all friends who have grown up together, made the decision to play women’s football this season and have reaped the rewards.

The Diary met with the girls, and Lexie told the Diary how the four of them ended up playing footy.

“My intent was never actually to play footy — I mean I wanted to, but Dad was a bit worried, and I didn’t want to do it by myself.

“But Nat got me into it,” she said.

Nat acted as somewhat of a ringleader for the group, and Marcellin can be thankful that she did.

In Lexie, the Sheagles gained athleticism, a strong presence in the ruck and long kicking ability.

Zoe’s strengths lie in the backline, with a good ability to mark and win the ball at ground level, while Nat acts as a speedster in the middle and excels at clearing packs.

“My friend Maggie was asking me to come down and play for the Marcellin Seniors, she said that it was a new team with some good quality and that in the first year we might struggle a bit so that I would play 80 minutes.

“But the team actually turned out alright and we’ve gone on from there,” Nat said.

The Sheagles first grabbed attention after competing in the in VAFA’s Lightning Cup back in April.

Despite going in with low expectations, the Sheagles managed to win their four games, before advancing to the Grand Final and taking the tournament.

“There’s 40 new teams that have come in this year, and this was a chance to expose the girls to matches because they didn’t want the girls to come out underdone for the season.

“We played St Mary’s in the final and we just got it done,” Zoe said.

Results in the Lightning Cup and performances in grading games have placed the side in VAFA’s Premier Division, and though the girls thought they might be out of their depth, the reality has been anything but.

“Our first Premier game was against Brunswick, and everyone thought we would get done by 60 points.

“It was a wet game, we went out and we weren’t too confident, but we kicked the first and went from there,” Nat said.

The Sheagles currently sit in 3rd position on the ladder, only percentage below the two teams above.

“We’ve actually been really good, we even won our game in round three by 60 points.

“I think we were all a bit worried because everyone was talking up Premier, but we’ve been playing well,” Lexie said.

Playing in Premier division has further advantages for the Warrandyte women, with scouts and coaches keeping a close eye on the games.

“There’s some great players in the Premier division and there were even scouts at the Lightning Cup, so its definitely a platform for the AFLW.

“Each game we are improving, not just working on skills but also on tactics, so we are only going to get better,” Zoe said.

Coach Tom Stafford and Assistant Coach Luke Boyd are certainly in luck with their Warrandyte contingent, who have without doubt played a major role in the Sheagles rapid rise.

Timely tax tips – getting ready for June 30

JUNE IS THE month when our minds turn to tax and the obligation to lodge our tax returns, which brings to mind Kerry Packer’s memorable claim, “I pay what is due and not a penny more.”

The purpose of this column is to assist you in adopting the same philosophy which you are perfectly entitled to do, providing you understand the important difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Tax evasion is acting contrary to the law and incurs severe penalties, whereas tax avoidance involves working within the law to avoid paying more tax than you need to.

So what do you need to understand in order to implement Kerry Packer’s advice?

Claim all deductible expenses

Make sure you claim all expenditure incurred in the tax year that is tax deductible.

This will require you to keep either paper (invoices, receipts etc.) or electronic records that contain date of expenditure, description and amount.

Bank statements and credit card statements may suffice if they contain sufficient identifying information.

Alternatively download the ATO myDeductions App and use it to record your deduction records on to your mobile or tablet.

This App is suitable for use by individuals and sole traders.

Work related expenses totalling less than $300 do not require supporting documentation but you will be expected to have a reasonable basis for arriving at the amount you are claiming.

This may apply for example when claiming laundry of uniforms or protective work clothing.

Claiming all expenditures such as donations, work related expenses, business and investment related deductions etc. can be quite complicated, so give consideration to using the services of a registered tax agent whose fees and your travel time to visit are deductible.

Your tax agent will also be able to advise you on the appropriate records you will need to claim the deductible component of motor vehicle, phone, computer, home office expenses, laundering of uniforms and protective clothing, self-education expenses and depreciable assets etc.

Use timing to increase deductions

We have probably all heard the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. This equally applies to tax by bringing forward deductions into the current year and reducing your tax liability for the current year rather than waiting a further 12 months or more before you claim the tax saving from the deduction.

Deductible expenses such as insurance premiums should be timed to fall due in June rather than any other month of the year.

The same goes for depreciable assets that are deductible such as computers, rental property depreciable contents, and particularly tools, plant and equipment and motor vehicles used in a business.

If you donate to charities, school building funds etc. give a thought to making these donations in June rather than earlier in the year, reducing the time period between the cash outlay and the receipt of the tax deduction benefit.

Delaying receipt of
assessable income

Timing benefits can also be accessed by delaying the receipt of income until July rather than having it paid to you in June.

This strategy could be applied to timing the sale of investments that are likely to trigger a capital gain where there are no offsetting capital losses available.

Wage and salary earners entitled to a year-end bonus may be able negotiate payment in the first pay period in July rather than the last pay period in June.

Sole traders selling on credit could consider delaying invoicing for work done in June until early July.

Tax saving and impact on
cash flow

The income and deductions strategies explained above whilst reducing your taxable income will have a significant impact on your cash flow if you are entitled to
a refund and lodge your tax
return early.

Example: A sole trader on an otherwise taxable income of $60,000 brought forward the purchase of an item of plant costing $15,000 from July to June which is fully tax deductible being under the $20,000 cap for a small business.

She also delayed billing customers for work done in June until July 1 amounting to $6,000 thereby reducing her taxable income by $21,000 to $39,000.

With tax levied at $0.34 per dollar in the range from $37,000 – $87,000 her tax saving and increased cash flow would amount to $7,560 including a low income tax offset of $415.

Tax-free gift of up to $500

Your homework is to Google “Super Co-Contribution” to discover whether you are eligible to receive your free gift.

Disclaimer:

The content of this article is not intended to be used as professional advice and should not be used as such. If you have any questions you should consult a registered
tax agent.

Brian Spurrell – FCPA CTA, Director

Personalised Taxation & Accounting Services Pty Ltd. 0412 011 946

Bridge work further delayed awaiting permits

• Contractor now known but not yet announced

• VicRoads in meetings with objectors for Manningham permit

• Nillumbik permit still stalled

WORKS HAVE still not commenced on the bridge expansion originally due to begin in April with  completion scheduled for before the start of the next bushfire season.

VicRoads has not formally announced the contractor for these works and has not replied to questions from the Diary on this or when the work will be starting.

However, the Diary has ascertained the contract has been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M

VEC is part of the Downer group of companies and is a respected civil engineering design and construction company specialising in bridges.

Some confusion still remains on the start date for works, as planning permits have still not been approved by Manningham or Nillumbik.

William Nottle, Senior Structures Engineer at VicRoads Metro North West, stated: “At this stage, it is unlikely any works will commence until permits are granted.

“VicRoads will never conduct any work on site (or established a site for that matter) before obtaining appropriate planning approval.

“We have recently suspended site activity with our contractor in order to resolve the current planning issues,” he said.

However, in somewhat of a contradiction he continued: “In keeping with the project schedule to complete the works ahead of the next bush fire season, we have initiated works that do not require planning approval”.

Manningham received objections to the proposed planning permit from seven individuals and from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) .

VicRoads had scheduled a series of separate meetings with each objector on May 23 to hear and discuss their concerns.

WCA had filed a well-considered objection on two main grounds.

Firstly the applicant (a Mr Richard Francis of Abzeco Ltd) is not the owner of the land, the application is not signed by the owner of the land, and therefore the whole application is invalid and must be thrown out.

Secondly the applicant has failed to adequately address the requirements of Heritage Overlay Schedules applicable to the area.

As mentioned in the May issue, the Warrandyte Historical Society and the WCA had joined forces with a view to establishing an Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) to evaluate, discuss and attempt to reach agreement with VicRoads on the materials to be used in the construction, to ensure the heritage values of the area at the south side of the bridge were considered and preserved.

They had expressed concern because the historical road alignment is being changed and widened, and the use of barriers and guardrails — similar to those recently the subject of protests in Kangaroo Ground — fences and the ugly use of grey concrete and plastic handrails do not comply with the heritage guidelines required by Manningham.

We understand at that meeting VicRoads had agreed with WCA’s proposal that this UDAP be set up.

However, the terms of reference and scope have yet to be agreed.

Most of the individual objectors spoke to the Diary on condition of anonymity.

Three objectors wanted the two tall trees  at the southern end of the bridge to be retained;  one suggested this could be done by making the cantilevered pathway go around the tree on the west side, and fill be avoided at the base of the tree on the east side with the new off-ramp being shored up with pylons or a wall constructed.

VicRoads agreed to investigate the practicality and costs associated with such additional works, but had some doubts on the ability of the budget to accommodate the increased costs involved.

One resident tabled the VicRoads-produced artist’s impression of the south side as published in the March edition and asked how the four tall trees shown in this impression were to be provided.

VicRoads confirmed they would not be there “It’s only an artist’s impression”; which the objector suggested was deliberately misleading.

As part of the discussion it became evident that, in addition to the new cantilevered shared pathway on the west side, the bridge structure will also be extended slightly out on the east side to partly move that footpath outwards.

It was also discovered the plans provide for considerable fill material on the south east off-ramp side and it was not clear how this was to be revegetated.

An objector wanted the whole issue of tree retention, flora, fauna and reforestation to be included in the scope of the UDAP, but VicRoads was adamant the UDAP restrict itself only to the construction materials.

“How can you have a design panel which does not look at the total design; the final ‘look’ of the whole project is what matters most?” asked one resident.

A recurring theme in the objectors’ submissions was they did not want the development to proceed at all on various grounds including this was a band-aid solution to a wider problem, they suggested the decision should be delayed until the route for the North East Link had been decided and the traffic flow through Warrandyte had been remodelled and the original modelling of evacuation times and improvements to daily traffic flow was fundamentally flawed.

A resident of Ringwood-Warrandyte road pointed to the stationary queues of traffic outside their house and dreaded to think how bad this would become when further traffic was attracted to the area and red traffic lights north of the bridge would cause gridlock back around the roundabout at the bridge causing even longer queues along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road in the evening peak period.

Also raised was concern the materials used and the extra fenced-off pathways might completely or partially block the view of the Yarra for passengers in vehicles.

Many comments were made on the lack of concern for flora and fauna, these included:

• “I object to the removal of indigenous eucalyptus polyanthemus, eucalyptus goniocalyx and, bursaria spinosa trees and shrub on the north east embankment of Yarra Street.”

• “The Southern Mahogany nearby should also be retained.”

• “Eucalyptus polyanthemus is already in severe decline in Warrandyte — all large trees should be retained for habitat, ecology reasons, mitigating against climate change.”

• “These works will greatly downgrade the significant river scenery.”

• “Construction of the turning lane will impact on fauna habitat and corridors, including breeding wombats and swamp wallabies.”

• “A canopy rope bridge for arboreal fauna must be included, as must a pipe to enable wombats to cross under Kangaroo Ground Road at the north end of the Bridge.”

• “Kookaburras, wood ducks and sulphur crested cockatoos use hollows in other beautiful large eucalyptus trees a few metres below the embankment nearer the river.”

• “These trees will also be at risk from the proposed works due to root damage, changes to the water table, possible introduction of harmful fungi, etc.”

• “All the trees in the vicinity of Warrandyte Bridge require protection — measures must be taken to minimize impact.”

• “The character of unique and historic Warrandyte, prized by artists past and present is irreplaceable.”

• “To what extent have the Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elders been consulted about these works?”

• “So much lost — heritage, wildlife safety, access and habitat, pedestrian safety at an already difficult intersection, liveability through increased traffic volumes — for little, if any, gain.”

A number of these comments, whilst being very valid, are outside the scope of Manningham to determine in direct relation to the planning laws.

However WCA’s first and primary objection on the grounds the application as submitted is invalid in law will be difficult for Manningham to disprove and it is hard to see how they could grant a permit to an invalid applicant.

We await with interest to see if Manningham planners will hold off making a recommendation to councillors until the UDAP has been formed and its scope agreed and findings released.

We asked WCA to comment on their meeting with VicRoads and formation of the UDAP, but they declined to comment.

North side of the bridge

In terms of progress not much has happened.

The planning permit application was lodged with Nillumbik on April 3.

A site inspection was carried out by the council planners on April 27 following which a letter was sent to VicRoads requesting more information, Nillumbik are still awaiting VicRoads’ reply.

When that is to hand the matter will progress to the “advertised” status, which will involve a notice being posted and the public then given 14 days in which to make submissions or objections.

We await further progress with interest.

Residents fear Green Wedge at risk in Nillumbik’s draft plan

DURING a community consultation session held at Eltham’s Edendale Farm on May 17, local Nillumbik residents voiced their concerns at Nillumbik Council’s draft 2017–2021 Plan.

In the plan, the Council has chosen to focus on five key “strategic” objectives:

• Engaged, connected communities.

• Active and creative people.

• Safe and healthy environments.

• A prosperous economy.

• Responsible leadership.

Members of the community were concerned about a lack of balance in the plan between protecting the environment and other issues, such as generating income and infrastructure projects.

North Warrandyte local Ian Penrose has made a written submission to Nillumbik Council, criticising the language used in the plan.

“[The Green Wedge] is fundamental to the shire’s identity and its responsibility,” he said.

Mr Penrose is also concerned about the plan’s lack of focus on maintaining and improving the environment in the Green Wedge.

“The language used by the Council is an indicator of its perspective, and that is worrying,” he said.

Other locals voiced similar concerns to Mr Penrose during the community consultation, particularly surrounding property development around the Shire.

There were strong opinions about what the Council should do with some vacant blocks of land.

While the Council could sell the land to fund other community-based projects, Nillumbik residents were nervous about the potential for further development in busy townships such as Eltham and Diamond Creek.

One woman argued there was “intrinsic value in vacant land” and “odd pockets of trees and land add to the natural streetscape of the Shire”.

Others were troubled about a potential “population increase” as well as criticising the Council for seeing vacant lots as a “development opportunity”.

These are the latest development worries for Nillumbik residents, with the Warrandyte Diary reporting concerns surrounding a potential property development on Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte (see page 9).

Spokesperson for the Nillumbik Pro Active Landowners (PALs), Max Parsons said, “Nillumbik PALs supports the Council’s focus on the importance of proper representation of, and advocacy for, its ratepayers.”

The Nillumbik PALs believe the Green Wedge Management Plan is due for review and supports the Council’s focus on building the Shire’s economic possibilities.

“Like all relevant sections of any Planning Scheme, the Green Wedge Management Plan should be subject to review and updating, as it is long overdue,” Mr Parsons said.

The Nillumbik PALs support “the establishment of a strong financial position, which includes an emphasis on the economy, tourism and employment,” Mr Parsons said.

Focus on the economy and tourism was also on the agenda at the community consultation meeting.

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Clarke proposed the construction of a “Civic Hub” for Eltham.

While no concrete plans are in place, the Mayor encouraged the community to join the conversation about potentially building a hotel or even a small hospital in Eltham.

Mr Penrose feels as if the emphasis on jobs, economy and tourism in the Council’s plan will put the natural landscape of the Green Wedge at risk.

“[The draft Council Plan] conveys the message that the Council is ignoring its fundamental responsibility to care for the Nillumbik Green Wedge,” he said.

“I urge the Council to correct this glaring and critical shortcoming in its plan.”

In response, Mayor Peter Clarke said during the consultation that language specific to the Green Wedge was not used in the strategic objectives because it was seen as “too broad”. He pointed out that other councils also see themselves as a Green Wedge municipality.

That is unlikely to ease the concerns of North Warrandyte residents such as Mr Penrose who want to ensure the natural landscape of Nillumbik Council and the surrounding areas are preserved and improved well into the future.

The public consultation period for the 2017-2021 Plan officially closed on June 2.