Tag Archives: Ryan Smith MP

Ryan Smith calls it a day

THE ELECTORATE of Warrandyte will be going to a byelection following the shock retirement of Ryan Smith MP.
You can read his resignation statement below.
Mr Smith has been the Member for Warrandyte since 2006, after retaining the seat for the Liberal party following the retirement of Phil Honeywood, who had held it since 1988.
Mr Smith joined the opposition frontbench in 2008 and was Minister for Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Youth Affairs during the Baillieu and Napthine governments.
He has served on the frontbench in opposition and has been Shadow Minister for Finance, for Planning and Heritage and for Suburban Recovery.
Following last year’s election in November, Smith had flagged his intention to run for the Liberal leadership, but eventually pulled out of the race.
The resignation will trigger a byelection, which will be seen as a test of Opposition Leader John Pesutto’s leadership.
The Liberals expect the byelection to be held in mid to late August.
Pesutto spoke to the media following the announcement and said he learned of Smith’s resignation like the wider public, by reading his statement.
“I think we all need to respect the way Ryan wanted to own the way he wanted to make these announcements,” he said.
He said the Liberals will “throw everything” at Warrandyte to retain the seat.
I’ll be working, obviously, with the membership and the leadership of the organisational side of the party to make sure we choose the strongest candidate.
“I would very much like to see a woman in amongst the candidates”, Mr Pesutto said.
Several women have already been understood to be lining up for the seat, including the Liberal federal vice-president Caroline Inge, Manningham Councillor Michelle Kleinert, and owner of Bramleigh Estate, Mary-Anne Lowe.
Former Manningham Mayor, Councillor Andrew Conlon is also putting his hand up for Liberal preselection.
There is also talk around former MP for Kew, Tim Smith, who resigned from the Liberal party following a drunken car crash, who has stated he is thinking of running for preselection for the seat.
It is also unclear whether the Labor Party will contest the byelection, but the party’s success at the Aston byelection has given some ALP supporters hope of another upset.
Previous Labor candidate for Warrandyte Naomi Oakley said she was not ruling out a run.
“Whilst I will always take any opportunity to advocate for my community, the ALP will make a decision in coming weeks about whether to contest this byelection.”
Raymond “the Snake Man” Hoser has announced he will be running in the upcoming byelection as an independent.
He released a statement saying he will be running on a centrist platform of ethics, economics, law and order, and environment.
Hoser said: “I am needed to deal with the snakes in the Victorian parliament”.
He said that only with a strong independent elected to the seat will the local area be properly represented.
The Liberals currently hold Warrandyte by a 4.2 per cent margin, so is considered safe Liberal.
People from across the electorate, and beyond, have extended their best wishes to Mr Smith.
Mr Smith’s Federal counterpart, Member for Menzies, Keith Wolahan thanked him for “outstanding service to our community and our state”.
“Wishing you and your wonderful family the very best for what comes next,” Mr Wolahan said.
Both Park Orchards Rate Payers Association and Park Orchards Market Committee took to social media to thank Mr Smith for his dedicated service to the electorate.
Manningham Council released a statement acknowledging and thanking Ryan Smith for 16 years of dedicated service to the Manningham community as the Member for Warrandyte.
Mayor of Manningham, Cr Deirdre Diamante said: “As a former Minister and active local member his impact has been meaningful and significant.
“We wish Ryan and his family all the best in the future.”
Cr Diamante said Council will “use the upcoming byelection to continue to strongly advocate for improvements to roads, transport, services and infrastructure for the Warrandyte electorate”. Prior to politics, Smith spent 18 years in the financial markets working for a number of Australia’s leading institutions before winning election to Parliament in 2006.
His last job before parliament was as Manager of Institutional Banking Service for the Commonwealth Bank.
He says he will be returning to a role in the corporate sector.

Ryan Smith announces retirement from Parliament

IT IS WITH mixed emotions that I have informed the Speaker of my intention to resign from the Parliament of Victoria, with my formal resignation date being July 7.
After over 16 years serving as the Member for Warrandyte, and with a great deal of consideration, I have decided it is time to bring this chapter of my life to a close.
I have been privileged to hold this role and believe that many who choose this career do so with their communities’ best interests in mind.
However, amongst other reasons, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the growing negative tone of politics, both internally and more broadly.
My role as a community representative has brought me into contact with an amazing array of people throughout the electorate, and I have valued the opportunity to work with and for them all.
I have held over a dozen shadow portfolios through the years of Opposition and, again, the stakeholders connected to these have been a pleasure to meet, and I appreciate everything that they took the time to teach me.
It is important to recognise former Premiers, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine, who allowed me to sit at the Cabinet table with them as Minister for the Environment and Minister for Youth Affairs.
I am very grateful for their confidence in me.
Some further words of thanks
Firstly, to my local community – thank you for your support over five election victories.
My hope is that you believed I did my best to represent you and to be responsive to your needs.
Whenever the cut and thrust of politics made me question my career choices, spending time in our community always gave me the positive answer why.
Working as your representative and advocate has been an enormous honour and pleasure.
To my parliamentary colleagues – thank you to those who I have worked alongside over the years.
Particular thanks to those with whom I have developed firm friendships; your companionship and good humour has always been a valued asset.
To the Liberal Party – I am constantly impressed by the people who make up the membership of our great Party.
Thank you to those who have supported my preselections, and to all of those who have put up their hand to help me and the Party right across the state.
Whether it be handing out How to Vote cards or nominating to be a candidate, you are the foundation of our movement. I ask you to never forget our values and principles and to remind those who do.
To the press – thank you for the relationship we have had.
I have found the vast majority of you to be honest, forthright and fair.
You are an integral part of the political process and I welcome your increased willingness to scrutinise those matters which need a light shone on them.
To my many supporters and friends – thank you for everything you have done to support my campaigns, for your wise counsel and your faith in me.
To my staff – these are the people at our Electorate Office’s frontline, the ones who make the first impressions which are pivotal to how we are viewed by our community.
I could not have asked for better.
Thank you to all those who have worked with me over the years, but particular thanks to those who are working with me now.
Helen, who was been with me from the beginning and who has been a treasured confidante.
Marty, whose good humour and patience when dealing with our constituents has made him an invaluable part of our team.
Antonietta, whose infectious enthusiasm always brightens our day
Thank you to each of you.
Finally, a special thank you to my wife, Avril, and my children, Brodie and Jaime.
My son was one when I entered politics and my daughter was born into it.
I am exceedingly proud of both of them and they have been, not only the lift I need when I get home, but a big reason why I work to try to make things better for our community.
Avril – thank you for supporting me on this journey, which is just a part of our lives together.
I could not have asked for a better companion through these years, and I am looking forward to the next stage of our lives together.
I wish the next Member for Warrandyte the very best of luck and remain optimistic that the contest of ideas will ultimately provide Victoria with its best days ahead.
I will not be making further public comment at this stage.

Future remains uncertain for former South Warrandyte Fire Station

AS DISCUSSED in the March Warrandyte Diary, the future of the former CFA Station in Brumbys Road, South Warrandyte, is uncertain with the CFA putting the site up for auction.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, pointed out the property is required to be offered to other government bodies, including Manningham Council, on a first-right-of-refusal basis, which had not happened.
The Diary understands that the auction has been postponed, and this first-right-of-refusal process has commenced.
Former South Warrandyte CFA Captain, Greg Kennedy acknowledges the CFA has made an investment in providing the new station in Falconer Road.
However, he notes the current fire station in Falconer Road has no different facilities than the FRV stations at Ringwood, Nunawading,
Croydon or Templestowe.
“The CFA has done nothing special with this facility.
CFA has a statutory obligation to provide the infrastructure, including buildings and equipment, to discharge its duties under the Act.
The CFA made the decision to upgrade the facilities at South Warrandyte to include career staff — this was simply the CFA undertaking the function that it has responsibility for.
There were no favours, nothing special, so there are no grounds for accolades.”
Mr Kennedy said the greater Warrandyte community appreciates the high bushfire risk level in this area, and the community support has been and continues to be significant.
Each of the brigades in the area — South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte, Warrandyte and Wonga Park — have over the years appealed to the
community for financial support.
“The community has been very generous, and I estimate that over the past 40 years, our community has provided at least $2 million to the
annual brigade appeals,” he said.
He said the level of support and commitment our community has towards their CFAs is exemplified by Fireball.
“In 2014, North Warrandyte brigade were raising funds to replace their ageing brigade owned tanker by holding a sausage sizzle outside
Quinton’s IGA on Saturday, February 8.
The next day a fire destroyed three houses in Warrandyte.
Julie Quinton was gobsmacked that the volunteers had to sell sausages to raise money to buy a fire truck.
Julie and a few colleagues then organised a one-night event, Fireball, which raised a little over $80,000 in the one night — to me, that’s a
community that gives.
North Warrandyte CFA was able to replace its truck.
Over the next three years, two more Fireball events were held, raising more than $80,000 on each occasion.
Warrandyte brigade replaced their ageing slip-on, and South Warrandyte replaced their FCV.
COVID came along and delayed Wonga Park’s opportunity to benefit to date.”
Local government and services clubs have also provided additional financial support to the Brigade.
He said the brigades used these funds to provide members with appropriate protective clothing in the earlier years, additional equipment,
including hoses and couplings, and additional appliances.
“The contribution has been significant and has saved the CFA financially,” Mr Kennedy said.
He said the Greater Warrandyte community has financially supported their CFA brigades with significant contributions over a very long period.
“It is now opportune for the CFA to return the favour,” he said.
As we go to print, Manningham Council has not been offered the property under the first-right-of-refusal provisions.
Lee Robson, Acting Director of Planning and Community, told the Diary: “While there has been recent discussion in the community around
the former CFA site in Warrandyte South, Council has not identified this location as a strategic site for community use.”
He said the site has a heritage overlay with very restrictive controls, but when Council receives notification, the property will be
considered.
Mayor of Manningham Michelle Kleinert said there are several issues that Council must consider, including potential users of the facility, what expenditure will Council need to undertake to bring the facility up to the required standard, and whether the potential user of the facility is willing and capable of making a financial contribution towards the necessary works.
Expressions of interest Mr Kennedy said now is the time for community groups interested in the property to come forward.
Let the Diary know if your community group could use the old South Warrandyte Fire Station, in what capacity, and whether you could make
a financial (or in-kind) contribution to the upkeep of the facility.
The Diary will collate details for the working group, headed up by Mr Kennedy, who will make a submission to Council.
Write to editor@warrandytediary.com.au to show your interest.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: re Brumbys Road Fire Station

The above property has recently been advertised for sale by the CFA.
The advertising of the same has made a few large assumptions about future use which conflict with current zoning and planning, but as a long-term resident of Warrandyte (20 plus years) and a long-term reader of the Warrandyte Diary, I would like to offer a comment as a first time contributor.
The Warrandyte Diary has a rich background of the history of the fire station at Warrandyte South over many years as I have read with interest.
I do not propose I know the full history, but I offer my thoughts and views to gauge if others within Warrandyte have similar thoughts, other ideas to what is a great locally owned and built asset that deserves to be utilised by those that built it.
By way of short history, the station was established thru the generosity and sweat of local Warrandyte people- the land was, thru a special council subdivision, donated for use as a fire station for the local CFA brigade, the construction was mostly thru donated labour and materials by Warrandyte south residents and CFA volunteers.
This was a community at its best.
With the growth and merger with the MFB to new facilities in Park Orchards, the site was deemed an engineering and research site for a few years.
The site was offered to council for other purposes of use to the community, but in my opinion the offer was confusing and lacked clarity and sadly any interested party, never ventured any further back in 2017-19 when it was offered.
The current sale process will see any funds put into a “special capital account” with the CFA/MFB according to the current property officer of the CFA.
My concern is if they are successful in achieving a possible windfall of $900,000 plus, will these funds be domiciled to the Warrandyte community or to the wider pool of CFA/MFB? I note the main CFA pumper truck is ten years old and as we have just finished donating for a fire support vehicle for Warrandyte South, could this money be directed/restricted to those and the area that made this CFA/MFB windfall happen?
I would not enjoy being involved again in a drive to fundraise for a support vehicle and equipment for one of Australia’s most highly rated fire zone’s, when our treasured local Warrandyte volunteers should have the best and newest equipment, but his “windfall” disappeared into the ethers of the combined CFA/MFB with unknown use or purpose.
As to a future use, I am sure if it was again offered to the local community as a re-purposed asset and location that the words local, community, involvement, have changed in the new COVID world, since a technically confusing offering back some 5-3 years ago.
We now live in a different world and such a significant asset built with local goodwill, has a future better than the real estate agent’s offering as a brewery etc!
My family and I would be prepared to offer up adjoining land for use as a community garden to assist a possible use as a not-for-profit community café/ artist display etc and in some way recognise the locals that gave and made the site a reality.

DONNA SMITH
Warrandyte South

Warrandyte Men’s Shed still homeless

[OPINION]
By CHRIS CHEWY PADGHAM
WARRANDYTE MEN’S SHED

AS SOME OF you may know, a group of men from the Warrandyte Community have been working to establish a Men’s Shed in Warrandyte.
A Men’s Shed is a men’s health initiative aimed at improving the mental and physical health of older men in our community through social
inclusion in an environment that is meaningful and comfortable for men.
The success of Men’s Sheds throughout Australia and abroad is a testament to the valuable contribution that they make to the welfare of the community in which they are present.
I have been working on the establishment of a Men’s Shed in Warrandyte for the last five years, and it is fair to say that everyone I have
spoken to agrees that it would be a magnificent asset for Warrandyte, including Manningham Councillors, and our State and Federal Members of Parliament.
There is one major obstacle in our progress: a suitable site to house it.
Imagine my pleasure when  it became apparent that the old South Warrandyte CFA building was available for Council to acquire.
It is fit for purpose and ideally located close to public transport.
However, Council’s current position on the old South Warrandyte Fire Station is: “the South Warrandyte Fire Station has not been identified
by Council as a strategic site for acquisition.”
And its position on finding an appropriate site for a Warrandyte Men’s Shed is: “work is being undertaken by officers to identify existing Council-owned land that may be suitable for community
focussed uses such as a Men’s Shed.”
For five years, I have heard that line.
It seems it takes the council a long time to identify their own land.
It is frustrating, but we will continue to meet at the Scout Hall, which is falling down because of council neglect.
I worked with the council to specify appropriate upgrades to address its glaring deficiencies.
That was completed in July 2021; the last informal word I had was that it might make it into the budget for 2023/2024.
I know councils like to think of themselves as businesses these days; a key performance indicator for them is the provision of appropriate and
well-maintained facilities to benefit the community.
From my perspective, Manningham Council is comprehensively failing Warrandyte on this KPI.

Community history for sale

By SANDI MILLER
March 2022

PAST AND PRESENT members of the South Warrandyte Fire Brigade and other members of the broader Warrandyte community are dismayed as the Country Fire Authority has placed the old South Warrandyte fire station on Brumbys Road up for sale.
Greg Kennedy was a member of the South Warrandyte Fire Brigade for 36 years, holding the office of Captain on two occasions, Lieutenant at various levels on several occasions, and President, Secretary and Treasurer.
He said he was “disgusted” to see the former fire station in Brumbys Road advertised for sale.
“Whilst the CFA is undoubtedly the owner of the land and therefore entitled to dispose of the property and everything that is built upon the land, there is a moral obligation for the CFA to take fully into account the history of this site.”
Mr Kennedy provided the Diary with a background of the site; he said the land was acquired in 1954 for the token amount of 40 pounds from Mr Pridmore.
The Pridmore family was very grateful for the assistance of brigade members in searching for their young son, who had become lost in the area.
“It is unclear who provided the funding, but I have been reliably informed by members from that time that the brigade raised the necessary monies — not the CFA.”
After a delay of two years, a rural shed donated by a resident was erected on the site by the brigade members — no cost to the CFA.
In 1963, a building suitable to house an appliance was acquired by the brigade from a resident and erected, again by the brigade members.
Over several years, the shed was refurbished with additions of a meeting room and communications facility and eventually a brick façade.
The members sourced all the materials and provided all of the labour.
The brigade undertook the supply and erection of the shed at no cost to the CFA on the understanding that the brigade would be provided with an Austin tanker as soon as there was somewhere to house the appliance.
The CFA honoured the undertaking, and an Austin tanker arrived in 1963.
By the early 1980s, the facilities were inadequate.
The brigade approached the CFA and was advised that a new station was scheduled, but not for at least 10 years.
Under the leadership of Captain Les Dixon, the brigade went about designing a new station with assistance from a local architect who provided his service pro bono.
Additional land was required to house the new building.
The brigade negotiated on behalf of the CFA to acquire an additional parcel of land adjoining the existing site.
“I recollect that the CFA paid for the additional land, but the purchase price was well below market value — the only cost to date for the CFA,” said Mr Kennedy.
The CFA approved the plans and agreed to allow the brigade to construct the building provided the brigade met
all costs — and that is precisely what the brigade did.
The brigade went to the South Warrandyte community and, through various fundraising activities, raised a little over $100,000.
The brigade members then undertook the building of the station.
Working bees were held most evenings and every weekend, and all brigade members freely gave their time.
Local tradesmen — carpenters, electricians, roofers, cabinet makers — gave their time without payment.
Materials were donated by various residents who were involved in the building industry.
Corporates were encouraged to provide materials with plant hire company, Wreckair Ltd, providing all types of machinery weekend after weekend for no charge.
Mr Kennedy said the only other financial contribution made by the CFA was $30,000 to assist in the final fit-out of the station.
“This contribution was made very late in the building program and only after the then Chairman Mr O’Shea was embarrassed by what he found the brigade had achieved without any financial support from the CFA.
“To me and the many members and especially former members of the brigade, the fire station in Brumbys Road, holds a very special place in our hearts — we toiled long and hard both in fundraising and construction to provide ourselves and our community with a decent facility with virtually no financial assistance from the CFA.
“The facility was provided by our community, for our community.
“The CFA may own the land, but it can never own what has been built — it belongs to us.
“To simply have this facility placed on the open market for sale shows no understanding of the history and importance of the facility.
“For the CFA to expect to pocket $900,000+ with no recognition of what the community has contributed is a heartless act.
“This is a community facility, built and paid for by the community.
“Morally, it belongs to the community,” Mr Kennedy said.
Valerie Polley of the Warrandyte Historical Society (WHS) notes the site is protected under a historical significance overlay.
She told the Diary that the site is an important part of the town’s history.
“The Warrandyte Historical Society is concerned that this heritage- listed building could be lost to the community.
The fire station is listed as of local significance on Manningham’s Heritage Overlay (HO27).
It has strong links back into the community.
This building which dates to 1986/7, used brigade (community) raised funds and CFA volunteer labour.
It was listed due to its ‘elegant and sympathetic adaptation of an organic design approach to a public building’. The citation felt it contributed to a future design for rural public buildings rather than a colonial vernacular, and WHS agrees.
WHS considers it detrimental to lose yet another well-designed community asset when there are local demands for premises, including for a Men’s Shed, which is currently homeless.
That its heritage values could also be compromised is also a big consideration.
WHS is hopeful that any changes will not lead to the loss of the building’s heritage significance and contribution to the architectural heritage of Warrandyte.”
Mr Kennedy said that during the planning of the new station, when he was Captain of the brigade in 2014, he met with then Chief Officer, Ewan Ferguson, to discuss the future of the Brumbys Road site.
“I received an assurance that no decisions on the future of the station had been made and none would be made without further consultation with the brigade — I accepted the word of the Chief Officer.
“On May 24, 2016, I wrote to the newly appointed CEO, Lucinda Nolan seeking assurance that the disposal of the fire station would be handled with care and compassion, bearing in mind the history of how the facility was provided.
“I received a telephone call from Lucinda Nolan again advising that no decision had been made and a consultative process would be undertaken at the appropriate time.
“To my knowledge, neither of these commitments have been honoured.”
He said the CFA as the property owner, clearly has a right to dispose of the property, but there should be at least some compassion and understanding given to those who hold the facility dearly.
“There are retired members of the brigade who are very upset by the current actions of the CFA.”
Mr Kennedy said the decision to list the property without any consultation is “immoral, heartless and totally inconsiderate”.
He said he hopes the CFA will reconsider and is prepared to accept a peppercorn payment if the facility becomes a community centre.
“After all, the investment by the CFA is minimal, but the investment by the South Warrandyte community is enormous.
“I cannot believe the CFA who promote themselves as ‘WE ARE COMMUNITY’ can so heartlessly place this property on the market without any consideration of the community – what am I missing here?”
A CFA spokesperson told the Diary the Authority is not in a position to gift properties to other parties, nor retain or sell them at undervalued amounts.
“CFA and the Victorian Government made a significant investment of
more than $6m in the acquisition of land and construction of a new and modern fire station in 2015 to serve the community of South Warrandyte and neighbouring areas.
CFA has an obligation to utilise its assets in the best possible manner to support our volunteer brigades, and the sale of surplus stations is a significant contributor to our program of station refurbishments and replacements, which benefit all CFA volunteers and our local communities.”
Despite being placed with a real estate agent, the Diary has been told the former South Warrandyte station property has recently been resubmitted through the First Right of Refusal process, which gives state and local government entities, including the Manningham Council, the ability to express interest in the property and purchase from CFA at the Valuer General’s valuation.
This process takes around 60 days, and if there is no outcome from the process, CFA will relist the property for public auction.

Promises broken on CFA Shed

RYAN SMITH MP
Member for Warrandyte
[OPINION]

I RECENTLY raised a very important issue in State Parliament regarding the former South Warrandyte CFA station on Brumbys Road.
The former station has recently been listed for sale for close to $1 million, an exorbitant mark-up from the Manningham council evaluation of $120,000 in 2017.
I have been campaigning with local community groups for the past six years for the government to allow the community use of the building, ever since the multimillion- dollar integrated station in South Warrandyte was completed.
Every time that I have raised this issue with the government, I have been told that the station continues “…to meet internal needs and will do so for the foreseeable future — there are no immediate plans for the CFA to vacate or dispose of these premises.”
Locals I have spoken with have been rightly angered by this response as the station has stood largely empty over the last six years.
In April 2021, the acting Minister for Emergency Services wrote to me stating that : “Should the CFA determine in the future that the site is no longer needed, there will be an opportunity for the local council to purchase the property for community purposes.”
Four months later, in August, the minister wrote again stating that, if the land was deemed surplus by the CFA, it must be offered through a First Right of Refusal process to Victorian government departments as well as to local government, whilst again reiterating that the CFA still require the South Warrandyte station for the foreseeable future.
Through conversations with Manningham Council and volunteer CFA members, it appears there has been no offering of the former station for community use as promised by the government.
It has become apparent that the government’s only vision for community assets is to try to sell them in order to fill the bottomless black hole of state debt.
This is just another example of the difference between what this government says and what they do.
Each Minister I have written to was aware of the various community organisations that would have been interested in using the space, including a permanent base for the Warrandyte Men’s Shed, the Warrandyte Scouts, or a dedicated ambulance station for the Warrandyte area or even for the volunteers at South Warrandyte to return home.
This is another disappointing result for the communities of the Warrandyte electorate, who have continued to be let down by this government.
I will be pursuing this matter further to ensure that all proper processes were followed by the government.
If they have not, my community will be made aware that this government continues to ignore community needs and expectations.
I have asked the Minister to withdraw the station from the market and gift it to Manningham Council for community use or at least — at the very least — offer the property at a properly valued price as was promised.
I will continue to keep the community updated on any developments.

Community Housing saved by people power

COMMUNITY GROUPS scrambled to save Warrandyte’s Emergency Housing in Police Street after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) placed the building up for sale.
President of the Warrandyte Community Association, Carli Lange-Boutle contacted the Diary following the news that the Old Warrandyte Police House was for sale.
However, a week after it was placed on the market, the Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne, had a change of heart and intervened to stop the sale.
A spokesperson for the Director of Housing, said: “The Minister for Housing has carefully considered the matter and agrees that this site remains public housing.
“He has requested the Department to take the property off the market and ensure it remains in public hands to provide a safe place for Victorians who need a roof over their heads.”
The spokesperson said the Department will now get on with the job of completing the necessary work to refurbish the property so it is fit for tenancy.
Ms Lange-Boutle said: “ This community win for a community service is a combined effort from all people involved, especially the representatives from five community groups — Warrandyte Community Association, Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary, Now & Not Yet, Warrandyte Police,  Warrandyte Riverside Market and support from Park Orchards Ratepayers Association, Warrandyte Diary and Doncare, as well as support and assistance from Warrandyte Liberal MP Ryan Smith, Eastern Region Labor MP Sonja Terpstra MP and Labor candidate Stella Yee.
Warrandyte Police OIC, Sergeant Stewart Henderson, said he did some detective work when the property became vacant and discovered that DHHS was considering selling the property.
“When the previous tenants vacated I asked around to see who the next tenants were but didn’t get much of a response, then I discovered that it was going to be sold, so I contacted a few people and talked to people at local events … and the snowball started  from there,” he said.
After being contacted by members of the community, both the Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Sonja Terpstra petitioned the Minister to keep the building in public hands.
The Old Warrandyte Police House Emergency Housing Support Service was community managed by Margory Lapworth but was given to  DHHS when she became ill, under the agreement that it was used for short-term emergency housing for Manningham and Nillumbik residents.
Before the building was used for emergency housing it was the residence attached to Warrandyte Police Station — Officer in Charge of the police station from 1992-2011, Keith Walker lived in the station when it was considered a country station, however Mr Walker said that he was
disgusted when, in 1996, the Kennett Government sold off more than 100 houses attached to Police Stations and State Parks.
He said it caused a huge disruption to him and his family given he was ordered to live in the house when he took the position, so sold the family home in Croydon, only to be effectively evicted three years later when the government sold it off.
“I was delighted to see the support of the community rally to keep the house in the community at that time.”
He said the property was transferred to another Government department and given to Margory Lapworth to manage on their behalf.
“It was supposed to be used for emergency housing for the local community, and it did do that for a while when a family moved in after their house burnt down, but from therein it never seemed to follow the rule, in that there was a tenant who lived there for 15-plus years.
However, he said he was disturbed that when the last round of tenants left, the property had to be decontaminated.
“Where was the DHHS to let it get to that condition?” he asked.
However, Mr Walker said he is very pleased that people have managed to save it again.
Ms Lange-Boutle says that the WCA was “furious” that the property had been placed on the market “without any community consultation” but she says that she is “ecstatic to the point of tears” that community action has delivered such a great result.
The DHHS originally advised that it applied to the Minister of Planning to sell the property because DHHS resources do not allow for them to manage the property when they have areas with a much higher housing demand than Warrandyte.
However, Ms Lang-Boutle says the need for emergency housing is not based on the affluence of the town — the need for short-term emergency housing can affect anyone.
“ Divorce, house fire, loss of employment, death of a spouse, it can happen to anyone at any time,”
she said “To have the ability to stay within our community can be a major benefit, particularly for people with school-aged children,” she said.
Sgt Henderson says the property’s proximity to the police station allows the police members to foster good relationships with the tenants.
He said the whole community came together to support the children of the last family of tenants, with relationships fostered with the Community Church, the football club and local businesses.
Former Labor candidate, Stella Yee has been investigating the social need in the area and says, “there is a significant need for social services in the community”.
According to Doncare’s 2018 annual report, the Manningham based charity provided 3,325 cases of assistance under the category of Emergency Relief Services.
Sgt Henderson said that there is need in the local community.
“The people who are in need are often embarrassed about it, so there is need, it is just not in your face,” he said.
When the WCA first learned of the plan to sell the property, they set up an Emergency Housing Support Service (EHSS) Task Force to stop the sale.
Ms Lange-Boutle tells us this task force will now be submitting a business plan for the community to manage the property.
She floated the idea of a Men’s Shed being established and based in the building while they carry out the refurbishment to make the property suitable for tenancy.

Chris “Chewy Padham (WCA), Therese Dawson (WCA), Ryan Smith MP, Carli Lange-Boutle ( WCA President), Sonja Terpstra MP, Sgt Stewart Henderson, Warwick Leeson (WCA) John Hanson (WCA) and Dick Davies (WCA)

Sgt Henderson thinks that a Men’s Shed is a really needed program. “Mental health for men is a big issue, he said,” I think that would be a brilliant opportunity.”
In a letter obtained by the Diary, Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said in September, the “Department has advised that there are significant maintenance issues, including structural work, graffiti removal, rodent infestation and methamphetamine residue to be cleaned up — this work was estimated to cost up to $200,000”.
The property has since been cleaned up enough to put on the market, but there is still much more work required to make it fit for tenancy.
Mr Smith was originally advised by the Planning Minster that it was not an option to retain the premises once the work was done, “as it is deemed to be too old to continue to remain in public hands, with the preference to purchase new stock”.
However, the pressure from the community has, happily, changed the Minister’s mind and the building is now going to be able to continue supporting vulnerable people in our community in the years to come.

Grant awarded to fight deer

THE VICTORIAN Government has awarded grants of $30,000 to local Landcare groups to continue their work in protecting the local environment.
Part of this year’s grants program is supporting the work of Friends of Warrandyte State Park and Andersons Creek Landcare, both member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network who received a grant of $10,900.
These groups are working to protect the last populations of Variable Billybuttons and Musk Daisy-bush from sambar deer in Warrandyte State Park and Manningham (see story below).
Sonja Terpstra MP, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region , congratulated the successful recipients of the 2019–20 Victorian Landcare Grants.
“It is projects like these that make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy,” Ms Terpstra said.
She said the annual grants program delivers “critical funding to Landcare and other environmental volunteer groups who make significant contributions to caring for the environment through on-ground works, education and capacity building projects.”
In a statement to the Diary, she said over the past four years, the Victorian Government has provided “more than $149 million to protect Victoria’s biodiversity, supporting native and threatened species through a range of on-ground initiatives and funding”.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said more needs to be done with respect to deer management.
“A large number of residents have contacted me in relation to the huge number of deer in the area, which is rightly being seen as a danger to both drivers and our sensitive environment,” he said.
Mr Smith said he raised the deer issue with the Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio 10 weeks ago, but has “yet to receive a response from her acknowledging the growing problem”.
“With the Minister failing to respond to my electorate, and with the Deer Management Strategy update almost eight months late, it is clear this concern has not even made it on to her to-do list.
“Any contribution to our committed volunteers is welcome, but this funding is a drop in the ocean when measured in the context of a problem that is reaching epic proportions.”
Ms Terpstra said the funding focuses on protecting and managing a range of native plants and animals, threatened species and habitats through collaborative planning, increased engagement and alignment of natural resources, scientific, educational and community sectors.
The Christmas Hills Landcare Group also received $19,000 as part of an ongoing program to eradicate woody weeds and to hold a talk to “Learn About Owls” in the Christmas Hills area (see story below).
Landcare is a key component of the Victorian Government’s plan Protecting Victoria’s Environment — Biodiversity 2037, which sets out the strategy to stop the decline of native plants and animals and ensure the environment is healthy, valued and cared for.
Ms Terptra conveyed her congratulations to the grant recipients.
“It is projects like these which make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy.”
She also said investment in Landcare in the Warrandyte area was important “so that local communities can enjoy our precious natural environment for years to come.”

Landcare focuses on fencing out the deer

By ARTUR MUCHOW,
Middle Yarra Landcare

EACH YEAR local Landcare groups have the opportunity to apply for project funding from the State Government’s Landcare budget.
This year we are fortunate to have received nearly $11,000 in total for a substantial effort to protect specific native plants badly impacted by the growth in deer numbers.
The funding will be invested mainly in fencing material and plants.
This work is designed, in the short term, to limit sambar deer on Parks Victoria land and will enlist the support of Manningham Council.
Deer are browsing, trampling and rubbing threatened indigenous plants and their habitat, causing erosion, preventing natural regeneration and spreading weeds.
In the longer term we await the new Victorian Deer Management Strategy, now reported as due out later this year to address the problem at its source.
Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) and Andersons Creek Landcare, member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network (MYLN), will share the funding and co-ordinate their work to build fences and replant
destroyed species.
Between them, the two groups have 250 volunteer members, many of whom have special knowledge and skills to apply across the two Landcare groups and importantly to share with all volunteers.
Together they will co-ordinate on all aspects from planning right through to monitoring outcomes.
This year’s project will also cater for volunteers who enjoy particular activities such as monitoring and plant identification, especially important in this project.
There will be plenty of tasks for those who enjoy being physical, with fence building a big focus.
We are constantly told by volunteers that they love the involvement with Landcare because they are outdoors doing something to contribute to preserving the natural habitat, while meeting new people.
Volunteers of all ages are always needed, regardless of their experience level, so please join in.
Andersons Creek Landcare runs on Wednesdays 10am–12pm and FOWSP every Thursday 9am–12pm.
Contact both groups through Facebook to participate either regularly or occasionally.

Funding for Christmas Hills Landcare projects

By DON EVANS

Christmas Hills Landcare THE CHRISTMAS HILLS Landcare group received $19,000 in grants to allow landowners to protect and respect the local environment.

There are two parts to this project — the first builds on a long-running staged program of woody weed removal in remnant forests on private land in Christmas Hills that commenced in 2011.
To date, this program has treated woody weeds on 50 private properties covering a total of 669 hectares, and this new grant will enable us to treat woody weeds in 99.7 ha of remnant vegetation on 10 properties.
Complementing woody weed control works that Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria are also doing locally, this work will continue to improve the quality of our remnant vegetation, and the function of the habitat corridor it forms connecting Kinglake National Park to the Yarra River corridor and Warrandyte State Park.
This is all for the benefit of the rich diversity of flora and fauna Christmas Hills supports.
The second part to this project also builds on a long-running program of helping local landholders to better understand, and connect to, the natural environment of which they are custodians.
Specifically, this grant will enable local landholders to learn about the range of owl species that are believed to occur in and around Christmas Hills.
It will do this through a flight display of live owls that will give landholders the opportunity to meet some of the local species face-to-face, coupled with information on what landholders can do on their own properties to support owls.

Green Wedge bypassed as North East Link heads for Bulleen

IN WHAT LOOKS like the start of a year-long election campaign, the Premier, Daniel Andrews announced that Labor would be building Corridor A of the North East Link if they are returned to power following next November’s State election.

The controversial North East Link went to public consultation in August with four routes, Corridor A, by far the most direct route, is planned to connect the Ring Road from Greensborough, down through Bulleen to connect to an upgraded Eastern Freeway near the Bulleen Road interchange.

Corridor B and C were projected to travel through Warrandyte to connect to EastLink at Ringwood, and Corridor D was discussed as traversing 40 kilometres through Kangaroo Ground, Lilydale and Croydon to connect to EastLink — these corridors have now been removed from the table.

The Premier told ABC Radio the other options “don’t stack up”, saying the chosen route will see congestion on local roads in the north-eastern suburbs slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off congested arterials like Rosanna Road.

The proposal includes several companion projects, including up to seven extra lanes on the Eastern Freeway and a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along the Eastern Freeway from the Doncaster Park and Ride to Victoria Park.

The BRT project will also provide more parking for commuters, and Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan says there will also be an opportunity to build a future Park and Ride in Bulleen.

“Buses will no longer be held up weaving on and off ramps, the Doncaster Busway will create a true express ride down the middle of the Eastern Freeway,” Minister Allan said.

With autonomous buses currently being trialled in routes around LaTrobe University, there is speculation that the BRT would make use of the electric powered, driverless buses in the future.

Manningham Councillor Paul McLeish says, “these enhancements to the freeway will be of some benefit to our community” noting that Manningham is “the most car bound municipality in Melbourne” due to the lack of rail services across the municipality.

Local Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “While this is a good outcome for the sensitive environment of Warrandyte, it is now clear that the suspicion, uncertainty and angst that the Andrews Government put our community through was completely unnecessary”.

Mr Smith said the community meeting held at the initial announcement of the four options “made it abundantly clear that they believed Option A was a pre-determined outcome”.

“Their concerns have been ignored by the Andrews Government and their predictions have been proven correct,” he said. Mr Smith said that the Liberal party support the North East Link, however “the East West Link needs to be completed first as it will carry the added vehicles that a North East Link will direct to it”.

“Planning for the North East Link should be supported by proper planning that addresses the challenges of the project, and by genuine consultation with those affected,” Mr Smith said.

With a projected budget of $16.5 Billion, the Premier says this project will be the “single biggest transport infrastructure investment in Victorian history”. Manningham Mayor, Andrew Conlon said in a statement that Council has a number of concerns with Option A they will be seeking assurance on.

Council had previously resolved not to support Option A. Manningham Council spent $150,000 for a survey sent out to Manningham residents. 20% of residents indicated their preferred route — with support for the Bulleen Road route getting 35% of the share.

Corridors B and C each polled 27% support with only 7% supporting Corridor D. Councillor Sophie Galbally said at a recent council meeting she felt the survey results were an indication of preference for “anywhere but in my backyard”.

Councillor McLeish said while the council gave their support for the road in the September council meeting, the announced route will have significant impact on our community.

“There are many concerns we have for the liveability and safety of our community for the route that has now been announced, and I am certain that we as a council will work together to protect as best we can the desires and aspiration of the residents who are living along the alignment,” he said at the council meeting.

Manningham will be using the data collected from the survey to inform their future submissions to the North East Link Authority and to advocate on behalf of its residents.

The Manningham Mayor said that once detailed designs for Option A become available, “we will be actively advocating on behalf of our community on the issues they’ve highlighted to us.

“We will be looking at how to minimise project impacts and if any opportunities exist that could deliver benefits to our residents.

We also want confirmation that the Eastern Freeway will not be a toll road and that its median strip will be preserved for future transport options including Bus Rapid Transport and Doncaster Rail,” he said.

Neighbouring Banyule are understandably unhappy with the announcement as they had been advocating for Corridor C.

Banyule Mayor, Cr Mark Di Pasquale told the Diary: “Banyule Council’s position has been ‘Option C’ and was affirmed following a recent survey of our community.

“It is the best option to compliment Melbourne’s entire Transport Network Plan.” Although Cr Di Pasquale said that he believed NELA’s modelling was flawed.

“It is claimed that 75% of traffic movement will go south and then to the east, Ringwood way, and only 25% will travel south and then to the west, into the City. “Of this west bound traffic heading into the city only 4% will get there, it is claimed.

“I’ve grown up all my life in this area of town and many more people go into the city than that. “The idea of this road is overkill. “We may need a North East Link but a 10 lane road is too much,” he said.

The Banyule Mayor said NELA was assigned the task to investigate the best option for the completion of the Ring Road.

“What they’ve delivered is the ‘New Ding Road’ — A big ring road that travels around Melbourne and then has a ‘ding’ in it when you get to the North East.

He said that Corridor A also fails the “Grandkids test”.

“If my grandkids would think this road is a good idea then it would pass, but unfortunately it fails dismally; in 20 years’ time, we will be looking back saying ‘we should have built Option C’,” he said.

Narelle Campbell from the community action group Rural Link #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge, who have been vocal opponents of Corridor D, told the Diary they have been “actively participating in the route options identification, analysis and assessment… to ensure NELA and government could clearly understand why the rural Nillumbik Green Wedge was inappropriate for North East Link”.

“As it turns out, government understands and agrees,” she continued, “North East Link Options identification and selection has always been about selecting the least-worst option, and in our view this has occurred.”

Despite Manningham and Banyule’s objections to Corridor A, Mullum Mullum Ward councillor, Sophie Galbally is pleased with the outcome for the Ward, although she told the Diary Manningham was always going to feel an impact from the North East Link, considering all the likely options were to come through the city.

“On the other hand, there is a sigh of relief that this time the Green Wedge will be saved from the possibility of destruction by a freeway,” she continued.

Following the announcement Ms Galbally held a community rally at Stintons Reserve, Park Orchards, which would have been in the direct path of both Options B and C.

“There is a sense of relief in Mullum Mullum Ward, but until the North East Link Option A is signed sealed and delivered, we should not be complacent,” she said.

Vandals fail to break Warrandyte’s spirit

THE WARRANDTYE community awoke to the sad news that the RSL memorial had been vandalised overnight.
The graffiti displayed the symbol for anarchy and the words “War is Murder”.
While vandalism is always a hurtful act, the defacing of the RSL’s war memorial on the eve of Anzac Day was felt particularly strong within the community.
The council were quick to act and soda-blasted the offending marks.
However, this process also strips the gold trim out of the words on the memorial.
Stephen Papal from Advanced Stone, a company that specialises in the making bespoke headstones and memorials, contacted the RSL directly to volunteer his company’s services and restore the memorial back to its former glory.
“I know what it’s like for RSLs and clubs to try and find the money to cover up something that’s been vandalised.
“I rang them because I knew they’d soda-blast it, the process should be to sand it and touch up where the graffiti has been.
“This will look magnificent tomorrow”, said Mr Papal.

Stephen and Ben Papal from Advanced Stone volunteering their services

Local Member of Parliament, Ryan Smith also visited the memorial to see the damage for himself and personally thank the men who had come out to undo the damage.
In an interview with the Warrandyte Diary, Mr Smith expressed his appal on last night’s criminal act.
“It’s just completely appalling that this has happened in Warrandyte, the vandals that did this — the very freedom that they are making a statement against were fought for by the people remembered at this memorial… that this has happened in Warrandyte is just disgraceful.”
Mr Henk Van Der Helm, President of the Warrandyte RSL stated: “We are pretty disgusted with this act but we’ve been able to clear it off”.
The Warrandyte RSL have decided to pay for security around the War Memorial tonight over concerns that the publicity that has been generated may encourage the “ratbags” to return.
Mr Van Der Helm is confident that the Anzac day ceremony will go ahead, as planned, tomorrow morning.
Victoria Police have issued a public appeal for information relating to the vandalism of the memorial, acting Sergeant Nick Bailey stated: “It’s sad to see this attempt to diminish the spirit of the ANZACs with this disrespectful act.”
If you have any information regarding last nights graffiti, please contact Crimestoppers on:
1800 333 000
Despite the attempts to deface the Warrandyte memorial, the RSL’s Anzac Day service will go ahead tomorrow morning, as planned.
The march will start from Whipstick Gully at 10:30am with a service to follow from 11am.