Download your copy of June 2020 Warrandyte Diary. Click here
June 2020 WD Bulletin – Issue 4
Download your copy of June 2020 WDBulletin. Click here
With the easing of restrictions, our carbon emissions will rise again substantially.
Yet there is growing recognition that we should treat recovery from the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, wasteful consumption and unsustainable growth, and make our society cleaner and greener.
This issue is especially important given the need to drastically reduce our emissions by 2030.
According to the UN Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report 2019, to prevent warming beyond 1.5°C, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6 per cent every year to 2030.
Emissions reduction is of course dependent on making an effective and urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Government spending aimed at achieving economic recovery should be directed at investments that facilitate that transition, while at the same time creating jobs and business opportunities.
Reducing emissions is also closely tied with reducing consumption — a crucial issue for affluent countries like Australia, whose consumption of resources far exceeds what ecologists regard as sustainable.
To reduce consumption, we need to make lifestyle changes.
And on this topic, I can recommend a favourite book that I re-read recently: Affluenza by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss (Allen & Unwin, 2005).
Affluenza (subtitled When Too Much Is Never Enough) is about overconsumption and waste in the Australian context, and causes us to question our expectations, the way we live, and how much we consume.
The book’s central premise is that Australian society, like other rich societies, has become addicted to overconsumption driven by aspiration, resulting in high levels of personal debt, overwork, stress, obesity, hoarding, and extensive waste.
The book examines overconsumption in its many forms, such as:
Buying more food than we need, which then gets thrown out.
Our demand for increasingly larger houses since the 1950s, while the average number of occupants has decreased.
The purchase of household goods that we don’t really need.
The popularity of large 4WDs despite the safety hazards they pose and their poor fuel economy.
According to the authors,
“People afflicted by affluenza have an insatiable desire for more things.
Although our desire might have no bounds, our capacity to use things is limited: there is only so much we can eat, wear and watch, and a house has only so many rooms we can usefully occupy.
The difference between what we buy and what we use is waste.”
In regard to food waste, for example, the authors refer to a, then recent, survey showing that Australians threw away $5.2 billion worth of food and drink in 2004.
The situation has not improved since then.
The most recent Rabobank Food Waste Report has found that Australians wasted $10.1 billion on food in 2019, up from $8.9 billion in 2018, making Australia the fourth-worst food waster per capita in the world.
The authors do not advocate that “we should build humpies and live in self-satisfied deprivation”, which they say would misconstrue the purpose of their book.
As they explain.
“It is not money and material possessions that are the root of the problem: it is our attachment to them and the way they condition our thinking, give us our self-definition and rule our lives.”
Affluenza challenges us to think about and avoid overconsumption, of which we’re all guilty to a greater or lesser degree — a very timely challenge in the wake of the Coronavirus upheaval as we return to the “new normal”.
Jeff Cranston is a member of local climate change action group WarrandyteCAN.
If you’d like to become a climate change hero, join them.
They are on Facebook at:
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra announced 12 grants of $1,000 have so far been approved in the Warrandyte area.
Ms Terpstra announced that successful Warrandyte electorate clubs include: Donvale Bowls Club, Donvale Football Club Inc, Park Orchards Cricket Club, Wonga Park Wizards, Warrandyte Football Club, Warrandyte Netball Club, Warrandyte Sporting Group and the East Doncaster Cricket Club.
“Warrandyte clubs are an integral part of our community and this support will help them pay the bills and make an eventual return to play that little bit easier,” she said.
Community sport has taken a substantial monetary hit during these times and under the criteria outlined in the package, leagues and associations have been able to apply for a $15,000 grant while individual clubs can apply for a $1,000 grant to offset lost revenue.
Clubs could potentially take a cut of the Governments $2.7 billion Building Works stimulus package as well, with $68 million to be set aside for infrastructure works.
These are welcome announcements as the State Government begins to wind back Coronavirus restrictions, but some local leagues are still weighing up whether to resume play.
Eastern Football Netball League clubs, such as Warrandyte, await word on the status of the 2020 season following a meeting of the league’s CEOs.
While “Grass Open space” such as unlocked spaces and parks remain open to the community for recreational sport and exercise, a return to full-blooded training is not yet permitted after no exemption was made for sides to return to team-based activity.
The league’s board will meet in the early part of June to discuss the financial viability and general safety of a return to play but in the meantime, clubs can resume sanctioned training as of June 1, albeit under several restrictions.
Training will be limited to 20 people, in line with new government guidelines, but rumours of return-to-play protocols possibly fashioned in the style of those issued by the West Australian Football Commission paint a bleak picture for the future of the season.
At the start of June, Manningham Council restrictions remain in place and the return of Warrandyte tennis remains under a cloud as the courts located in Warrandyte and South Warrandyte fall under the continued closure of pavilions and facilities.
Tennis coaching has resumed at Warrandyte’s courts and the building works on the clubrooms continue.
At this stage, there is no sign of competition resuming.
Park Orchards BMX club returned to the track on May 23 with a maximum of 10 riders in at a time and their hiatus forced the club to get creative with their training routines.
The community continued to keep in touch online with the club’s coaches recording training videos for online distribution while parents reciprocated with videos of their children training and carrying out their at-home practice.
Terri McKinnon says everyone is excited to see operations back up and running, especially the kids.
“The kids really miss seeing each other and hopefully now that we’re able to train in small numbers I think the morale will kick back up.
“Really the kids just want to be on the track having fun.”
While the greens at Donvale Bowls Club have fallen silent, the club has been busy preparing for its eventual reopening.
Following a season where four pennant sides played finals and two sides were successful in winning flags, has been busy appointing its coaches and committee for its reopening says Rob Fairweather.
“Obviously the Coronavirus that befell us and the world in general, brought everything to a halt,” he said.
“But with a partial light shining, Donvale Bowls Club is busy preparing for another productive and successful season.”
Warrandyte Netball Club returned to full training on May 21 after Netball Victoria announced that optional club training could occur at outdoor venues, initially in groups of 10.
From June 1, protocols were adopted under new return-to-training guidelines including using outdoor venues exclusively, with no more than 20 participants, as per government restrictions, and maintaining 1.5m social distancing.
At this stage, basketball is still on the bench.
In May, Basketball Victoria outlined their return to sport guidelines which includes a “reactivation level” system to help clubs determine what activities and group number caps are in place as the Coronavirus situation evolves, as well as the creation of a “Biosafety Officer” role at venues.
June 22 is scheduled to be the day indoor recreation venues open, so some sort of indoor group training at Warrandyte Basketball Club may be able to resume on that date, but at the moment, all the club
PLANNING FOR THE final stages of the bicycle path to connect Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail is underway.
Manningham Council is currently planning for a new shared bicycle path to connect Pound Road to Taroona Avenue in Warrandyte, with a final leg taking the path from Warrandyte High School to the junction with the Main Yarra Trail at Beasley’s Nursery.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community told the Diary, the path would complete the Main Yarra Trail connection to Warrandyte.
“This was identified as one of the top 10 trail connections in the Eastern Regional Trails Strategy 2018, which Manningham is a partner Council,” Mr Kourambas said.
He said it is also Council’s commitment to deliver key objectives of the Manningham Bicycle Strategy 2013.
However, locals have safety concerns over the chosen route for the Pound Bend to Taroona Avenue.
The proposed alignment of the new shared path includes a new off-road shared path and an on-road trail connection along an existing service lane, located off Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road ending at West End Road.
Residents who reside along the Heidelberg Road service lane are unhappy that the path will bring large numbers of bicycles along their narrow service lane.
Dr Abdul Qader, contacted the Diary on behalf of the residents after they received a letter from Manningham City Council regarding the bike trail extension.
“The residents of the service road totally reject this plan, mainly on safety grounds.
In a letter, signed by all the residents along the service road, which was sent to the Manningham Council Planning Department, the residents outlined their objections.
“Our service road will be subject to accident/collisions if this goes ahead.
Our driveways are built in such a way that we have to reverse our cars to go out and with bikes it would definitely become too hazardous.
So our driveways would have to be redesigned if this plan stands, if so who would bear the cost?”
MP Ryan Smith spoke to Council on the residents’ behalf and received the following statement from Council:
“The roadway itself is a quiet Council owned service lane that currently facilitates vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
Having said that, Council acknowledges that the service lane could be improved with such works potentially incorporated into the project scope.
Council will consider all submissions before confirming next steps with the community.
This is only a conceptual alignment at this stage.
Council will ensure resident concerns have been considered and where appropriate, changes can be made to strengthen the design.”
The group has suggested keeping the path on the main road, rather than on the service road, or to reroute the path along Pound Road to the riverside.
“The latter option would serve better as all bike riders would enjoy the Warrandyte scenic beauty rather than our residential houses,” the residents’ letter stated.
Dr Qader said the residents were not rejecting the whole plan.
“The overall scheme is plausible, but the diversion from the main road to our service road is absolutely unacceptable when there are a couple of alternatives available,” he said.
Mr Kourambas said Council is currently assessing feedback received from local residents on the proposed alignment of this section of the trail.
“The detailed design process for the proposed on-road trail connection would consider safety for all road users including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists along with resident feedback,” he said.
Mr Kourambas said a final detailed design for the trail connection is anticipated to be completed during 2020/21 and works on the path are planned for 2021/22.
The completed trail should eventually join into another proposed bike path to extend the Yarra River trail from Taroona Reserve, up Taroona Avenue.
The Taroona Avenue extension was originally planned in 2018, however this seems to have been shelved for the moment.
CHANGES ARE afoot for our fire services, with paid members of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to merge with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) to form Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) as of July 1.
FRV brings together all career firefighters — MFB and CFA staff — to serve Melbourne and major regional centres.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said: “Our career and volunteer firefighters are the best in the world and our reforms are providing a more modern career firefighting organisation alongside a strengthened, community-based volunteer organisation.”
Member for Eastern Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary nothing is changing for Volunteer brigades, who will remain with the CFA.
She said the Government is “giving CFA the support it needs to continue to develop and build its proud and passionate volunteer base”.
FRV will cover the existing metropolitan fire area and has been expanded to include additional suburban areas and regional cities, until now, covered by the CFA’s 38 integrated stations.
Locally, South Warrandyte and Eltham are both integrated stations, who have both paid and volunteer firefighters, who work together with neighbouring CFA brigades to respond to emergencies.
Captain of Warrandyte Fire Brigade, Adrian Mullens told the Diary that at this stage, there has been little operational change information released.
“However, our members continue to remain positive and 100 per cent committed to our community.
“Our volunteers have been as active as ever with expanded efforts in online training, participating in community initiatives as well as maintaining station and vehicle maintenance schedules,” said Captain Mullens.
He said Warrandyte CFA have an “extremely successful working relationship with CFA career staff and MFB, we don’t believe this will change”.
Captain Mullens assured the Diary the Warrandyte community need not worry.
“In the event of an emergency, the community will still receive the same standards of excellence in response from Warrandyte CFA in conjunction with Fire Rescue Victoria.
“Our volunteers are ready and waiting to respond to the pager.”
Lieutenant Peter Cahill of Noth Warrandyte CFA said his brigade does not envisage any significant changes to the way they do business.
“We have always maintained a high level of community engagement, assistance and response and this will [continue to] be delivered,” he said.
Volunteers from the integrated station at South Warrandyte declined to comment on the changes, saying it is too early to tell what impact the largest changes in the history of the CFA will bring for volunteers, except to say that it will be operating as “business as usual” and to reassure the community that they will still be there when needed.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith called on the Government to guarantee that “volunteers at integrated stations are treated and valued as an integral part of the Brigade”.
However, Mr Smith said concerns were raised that the changes to the fire service would result in a reduction of volunteers.
“Over the past five years there has been a reduction of 5,000 in the number of CFA volunteers,” he said.
However, Government figures suggest that as at June 2019, CFA had over 54,000 volunteer members, encompassing operational and support.
More than 34,000 of these volunteers are operational, and the number of these that are active — available to turn out and fight fires — has remained stable at approximately 20,000 volunteers for any of the past five years
Lt Cahill said North Warrandyte is currently in the process of recruiting new members and says the enthusiastic response and applicant quality has been outstanding.
“In fact, this year will probably be the highest recruit intake for our Brigade in more than 10 years,” he said.
He said the brigade’s current surge capacity is strong, recently proven by a significant commitment of members deploying on Strike Teams both in regional Victoria and interstate.
“During the last fire season we were able to fill both deployment requirements and local commitments with excellent results,” Lt Cahill said.
This may not continue, as a CFA member told the Diary that processing recruits has been difficult during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite a surge in volunteer inquiries following the recent bushfires, applications are not being processed as head office staff work from home, and recruit training has been put on hold.
He said that could be “catastrophic” for the future of many volunteer brigades.
Ryan Smith is also concerned that the training for volunteers could be compromised.
“[Volunteer training] has been an issue for the last few years and, with control of the training passing to FRV, it is vitally important that all firefighters are trained to the highest standard,” he said.
Ms Neville stated the changes recognise the changing nature of population growth across Victoria.
FRV will cover existing MFB boundaries and serve metropolitan Melbourne, outer urban areas and larger regional centres across Victoria.
Boundaries will be altered to reflect population growth across the State — the current boundaries have been in place for more than 60 years.
Lt Cahill said FRV reforms will allow CFA to become a stand-alone, truly volunteer organisation.
“This will give us more autonomy, control and the direction of our service,” he said
Fire Service Levy changes
The Fire Services Property Levy rate will be reduced on residential properties across the state as part of an overhaul that will make the charge simpler and more consistent — and reflect the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria.
As part of Coronavirus measures, the Victorian Government froze the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) collection levels.
The levy will be frozen at this year’s collection level for next financial year as a measure designed to support Victorians affected by the crisis.
The Government also announced it will create a consistent, state-wide FSPL.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne, Sonja Terpstra said this is a common-sense change that recognises fire touches all Victorians — and that we all benefit from a well-resourced fire service.
“Longer and hotter summers and more intense fires are the new normal in Victoria.
“We’re making sure the men and women who keep us safe from these fires have the resources they need,” she said.
State Treasurer, Tim Pallas, said under the new streamlined system, property owners will no longer pay higher contributions depending on the location of their property.
From July, all residential properties in Victoria will see a fall in their FSPL rate, while all other properties — such as industrial or commercial properties — in the old CFA district will either see no increase, or a decrease in their rate.
The fixed levy will be indexed in accordance with the legislation.
Ms Terpstra said the vast majority of property owners will see a decrease in their rate, while for others, the change will be very modest.
The total FSPL levy charge will remain around $150 for a typical metropolitan residence, while a family home in regional Victoria will see a small fall in the FSPL, from around $141 to $137.
Non-residential properties in the old MFB area will see a modest increase in the levy — with an extra $1 per week for a typical small business, through to around an extra $15.50 per week ($806 per year) for a $10 million commercial property.
Mr Smith said many businesses are already struggling due to Coronavirus.
“With businesses largely and adversely impacted from the current pandemic, any additional cost will be very difficult to bear, including a rise in the Fire Services Levy”.
By DAVID HOGG
THE BRIDGE widening has been completed, but does that mean authorities think they have solved Warrandyte’s fire danger situation?
We hope not.
With winter approaching and all available resources consumed with tackling COVID-19, perhaps fire danger is not high on anybody’s radar.
But surly now is the time to be preparing in advance of the next fire season?
However, the Fire Danger Rating sign stands silently at the north end of the bridge, still out of operation, and if works are not commenced soon it will again fail to advise us of the danger levels come next fire season.
Meanwhile, the “No Burning Off” Fire Danger Period sign remains on display, even as we move into winter, a forgotten memento of summer.
After weeks of being told in November last year that Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) were awaiting a part to repair the electronic Fire Danger Rating sign, we were finally advised in January that the sign could not be repaired at its current location due to safety issues with an overhead high-voltage cable and that EMV were working with Nillumbik council to determine a new location for the sign.
The Diary has followed up with EMV and with Nillumbik to see what has been decided.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp tells us “EMV is committed to operationalising the Fire Danger Rating sign at Warrandyte and continues to meet with Nillumbik Council and CFA to seek agreement on an alternative location before the next fire season.”
Carl Cowie, Chief Executive Officer Nillumbik Council, tells the Diary “Council, along with the CFA and Emergency Management Victoria are working to resolve this issue as a priority.
“At present contractors cannot access and fix the sign due to safety issues following the bridge widening but Council, the CFA and EMV are writing to the Department of Transport requesting a solution as soon as possible.”
So it is incumbent on us to ensure we have multiple sources of information.
The sign is a great resource when it works, so it is best for all that we agitate for its repair, but there are other ways to find out: use the Vic Emergency App, radio, or internet sources (the Diary’s website displays the current fire danger rating during fire season, as does Be Ready Warrandyte).
One of the criticisms that has been levelled at the current fire danger ratings system, both on social media and in letters to the Diary, is that the Central District is far too large and that these signs can often show a far higher rating than is applicable locally.
This has led to a few people leaving Warrandyte on Severe days in summer when in fact the conditions locally were at a much lower rating.
This could lead to complacency, and a lack of trust in the warnings, when local weather fails to live up to the forecasts.
We put this concern to EMV and Commissioner Crisp advised: “Victoria is supporting a review into the National Fire Danger Rating System along with the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.
“A key stage of the National Fire Danger Rating project has focused on reviewing the science and models behind fire danger ratings to help us to more accurately predict fire danger.
“To contribute to this review, a nation-wide community research piece was completed recently to help us to better understand how the community understands and responds to fire danger ratings and warnings provided by the emergency services.
“We will continue to work with our partner agencies across Australia to consider how we can use the evidence and models arising from this work in Victoria in due course; and are committed to using the best evidence and approaches available to keep Victorians safe.”
Dick Davies, chair of Be Ready Warrandyte (BRW) told the Diary: “we are not aware of any ‘nationwide community research’ and BRW has not made a submission.”
BRW have had a highly active community education program with forums and scenarios encouraging residents to be fire-aware and have a plan, so hopefully Warrandyte is better informed than other parts of the state.
A 2018 survey commissioned by the CFA, reported on by The Guardian in May 2020, found that before last year’s catastrophic fire season, some Victorians at ‘extreme’ risk had unrealistic expectations of help.
Residents in Victorian towns at highest risk of bushfire went into the most recent bushfire season — which was unprecedented in intensity and devastation — with many believing firefighting aircraft and vehicles would save them if their lives and property were under threat.
The emergency services will always do their utmost to protect lives and property, but when all worst-case scenarios are surpassed, there is no certainty they can be everywhere at once.
The best advice is to plan on not being there when the fire comes — leave early — and always, always, have a Plan B.
Even though it is now winter, this is the time to be planning for the next fire season and to be getting the necessary signage and advice in place.
THE 2020 MUNICIPAL elections are set for Saturday, October 24, 2020, as announced by Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek on May 15.
Mr Somyurek also announced that this election will be conducted entirely by postal vote.
This will be the first time postal voting will be used by all Victorian councils.
Voters, councils and the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) have been awaiting a decision by the Minster after the Local Government Act 2020 came into effect earlier this year.
The Chief Health Officer has advised the Government that it is safe for a postal election to occur this year.
The 2020 council elections are expected to be Victoria’s biggest election ever, with over 4.5 million voters enrolled and over 2,000 candidates expected to contest.
Mr Somyurek said it was every Victorian’s right to have a say on who represents them.
“Victorians have the right to a democratic say on who represents them at all levels of government.
“By making every vote a postal vote, we’re ensuring this vital democratic process is conducted in a safe manner that also allows for the participation of more voters,” he said.
VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM acknowledged the announcement.
“The upcoming local government elections in Victoria will support continuity of democratic representation for Victorian communities,” Mr Gately said.
“The VEC will continue to monitor and implement advice issued by the Chief Health Officer of Victoria to ensure the elections are conducted with minimal risk to the health and safety of Victorians.”
The VEC is also taking additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff, the candidates and the public.
This includes provisions to maintain physical distancing requirements and hygiene standards at all election offices and count locations.
It is anticipated the adjustments will extend the time period for finalising results by one week.
Ballot packs will be mailed to voters and will include voting instructions, candidate information, a ballot paper, and a reply-paid envelope.
Postal voting is a secret ballot and the voter’s choices are anonymous.
The VEC reiterated the importance of making sure all those who are eligible confirm they are enrolled.
Voters must confirm they are enrolled on either the State electoral roll or their council roll before 4pm on Friday, August 28.
Voting is compulsory for all voters on the State roll electoral roll, and those who don’t vote may be fined.
The State Government also indicated voting packs would contain longer candidate statements, in acknowledgement of the strict physical distancing measures which are in place.
Candidates will also be given guidance on suitable and safe campaigning methods.
The State Government is also investing an additional $50,000 to encourage more women to run as councillors in the 2020 municipal elections.
Mr Somyurek has also sought advice to inform Ministerial guidelines to ensure councils provide more flexibility to support and encourage women to serve as councillors.
“We’re supporting more women to run for local government and be successful in the 2020 elections as we take another step towards the goal of gender equality by 2025,” he said.
With Councils being converted to Single Member Ward structures across the country, the 2020 election is certainly going to be interesting, but at least both members of the public and those responsible for organising the election now know when and how it is going to happen.
Can you vote?
Following the last municipal election, candidate Stella Yee challenged the results of Manningham’s Koonung Ward election when, she contended, the advice given to prospective voters around non-citizen voting was unclear.
As reported in the June 2017 Diary, Ms Yee challenged the results of the election, on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election, based on advertisements run in the Manningham Leader and the Age.
At that time, then Manningham Council CEO, Warwick Winn issued a statement saying, “Magistrate Smith found the VEC ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers’ as to their eligibility to enrol to vote,” he said.
Mr Winn 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 potentially could have affected the outcome of the election.
This decision was later overturned on appeal by VCAT, who found that while the contentious advertisement did not provide a comprehensive description of the enrolment process, the notice did inform every category of voter how they could apply to enrol, and as such the notice fulfilled the requirements of the Act.
With a 2020 election date now set, Ms Yee is on a mission to ensure all those who are entitled to vote, can, given the number of “disenfranchised” voters at the 2016 Municipal Election may have changed the outcome, if they had voted.
“In 2016, I ran as a candidate for Manningham City Council.
“In the process, I discovered a whole group of voters who were not aware of their entitlement to vote in local council elections, and were therefore disenfranchised.
“This group of potential voters comprised residents of the municipality who were ratepayers in Manningham, but not Australian citizens.”
As outlined in the May 2020 Warrandyte Diary article Who can vote in the 2020 election?, whilst it is compulsory for Australian citizens to vote, non-citizen ratepayers and nominees of businesses which also pay rates within a municipality may also be entitled to vote, although it is not mandatory.
The specifics on non-citizen and business ratepayers voting is complex (see the May Diary or the VEC website for full details), but broadly, if you pay rates in a municipality, you can vote in that municipality.
“If you are in this category of ratepayers and you would like to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming council elections, you will need to go to your council office to enrol to be on the CEO’s List of Voters by August 28, 2020,” said Ms Yee.
August 28 is 57 days before the election, this is the Entitlement Date, which is the last date in which those who are eligible to vote (either optional or compulsory) must ensure they are on the appropriate voting roll, to participate in the 2020 municipal election.
Australian Citizens who will turn 18 before Election Day can enrol via the VEC website.
By JAMES POYNER
MANNINHAM COUNCIL will have nine wards, instead of three, at the next local election.
Manningham Council announced the changes today, requesting input from the community regarding the names of the nine new wards.
Council had to submit the suggested name changes by May 21 and set up a Your Say page to include Manningham residents in the process.
The ward changes were announced by Minister of Local Government, Adem Somyurek on April 22.
Manningham joins nine other councils across Victoria who will not only have a new council in October, but a new representational structure.
Representational structure has been a topic of debate in the last 12 months, firstly with debate over making all local councils single member wards or single ward representation in early drafts of recently assented Local Government Act 2020, and during representational reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) in 2019.
Given Manningham has just finished a representational review, and — along with many other councils — objected to the requirement to become a single member wards council, it is a shock that this change has taken place.
Manningham Mayor, Paul McLeish said: “Our existing ward boundaries have been changed by the Victorian Government despite the Electoral Representation Review, conducted last year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, recommendation to stay with the current three multi councillor wards.”
In early April, the VEC announced their representational reviews were ceasing as part of the new Local Government Act 2020.
When the changes to local government structure were announced on April 22, Mr Somyurek said: “Single member wards support accountability, equity and grassroots democracy.
“This is about giving people more confidence in local government, because strong councils build strong communities.”
It is perplexing why the Minister has decided to take this action, given that there was such obvious opposition to a single member ward system in Manningham, supported by the 2019 VEC representational review which states in its final report that:
“There was also unanimous support for retaining a multi-councillor ward arrangement for Manningham City Council.
“The VEC’s analysis, along with submissions from the community and the Council, indicate that the current electoral structure is functioning well and suits the diverse landscape and demography of the local council.”
The Diary asked the State Government why Mr Somyurek decided to change the ward structure in Manningham when there was clear support for the status quo from both residents and council in recent reviews.
Unfortunately, the Government avoided to respond to the direct question, instead supplying the Diary with background information stating that a single member ward structure is the “preference” under the Local Government Act 2020.
In early May, when Manningham first put out the request for ward names, a number of residents commented on the Diary’s Facebook page that they would prefer a ward name that reflects the Indigenous heritage of the area.
A sentiment reflected by local historian and Birrarung Stories columnist Jim Poulter, who told the Diary:
“This actually creates an opportunity to reflect our history and heritage in the names of the new wards.
“This is not going to occur by just holding a popularity contest where residents come up with random names,” he said.
Mr Poulter suggested that the following principles should be applied to the choice of names:
The names chosen should reflect both our Aboriginal and settler heritages in reasonable balance.
The names should reflect direct connection with each of the nine wards.
The names chosen should not be those of civic figures from the 20th century.
The names of any early settlers chosen should be free of the stain of antagonism toward Aboriginal people.
Mr Poulter has also submitted for consideration a suite of names for the new wards that illustrate the breadth of both Indigenous and colonial heritage in the area.
The final decision on the nine new ward names is in the hands of the Minster for Local Government, Adem Somyurek so we will have to wait until nearer the local election in October to see what Manningham’s new wards will be known as.
AFTER MORE THAN 110 years, the life of the tennis courts with one of the best views in Melbourne is officially over.
The courts were established in 1907 and had been used to varying degrees until they were seconded by VicRoads as a worksite during the recent bridge redevelopment.
Rallies by the River, a book produced by Judy Green and Keith Wilson in 2007 to celebrate the centenary of Warrandyte Tennis Club, notes that: “In September 1907 ‘with valuable assistance from the Progressive Association’ the land was gazetted by the Government to be used for ‘public purposes’”.
The courts were built by volunteers and opened in May 1908, “to celebrate the occasion ‘a large number of members assembled and some very enjoyable games were played’”.
The years that followed saw regular inter-club tournaments with neighbouring townships.
However, devastating fire and floods wrought havoc on the riverside courts, with the floods of 1934 washing the courts away, and the 1939 bushfires melting the asphalt surface.
These were replaced by concrete courts, but construction was interrupted by WWII, with the courts at Mr Ted Hemsworth’s Yarra Street home being used in the interim.
The Warrandyte Tennis Club continued to grow over the following decades, but with threats of road widening and the position’s geographical constraints, the club moved to Taroona Avenue in 1974.
The courts were unused for some time after Warrandyte Tennis Club had established itself at Taroona Avenue.
Enter the Warrandyte Lions Club who has now been managing the tennis courts by the bridge for more than 40 years.
Ron Cuthbert was a member in 1978 and recalls when the Lions decided to bring the courts back to life after the courts were damaged.
“There was a truck that came down and took out the whole fence.
“We had the idea to restore the courts, but we couldn’t find out who had control of the courts, it was the local MP who came to sort all that out,” Ron said.
It turned out the land belonged to the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, and once the Lions had established the ownership, they were able to undertake works to upgrade the area.
Long-time member, Denis Robertshaw said when the club took the courts over it was just asphalt.
“The Lions volunteers did all the work fixing it up, weekend after weekend, and then put the en tout cas [red clay] down.
Ron adds “Johnny Gilbert did the maintenance”.
Denis elaborates: “He was a stalwart gentleman, he was in his 80s, he used to come down here, and if he was going past and a branch had come down overnight, he’d be down here the next day.
“He was so diligent, even when it was not his allotted day, he would come down and have this place really clean and tidy and have it ready for anybody that was going to come and have a hit.
“First thing in the morning at 7am, he would be down here,” Denis recalled.
Ron said the club rooms were originally a small timber shack, but local bricklayer Eddie Ohlman constructed the brick clubhouse that stands to this day.
Current Lions President David Englefield recalls the honour system used when they rented the courts out to the public.
“We used to charge $10 per hour for a court.
“It was good fun, the lolly shop had the key, people would pay their $10 and collect the key and return it when they were finished,” said David.
At various times the keys were held by Riverview Café, Scandles, Landfield Real Estate and the Lolly Shop.
But it was not just social hit-ups that the courts were used for, at times Warrandyte Tennis Club and Kangaroo Ground Tennis Club would use the courts for competition when they needed extra courts.
Current Lions Club Secretary Lyn McDonald remembers using the courts in her youth.
“I played here when I was playing with Kangaroo Ground, we had to use it when there were not enough courts up there,” she said.
Former member Colin Davis told the Diary that Lions used to run a program for people with special needs.
“We called the program Everyone for Tennis, it started in 2007 and ran for four years.
“We had professional coaches and it was a good atmosphere, sometimes we would get 30 players,” he said.
However, Denis said the use of the courts had been in decline over the last few years.
“It was costing us a lot in maintenance each year to keep it up-to-date, and when you do not have the use, it is very disappointing.
“Then VicRoads announced they were going to remodel the bridge, they wanted to have it for extra space, so they commandeered the land,” Denis said.
David added “it was very disappointing when we lost it all, we put a lot of work into it to keep it up and going, and a lot of people wanted to keep it going, but the Council said, ‘it’s not your property, it is our property’.
“For the last three or four years it has just gone to wrack and ruin, VicRoads used it as a depot, parking the trucks and using it for their sheds.
“We are very sorry to see it go,” said David.
Current and former members gathered at the courts in late May to farewell the old courts.
Denis told the Diary they are donating $45,000 to purchase fitness stations to be installed in the new Lions Park and are pleased to continue to help people enjoy the area by the river.
“It is the Lions’ swan-song as tenancy of the tennis court area, but we are more than happy that the electric BBQ we built is going to continue on, so visitors to the area can still enjoy their snags and have a picnic… it’s going to turn out to be something usable — and nice,” Denis said.
The courts and clubhouse will now be demolished, and the land incorporated into Lions Park (see story below).
Rallies by the River by Judy Green and Keith Wilson is available from the Warrandyte Historical Society.
By DAVID HOGG
THE CONTROVERSIAL Lions Park project might finally get underway this month to create a new dynamic park area running from the Federation Playspace to underneath the bridge on the south side of the river.
The Manningham Council meeting on May 26 approved a draft budget which included $600,000 for this project, and concluded in closed session to discuss and approve the tender responses for the works.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community, Manningham Council, told the Diary “Works on the first stage of the Lions Park upgrade at the Warrandyte River Reserve are anticipated to start in June and be completed by the end of November 2020.
“The upgrade will include new fitness equipment, which will be funded by the Lions Club of Warrandyte.
“A full list of works can be found in the document library at yoursaymanningham.com.au/lions-park
“Stage two works are planned for the financial year 2021/22.
“This will include a new playspace, picnic area, art project, and additional indigenous planting,” Mr Kourambas said.
There is slight confusion as to which of the works are included in Stage 1 this year, and Stage 2 in the 2021/22 financial year, particularly as the signs on display at the site are a later edition than the original master plan on the referenced website, but it looks safe to assume that Stage 1 consists of everything on the site plan apart from the four items listed above, and an extension to the existing Fire Garden.
We understand from the Lions Club that they have set aside $45,000 for provision of fixed-apparatus fitness equipment, which they had hoped would be out in the open but council has decided to locate under the bridge.
Progress on these works has been slow and controversial.
The original master plan was approved by council in September 2018 and we were assured at the time that work would be started shortly after completion of the bridgeworks in early 2019.
In May 2019 the Diary announced that council had allocated a total of $450,000 to the project in the financial years to June 2020, and that work would start shortly.
In fact, no work has been done since VicRoads vacated the site of the old tennis courts which they used as a depot for the bridge reconstruction, and it has been fenced off and abandoned.
Lions Club member Denis Robertshaw is concerned about the future of the 4-burner BBQ which is in good condition.
He tells us “This BBQ was a bicentennial project funded by Lions Club and all the bricks in the surrounds have people’s names on them; people in the community that we approached to donate money.
“I believe Council is going to retain the bricks even though they are going to repurpose them but it is a shame that they will be throwing out a perfectly good 4-burner BBQ and replacing it with a new 2-burner one; a waste of Lions Club donators’ and ratepayers’ money.
“Council tell us that the reason for this is that the area has to be made wheelchair accessible; we thought it already is!”
Lions Club Secretary Lyn McDonald tells the Diary “It is still to be called Lions Park, that’s what we have been told, emphasis that the Lions have had this space for so long, and it would be terrible to lose that history.”
The Diary is seeking clarification from Council on the funding for this project.
We know that $450,000 was allocated to the project in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 budgets although no work had started in these years.
We know that $600,000 has been included in the draft budget for 2020/21 but do not know whether this includes the $450,000 previously committed or whether it includes the Stage 2 works to be commenced in 2021/22.
We know that council debated the awarding of the contract for the works in a closed session in their May meeting but do not know who the contract was awarded to, the value of the contract, or whether this was for the whole project or just for Stage 1.
These are questions we have asked of Council, but they had not responded as we go to press, so we will seek to clarify next month.
Rather like the bridge widening project, we are sure it will be excellent when eventually completed, but final completion date and costs may differ from what was originally outlined.
Manningham’s short video walkthrough showing how the final implementation will look is very impressive and can be found at tinyurl.com/wlpk9