All posts by murraypn

I aim to be a constructive, positive, critical observer and reporter of Monash Council shining a spotlight which educates the community and takes one small step to "keep the bbbbbbb honest".

The End of an Era – Council Elections are upon us.

Postal ballot packs were mailed out last week (October 4, 5 and 6).  Votes must be returned (in the mail) by 6pm on Friday, October 21.  Votes will be counted (per latest advice) on Saturday, 29 and the results are due to be announced on the 31st.

Because of the election schedule, the regular monthly meeting, will be held at the Monash Civic Centre (293 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley) on Wednesday 19 October, from 7pm. This meeting is being held earlier in the month due to the Council elections in late October.

The meeting’s agenda (and associated reports) will be available from 5pm on Friday 14 October at Agendas and Minutes.   Questions for public question time must be submitted by midday on Tuesday, 18 October.

See the Council website for the full story.

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Is your Preferred Candidate Committed to the Role of Councillor?

Victorians will vote for new municipal councils between today and October 22. The new councils will be elected for a four year term.

It’s appropriate to consider the commitment of the people who offer themselves as our representatives at the level of government closest to our community.

Since the start of this council term in November 2012 there have been two Federal and one Victorian election. Many seats in those elections have been contested by municipal councillors who had been elected on the presumption they would serve the local community for a four year term.

In the City of Monash, of 11 Councillor positions, the list looks like this:

2013 Federal Election 

Cr Geoff Lake (Glen Waverley ward) was preselected by the ALP for the seat of Hotham but returned to council after internal factional shenanigans kicked him out days before he would have been obliged to resign from council.

2014 State Election

Cr Steve Dimopoulos (Oakleigh ward), ALP, stood in the seat of Oakleigh. He was elected and resigned from council. Stefanie Perri, having been defeated as the ALP candidate for Box Hill was elected by countback to fill the vacancy.

Cr Theo Zographos (Oakleigh ward), Liberal, stood for Oakleigh and returned to council after defeat.

Cr Robert Davies (Mulgrave ward), Liberal, stood for Mulgrave and returned to council after defeat.

Cr Paul Klisaris (Mulgrave ward), ALP, unsuccessfully sought preselection for Prahran.

2016 Federal Election

Cr Stefanie Perri (Oakleigh ward), ALP, resigned from council while Mayor to stand in Chisholm. Defeated. Replaced on council by Nga Hosking after a countback.

Cr Paul Klisaris (Mulgrave ward ), ALP, resigned from council to stand in Aston. Defeated. Replaced by John Starkey on countback.

That’s six of our elected representatives using council as a political career stepping stone.  For State elections, a councillor is not required to resign, rather they take leave from close of nominations until declaration of the poll.  During that period, they are not representing the council ward by which they were elected.  Once nominations close in the Federal elections a councillor must resign thereby allowing the electoral commission to promptly conduct a countback election for a replacement councillor.

In this council term (running until October 2020) there is expected to be a Victorian State election in 2018 and a Federal election in 2019.  Which candidates standing for council are planning to quit their role, if elected, and stand for one of these elections?

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a councillor being a member of a political party. This is only a problem when the membership combines with career ambitions incompatible with a commitment to serve residents and ratepayers.

When considering your vote this election it’s worth asking your prospective candidates about the duration of their commitment.

Public Question Time Apparently is NOT Public Answer Time!

Why is it that a simple question at council does not get a simple, direct answer?

Over the past three years I have regularly attended Monash Council meetings and often asked questions in public question time. Council gives a “written response”.  The name “response” is apt because the “response” rarely is an “answer” to the question that is asked.

By way of example: on September 27, an amendment to Council’s Financial Hardship Policy was proposed and, while well intentioned, it offers benefits to one group of struggling ratepayers while denying the same to others in equally straitened circumstances.  I asked why this was.  The response was a long-winded, contradictory evasion. Judge for yourself.

The Proposed Policy Amendment

financialhardship

Extract from Monash Council Agenda – September 27, 2016

My Question To Council Tonight

Compassion for ratepayers suffering financial hardship is commendable; no question.

Imagine:

  • I have lived in Monash for 30 years.
  • 18 months ago I downsized near to Boyanna Rd.
  • 12 months ago (remember, we’re imagining), aged 57, too ill to work I invoked my income protection insurance (reduced income, no pension, huge medical bills).
  • 3 months ago revaluation doubled my CIV and increased my rates by 40%.
  • I qualify under council’s hardship provisions for interest rate relief on deferred rates (part 1 of the amendment).

Next door is an older, struggling pensioner who moved into Monash for the first time eleven years ago who qualifies for zero interest (part 2 of the amendment).

What is the difference in NEED between these two hypothetical ratepayers that warrants preferential treatment of one over the other?

Comments

The question is not critical of the idea that relief should be offered – in fact it applauds the concept.  The question points out the inequities based on the assumption that two ratepayers are both suffering extreme financial hardship yet they are treated differently:

  • I have no pension yet, hypothetically, I have no more disposable cash than the pensioner next door
  • I am not receiving any government assistance because I am funding myself through my own income protection insurance yet I am eligible for less public assistance than my neighbour
  • I have lived in Monash, paying rates, for 19 years more than the pensioner yet, having moved house recently, I am penalised in comparison
  • I am too ill to work yet, being younger, may well have more years ahead of me in which to accumulate a compounding burden of interest on my deferred rates jeopardising far more of the equity in my home

Council’s Response

Councillor Lake’s response on behalf of council (he has couched it in the first  person so I believe it fair to attribute it personally to him) follows below with embedded comments.

Thank you for your question.  At the outset, assuming both have applied for deferred payments under the proposed amendment, they would both be better off than under the current policy. My proposal, as set out in Item 7.2, is seeking Council approval to reduce the interest rate charged for the deferral of Council rates for persons qualifying under our Financial Hardship Policy. This represents a reduction from the current 4.75% to 2.5% per annum.  The current 4.75% rate which applies is already lower than the proscribed statutory rate of 9.5% and follows the development of Council’s current hardship policy which I instigated around two years ago.  So an interest rate of 2.5% on deferred rates would be the outcome for your hypothetical non-pensioner in the example you have proposed.  That is an interest rate substantially lower than anything else commercially available at the moment.

My question asked about the unequal treatment of two struggling ratepayers.  The fact that both get a reduced rate was never in question and the fact that both are better off than under the current policy does not address the inequity.

Commercial interest rates are irrelevant – governments are not commercial entities.  And the fact remains that, in these straitened circumstances, any interest rate compounds the debt accumulating against my property.  The question is not about whether or not a rates debt ultimately needs to be paid regardless of personal circumstances, it asked about the different treatment of two disadvantaged people.

In the proposed Notice of Motion I am also seeking  councillor support to reduce the interest rate charged on deferred rates for eligible aged pensioners to 0% where a person is over the age of 65 and can prove they have lived in their home for more than 10 years.

The latter approach recognises a person who has passed the current age in Australia when someone becomes eligible to apply for the Age Pension. This approach is proposed by me to offer residents of pensionable age an ability to live completely free of any concern around the payment of their Council rates.  This is in response to the dozens of pensioners I have spoken to over the past month, and the hundreds who have responded to Council’s petition to the state government, who have told me about the significant impact on their life arising from the significant rate increase they have received because of property values increasing substantially.

Being older doesn’t mean the financial hardship is greater.  Being an aged-pensioner (but not a disability or other pensioner) does not mean you’re, automatically, harder up.  Financial Hardship is a question of your ability to pay your rates bill without being put in a situation where you cannot pay for the necessities of life and neither age nor pension status change that.

The requirement to prove that a person has lived in their home for at least 10 years is also unfair.  In the example I cited, I was well and truly qualified on this count until I downsized.  After living in my own home for 28.5 years I downsized and, 18 months later, in serious financial hardship, I’m told I don’t qualify for help because I haven’t lived there for long enough.

Still the inequities, the subject of the question, is not addressed.

If my changes are supported tonight, aged pensioners with more than 10 years living and contributing to our community, can choose not to pay another dollar in rates and be completely confident that over time interest will not reduce the equity they have paid off in their home.  Their rates will simply sit as a charge against their property to be recouped by Council when the property is sold.  This in an option which will not be for everyone but it does offer immediate financial relief to anyone who is otherwise feeling they have no other choice but to leave the local area they have lived in for most of their life.

And there is the contradiction.

The hypothetical me in the example has lived and contributed to our community for nearly three times as long as the hypothetical pensioner but it’s the pensioner who gets the benefit described in this paragraph and the long term resident who misses out.  It’s the long term resident who, contrary to the comment above, may “have no other choice but to leave the local area they have lived in for most of their life”.

But what is even worse here is the underlying implication that compassion must first be earned – “…aged pensioners with more than 10 years living and contributing to our community…” are worthy or more care and compassion than others!

When it comes to council rates, age pensioner ratepayers are the most vulnerable section of our community because they are living off very low fixed incomes with little prospect of increasing their income in real terms in the future.  The proposed amendments will provide some immediate relief to some of those most in need.  This is in addition to our strong advocacy around these mattes to the state government and my proposal tonight represents assertive action we can take ourselves right now.

Pensioners are vulnerable.  Invalids are vulnerable.  The chronically ill, unemployed and many others are vulnerable.  They all live of very low fixed incomes.

It is true that the hypothetical me may recover and resume working and earning in which case I’d have to start to repay my deferred rates.  But I may have already been forced to sell up to escape an increasing and insurmountable interest burden despite having lived and contributed to the local community for most of my life.

So, I return the the question which was not answered:

What is the difference in NEED between these two hypothetical ratepayers that warrants preferential treatment of one over the other?

Why Can’t Citizens Get Answers?

When you consider the above example the only answer I can see is that there is no legitimate reason for the different treatment.  If it’s fair to charge one person 2.5% interest on deferred rates when they’re in financial hardship then it’s fair to charge everyone 2.5%.  If it’s fair to grant a 0% interest rate to one person then it’s fair to grant it to everyone.

And if that’s true then the answer to the question asked is very short and direct, “There is no difference in their needs, I will amend my proposal to recognise the unintended inequities”.

Time for a Change to Question Time

The final insult to the community in the above example is that my question was required to be kept to no more than 100 words (I got away with a few extra this time) but Council responses face no such restraint.  Cr Lake’s response used six paragraphs, about 500 words, to NOT answer the question.

 

What have they done to my rates this time?

Have you got your rates notice?

We’d love to know where the winners and losers are in Monash Rates Roulette.  Can you help by completing the survey here please?

Once we’ve collected your responses we’ll publish the results.  That information will give us data to help the discussion about how we might suggest a fairer rating scheme.  (Watch this space!)

Related: Look What They’ve Done to My Rates, Ma!

 

When Getting Older Costs You Your Home

Most of us go through a succession of homes in our lives – we grow up in our parents’ home, move into a bachelor(ette) pad, set up house with our spouse, raise our kids and launch them from our family home, downsize into a unit or retirement village and, maybe, end our days in aged care.

That journey is, among other things, a financial investment journey: we save, buy a small property, save some more, increase our investment and then, at downsizing time, hopefully have a little profit to spend on ourselves while still having enough in the bank to fund our aged care needs.

In short, for most of us, a significant part of our lives goes toward building a solid financial asset in our home.  For many of us, it’s the largest single asset we own.

my-house-01

So imagine you’ve chosen to buy a unit in a retirement village thinking its capital value will provide you with the refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) for the nursing home you hope not to need.  You’ve bought the property and own the title knowing that, when you sell, you’ll be responsible for the costs of bringing everything up to scratch and that the village will take its “deferred management fee” (up to 30%) from the proceeds of the sale before you get it.  You’ll want to sell for the best possible price – RADs typically range from $300k to $600k per person (not per room!) so you’re looking for a good sale!

Then imagine, while you’re living happily in the village, the owner sells it to Aveo and you’re faced with the problems of residents at Veronica Gardens.  They have lodged a submission to the Victorian Legislative Council’s Inquiry into the Retirement Housing Sector expressing serious concern about the new service agreement which, they allege, “…makes it virtually impossible to sell through or to anyone but Aveo…” because Aveo, as the village manager, claims the right to approve, or not, any sale.  It’s hard to imagine how you would expect to get a fair price when the only purchaser in the market has the right of veto on the sale!

Residents attending a recent meeting at Veronica Gardens came from other Aveo villages as well with similar concerns about the financial constraints being imposed on their properties.  Law firm Levitt Robinson was represented and, according to Adele Ferguson‘s report in The Age on Wedneday, August 3, are offering (at least those residents) free advice about service agreements.

I have referred similar stories from residents at another Aveo village to the inquiry.  If you would like to make a submission, or tell of a similar experience, at an Aveo village or another operator’s, to the inquiry, follow this link.

Image courtesy of freeclipartnow.

How To Vote – Preference Deals and Whisperers

There’s a Federal election coming soon and there’s a good deal of debate and confusion about preference distributions and the new Senate vote counting process.  This post, hopefully, will clear that up for some people and answer a few questions.  There’s more information in the FAQ section on the Australian Electoral Commission‘s website.

How Many Votes Are Needed To Be Elected?

In both the House of Representatives and the Senate the number required is calculated by the following formula:

q = 1 + f/(v+1)

Where “q” is the number of votes required (the quota), “f” is the number of formal votes cast and “v” is the number of vacancies to be filled.

In the Reps, there is only one vacancy to be filled (v=1) in a given seat so a candidate needs one vote more than half those cast – a simple majority.

In the Senate, we’ll be voting for 12 Senators from Victoria (v=12) so a candidate must get 1/13th of the formal votes plus one.  Once 12 candidates have that quota there will be 1/13th minus 12 votes available which means nobody else can beat those already elected.

How Are Votes Counted?

In order to achieve a quota all formal ballot papers are distributed to the candidate allocated the number 1 on the paper (the first preference) and then counted.  If no candidate has achieved the quota above, the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated and those papers are distributed to the remaining candidate with the next lowest preference.

In the Reps, the process continues thus until a single candidate has an absolute majority and there it stops.

In the Senate, it’s a little more complicated because we need to elect more than one Senator.  So, once a candidate attains a quota s/he is declared elected but any excess votes beyond the quota are redistributed at reduced value.  If this didn’t happen, there would not be enough votes in the pool to create 12 quotas.  (You can find the full explanation on the AEC website here: http://aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/senate_count.htm.)

So, let’s say the quota is 10 000 votes and Ms Bloggs achieves her quota but has 12 000 votes at that stage.  The 2000 “surplus” votes are redistributed to other, as yet unelected candidates.  But which 2000?  In fact, all 12 000 papers are now redistributed to the next preferred candidate but at a reduced value of s/q where “s” is the surplus; in this case, the transfer value would be 2000/10 000 or 0.2 – every one of Ms Bloggs’ papers would be redistributed at one fifth of its value to other candidates.

Counting continues eliminating unsuccessful candidates and redistributing their votes and the fractional surpluses of elected Senators until all 12 vacancies have been filled.

You Can’t Waste Your Vote!

It’s the redistribution process which ensures YOUR vote is not wasted if you choose an unsuccessful candidate.

Let’s say you have strong views on a specific issue and there’s an independent candidate standing on that particular issue.  “Single issue” candidates are rarely successful but if one represents your view you can indicate that to whoever is ultimately elected by giving your champion your first preference.  On the assumption that your champion is eliminated, your vote then goes to your next preference so you still influence which of the more likely contenders is elected but they receive the hint that there’s an important issue to which they should attend in the electorate.

It should be noted that in the Senate, if you select only the minimum number of preferences required (see below) and all those candidates are eliminated, your vote will be “exhausted” and won’t contribute to electing a senator.  You should consider the chances of your preferred candidates being successful when deciding how many votes to cast above or below the line since only YOU ultimately determine where your preferences go.

Party Preference Deals and Your Preference

Much has been made in recent days of preference deals being done between Labor and Liberal Parties to put each other ahead of The Greens.  Both of the major parties are worried they may not win government in their own right and may have to rely on preferences but neither likes the idea of a third party spoiling their duopoly.  You will see these deals reflected in their respective “How to Vote” cards.

“How to Vote” cards are parties’ suggestions to voters.  Apparently about 75% of voters follow HTV cards, there’s absolutely no obligation to do so – YOU number the boxes on YOUR ballot paper and YOU should do so according to YOUR preference for the various candidates and/or their parties.

In the Reps, you number ALL candidates according to your preference.

In the Senate you must number either AT LEAST six boxes above the line (there are 38 boxes plus a column of independents this year!) or AT LEAST 12 candidates below the line.  If you number only six boxes above the line and you don’t include one of the three major parties (ALP, LNP coalition or Greens) you’ll only nominate about 12 candidates and your vote will probably be exhausted before all senators are elected.  Similarly, if you choose only 12 candidates from the smaller parties below the line.  If you don’t want votes going to the major parties and you want to maximise your influence, mark more boxes.

Why, and How, Has Senate Voting Changed – The Preference Whisperer?

At the last Senate election a number of minor candidates and parties got together with a “preference whisperer”.  They agreed on a series of “group voting tickets” which were so constructed that a single “1” vote above the line (the old way of voting) channelled all their preferences to the same place.  As each of these less likely candidates were eliminated their votes flowed together to elect, most famously, Senator Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

Some people have argued that this meant he was elected on fewer first preferences than others who were eliminated and that’s true.  However, it’s also true that a full “quota” of voters indicated, whether they knew it (having researched their nominated party’s group voting ticket) or not, they would rather have him than anyone else.

Under the new Senate voting rules parties are no longer permitted to create group voting tickets and votes at the top of a column distribute preferences down the column then stop – a party or group on the ballot paper cannot cause preferences to flow to any other party or group.  This makes it somewhat harder for minor candidates to get elected but it also makes it clear to voters exactly where your vote is going.  Some candidates have formed voting blocs already to be listed in the same column – that’s legal and it’s transparent to voters.

It’s worth noting too that if you want to vote for the “ungrouped” independent candidates in the Senate, firstly they are at the far right of the ballot paper and, secondly, you must vote below the line as they don’t have a box above the line.

Who Are the Monash Candidates?

The City of Monash is in Victoria for the Senate.  You can find the list of all 38 groups and 16 independent Senate candidates on the AEC site here.

Four House of Representatives seats overlap the City of Monash boundaries: Bruce, Chisholm, Higgins and Hotham.

MonashBoundaries

The declared candidates for each of the electorates are shown below in the order in which they will appear on the ballot paper.

MonashCandidates

Researching the Candidates

Later this week I hope to write an open letter to all candidates listed above and invite them to comment on issues of importance to readers of this blog.  Their answers will be published verbatim and without commentary.

Issues for their feedback will come from any comments received on this post and questions about Aged Care, Refugees and Immigration, and Environment policy.

Development or Devastation?

My walk to work, a mere 2.5km through Glen Waverley’s northern corner, is increasingly challenging as I negotiate yet another broken, illegally fenced, car blocked, mud covered or flooded footpath as another home site is bulldozed of every last blade of grass before being swamped under a monstrous concrete box.

Council has reached an “in-principle” position on Amendment C125 which is supposed to provide some degree of control over what gets built where and what happens to the vegetation which comprises the “garden character” of the City of Monash.  You can see the position they reached and how it changed on March 29, 2016 on page 7 of the meeting minutes of the Council meeting.

On May 3, many residents attended the public submissions evening to offer their opinion on the “in-principle” position.***  There are no minutes currently published on Council’s website but it is fair to say that a significant percentage, probably a significant majority, of speakers were strongly opposed to the weakening of the controls by Cr Lake’s amendments to the proposals in the original C125 report.

Council is due to adopt, or amend then adopt, the “in-principle” position at the next meeting on May 30.  After that, the amendment goes before a State government planning review panel before being finally presented to the Minister for Planning for his approval.

NOW, is almost your last opportunity to influence the outcome of the process.

***Editor’s note:  Check out the comments to read one of the presentations to Monash Council on 3 May.

“The area in question should remain NRZ4”

The Economic Case for Protecting Trees in Cities

A recently published article reports on the research of US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station makes the case for the economic benefits of trees in cities.  Given the current planning scheme amendments under consideration, this makes for an interesting and relevant read…

David Nowak whittles down 30 years of studying the economic value of forests to this advice: If you can only plant one tree, plant it in a city.

After all, in an era of overwhelming need for urban infrastructure improvements, trees offer cities some of the best bang for their buck. Trees remove carbon dioxide, filter air pollution, and produce oxygen. They absorb rainwater, UV radiation, and noise. They slow down traffic, improve property values, and reduce human stress and mental fatigue. And they provide shade, which means we have to use less energy to cool down.

“Trees help us avoid emissions in the first place, in addition to taking out carbon,” says Nowak, a lead researcher at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, New York. “It’s a big problem that they help us solve.”

2014-07-20 14.46.16
No trees?
IMG_9198
Trees or…

 

Council has received feedback arguing that:

  • Canopy trees will increase heating and lighting costs,
  • Canopy trees will cause carbon dioxide poisoning, and
  • Canopy trees are an unnecessary risk, cost and nuisance.

It is perhaps timely to consider some scientifically based research.

If trees bring economic benefits to cities, what is the cost of their removal?  And who pays for that?

The answer to the first question is hard to quantify for Monash but, in qualitative terms, the cost of removal is the economic benefit lost through the absence of those trees.

The answer to the second is much easier.  Ratepayers pay for all council expenses ultimately; either through increased rates (difficult under the present capping scheme) or through reduced services and infrastructure maintenance.

Councillor Brian Little has been watching the tree coverage using overhead imagery available on the “NearMap” website.  I won’t put words in his mouth here but Monash’s tree canopy is diminishing rapidly and that’s something we all should be worried about.

 

 

Residential Zoning Winners or Losers

Monash City Council has proposed changes to the city’s planning scheme.  The changes are formally known as Amendment C125.

Don’t assume your silence will be considered as support for the proposals!  Have your say and make sure your views are known – you can be sure others will and you might not like what they say!

AnotherBitesDust
Another One Bites the Dust!

During the October meeting, a motion to adopt the proposed changes to the planning scheme was deferred for further consultation.  You can read more about it on Council’s planning information page.

Prior to the October council meeting there were a number of community information sessions which were fairly well attended by opponents of the amendments.  Council also received a considerable number of submissions opposing the amendments.

When we attended some of the information sessions it was mentioned to us that either those who supported the amendments were very few and far between or they were not commenting because they assumed their silence would be taken as assent to the changes.  Officers at the information sessions and councillors at tonight’s meeting made the point very clearly that if you support the changes you must take advantage of this consultation period to say soyour silence will NOT be considered as a vote in favour of the amendment.  It goes without saying that people opposed to the amendment are not silent – there was a very vocal section of the public gallery present to object in October.

Changes proposed in C125 restrict the density of development within what are called “Neighbourhood Residential Zones”.  They also restrict the percentage of an allotment which can be built on, impose larger than before rear setbacks (you won’t be allowed to build right up to the back fence) and set minimum percentages of a site which must be water permeable (grassed, gardens etc.) rather than sealed to cause rainwater runoff.  See more, in great detail, at Council’s dedicated web site.

Consider whether the restrictions on development might be good or bad for you:

  • will they reduce your property value by preventing you subdividing to build multiple dwellings or will they boost your property value by ensuring your neighbour’s property doesn’t become an apartment block overlooking and overshadowing your back yard?
  • what will be the effect on parking in your street if the amendment goes through or is wound back?  Will you still be able to get in and out of your driveway?
  • will the canopy tree requirements provide you and your neighbourhood with a green, shady environment or will they just be a nuisance dropping leaves in your gutters?
  • will the permeability requirements stop you developing your outdoor living space as you choose or will they protect you from stormwater runoff from your uphill neighbours’ properties?  Can your street’s gutters and drains cope if everybody paves their whole block and directs rainwater to the street?
UpTheyGo
Hooray and Up She Rises!

I know that between my home in Glen Waverley and my office in Syndal, a 2.5km walk, I pass three sites on which one developer wishes to build a total of fifteen dwellings.  And those are only sites where planning permits are required to be advertised.  On the same route in the past three weeks at least six sites are being developed into McMansions and another three sites have been bulldozed from fence to fence.  I can repeat those statistics on each of a number of alternative routes to work.

 

 

Level Crossing Removal in Monash

There’s been a bit of fuss recently about level crossings in Victoria and, if you’ve been watching the Monash Bulletin, in Monash in particular.

Last month’s Monash Bulletin trumpeted the wonders of this project in what some consider to be a front page hard to distinguish from an ALP election campaign leaflet while the Councillor News column took a swipe at the parts that aren’t yet scheduled or funded.  The whole publication led to a disgraceful and unseemly round of personal attacks and bullying behaviour at the last council meeting.

One piece of good news is that, for those who live near the affected crossings, the government will be conducting public consultation sessions (http://economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/transport/major-projects/level-crossing-removal-project/whats-happening) where residents can comment on the proposed removal and make suggestions about how the finished crossing and surrounds should work.  If you live near:

  • Burke Road, Glen Iris
  • North Road, Ormond
  • McKinnon Road, McKinnon
  • Centre Road, Bentleigh
  • Grange Rd, Carnegie
  • Koornang Rd, Carnegie
  • Murrumbeena Rd, Murrumbeena
  • Poath Rd, Murrumbeena
  • Clayton Rd, Clayton
  • Centre Rd, Clayton
  • Corrigan Rd, Noble Park
  • Heatherton Rd, Noble Park
  • Chandler Rd, Noble Park

Then you should consider attending one of the consultation sessions to have your say.  These projects are currently under way in the Monash area; this is your chance.