Letter from Melbourne

Issue 177
25 July to 20 September 2012
The Grollo Edition
Letter from Melbourne
A monthly digest about government decisions affecting business opportunities in Victoria and beyond.
Established 1994. Now in its nineteenth year.
State Government
Construction productivity, and law
Teachers fight continues
Ted and China
Challenging Information Laws
Auditor-General to retire
Charities and Big Society
Attorney-General active
Local Government super issues
IBAC getting closer
Flinders Street Station Design
Elephants everywhere
The best dream possible
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s campaign for a federal inquiry
into construction costs and productivity has paid off. According
to The Age, the Council of Australian Governments will appoint
a panel to review the industry, with wide terms of reference,
including workplace relations. However, the review will be done by
‘three eminent independent people’ rather than the Productivity
Commission, and will be appointed by COAG – meaning the three
people will require bipartisan support.
The Victorian Government has given terms of reference to the
state’s Construction Code Compliance Unit to undertake a detailed
investigation and report on the current state of compliance with
the law and applicable codes of practice in the Victorian building
and construction industry.
These terms of reference add to the work already being undertaken
by the CCCU at the Premier’s request to provide an urgent
report on matters relating to the Grocon blockades. The terms of
reference require the CCCU to provide an urgent interim report on
matters including:
There is no doubt that, although it may not
have effected all or many Victorians directly
or immediately, the strong stance of building
group Grollo and the Victorian government on
the building sites against the unions is a very
important and strong chapter in leading to a
more productive Victoria. Enough said for now.
• conduct at the recent blockades of Grocon construction sites,
including conduct that may be unlawful and/or a breach of the
Government’s construction industry guidelines;
Nearby, the Victorian government is clearly challenging the
federal government in many areas: education, workplace
relations, infrastructure, energy and disabilities to name a
few. Usually in coordination with the other states with similar
The editor was up at Victorian Parliament House recently,
crowded in with a classroom of school boys and girls who had
come a long way from the outer suburbs with their teachers to
learn about how government works. Question time got to about
an 8 ou of 10. The figure is a measuring device by the attendants
to explain the level of shouting and gesticulation. The youngster
beside me could not believe that these people were the actual
elected Members of Parliament. ‘Where are the real ones? The
elected ones?’ I gave him a brief explanation and agreed with the
teacher beside him that I would pop out to the school later in the
year to give them a clearer explanation as to what the chamber
is all about.
This edition covers a slightly longer period than usual and
is a few more words. Staff took off to Canada and had
university courses.More importantly, we are having a change
of presentation, and perhaps colour. We are trying to distance
ourselves from magazines. After all, Letter from Melbourne is a
serious briefing document for senior professionals of business
and government and other important folk in Society. We look
forward to any feedback.
• the use of violence, intimidation or harassment within the
• the obligations of other employers whose workers took part in
the Grocon blockades;
• breaches of industrial and other laws that may have occurred
during the Grocon blockades;
• the effectiveness of current Commonwealth regulation of the
building industry, including whether action could be taken by the
Commonwealth in relation to the Grocon blockades
• recommendations for immediate actions
compliance with the law and the guidelines.
The CCCU has also been directed to provide a further detailed
report, covering:
• practices that create a tolerance of unlawful conduct;
• other conduct and practices in breach of the guidelines;
• possible involvement of organised crime elements within the
• the current state of compliance with legal obligations within the
industry in comparison with historic compliance levels;
Continued page 3...
Alistair Urquhart, Editor
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Letter From Melbourne is a monthly public
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Alistair Urquhart, BA LLB
Alistair Urquhart graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra, in Law, History and
Politics. He may even hold the record for miles rowed on Lake Burley Griffin.
He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor to the the Supreme Court of Victoria, and remains
a (non-practicing) member of the Law Institute of Victoria. Previously, he graduated from high
school in Bethesda, Maryland, and had many opportunities to become aware of the workings of
Washington D.C.
For 30 years, he listened every Sunday evening to the late Alistair Cooke and his Letter from
America. Alistair’s early career was mostly in the coal industry, where he became involved with
energy, environmental and water issues, and later in the SME finance sector.
He found time to be involved in a range of community activities where he came to understand
some of the practical aspects of dealing with government and meeting people across the political
spectrum. He now chairs a large disability employment service, including its British operations.
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Letter from Melbourne
State Government
• Continued
from page 1...
• the impact of recent changes to the
Guidelines to the National Code and the
abolition of the Office of the Australian
Building and Construction Commissioner
(ABCC); and
• recommendations for future actions to
enhance compliance with the law and the
The Victorian Government’s guidelines,
which came into operation on 1 July
2012, require all building companies that
tender for Victorian Government work
to commit to comply with all applicable
legal obligations and to act to ensure that
inappropriate or unlawful practices do not
occur on their projects.
The CCCU is to provide its interim report
by 15 October this year, and its final report
by 31 March next year.
Organised crime where?
According to the Herald Sun, Victoria is the
nation’s capital of organised crime in the
construction industry. This emerged from
a report by the Victorian government’s
building watchdog. Nigel Hadgkiss
singled out the Wonthaggi desalination
plant, West Gate Bridge, Epping market
and the Royal Children’s Hospital as
high profile sites brought to his attention.
CFMEU assistant secretary John Setka
denied crime was rife.
Baillieu blast
According to the Financial Review,
Premier Ted Baillieu has criticised the
Council of Australian Governments,
COAG, process for failing to improve
the nation’s productivity, saying that the
system needed urgent attention. The
key problems, according to Mr Baillieu,
are the ‘broken’ system for distributing
GST, the federal encroachment into areas
of state responsibility, and ‘profound’
inadequacies at COAG.
Andrews musings
After the July state bi-election for the seat
of Melbourne, Opposition leader Daniel
Andrews wrote in The Australian that ‘I
don’t abuse the Greens but I did expose
their fraud.’
Counter-terror experts and police were
placed on high alert for expected retaliatory
attacks after the violent Islamic protests
that rocked Sydney in mid-September.
According to the Herald Sun, Victoria
Police revealed it had developed plans to
stop violence spreading to Melbourne.
Present thin protest laws
The Victorian government is investigating
whether tougher legislation is needed to
prevent political process closing down
businesses, after magistrates found
in favour of anti-Israeli demonstrators
targeting the Max Brenner chocolate
shop. Magistrate Simon Garnet dismissed
trespassing charges against 16 protesters,
finding that they had a lawful right to be
in the public space outside the store, and
a demonstration in July last year was
also lawful and not present a threat to
public order. The Premier condemned the
campaign and the actors plan to celebrate
the court victory with another protest
outside the Melbourne shop.
Bracks’ autobiography
In his recently released autobiography A
Premier’s State, Steve Bracks reveals why
he made the decision not to reappoint Sir
James Gobbo as Governor. ‘Sir James’
connection to a Liberal affiliated lunch
club called the Rumour Tank led to his
decision’. Sir James said he would be
surprised by this reason for his departure,
as he only went to lunch at the Rumour
Tank about twice in the three years he
was Governor. Bracks writes that when
the media later got hold of the story, he
rubbished claims that he’d replace Sir
James because he was concerned about
politics or his involvement in the Rumour
Tank. The media was right!! Days later,
Bracks announced the athletics legend
John Landy would take the role.
Victorian councils super
Under a government superannuation
scheme, current and former staff of
Victorian councils, water authorities,
libraries and other agencies are facing a
bill of more than half a billion dollars. This
money must be allocated to meet the
shortfall in a ‘defined benefit’ scheme for
staff that was closed to new members in
1993. This will create increasing pressure
on rates and services, as the shortfalls
range from $20 million down to much lower
figures, according to Chief Executive of
the Municipal Association of Victoria Rob
So keen to hear
The Herald Sun reports that the Victorian
government is appealing against the
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
ruling that criticised the government’s
handling of the Freedom of Information
request for the diary of Premier Baillieu’s
former chief of staff. The government
wants to overturn a ruling by VCAT that
suggests parts of Michael Kapel’s diary
is subject to FOI laws. The Sunday Herald
Sun launched legal action against the
government after their request for a key
month of his electronic work diary was
denied. This period covered his duties
during this Victoria’s Police leadership
crisis early last year. Herald Sun editor
Damon Johnston said the newspaper
had taken the VCAT action because of
enormous public interest in the events.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet
took an average of 123 days to process
FOI requests in 2011-12, when under law
it was required to do so within 45 days.
According to The Age, the department’s
annual report, tabled in Parliament recently,
showed 80 per cent of the 92 requests
made over the year were not processed
on time. More than half (52 per cent) of the
requests took more than three months to
process. The department said it had been
trying to clear a backlog since January,
and by June had three requests overdue.
Victorian Auditor General Des Pearson
has announced that he will step down from
the role of the state’s chief government
financial and other watchdog in December.
Mr Pearson, a career civil servant who
started in the Commonwealth Auditor
General’s Office, was West Australia’s
Auditor General for 15 years before taking
up his most recent role. Applications for
this vital job to John Allen, [email protected]
Wot’s new
According to The Age, some Coalition
backbenchers are being urged by the
Premier’s Office to run ads in local papers
putting a positive slant on TAFE funding
cuts. It is understood MPs have been
provided with a template defending the
budget decision to axe the vocational
education and training budget. The ads –
recently run in local newspapers by several
Coalition MPs - claim ‘an extra’ $1.2 billion
is being spent ‘for the skills Victoria needs’.
Au so tender
The Victorian government plans to spend
$755,000 on the revamp for Australia
Day 2014 and, if successful, will extend
the contract to 2016. The traditional flagraising ceremony, march and concert,
are likely to undergo major rejuvenation.
According to the Herald Sun, the Australia
Day Committee will appoint organisers
for six events, including a fireworks show,
lunch and celebrations in Alexandra
and Kings Domain Gardens. Tender
documents detail a push to boost crowd
numbers, increase relevance and get a
broader cross-section of the community
involved. Established events such as the
Australia Day concert and vintage car
show in Kings Domain Gardens will be
judged on their diversity and the number
of migrant communities taking part.
Legal focus
commission has apparently quietly shifted
Letter from Melbourne
its prosecuting focus away from small
and medium-sized companies - where
most workplace deaths and serious
injuries occur - to large businesses. In The
Age, WorkSafe publicly revealed its new
focus on larger companies. A spokesman
said WorkSafe was now taking on ‘larger,
better-resourced businesses who have
breached the law’.
New lives (1)
redundancy packages across the public
service are now open, forming part of
3,600 positions that will be cut from the
public service under the government’s
announced last December.
Public servants (2)
According to the Financial Review, AuditorGeneral Des Pearson said that ‘there is too
much belief and trust in the public sector,
in terms that when they delegate they think
that their responsibility is finished.’ He said
that his audits revealed that frameworks
were often sound, in theory....
Our Big Society
commission report calls for a revolution in
the way government services are delivered.
Including that charities and private
businesses taking responsibility from
bureaucrats. The Australian reported that
the final recommendations of the Victorian
review, delivered to the government in
January, were so controversial that the
Victorian government has suppressed it
and instead appointed another taskforce,
including secretaries of the Premier’s
Department and Treasury to review its
findings. The state’s Independent Review
of State Finances was headed by former
Victorian Treasury secretary Mike Vertigan
and included Ian Harper, the former head
of the Fair Pay Commission, and the former
secretary of Tasmania’s Treasury, Don
Challen. The final report borrows from the
‘big society’ plans of David Cameron’s
government in Britain, which has sought
to get charities and volunteers to take over
the delivery of government services.
Officials associated with the review say
that, wherever possible, the government
should get out of directly delivering
services, such as welfare, early childhood
education and housing. Rather than simply
outsourcing government functions, it calls
on the government to create competitive
markets so that charities and other private
bodies would bid for government contracts.
The report says state government should
retain no more than a residual capacity to
provide services to cover a potential failure
by a private provider.
China in mind
Ted Baillieu has set the scene for an
expansion of Chinese investment in
Victoria, saying he wouldn’t blink if China
was to fund, build and operate major
projects such as an east-west tunnel and
a metro rail link. According to The Age,
the comments effectively bring Mr Baillieu
into a heated debate raging within the
federal Coalition. In his first trip to China
as (federal) Opposition Leader, Tony
Abbott last month appeared to advocate
tougher controls on Chinese state-owned
enterprises buying existing Australian
The Transport Accident Commission has
posted an after-tax loss of $1.02 billion
that the Victorian government has blamed
on ‘external factors’. According to the
Herald Sun, a report also revealed that
Treasurer Kim Wells took a $140 million
dividend from the TAC.
No to 0
According to the Herald Sun, the hotel
industry has blasted Victoria’s top traffic
cop Robert Hill for saying the bloodalcohol limit should be dropped from .05
to .02. Australian Hotels Association chief
executive Brian Kearney said the move
was ‘excessive and ill-informed’. He also
said the current .05 blood-alcohol limit
was ‘overwhelmingly accepted by the
community as a reasonable threshold’.
In the Herald Sun, opinion editor James
Campbell wrote that ‘Blind Freddy can
see the next step will be 0.00, which would
mean restaurant meals without wine and
trips to the pub without beer.’
More migrants in the House?
A Government minister says we need
more migrants in state Parliament to better
reflect Victoria’s cultural diversity. In the
Herald Sun, Greek-born Multicultural
Affairs and Citizenship Minister Nick
Kotsiras said yesterday that more than
a quarter of Victorians were foreign-born,
but only 14 per cent of MPs were.
An election now and…
According to the Herald Sun, a damaging
internal poll result shows the State
Government could lose four seats if an
election were held now. The paper wrote
that this seems to have placed more
pressure on Premier Ted Baillieu. The
Opposition said the seat-by-seat polling
revealed in the Herald Sun by three Liberal
MPs showed the extent of public concern
over government policies.
A state government survey of thousands
of Victorian public servants found that 36
per cent had witnessed workplace bullying
in the past year. According to The Age, a
further 20 per cent said they had directly
experienced bullying, while 3 per cent
had also submitted a formal complaint.
The State of the Public Sector report was
tabled in the Victorian Parliament in May
by the State Services Authority, and sent
to MPs last month.
On the tarmac
A Victorian trial of the National Disability
Insurance Scheme will go ahead, after
the Victorian government listened to public
pressure, agreeing to put $42 million
towards it, the federal plan. According to
The Age, Premier Ted Baillieu declared
the issue too important to play politics with
and pledged $17 million over three years
to lift state disability spending, along with
$25 million to help establish and run a new
agency in Geelong.
Licensing reforms
Council Of Australian Governments has
agreed to develop a national occupational
licensing system that would remove
inconsistencies across state borders and
allow for a more mobile workforce. The
Regulation Impact Statements on options
for reforming occupational licensing for
electrical, refrigeration and air conditioning,
plumbing and gas fitting occupations are
available for comment, www.nola.gov.au.
Gonski focus?
According to the Herald Sun, Premier
Baillieu has slammed the federal
reforms, saying they have ‘failed Victorian
families and Victorian schools’. Baillieu
said Prime Minister Gillard had offered
no details about how the $6.5 billion
‘education crusade’ would be funded or
assessed, leaving school communities
in the dark. ‘The Commonwealth do not
run a single school, they do not employ a
single teacher, but what is proposed is ... a
massive bureaucratic burden for schools’.
School funding
The Age reported that the federal
government has moved to diffuse
tensions over school funding by agreeing
to negotiate separately with each state
over what school improvements would
be required to receive additional money.
Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon
said he was assured not all states would
be judged in the same way and that the
Commonwealth would acknowledge some
had school improvement reforms already
in place.
Road cash
In The Age, Treasurer Kim Wells has urged
Prime Minister Gillard to ‘put politics aside’
Letter from Melbourne
and immediately hand over funding for the
East-West Road Link. In a major economic
speech to the Victoria at the Crossroads
conference in August, Wells also delivered
an optimistic assessment of Victoria’s
prospects, saying the government is ‘on
the right track’, despite looming challenges
including the high dollar and a new era of
austerity by consumers.
Power bills
Prime minister Gillard will ramp up the
­pressure on state governments to reform
their energy markets, a s­ trategy designed
to shift the blame for big retail electricity
price rises from the carbon tax to the ‘goldplating’ of transmission networks. ‘For too
long, some state governments have been
increasing their ­revenue at the expense of
the family electricity bill – that has to stop.’
Critics say transmission companies spend
too much upgrading their equipment,
which drives up prices.
Bit far removed
An old friend of Prime Minister Julia
Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson was
recently charged with a fifth offence over
a scandal engulfing a regional Victorian
council. Councillor Milvan Muto, 52,
will face Shepparton Magistrates’ Court
next week charged with blackmail, drug
and gun offences. It is part of a police
investigation into the allegedly illegal
recording of councillors, and Muto also
faces legal action to take enforced leave
from council while the criminal case and
another matter are dealt with. He was
found to have assaulted a council staff
member and called a council officer a ‘dog’
and having made ‘personally offensive’
comments during a council meeting.
Bracks to PM
The Age reported that Victorian premier
Steve Bracks has some advice for Julia
Gillard: stop talking about Tony Abbott.
Speaking at the Melbourne Writers
Festival recently, Mr Bracks said the
Prime Minister’s fortunes would improve if
she ignored the Opposition Leader - and
focused more on selling her own agenda.
Pre-selections in the regions
The Liberal Party has pre-selected small
business owner Greg Bickley to run in
retiring Labor backbencher Steve Gibbons’
seat of Bendigo against union official Lisa
Chesters. Nearby, applications are invited
from members of the Liberal party seeking
endorsements of the Victorian division
of Ballarat at the next federal election.
Applications by 12 noon, Wednesday,
September 5, www.vic.Liberal.org.au
Everyone to share levy
Households will soon pay about $140
through their council rates to help fund
Victoria’s fire fighting services under one
of the biggest shake-ups of state taxes
in decades. The Victorian government
says the changes - from 2013-14 - will
leave most households better off as
it will scrap the existing fire services
levy on house and business insurance
premiums from next July, spreading the
tax burden to more people through a
new property-based levy. The changes
largely follow recommendations by the
Royal Commission on the Black Saturday
bushfires and mean homes and businesses
currently not insured or underinsured will
now make a full contribution to the costs
of running the Metropolitan Fire Brigade
and the Country Fire Authority. The former
head of the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission, Professor Allan
Fels, has been drafted as a monitor
on insurance companies to ensure the
savings are passed on.
All in
A class action by victims of the Marysville
bushfire on Black Saturday is to be
launched against power company SP
AusNet, whose power lines have been
found by police to be the likely cause
of the blaze. According to The Age, a
large number of people affected by the
fire could be expected to join the legal
action, as the fire destroyed 538 houses
and many businesses and burnt a vast
area of farmland after it ignited near the
Murrindindi sawmill on Black Saturday.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers confirmed the
impending legal action.
Next best
According to the Herald Sun, Victorian
fire fighters will be issued with secondhand equipment and have their training
and over time slashed under austerity
measures blamed on state government
funding cuts. Less than four years after
Black Saturday, the issuing of ration packs
to feed fire fighters who spend up to 18
hours in the field is under review — and
first-aid training will be limited as regional
CFA stations try to make ends meet.
Over the River
According to a report in the Herald Sun,
a leaked internal letter to CFA training
staff says that ‘due to funding cuts’
two key courses for Victorians run by
Ballarat University will no longer enrol
students. The CFA has confirmed the
courses that teach professional fire
fighters skills including how to manage
injuries at emergency scenes, suppress
urban fires, deal with hazardous materials
and respond to marine and aviation
emergencies will now be taught interstate.
The Herald Sun reported that Ballarat
University spokesman Matthew Freeman
said 140 people were studying Certificate
Three in Public Safety (fire-fighting and
emergency operations) and Certificate
Four in Fire Technology. That training will
now be conducted by the Open Training
and Education network at TAFE NSW’s
Western Sydney Institute.
The Bushfires Royal Commission report,
released in July 2010, recommended
that the state government designate
community refuges areas of very high
risk with various other limited bushfire
safety options, such as remote townships.
Both government and Royal Commission
sources revealed that up to 30 high-risk
communities could have refuges. The Fire
Services Commissioner, Craig Lapsley,
said plans were afoot to incorporate these
refugees into community buildings, rather
than creating entirely new stand-alone
shelters. He also acknowledged that
communities were growing frustrated by
delays. CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson
admitted that there was a lot of work to be
done on identifying the sites and assessing
the engineering standards.
Bushfires (2)
Implementation Monitor Neil Comrie says
the state’s burning program should focus
on protecting high-risk fire areas and
public safety rather than simply meeting
targets. Mr Comrie says that there is still
only one designated community fire refuge
in the state three years after the Black
Saturday fires killed 173 people. He also
found that some Neighbourhood Safer
Places – defined as buildings or spaces
designated within a community that
may afford protection from radiant heat
during the bushfire - were inappropriate
on safety grounds. Despite the fact that
good progress has been made, overall,
in responding to the bushfire threat, Mr
Comrie believes that the target to burn 5
per cent of Victoria’s public land every year
to ease bushfire risk must be reconsidered.
Fire refuges
Three primary schools in the Yarra Ranges
Council - considered one of the country’s
highest bushfire risk areas - will double
as community fire refuges this summer
in a new bushfire trial. According to The
Age, the refuges are all new buildings
constructed since the Black Saturday fires
of 2009 and meet bushfire building rules
introduced since then. More work will be
done on them before summer, and this
work could include installing toughened
glass and window shutters. The trial
announcement came six weeks after
former police chief Neil Comrie urged the
government to move faster on refuges.
Letter from Melbourne
Stupid bureaucracy
Our Art Fair
The Herald Sun reports that power
neighbourhoods if they are given more
power to prune trees in fire-risk areas,
councils say. There are reports that energy
firms needlessly destroyed vegetation
while clearing power lines in low bushfirerisk areas, according to a Municipal
Association of Victoria submission to the
state government.
According to The Australian, since 1988
the biennial Melbourne Art Fair has been
held at the Royal Exhibition Building. The
Melbourne Art Fair opened with 70 galleries
representing more than 900 artists.
Friend laws
The Sunday Age reports that veterinarians
are calling for tougher new dog laws,
including proposals which, if implemented,
would mean that a dog that escaped a
backyard and was impounded two or
more times in a year would be deemed
a potentially dangerous animal. In a
report released in August, veterinarians
also urged mandatory reporting to a
national database by doctors, police and
council workers of every dog fight, so
that authorities can better track vicious
animals. The Australian Veterinarian
Association’s recommendations, backed
by the RSPCA, mean that dogs declared
dangerous would have to wear a warning
The proposal comes after debates about
the responsibilities of dog owners, just
days after four dogs, believed pit bulls,
killed a guide dog and injured a cocker
spaniel. Last year the Victorian government
launched a crackdown on dangerous
breeds after a four-year-old was mauled
to death. However, the association wants
breed-specific dog laws to be scrapped
and replaced with education programs,
temperament testing, and mandatory
reporting of dog bites.
Victorian Agricultural Minister Peter Walsh
said the government was monitoring its
reforms and had no plans to change them
at this stage.
The new director of the National Gallery
of Victoria, Tony Ellwood, returns to the
NGV, after five years as director of the
Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery
of Modern Art where he attracted recordbreaking audiences with its high-profile
events. In The Age, Ellwood said that
Victoria’s state gallery was different to
Queensland’s because they did not have
the significant historical collections up
Sports at risk
According to the Herald Sun, camps,
excursions, sports training and plays
could be cancelled next year as teachers
may vote to work to a maximum 38-hour
week. Teachers will decide on the tough
new industrial action during the biggest
strike in Victoria’s history, when up to
40,000 teachers and support staff walk off
the job for 24 hours. Australian Education
Union President Mary Bluett said the new
work bans would show the government
and parents how hard teachers worked.
She is about to retire after 31 years in the
The Age reported that Parents Victoria
passed a motion at its annual general
meeting calling for religious classes to
be moved outside the normal school day.
The Education Department stipulates that
primary schools run religious classes
during school time if an accredited
instructor is available. About 96 per cent
of special religious instruction in Victoria
is provided by Christian organisations and
affiliated ministries. The government is
under pressure to change this policy, with
the case still before the courts, alleging the
classes are discriminatory and segregate
children on the basis of religion. The
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
has been asked by parents to order that
the classes be held outside school hours.
Catholic teachers
Catholic teachers are expected to join their
colleagues from government schools in the
biggest school strike in Victoria’s history.
The Age reports that staffers in Victorian
Catholic schools have their wages tied to
increases in government schools, so they
are directly affected by the outcome of the
pay deal.
Ringwood school closure
The Age reported that hundreds of families
in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs will be
forced to find new a high school after the
proposed closure of Parkwood Secondary
College by the end of 2012. The school
council voted to close the school, saying
that projected 2013 enrolments had
reached a critical point. The lobby group
Parents Victoria and the Australian
Education Union blamed the closure on
the failure of the State Government to fund
the proposed merger between Parkwood
and nearby Norwood Secondary College.
They argued that Ringwood is a projected
growth area and that the decision to close
the school is short-sighted.
RMIT job cuts
RMIT University says it will have to axe
jobs and courses as a result of state
government cuts to TAFE funding. While it
is unclear how many jobs and courses will
go, RMIT is assessing the impact of losing
$20 million in government funding. RMIT
has already begun increasing fees for a
government-subsidised TAFE places to
test student demand and to estimate the
viability of programs.
Department cuts
The Victorian government will axe up to
950 Education Department jobs, the union
covering public sector workers says, and
not the 400 cuts outlined by the Premier in
June. According to The Age, hundreds of
Education Department bureaucrats were
invited by managers to attend a meeting
recently for a briefing on a restructure
first flagged last December - and still not
TAFE umbrella
The Age reports the Ballarat University
is leading a push to bring the majority
of Victoria’s regional TAFE institutes
under one umbrella. It is rumoured
that the institution will be named after
Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies. The
proposal would entail joining with six
other TAFE institutes to continue offering
courses that are facing closure following
state government funding cuts. The
institutes would include Ballarat, Central
Gouburn, Goulburn Ovens, Wodonga,
Bendigo Regional, Sunraysia and East
Gippsland Advance TAFEs, spread across
28 campuses. Ballarat’s Vice-Chancellor,
David Battersby, said he would meet the
state government next week to discuss
the ‘Menzies Affiliation’ network.
Another $400m
The federal government has threatened
to withhold vocational grants to Victoria
because of Premier Ted Baillieu’s TAFE
cuts, which have put in doubt almost $435
million of federal funding. According to
The Age, as tertiary bosses prepare to sell
campuses, increase fees or cut courses
and staff to cope with state government
cuts, Canberra has warned that ‘national
partnership’ payments to Victoria are at
risk. In a move that has outraged the state
government, federal Tertiary Education
Minister Chris Evans is considering
withholding money that should flow to
Victoria as part of an agreement signed off
by the Council of Australian Governments
in April.
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hotter than Mulhouse
A month after Premier John brumby announced
Victoria would buy the five distinctive bumblebee
trams from France, it has emerged hundreds of
thousands of dollars must be spent fixing airconditioning on the vehicles, so they can cope
with Australian summers. The government
will not reveal how much the public has paid
to keep the five bright yellow trams, which the
Department of Transport rented from the French
town of Mulhouse in 2008.
Higher Tresmorn
high and myki
As part of the myki smartcard rollout, Met card will
be turned off next year, The Age reported. Myki
is a reusable
smartcard for public transport, but
Higher Tresmorn offers breakfast
the new
system includes
in a stunning
will with
be available
breathtak- in Melbourne
over the ends.
coast- Premier John
line. All buildings are beautifully
did not say when Metcard would go,
equipped, ensuring a comfortable
but indicated
that it was likely to be next year.
and pleasant stay.
Each short-term myki ticket has a computer chip
and costs the government about 35c. Metcard,
with its cheaper magnetic strip, costs 3c. When
the former governments signed the $1.35b myki
Tresmorn Farm
it expected
10 per cent to 20 per cent
St Gennys, Nr Bude,
of trips
tickets. But in the
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http://www.highertresmorn.co.uk 60 per cent of
Mobile: 07966 690654
en garde
The Age reported that in a resolution passed
by ticket inspectors, and followed by a vote of
metropolitan railway station staff, members of
the Rail, Tram and Bus Union opposed the new
Government’s armed guards promise for trains
and stations.
The Age reported that a straw poll it conducted
found large support for the idea of quiet carriages.
Monash University’s Chair of Public Transport,
Professor Graham Currie, and dr Simon
Smith, a historian, author and lawyer, both want
Melbourne to begin a quiet carriage trial.
A tram summit?
The campaign to rescue Melbourne’s classic
W-class trams scored a victory with the
government agreeing to a tram summit to
consider options on the future of the vehicles,
The Age reported.
almost 1,000 trucks going down their streets
every hour. The Maribyrnong Truck Action Group
and Footscray’s Less Trucks for Moore protested
on the steps of the parliament with toy trucks
to demand assistance from whoever won the
Who’s in?
The Regional Rail Link project is a new $4.3b
rail line that will provide capacity for enough
extra train services for up to 9,000 passengers
across the network
in peakNorthern
hour by separating
An Idylic
out the regional from the metropolitan services.
It is jointlyCornwall
funded by Retreat
the Australian and
Victorian governments, with the Commonwealth
contributing $3.2b. The Regional Rail Link
Authority is now releasing the Request for
Proposals for the Alliance Works Packages C
and G for the Regional Rail Link project, www.
Fine tuning
Myki is overcharging passengers on a handful of
Melbourne bus routes because of faults with the
GPS system that the $1.35b smartcard system
uses to locate bus stops. The Transport Ticketing
Authority, the government department in charge
of the ticket system, identified the problem in July
but still has several locations around Melbourne
where bus passengers can be wrongly charged
using myki, The Age reported.
into reverse
Premier ted baillieu was expected to begin
winding back clearway times introduced across
in theOlympic
past two
by the
the London
a peaceful break in the Cornwall countryside!
in early December. Road user group the RACV
has warned the government against making a
knee-jerk reaction by winding back the extended
clearway times, saying they are crucial to keeping
traffic flowing. baillieu altered a clearway sign
at midday, December 9, on High Street, Prahran,
to mark the first step in reversing the laws. The
Herald Sun reported replacing clearway signs will
cost taxpayers $2m. It is believed most of the old
clearway signs were turned to scrap metal.
A challenge for ted
Just over a week before the election, Premier
John brumby flagged the possibility of tolls on
the Western Freeway – a $5b, six-lane road to go
under Footscray and through Sunshine West, The
Age reported. Nearby, residents of Melbourne’s
inner west say they are having to cope with
big thinkers
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knowledge brokers, networks &
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The 2009 edition of Affairs of State’s
Good focus
latest publication Big Thinkers
The Municipal Association of Victoria is
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tanks, thinking/ideas organisations
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Government think tanks
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Policy advocacy think tanks
No-for-profit policy centres
Flying kangaroos go with Virgin
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Letter from Melbourne
Wider community concerns
Ready to talk
Still under consideration
In an editorial run in the Herald Sun, David
Williams argues that TAFE cuts will keep
hurting Premier Ted Baillieu. He suggests
that the $300 million cuts from TAFEs have
been met with widespread condemnation,
because there is unanimous agreement in
the community that the decision is wrong.
Across Victoria, community groups such
as the City of Geelong are holding townhall meetings to help people understand
the impact of these cuts. TAFE education,
he argues, is a vital component of Victoria’s
key export - tertiary education.
More recently, Australian Education Union
state president Mary Bluett has flagged
that she is prepared to move on the
teacher pay claim of a 30 per cent pay rise
over three years. According to The Age,
Ms Bluett, who recently also said that she
would stand down as president at the end
of the year, conceded that the Victorian
government was unlikely to pay Victorian
teachers more than their colleagues in
Western Australia. Ms Bluett said that the
30 per cent rise was what would have
been required had the government kept
its pre-election promise to make Victorian
teachers the highest-paid in the nation.
The Victorian government is presently
refusing to say whether it remains
committed to its election policy of five per
cent of Victoria’s energy coming from solar
power by 2020.
Education state
In The Age, Victoria University vicechancellor Peter Dawkins writes that
learning is the key to Victoria’s future wealth.
He explains that the university sector
and the school systems are strong, and
that the Global University City Index has
Melbourne highly ranked as a great place
for students. Unfortunately, vocational
education and training has tended to
have second-class status in Australia.
Areas that can be improved, he suggests,
include outcomes of students from
lower socio-economic backgrounds and
outcomes in early childhood development.
He writes that ‘getting education right has
big payoffs - greater skills bring higher
wages and more adaptable workforce
[…] If Victoria was viewed nationally and
internationally as the “Education State”,
export earnings would rise, our position
in Asia during the Asian Century would be
improved, and so would productivity, living
standards and social inclusion.’
Premier hits Canberra
According to The Age, more than $1 billion
worth of programs for Victorian schools,
hospitals and homelessness is at risk of
being scrapped next year when money
from the federal government dries up, in a
warning from Premier Ted Baillieu. Baillieu
told The Sunday Age that programs to
provide computers in schools, to improve
the health network, to lift teacher quality,
and to reduce the number of people
sleeping rough on the streets are under
threat unless Canberra continues to
fund them. Under the agreement, money
provided by the federal government is
matched by the states in a bid to lift
outcomes and facilitate reform. But if
Canberra’s funding ceases, Victoria says it
would face two choices: force taxpayers to
foot the bill, or cut the programs altogether.
New school
According to The Age, a primary school will
be built in the heart of South Melbourne
amid fears that a ‘tidal wave of preschoolers’ is about to put further pressure
on overcrowded state schools. Innercity schools are bursting at the seams,
with portable classrooms eating up the
playground at Port Melbourne Primary,
which has seen enrolments almost double
in three years.
Energy bills
A report by the St Vincent De Paul Society
identified the average household energy
bills including electricity and gas had risen
by as much as $1,100 in some regions over
the past 4 years. The average Victorian
household will pay an extra $300 in energy
bills this financial year.
Energy promise
Solar power
Victoria could soon capture enough
energy from the sun to meet its electricity
needs twice over. According to the federal
report, as in The Age, the state also
matches or surpasses other parts of the
world in harnessing wind power. Climate
Commission member Gerry Hueston, a
former BP Australasia President, said
that Australia and Victoria had made a
start encouraging renewable energy, but
investment had been held back by political
Solar power (2)
According to The Age, the price paid to
Victorian households for rooftop solar
power they feed into the grid has been
cut, under an overhaul of incentives
for small-scale renewables by the
Victorian government. The changes will
reduce the price paid for each grid-fed
kilowatt-hour of solar power to 8¢ from
next year, down from the existing rate
of 25¢, following recommendations by
the state’s competition body. These
changes will affect new customers, with
households now getting higher prices
remaining on those rates. Households
that have paid a deposit or have a solar
system installed already can still get the
25¢ price, if the necessary paperwork is
lodged with electricity suppliers by the
end of this month. Under the changes,
Victoria’s renewable incentives have been
broadened to include other smaller-scale
renewable energy technologies generating
under 100 kilowatts of electricity, such as
micro-wind and fuel cells.
Wind farms and health
The Hamilton Spectator reported that
Hamilton’s RMIT campus is stepping into
the debate on wind farms, with a plan to
study the claims that wind turbines affect
people’s health.
According to The Age, the Victorian
government could save $2.5 billion on
concession payments over the next 20
years if it fulfilled an election promise to
improve the average energy efficiency
of Victorian homes. Research recently
released said that retrofitting one million
low-income households would reduce the
long-term state budget burden of helping
them pay power bills.
Gillard focus on state power bills
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will increase
pressure on state governments to reform
energy markets, according to The Financial
Review. This decision has been described
as a strategy designed to shift the blame
from big retail electricity price rises from
the carbon tax to the ‘gold-plating’ of
transmission networks. Critics suggest
that transmission companies spend too
much upgrading their equipment, which
drives up prices. Gillard explained: ‘For too
long some state governments have been
increasing their revenue at the expense
of the family electricity bill - that has to
stop.’ The Age reports that Julia Gillard
has warned that the states will face tough
federal action if they fail to act. According to
Australian Bureau Of Statistics, in the five
years to June retail electricity prices rose
in Melbourne by 84 per cent, this being
the greatest jump measured in any capital
city. Gillard pointed out that suburban
housing didn’t even have smart meters
to measure peak demand, although they
are being introduced elsewhere in Victoria.
The Age reported that the Prime Minister
sought to turn attention away from the
impact of the government’s carbon tax on
power prices, even as the premiers tried to
put the spotlight right back on it. Premier
Ted Baillieu said that if the Prime Minister
was really concerned about raising energy
costs, she could do something about the
carbon tax.
Electricity a multifaceted problem
The Age reports that Victoria’s electricity
distributors don’t deny that increased
investment poles and wires contributed
to the large increases in electricity prices.
However they argue federal and state
Letter from Melbourne
government interventions such as smart
meters, energy efficiency schemes, and
reliability targets, as was the carbon tax,
equally to blame for driving up electricity
bills. Premier Ted Baillieu said that the
Prime Minister is wrong if she thinks
Victoria is to blame for rising energy
prices. Andrew Dillon, General Manager
of Corporate Affairs at the Energy Supply
Association of Australia, which represents
energy distributors, generators, and
retailers, said that ‘there was no doubt that
investment in infrastructure is impacting
on bills - but there’s also no question that
programs like renewable energy target,
state solar feed in tariffs, and energy
efficiency schemes have also added to
power bills.’
Freeze on fracking
According to The Australian, a moratorium
on the controversial mining process of
fracking was set to be announced by the
Victorian government until a set of national
guidelines is implemented. Speculation is
rife in the resources industry that Victoria
will adopt the lead of the government in
NSW, and accordingly will take a cautious
approach to the controversial mining
process used to extract coal-seam gas.
The fracking process – also known as
fracture stimulation – involves injecting
water, sand and chemicals into the ground
to retrieve the resource. However, the
process has become highly controversial,
amid growing anger in Queensland and
NSW about its side-effects, with the chief
concern being that the fractures created
can potentially contaminate the water
Make your home smart
An event was hosted by the Australian
Alliance to Save Energy titled ‘Make Your
Home Energy Smart’ on 13 September
at the Melbourne Town Hall. Your editor
attended. The focus was on energy
efficiency, well presented, and reminding
us of all the things that we might have
mostly known.
promised by the Victorian government at
the 2010 election. In the Federal Court in
Melbourne, the Victorian Solicitor-General,
Stephen McLeish SC, said that the
federal Environment Minister Tony Burke
is in relying on reports and advice that had
not been presented to him by the state
government in its referral. Justice Susan
Kenny reserved her decision.
Native fauna
Last year, the Department of Sustainability
and the Environment issued licenses to kill
wombats, wallabies, kookaburras, swans,
emus and parrots. The move has outraged
animal rights activists. The DSE also
approved the killing of more than 32,000
kangaroos and wallabies. The Herald
Sun also maintained that animals marked
for death included Easterners others,
rainbow lorikeets and sulphur-crested
cockatoos. Under Freedom of Information
laws, Green leader Greg Barber has been
campaigning to have all animal killing
elements made public. Other documents
obtained under FoI laws show that the
authorities gave permission to shoot 100
brush-tail possums in the Geelong Botanic
Gardens, while Avalon Airport was allowed
to kill 10 magpies, 20 galahs, 40 ravens
and two Cape Barren Geese who were
interfering with aircraft.
Melbourne Recital Centre
A full program for the rest of the year
fell out of some newspaper, or visit
melbournerecital.com.au or call 9699
The Victorian Major Events is holding talks
regarding a Red Bull Air Race, dubbed
‘the Formula One of the skies, in 2014 over
Albert Park. The sport sees pilots race
against the clock through slalom-style
inflatable air gates and pylons. Premier
Ted Baillieu pledged while in Opposition
to spend $4 million to bring the spectacular
at July, but officials have rejected Corio
Bay as a venue, and have preferred that
the race be held at Albert Park later in the
year after the March Grand Prix.
Writers Fest
Lisa Dempster, the former director of the
Emerging Writers Festival, will be the new
director of the Melbourne Writers Festival.
She will take over from Steve Grimwade
after this year’s literary event.
Bell Shakespeare presented The School
for Wives, at The Arts Centre in midSeptember, a modern day translation by
Sydney/Paris based Australian Justin
Fleming. Pretty dry but fun.
The Robert Burns Annual Scottish Festival
was held in Camperdown from 24 to 26
August, Camperdown is the home of the
oldest known statue of Robert Burns,
well documented by former Victorian
parliamentarian Gordon Ashley, who has
travelled the world to document all other
Burns’ statues. The festival included Len
Murray, one of Scotland’s finest speakers
on Robert Burns. And lots of dancing,
singing, eating, drinking and piping. Your
editor did not compete but did have his
pipes tunes by Australia’s best pipers.
Environment. Conservation
The Melbourne Festival, from 11 to
27 October. Easily one of the most
extraordinary arts festivals in Australia.
Visit arts.vic.gov.au. Melbourne Spring
Fashion Week, from 3 to 9 September,
was given a full run down in the September
edition of Melbourne News. Plan for next
City Recycling
Grand Prix
According to a report in The Age, a
government audit of 600 recycling bins
in four Melbourne councils found that 20
per cent of the rubbish sent to landfills
each week could be recycled. This was
despite a survey showing 99 per cent of
respondents saying that recycling was
A report obtained by the Herald Sun
estimates that more than $200 million a
year in publicity for Melbourne is generated
by the Grand Prix. This came from a
report from British company Formula
Money, which takes into account footage
of the city which is broadcast throughout
the world.
Cattle grazing
The future
The Age reported that the Victorian
government is challenging the decision
to block the trial of grazing cattle in the
Alpine National Park as a way to reduce
bushfire fuel and risk. The trial was
Up there
Recently the Melbourne Convention
and Exhibition Centre hosted the Today,
Tomorrow and Beyond event, targeted at
businesses and business leaders, with its
aim being to inspire and innovate.
Pokies Capital
Adults in the Greater Dandenong region,
in Melbourne’s south-east, lost more on
poker machines per person than those
in any other local government jurisdiction
during the 2010-11 financial year. Each
adult who lives in the area loses $1,110
per year at the poker machines. This figure,
starkly contrasts the local average income
of $426 a week. The area also has the
second-highest density of machines to be
found in any municipality of metropolitan
Melbourne. It has 8.9 machines for every
1,000 adults who live there.
Pubs lose
According to the Financial Review, the
ban on cash machines being located in
pubs and clubs with gaming areas has
led to a fall in poker machine revenue, as
gamblers have to go to greater lengths to
fund the habit. Anecdotal evidence from
poker machine manufacturers suggest
Letter from Melbourne
By Mark Stone, Chief Executive Officer of VECCI
The recent blockade by construction unions and workers at Grocon’s Emporium site in Melbourne
confirms the worst fears about the challenges facing the building and construction industry in Victoria.
There were three very serious matters of concern raised by the blockade. The first is the attack on
Grocon’s right as an employer to decide who it wants to employ. The second is the denial of the right
of Grocon and its employees to access the Emporium site free from intimidation and harassment and
the third is the defiance of the CFMEU and its members in the face of orders of the Supreme Court of
VECCI has regularly highlighted the range of problems that have had a damaging effect on Victoria’s
reputation as a place to conduct construction work and the action taken at the Grocon site is yet
another example.
VECCI was a strong supporter of the State Government’s
decision to introduce the Code of Practice for the
Building and Construction Industry. Victoria needs
productive construction sites with high standards of
occupational health and safety, where projects are
delivered on time and on budget and everybody abides
by the law.
The Code was necessary because of the Federal
Government’s abolition of the highly effective Office of
the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner
Victoria needs productive construction sites
with high standards of occupational health
and safety, where projects are delivered on
time and on budget and everybody abides by
the law.
VECCI also consistently called for an inquiry into
construction costs because the costs of construction in
Victoria are far greater than in other states and when
compared with international standards. The Federal
Government’s recent agreement to launch an inquiry
into the cost of construction as a result of a determined
campaign by Premier Baillieu is long overdue and the
sooner work gets underway on this, the better.
However, what we saw at the Grocon blockade was a
resumption of the sort of extremely damaging behaviour
previously experienced on major infrastructure
projects such as the Westgate Bridge upgrade and the
construction of the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
The Federal Government must restore the ABCC and
legislate to ensure that construction unions and workers
obey the law in future. It is intolerable that scenarios
continue to develop requiring businesses to launch
Supreme Court action to try and protect the fundamental
right of free access to their premises.
We simply won’t get the infrastructure Victoria needs
if we don’t have a framework that helps deliver it
harmoniously, productively and in accordance with the
law, and nor can business afford the economic damage
that results from the sort of rogue behaviour of the
CFMEU and its members on the Grocon blockade.
The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI)
is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing
more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the
Letter from Melbourne
that pokies revenue in the state fell by an
average of five per cent last month, after
the new restrictions came in on 1 July.
In the money
As of 16 August, hotels and clubs own and
operate Victoria’s 27,500 poker machines
located outside of the casino, with the
Tatts and Tabcorp duopoly having ceased
on that date. According to The Age, this
means that the cut of the more than $2.6
billion which punters lose each year on the
machines will be split between venues and
the government, rather than the previous
three-way split (venues, the government,
and Tatts-Tabcorp). Clubs Victoria and
the RSL have welcomed the new deal,
which allows venues to purchase 10-year
entitlements to operate poker machines.
Ethical challenge
Doxa Youth Foundation, a youth foundation
for disadvantaged children founded by a
Catholic priest, is being funded through
two large Melbourne poker machine
venues. Gamblers lost almost $14 million
last financial year in these venues. The
two poker machines that are operated by
the Doxa Social Club, were established to
fund the foundation. The foundation was
formed in 1972 by Father Joe Giacobbe,
and it receives more than $1 million a year
from the poker machines. The annual
report highlights Doxa’s close links to
poker machines. Mark Zirnsak, of the
Victorian InterChurch Gambling Taskforce,
said it was problematic for a community
service agency to be running pokies at all,
because 40 per cent of the money from
pokies is coming from problem gamblers.
Tabcorp demands
The Victorian government’s beleaguered
bottom line faces an even stiffer challenge
than the $490.5 million being sought by
the Tatts Group – Tabcorp. This duopoly is
claiming that it is owed a poker machine
licence ‘refund’ of $686.78 million and
payment is due. Poker machine licences
for Tatts and Tabcorp both expired recently
and the companies are now seeking more
than $1 billion from the government.
Crown jackpot
According to The Age, Crown Casino
is set to be one of the big winners from
the Victorian government’s bid to prevent
local councils from imposing high rates
on gaming and other businesses they
regard as socially harmful. Poker machine
venues in Manningham, Moreland and
Darebin already pay double the standard
commercial rates. In recent years, other
councils, including those of Shepparton
and Geelong, have also used differential
rates to slug late-night drinking spots.
Two months ago, three Melbourne city
councillors made their first push for higher
rates for gaming venues across the city,
including Crown. Had it been successful, it
would have added millions to the municipal
bill of the city’s largest single ratepayer.
Business. Investment
Business as usual
Welcome to Melbourne
Quit Victoria has reportedly called on
Health Minister David Davis to ban
smoking within four metres of entrances
to public buildings, including Melbourne
Airport. The Herald Sun reported that the
chief executive of the Victoria Tourism
Industry Council, Dianne Smith, said that
the review was a good idea and that the
cloud of smoke currently greeting visitors
to the state did not leave a good first
According to the Herald Sun, the first
cartons of plain packaged cigarettes
have arrived in Victoria. The drab, uniform
boxes – which feature the brand name in
small generic print beneath a gruesome
health warning graphic – are about to hit
the shelves.
Planning ahead
According to the Herald Sun, Health
Minister David Davis has gone to a
medical conference in the US, the AIDS
2012 International Conference. Melbourne
will host the conference in 2014.
Good job
The Minister for Health is calling for
applications for appointment to the role
of Health Services Commissioner, kerri.
[email protected]
Violence in hospitals
According to police data, three people are
assaulted each week in Victorian hospitals.
The Australian Medical Association and
the Australian Nursing Federation are
demanding new laws to be extended to
all health care workers in the community,
not just the emergency department.
Representatives of peak nurses and
doctors groups have reiterated these
Supported living
According to The Senior News, new laws
governing the operation of Victoria’s
supported residential services are now
in force. Minister for Health and Ageing
David Davis said the laws were designed
to protect the safety, well-being and
rights of vulnerable people. ‘Residents
will benefit from new financial protections,
including the new requirement to set up
a trust account for residents and new
limits on the type and amount of up-front
payments that can be charged’.
A survey by the Victorian Employers’
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of
300 employers found that more than half
of businesses expected weaker national
economic conditions in the year ahead.
According to the Herald Sun, the Victorian
government has played down the survey
of business owners, the survey having
shown that these owners’ confidence in
the economy is at its lowest level since the
Global Financial Crisis.
Building business concerns
At least three building-related businesses
are going into receivership every week
in Victoria, reports The Age. This rate
of failure is prompting industry leaders
to plead that urgent government help is
needed to bolster the struggling sector.
The building industry employs about
200,000 Victorians, with some developers
considering relocation to other states.
Much like the manufacturing industry, the
building sector – the one-time darling
of the state economy – is now feeling
the squeeze. Executive Director of the
Master Builders Association of Victoria,
Brian Welch, said that the competition
was intense and that there was a limited
amount of work from private and public
tenders. A recent survey by the Property
Council and the ANZ Bank showed that
confidence levels in Victorian construction
industry were the lowest of all states.
Foreign labour
The Herald Sun reports that plastics
company MHG has a glass factory in
Geelong as well as locations in Thailand,
and will deliver its first orders to Ford within
months. Thailand is expected to make
two million cars this year across the 16
different car manufacturers in the industry
that employs 500,000 people. The touring
car parts suppliers are being promised a
discount workforce for just $1.12 per hour
in offshore factories. Thailand’s Board of
Investment is offering cheap labour to 30
companies at a seminar at the Melbourne
Convention and Exhibition Centre in August.
The Thailand expo was organised by the
head of a federal-government-funded
car lobby group, Automotive Supplier
Excellence Australia. The Manufacturing
Workers Union said it worried about the
car industry’s future here, as competition
from Asian countries had led to an uneven
playing field, because of these countries’
industries being so well supported by their
Letter from Melbourne
Industrial Relations
Grollo vs unions
Daniel Grollo has attacked Australia’s
industrial relations regime and says he lost
more than $100,000 a day from the bitter
Melbourne CBD dispute. The tense standoff lasted for several days, with police not
ruling out further action after they had
earlier used riot gear, horses and capsicum
spray to end a picket at Colonial First
State’s $250 million Emporium Melbourne.
Four officers fell to the ground and
protesters slammed into horses as a sea
of hundreds of construction employees
stood their ground. Tempers also flared at
another Grocon site in Footscray. The ugly
nature of the dispute led to Premier Ted
Baillieu and business leaders calling for a
tougher action against rogue unionists.
Government joins fight
According to The Age, the Victorian
government will pursue Victoria’s biggest
construction union for heavy damages
(millions!) – even if the union settles a
bitter dispute with builder Grocon. The
government joined Grocon at the Supreme
Court, pursuing the Construction Forestry
Mining and Energy Union for contempt after
it refused to lift a blockade of the Emporium
site on Lonsdale Street. Attorney-General
Robert Clark said that the government
was joining the action against the union
because there should be consequences
if orders were not obeyed. ‘Over the past
two weeks, the Supreme Court has made
a number of orders requiring the [union] to
end various blockades.’ These had been
‘wilfully and repeatedly ignored’.
Justice. Police
Grollo vs unions (2)
Grocon chief executive Daniel Grollo
also warned that his company would
‘absolutely’ sue the Construction, Forestry,
Mining and Energy Union for damages
from the dispute that stopped work at a
large CBD site for nearly a week-and-ahalf. Central to the dispute is the role of
shop stewards, with the CFMEU accusing
Grocon of reneging on a deal on how
they would be nominated. Wearing union
apparel also has its issues.
Grocon boss Daniel Grollo chose to
ignore ‘a well thought-out’ (!) proposal from
Fair Work Australia president Iain Ross
for a two-week cooling-off period. During
these two weeks, the picket would end
and Grocon would adjourn its legal action.
It was hoped that such an adjournment
would allow cooler heads to prevail and a
resolution to take place.
Grocon vs unions (3)
According to the Herald Sun, the union
blockade of the Grocon city building site
cost taxpayers at least $500,000 a day.
The bill for policing the Grocon Emporium
development had already topped $2 million,
according to official sources. Retailers are
also ruing lost business, with about 5,000
commuters having been left stranded by
re-routing of tram services. Grocon’s own
losses have reached about $4 million.
But a coalition of Victoria’s building and
construction companies is planning
a fight-back against the Construction,
Forestry, Mining and Energy Union action,
which, it says, is crippling the state. A
campaign to lobby for deregistration of
the CFMEU will be discussed, and there
were also calls for it to be forced to repay
the cost to taxpayers of policing the site.
Protesters had blocked the entrance in
breach of Supreme Court orders.
Terror raids
Police recently raided up to a dozen
properties in Melbourne, seizing guns
and arresting one man over alleged links
to home-grown Islamist terrorism. The
Age reported that the operation targeted
individuals connected with the Al-Furqan
centre in Springvale.
Equal rights
According to The Age, the AttorneyGeneral has sought to rebuild the Equal
Opportunity Commission by appointing
three new board members – but so far
his appointees are all men. Robert Clark
had a testy time with the human rights
community when all the board’s members
except for its chairman, John Searle,
resigned. They did so once Mr Clark had
personally vetoed their choice to lead the
With an apparent eye for diversity, Mr Clark
named Abeselom Nega, Damien Bell and
Josef Szwarc as new board members.
Szwarc is the manager of research and
policy at the Victorian Foundation for
Survivors of Torture and previously worked
for former federal Liberal MP Petro
Georgiou. Nega, who has a Somalian
background, is chief executive of a
training and recruitment service that helps
refugees and new arrivals.
No hearings?
According to The Age, the state
government is considering scrapping
committal hearings as part of a justice
overhaul. Attorney-General Robert Clark
has held talks with the courts, the Director
of Public Prosecutions and Legal Aid over
the costs and backlogs caused by what
he describes as ‘unnecessary examination
of cases’. Other possible reforms include
tightening committal laws so fewer cases
go to trial, restricting cross-examination
of witnesses and scrapping the system of
preliminary hearings.
Rape laws
According to The Age, Victoria’s two most
senior judges have led a severe criticism of
the former director of public prosecutions
for appealing against a rape sentence as
a means of attacking sentencing practices.
In a judgment handed down yesterday,
they dismissed an appeal in which former
DPP Jeremy Rapke called for tougher
sentences for rape.
New taskforce
The Herald Sun reported that Chief
Commissioner Ken Lay said the new
Operation Bia would tackle violent theft, as
armed robberies were up 5 per cent in the
12 months to March.
Crime stats
According to the Herald Sun, more than
25,000 assaults reported to 000 in just
one year never made it to Victoria Police
statistics. The paper reported that there
were deleted despite repeated officials
amends for the data to be used so
Victorians know the true level of crime
in their community. Crime statistics also
revealed crime skyrocketed 8.2 per cent to
391,325 offences in Chief Commissioner
Ken Lay’s first full year as top cop. Car
thefts had been steadily dropping over the
past decade until last financial year, when
they jumped 9 per cent to 15,663 reported
Children checks
The Age reported that checks on people
working picture of being toughened after
several applicants convicted of serious
crimes had their rejections overturned by
a tribunal. New legislation will mandate a
new ‘reasonable person’ test, under which
the Justice Department or the tribunal
must be satisfied that reasonable parents
would let the applicant have unsupervised
contact with the child.
Domestic Violence
Domestic violence agencies are facing a
crisis as cash-strapped services struggle
to cope with a surge in cases, leaving
women more exposed to violent situations.
The state’s leading agencies told The
Age that a massive shortfall in funding
meant the most vulnerable women were
not receiving support to move away from
abusive relationships, and staff members
were facing burn-out. The paper reported
that domestic violence is increasingly
becoming the focus of front-line police,
who are supposed to report incidents
to the agencies close to the victim’s
home, the idea being that these agencies
contact the woman to offer services. The
latest police statistics show reports of
domestic disputes leapt by one-third
to 41,000 in 2010-11, and police now
seem to be referring many more of these
Letter from Melbourne
cases to agencies. Robyn Gregory, of
Women’s Health West, the only service
agency in Melbourne’s west, said the
sector welcomed the spike in reporting,
because it meant more perpetrators were
facing justice and more women were being
The new anti-corruption body is powerless
to investigate criminal allegations against
former Victoria Police chief Simon
Overland, and against two members
of his senior command, because of
an impasse between the state and
federal governments. Former Assistant
Commissioner Noel Ashby and Paul
Mullett have finalised a formal complaint
containing allegations of perjury, of
breaches of federal telecommunications
laws, and of perverting the course of
IBAC (2)
Victoria’s new anti-corruption body will
not be fully open for business for months,
with the Victorian government recently
unable to guarantee it would take public
complaints this year. According to The
Age, the Independent Broad-based
Anti-corruption Commission – which it
promised to have up and running in July
last year – has been hit by a string of
delays, and remains unable to investigate
corruption. The government has hit a
snag on the fourth piece of legislation that
will give the commission its full powers,
including the ability to tap telephones,
this ability currently involving a federal
law. The government had been expected
to introduce the bill into Parliament in the
past two sitting weeks.
Oh to be Premier for the Day
In his new book, former Premier Steve
Bracks reportedly outlines why he refused
to hold a royal commission into the
gangland war. An extract was published
in the Herald Sun. Nearby, how many of
us are frustrated by the positive (...) media
coverage of the Team Gangland.
Gangland threats
Melbourne mayor and former State
Opposition Leader Robert Doyle, as
revealed to the Herald Sun, received death
threats during Melbourne’s gangland war,
and was offered protection by the federal
police. He was briefed on how to avoid
being a target, and was offered round-theclock surveillance.
The Herald Sun reports that Robert Richter
QC, will help Hoddle Street killer Julian
Knight to sue his way to freedom. Knight,
44, wants the Supreme Court to overturn
the Parole Board decision to refuse him
parole. Richter defended Knight after the
Hoddle Street massacre 25 years ago.
Ararat prison
The Federal Workplace Relations Minister
Bill Shorten has weighed in on talks on
behalf of underpaid sub-contractors and
workers over the stalled $400 million
redevelopment of Ararat prison. The
Minister is disappointed with the Baillieu
government’s lethargic handling of this
matter. The Minister planned to attend a
meeting in Melbourne during early August,
to hear from contractors and unions about
the collapse of the project, and about the
outstanding payments of up to $25 million
for work completed.
The homicide squad has uncovered
further details of the final route of slain taxi
driver Stephen Seymour. Inside the taxi
of Mr Seymour a knife and identification
documents have been found stopped he
was stabbed to death by an unknown
passenger in Mount Waverley. The Herald
Sun reports that the killer stole the taxi,
crashing into a power pole four kilometres
from the scene. Any information to Crime
Stoppers on 1800 330 000.
Ararat prison (2)
After a new contract was approved by
the State Government, taxpayers are
yet to discover how much it will cost to
resurrect the stalled Ararat prison project.
The Age believes that the government is
close to a deal that will allow the existing
development firm or part thereof to
complete the Ararat prison, which includes
refurbishment of an existing jail and
the addition of a new facility. The paper
reports that ‘a the project is becoming a
major headache for the government, with
out-of-pocket contractors, the local Ararat
business community, the Council, and
building unions calling in unison for the
government to intervene and ensure the
project restarts.’ Ted Baillieu signed a
refinancing agreement that will allow work
on the stalled $400 million development
to continue, with the prison to be built by
the end of 2014. The rescue deal is a win
for the hundreds of sub-contractors, who
will repay debts which they have been
owed since May, when the builder St
Hillier’s Construction Pty Ltd went into
liquidation. The Ararat scheme could not
be saved before project builders ran into
serious financial trouble and work ground
to a halt. However, it’s still unclear when
workers will get their money. Claims must
first clear a strict assessment process. The
State Government, the Commonwealth
Bank, the Bendigo Bank and the Adelaide
Bank will search for new builders to take
over construction.
Ararat prison (3)
The Age reported that a building
company at the heart of the stalled
prison development has offered its first
explanation for the collapse of the project,
claiming that it was doomed by the
Brumby government’s insistence in 2010
that the whole enterprise be a publicprivate partnership. The executive general
manager of New Zealand-based Hawkins
group, Dan Ashby, explained that the
flexibility required for such a complex job
was incompatible with a public-private
partnership (PPP) model, under which
companies are obliged to deliver projects
according to a rigid, fixed price contract.
Challenging Job
Victoria Police has been looking for a
new Director Of Corporate Strategy And
Government. Applications closed mid
August, a full job description at www.
And another justice job
The Department of Justice is seeking
to appoint a new Commissioner for
responsibility for ensuring that the
correctional system provides a relevant,
responsive and cost-effective service that
enforces the orders of the Courts and
the Adult Parole Board. It also ensures
that prisoners are safely and securely
contained, and aims to reduce re-offending
by addressing the underlying causes of
offending behaviour. Applications closed
in mid August, www.justice.vic.gov.au.
On your bike
According to the Herald Sun, bikies and
underworld syndicates are to be targeted
in tough new laws. In the final stages of
drafting before Cabinet talks, AttorneyGeneral Robert Clark revealed how the
laws would allow police to have bikie
groups declared a criminal organisation by
the Supreme Court.
On your bike (2)
Bikie tensions are simmering in Victoria
as outlaw clubs take on new members
and defend their turf. According to the
Herald Sun, there have been rising
tensions between clubs over dozens of
defections and numerous assaults across
the state in the past three years. Police
have confirmed that many new members
of powerful Melbourne gangs – namely the
Comancheros – are from Middle Eastern
and Pacific Islander descent, and many
new ‘patched’ bikies are being recruited
from kick-boxing backgrounds.
In your car
Police intelligence has identified the state’s
top 500 repeat hoons – including drinkdrivers and those involved in pursuits –
and has reported that only 15 per cent of
them hold a current driver’s licence. The
road menaces will be covertly scrutinised
during Operation Road Bia, which starts
Letter from Melbourne
today and will run over the next five weeks.
Among areas to be blitzed are Dandenong,
Yarra, Casey, Darebin, Whittlesea, Hume
and Geelong.
Local Government
Local Council Elections
Local council elections will be held this
October for every council in Victoria
except Brimbank City Council. To vote in
your local council election, you need to
be directly enrolled by 4pm on Friday, 31
August. The Liberal Party does not stand
candidates at local government elections
in Victoria. Many conservativish candidates
stand as independents. Greens stand as
Greens. Various smaller parties and other
independents also stand. Have a nice day.
announced that elections for Brimbank
due this year will be postponed until March
2015 because of ‘the very real risk of a
return to the discredited and damaging
practices of the past’ at the council.
Outdoor smoke ban
Baw Baw Shire Council last night voted
unanimously to prohibit smoking within
10 metres of al-fresco dining areas. Mayor
Diane Blackwood said the decision
put the community first. The Herald Sun
reported that that the local law change
will be advertised and open to public
submissions, before a final decision is
made after October elections.
According to The Age, contractors have
been called in because the floating fern on
the ornamental lake at the Royal Botanic
Gardens could not be removed on
previous attempts. It has dominated the
lake since March, and winter is apparently
the ideal time to try and remove it.
Transcending politics..
The Herald Sun reports that local councils
are spending money on Aboriginal
Welcome-to-Country ceremonies amid
claims by a tribal elder that some costs
are extravagant. Some councils have
even signed annual agreements with
these indigenous groups. According to
documents released under Freedom of
Information laws, Moreland, Port Phillip
and Yarra councils have each paid
about $22,000 of ratepayers’ funds on
ceremonies in the last two years.
Lord mayor Robert Doyle faces an
uncomfortable pre-poll rebellion over his
bid to appoint former politicians, including
ex-Labor premier John Brumby, to the
board of waste and cleaning company
Citywide, which is owned by the Town
Hall. According to The Age, Mark Birrell,
a former minister in Jeff Kennett’s cabinet,
is also among the list of names proposed
for appointment to directorships, which
attract up to $125,000 (for the chairing
role) per year. Since its establishment in
1995, Citywide has grown into a company
with turnover of about $250 million and
more than 1,000 employees. It has turned
record profits every year since its founding,
and has waste, cleaning and park
management contracts across the country.
Super bills
Funds investigation
Country councils have started deferring
projects and cutting budgets for roads,
bridges and other assets, so as to meet
a shock superannuation bill of more than
$500 million, which is now facing councils,
water authorities and other agencies.
According to The Age, the impact of the
bills will be particularly sharp on financially
squeezed country councils, which have
smaller populations and budgets, but
must maintain vast networks of roads,
buildings and other assets. Small country
councils that have recently battled costly
drought and floods in northern Victoria
are contemplating cuts to roads and other
capital spending – as well as taking out
big loans to meet their shortfall – but are
reluctant to increase their rates.
According to The Age, a Moonee Valley
councillor faces jail and hefty fines after
being summonsed to appear in court to
face a charge that he misused his position
to obtain an advantage. Councillor Paul
Giuliano was summonsed last week by the
Victorian Local Government Investigations
and Compliance Inspectorate after a long
investigation. Cr Giuliano is alleged to have
misused his position as a councillor to
obtain an advantage for then council chief
executive, Rasiah Dev, in the amount of
The Ombudsman is investigating links
between Darebin Council and state
and federal politicians, council planning
decisions and grants and is expected
to deliver a report on the council before
October’s council elections. Some at the
council are concerned about whether
councillors have made clear all links to
community groups when approving grants.
The Brumby Labor government sacked
Brimbank Council in September 2009 after
a second investigation was critical of the
council. The Victorian government has
Garbage plan weighed up
Hobsons Bay Council will consider
charging ratepayers for each kilogram of
rubbish that they produce. A feasibility
study is recommended under a five-year
waste and litter management plan, one
which has been approved by Hobsons
Bay councillors. According to the Herald
Sun, the Municipal Association of Victoria
president, Cr Bill McArthur, said it was a
novel idea as councils moved to improve
waste management. But the Keep Australia
Beautiful national executive officer, Peter
McLean, said that some people could put
their rubbish into their neighbours’ bins to
avoid paying more, and that others might
dispute the weight of their rubbish.
The Zoo
A new book, 150 Years: Melbourne Zoo,
details how the zoo was built in 1862 on 22
hectares by the Acclimatisation Society of
Victoria, and is on sale from zoo locations.
Hence the 50 or so elephants standing in
the streets of the City.
Puffing away
It has been 50 years since Puffing Billy
reopened between Belgrave and Menzies
Creek, after an outpouring of support in
1954 saw it reopen in 1962. Now, that was
a community fight.
Open house
The newly revamped Hamer Hall helped
slash open house Melbourne attendance
records, as almost 135,000 visitors
explored the Hall and surrounding
buildings and spaces, which opened in
late July.
Open House Melbourne has grown every
year since launching in 2008, with 30,000
visitors to eight CBD buildings. Spokesman
Robert LaRocca said that people eager
to explore the city’s architecture helped
the event to break last year’s record of
106,000 visitors.
Gardens of Melbourne
Melbourne’s CBD will be transformed into
an urban sky-top oasis under a plan to
bring trees and rooftop gardens to the city.
Town Hall plans a green revolution under a
20-year blueprint to fight climate change,
with predictions the inner-city population
could more than double to 208,000
Melbourne City Council’s urban forest plan
calls for more trees in streets and plazas,
an expansion of rooftop gardens and the
greening of walls and balconies. Under the
plan, the city’s green canopy cover would
rise from 22 per cent of public areas to
40 per cent by 2040. But a report to be
considered at council says that many of
the city’s 60,000 council-owned trees are
dying, and that century-old landscapes
are struggling to adapt to the changing
Letter from Melbourne
Media, Multimedia & IT
The Drive seat
New 3AW Drive host Tom Elliott has
promised to listen to his audience after
replacing Derryn Hinch. The son of
businessman John Elliott, Mr Elliott
also said he would let his Liberal Party
membership lapse.
Planning. Building
North Melbourne super complex
The Age reported that Victoria’s Planning
Minister Matthew Guy has approved a
proposal from the supermarket Woolworths
to build the controversial apartment and
retail complex in Canning Street, North
Melbourne. This development comprises
300 apartments and the 4,300-squaremetre Woolworths supermarket. Yet the
Melbourne City Council, local residents,
and the North Melbourne Football Club
all object to the Canning Street plan. The
council vows to take the matter to the
state planning tribunal, VCAT.
Plans being finessed
Space for God
According to The Age, Planning Minister
Matthew Guy has announced that a prime
government-owned site in Docklands will
be provided for a place of worship. The
government said that the new place of
worship would be located on a 5,525-sqmetre site on the Footscray Road-Little
Docklands Drive intersection, with work
to be under way by 2015. The place of
worship could be one religious organisation
or multi-denominational.
Simpler laws ....
The Victorian director of the Property
Council of Australia, Jennifer Cunich,
said that the government’s proposed
Melbourne and breathe new life in
Victoria’s other retail and commercial
hubs. She also said that reducing excess
planning regulations would help revitalise
Victoria’s commercial, industrial and retail
dead zones, thus freeing up development
opportunity. In The Age, the Victorian
Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and
Industry chief executive, Mark Stone,
said that the planning reforms simplified
arrangements and allowed a broader
range of activities to be considered in the
planning process. This was supported by
the Master Builders Association, which
said that the reforms would create greater
planning certainty and thus foster growth
and jobs.
Opening up
According to the Financial Review, state
developer Places Victoria (the former
VicUrban) has selected 28 potential
private sector partners to join a delivery
panel to help develop 690 hectares of
land at three locations in Aurora, Officer
and Craigieburn. Chief executive Craig
Sangster: ‘it’s a huge opportunity for the
private sector to come in and access land
that it previously had not an opportunity
on’. Panel members were culled from a list
of 42 submissions after 168 registrations
of interest. The panel was created as
the authority shifted its focus from
Melbourne’s Greenfields market to the
urban in-fill market.
According to The Age, the Hotel Windsor’s
owner has won an urgent VCAT hearing
as it seeks to overturn Planning Minister
Matthew Guy’s refusal to allow the delay of
its controversial redevelopment. Adi Halim
– a director of the hotel’s owner, the Halim
Group – said that Mr Guy’s refusal to grant
an extension was ‘clearly aimed’ at halting
the Windsor’s $285-million, 26-storey
redevelopment. Under the current permit,
which was granted by the previous Labor
government, work on the plan must start
by November. The hotel owner states that
the project was delayed by a year while it
waited for heritage approval, and that now
it deserves a permit extension. If work was
rushed to meet the current deadline, Mr
Halim said that he would have to close
the hotel and cancel thousands of roomnights of bookings.
Flinders Street Design
The Flinders Street Station design
competition, with a prize of $1 million,
has attracted more than 100 international
and local architects and friends. This
competition closed on 1 August. Industry
insiders say that interest in the competition
has been enthusiastic, despite the
complexities of the station, the fact that
the state government is yet to commit
itself to any funding of the redevelopment,
and many entrants have needed to find
ways to pay in part for the final project.
Swinburne development
Prahran MP Clem Newton-Brown has
ruled out/is keen to discourage a plan
by Swinburne University to convert its
Prahran campus into apartments, so as to
fund a new building at another site.
had until 19 August to begin work, or else
the permit would lapse. Last month, the
developers became concerned that the
Minister would not make a decision in time
and rushed for an urgent hearing at VCAT.
The VCAT deputy president Helen Gibson
and member Ian Potts said that Guy had
been supplied with reasonable time to
make a decision.
Sky is the limit
The Herald Sun reports that the 71-storey
tower in Queensbridge Street will become
Melbourne’s fourth tallest building after
approval from planning Minister Matthew
Guy. It will stand between the recently
approved 276-metre Queensbridge Tower
and the Prima Pearl Tower, which stands
at 255 metres. The 205-metre Freshwater
Place and the 297-metre Eureka Tower
stand close by. The state government is
drawing up plans for a ‘Grand CBD’ five
times larger than the existing boundaries,
with the next generation of tallest buildings
in Docklands and Fishermans Bend.
However some city dwellers have been
critical of the proposals, which have cost
many of them their views and given them
street-level crowds and winds. Despite the
Melbourne City Council having planning
control of the Southbank, skyscraper
proposals fall under the jurisdiction of the
Planning Minister.
Inner-city Choice
More than 10 per cent of those new homes
approved in Victoria in the past year will be
built in the City of Melbourne, as developers
switch gears to meet demand in the area
of inner-city living. The Age reports that
the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows
that the past two years, approvals for new
homes in Melbourne’s outer fringe plunged
25 per cent. Yet approvals within inner-city
Melbourne have almost doubled.
Green wedge concern
According to the Herald Sun, the family of
former premier Sir Rupert Hamer say that
the architect of Melbourne’s green wedges
would be horrified to see what his party
was now doing to the ‘lungs of the city’. Sir
Rupert’s widow, Lady April Hamer, was
recently appointed patron of the Green
Wedge Coalition to fight plans to open up
sections of the protected spaces.
Parks/tourism balance
Slow winds
The Herald Sun reports that the Victorian
Civil and Administrative Tribunal issued
stern words to Matthew Guy, regarding his
delayed decision, as Planning Minister, on
the proposed wind farm made famous by
the orange-bellied parrot. The developers
on the Bald Hills wind farm in South
Gippsland were waiting on final approvals
by Guy before beginning work on the
project. Under the planning permit, the
first issued eight years ago, the developers
Low-rise hotels and jetties will be among
the private tourism developments allowed
in Victoria’s national parks. According
to The Age, in response to a longawaited tourism inquiry, the Victorian
state government has paved the way
for private investment in national parks,
with Treasurer Kim Wells saying that the
changes brought Victoria into line with
other states and territories, except for
the ACT. The private sector is now being
encouraged to put forward ‘sensitive and
Letter from Melbourne
sensible’ tourism proposals in parks. If
environmental conditions are met, leases
of up to 99 years will be granted.
Building auditor
The Building Commission is Victoria’s
peak building authority with a mandate
to regulate and lead the industry. The
commission has been seeking an Audit
Committee Member. Applications closed
at the end of August.
Places Victoria
Peter Clark has stood down as chairman
of Places Victoria pending a review by
the Australian Securities and Investment
Commission. According to The Age,
another member of the urban renewal
authority Places Victoria is in the spotlight
over the collapse of a property empire.
Lorna Gelbert, a partner at law firm
Madgwicks, was legal adviser to the
company behind the Prime Retirement
and Aged Care Property Trust, which failed
in October 2010 after taking $550 million
from investors. A third Places Victoria
board member, acting chairman Ken
Fehily, also has a connection to Prime
Trust, through tax advice which he gave
to the company that controlled it, namely
Australian Property Custodian Holdings.
ASIC alleges the directors made improper
use of their position when approving a fee
to Mr Bill Lewski.
Yarra development
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has
conceded that the Yarra River is at risk of
encroachment, and requires new rules to
limit ‘over-development’ and inconsistent
planning decisions along its edge.
According to The Age, Boroondara mayor
Heinz Kreutz said that his council had
been lobbying the government for ‘greater
controls and more consistent controls’ for
some time. ‘Mandatory controls provide
the certainty that residents want,’ Mr
Kreutz said. Such mandated stipulations
would also leave fewer council rulings
open to being overturned in the Victorian
Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The
government is looking at introducing
the tighter regulations as part of its
metropolitan planning strategy, which is
being developed to guide growth across
the city over the next 30 to 40 years.
Sport increases injuries
The Age reports that hundreds of Victorians
are dying or sustaining life-threatening
industries by taking part in community
sport, in particular cycling, football and
motorsports. Monash University has
released a study of major trauma in sport
finding that during the six-year period
between 2001 and 2007, 218 people died
while participating in sport – including onroad cycling – and over 1,000 sustained
major trauma that did not kill them. Maybe
its back to the couch! (That’s the editor’s
Running red lights
The Age reported that almost 40 per cent
of Melbourne cyclists admit to sometimes
illegally riding through red lights, leading to
calls for better strategies and more bikefocused
infrastructure to reduce risky
site preparation works, and services
infrastructure. Meanwhile, Arup Pty Ltd
has been engaged to provide maritime
engineering consulting services for the
project’s extensive maritime works. The
maritime program includes re-engineering
the existing wharves at Webb Dock
East, dredging and the design of a new
920-metre wharf for the port’s automotive
trade which will be consolidated into a new
world class facility at Webb Dock West.
Expression of interest
The Department of Transport is now
seeking expressions of interest from
appropriately qualified individuals who
wish to be considered for approval by
the Minister for Ports for the purpose
of auditing port management plans.
Approved auditors must have experience
in risk management, environmental
management and an understanding of port
activities. Applications, which had to be in
PDF format and e-mailed by PDF, were
due on 31 August, to [email protected]
Bay West
Race fixing
According to The Age, some of Australia’s
top jockeys are being ordered to answer
questions about their knowledge of
suspected race-fixing as part of an
inquiry launched by racing stewards this
week. The inquiry was initiated by Racing
Victoria chief investigator Dayle Brown
and chief steward Terry Bailey, but it will
be undertaken by an independent panel,
because of these officials’ involvement in
overlapping inquiries.
Police intelligence
An inquiry into race-fixing in Victoria is
expected to lead to new laws to improve
co-operation between police and racing
authorities seeking to stamp out corruption.
Announcing the 25-day inquiry, Racing
Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna said his
probe might result in recommendations
to the state government, to enable racing
stewards to receive information from
police, and to allow Racing Victoria to
act on unlicensed people suspected of
unusual betting activity.
Transport - Ports
For example
Webb underway
The plan to build three luxury townhouses
metres from the Yarra, on a picturesque
spot at 12 Coppin Grove in Hawthorn,
has angered residents, councils and
Melbourne Water, with many people being
concerned it could set a precedent for
development on the river.
Port of Melbourne Corporation’s $1.6
billion redevelopment of Webb Dock is
advancing, with the awarding of civil
and maritime design contracts to two
consultants who will be responsible for the
delivery of detailed designs for the project’s
internal roads, services infrastructure,
interface buffers and maritime engineering
services. The contract for civil engineering
design services was awarded to Aurecon
Australia Pty Limited. The scope of
the civil works includes detailed design
of internal roads, interface buffers,
A confidential Department of Transport
briefing urges the government to
investigate a ‘Bay West’ option that would
likely involve a new port between Point
Wilson, near Geelong, and Werribee
South. According to The Age, the briefing,
obtained under Freedom of Information
laws, concludes that the Bay West site
offers ‘significant potential advantages’,
including the ample availability of suitable
land, ‘almost unlimited potential berth
capacity’ and close proximity to Avalon
Airport and key road and rail connections
serving the city, regional areas and southeast Australia.
Transport - Air
Airport plans
According to a report in The Age, drivers
won’t be able to drop passengers off at
the front doors of Melbourne Airport under
a far-reaching airport development plan.
Instead, a new and elevated road would
be built to funnel airport traffic into a multistorey, multi-modal transport hub situated
further away from the terminal. Covered
pedestrian fly-overs would bridge the new
transport hub and the terminal buildings,
but such developments would mean a
longer walk for passengers and their bags
after being dropped off. The changes,
which are only at the concept stage, are
designed to alleviate traffic congestion
and the current forecourt clash between
cars and pedestrians on zebra crossings.
The proposed development is part of the
next airport master plan, which will open
for public comment early next year before
it is submitted to the federal government
for approval.
Letter from Melbourne
Transport - Rail
228.9 million in 2010 to 2011.
Gippsland train services
Avalon link
Recently the federal advisory agency
Victoria’s request to finance a study into
the Avalon rail link. Curtin University Prof
Peter Newman said that ‘it doesn’t seem
to have a strategic value at all.’
Money on the way
According to The Age, Melbourne’s $30
billion rail crossing headache could be
solved by using a funding cocktail of
property levies, special rates and private
sector concessions and tolls. A report on
funding options, titled Moving Melbourne,
says that for level crossings, the options
could include a levy on all properties close
to a particular project, in recognition of the
rise in their land value, as well as the sale
of development rights around the project,
or a toll on the new overpass. Melbourne
has more level crossings than any other
Australian city, and in peak times boom
gates have blocked some major arterial
roads for up to 45 minutes or an hour.
Off trains onto buses
According to The Age, passenger trips
on Melbourne trains dropped by almost 7
million last financial year, but the decline
in rail patronage was more than matched
by increases in tram and bus trips. Public
Transport Victoria chief Ian Dobbs blamed
a number of factors for the decline,
including ‘lower retail sales in the city,
the broader impact of a downturn in the
global economy, decline in petrol prices
and the highly publicised period of poor
performance in April 2011, when Metro’s
punctuality fell to just 76 per cent - the
lowest level in decades.’
The Age reported that a railway to
Doncaster could be built for $840 million
and be paid for using taxes raised from
the higher property values which it would
generate. A report, jointly written by
transport experts from Curtin University
and RMIT University, as well as from global
engineering firm Arup, has also found that
the railway line transport about 100,000
passengers a day if it was linked to the
proposed Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, at
the added cost of $300 million.
Less seats More feet
Melbourne Metro confirmed that 58 trains
would lose seats to create more standing
room. More handles will be installed, to
assist people to remain upright during the
long ride home. Public Transport Victoria
found patronage has increased 94 per
cent, from 118 million in 1998 to 1999 to
Despite being the most congested train line
in Melbourne, Gippsland rail passengers
would be forced to catch Metro trains
between Pakenham and the city, under
a plan to relieve congestion on the busy
Dandenong line. All V/Line trains from
Traralgon and Bairnsdale would terminate
at Pakenham Station, on Melbourne’s
eastern fringe. The plan, which is being
considered by Public Transport Victoria,
would require at least two million more
passengers a year to squeeze onto
Pakenham trains. This would also make
Gippsland rail users the only people in
the state required to switch from V/Line to
Metro to reach the city.
Myki error
The Herald Sun reported that commuters
have been refunded more than $340,000
after being overcharged by the myki
ticketing system. Another $284,000 was
handed back to thousands of commuters,
due to either faulty equipment or travellers
forgetting to ‘touch off.’ The Transport
Ticketing Authority and TTA boss Bernie
Carolan said that refunds were a tiny
percentage of the $282 million collected
by myki.
Myki (2)
More than 13,400 commuters have lodged
complaints about the myki ticketing
system this year. According to the Herald
Sun, complaints included overcharging, an
inability to top up cards, faulty myki cards,
and card readers that didn’t work. In total,
37,606 Victorians have complained about
myki since 2010.
Myki (3)
The Age reports that Myki vending
machines could compromise the credit
card security of thousands of public
transport users because of the flaw
in how the machines issue receipts.
Passengers who declined a printed receipt
after topping up at the vending machine
with a credit card sometimes had one
automatically issued anyway, and often
they unwittingly left behind a receipt that
included their full name, nine digits of their
credit card and a credit card expiry date.
The information on the receipts exceeds
the guidelines of the Australian Securities
and Investment Commission and credit
card companies, put in place to minimise
the risk of unauthorised transactions. The
Transport Ticketing Authority admitted
yesterday that the manner in which myki
vending machines issue receipts is flawed,
and says that it is working to fix the
Myki (4)
executive Bernie Carolan said the
authority and the former government
should have looked more closely at the
problems other systems had struck. ‘There
wasn’t so much effort, with hindsight, in
taking jurisdictional soundings … either
elsewhere in Australia or overseas to
canvass the pitfalls of implementing a
new smartcard system,’ Mr Carolan told
a hearing at State Parliament. It was little
understood when myki developer Kamco
was awarded the $500 million contract to
roll out the system in 2005 that the project
would primarily be ‘a software exercise’.
Myki (5)
In a report tabled in State Parliament
recently, outgoing Auditor-General Des
Pearson said that the state would have to
cover an estimated $350 million shortfall
in public transport revenue caused by
fare evasion since myki was introduced in
2009. According to The Age, Pearson also
lashed the Department of Transport for its
failure to react to the Myki-led spike in fare
evasion. ‘The gradual rise in fare evasion
before the end of 2009, the imminent
introduction of Myki and the suspension of
revenue risk sharing should have triggered
greater departmental oversight’.
Patrolling trains
The Age reports that about a fifth of
Melburnians believe that armed guards
deployed at railway stations should also
patrol the trains to boost safety across the
network. The government has rejected this
move, saying that there are already enough
transit police. While the survey showed
that making the system safer topped
respondents’ lists of the most important
things the protective services officers
could do, other areas of concern included
dealing with anti-social behaviour and
patrolling of trains. There were 36 reported
robberies and 152 assaults on Victorian
trains in the 2010-11 financial year.
The Auditor-General has released a 30page report entitled Fare Evasion on
Public Transport, www.audit.vic.gov.au.
Subscribers can always call Letter From
Melbourne, 9654 1300 if they need a
Transport - Road
hard copy of any report mentioned in this
publication, if it makes something easier.
Cycling budget
According to a report in the The Age,
bicycle groups have said that the gaps
in Melbourne cycling network is crucial
if it’s to become the ‘bike city’ that the
government said it was a year ago.
Letter from Melbourne
the Melbourne City Council. Additionally
about 70 cars a month are towed from clear
ways in King and Spencer streets, with an
estimated $31,000 in fines and fees being
paid to free impounded vehicles.
Cycling advocates continue to question
the government’s commitment, after the
number of infrastructure projects which it
planned to fund in 2012-13 was slashed
from 22 the previous year to four.
Cyclists open up
Congestion tax
Feral cabbies
According to The Age, 40 per cent of
Melbourne cyclists admit to sometimes
riding through red lights, leading to
calls for better strategies and more
bike-focused infrastructure to reduce
risky riding. In an online survey of 2,061
Melbourne cyclists by the Monash
University Accident Research Centre, 37.3
per cent of respondents said they rode
through red lights on occasions. The most
common reason given was to make a left
turn, followed by an inability to trigger a
change in a traffic light from red to green
(as opposed to cars, which can trigger just
such a change, when they cross electronic
sensors beneath the road surface).
According to The Age, a congestion tax
to discourage motorists from driving at
peak times could be introduced under a
controversial plan flagged by the federal
government’s chief infrastructure adviser.
Infrastructure Australia chairman Sir Rod
Eddington said it was time for ‘mature
and dispassionate’ discussion over a new
system of road charges to cut congestion
and help pay for major transport projects.
‘Transport shortfalls across the freight
and passenger networks are imposing
substantial productivity constraints on
our nation,’ Sir Rod told the Infrastructure
Partnerships Australia conference. He said
roads were often treated as free goods,
because the ‘current opaque charging
structure’ clouded the actual cost of using
them. The paper also reported that only
a handful of cities – including London,
Singapore and Stockholm – impose
so-called congestion taxes. Whilst the
application of such taxes varies, the theory
remains that tolls are raised or lowered
depending on the time of day, location and
More than 2000 complaints were lodged
with the Victorian Taxi Directorate
in the last financial year. The most
common complaints were of fare
refusal, unprofessional behaviour, driving
infractions and overcharging. According to
the Herald Sun, the figures also revealed
that almost three cab drivers a month were
removed from service for crimes of rape,
making threats to kill, assault and child
Councils respond
Bike lanes across Melbourne are being
redesigned to protect cyclists from
‘dooring’. Traffic engineers on several
councils are planning to put buffer zones
between parked cars and bike lanes,
to move riders away from car doors.
According to The Age, Boroondarra and
Stonnington councils are also believed
to be pushing for the traditional greenpainted bike lanes to be narrowed and
moved away from parked cars on roads,
including Chapel Street and Glenferrie
Road, notorious for so-called ‘dooring’
incidents. Plans have included a thick
white line aimed at keeping parked cars
as close as possible to the kerb, and an
unpainted strip between the white line and
green bike lane, where cyclists should not
No light no light
Cyclists riding without bike lights are three
times more likely to be seriously injured in a
crash than those who are lit up, according
to a report in The Age. The statistics are
contained in a 12-month study of 158
cyclists who were admitted to hospitals in
December 2010 and November 2011.
Parking tax
According to the Herald Sun, the
controversial congestion levy has barely
altered motorist behaviour, despite
sucking $250 million into state coffers.
The car-park tax — designed to deter
drivers who arrive in peak hour and stay
all day — requires a radical overhaul to
achieve its aims, university researchers
say. The study found the tax had backfired,
with some car-park operators slugging
short-stay diners and shoppers, instead
of passing the levy to early-bird and allday customers. The charge on about
50,000 city car spaces was introduced by
the Brumby government in 2006, in the
hope that it would divert drivers to public
transport or car pools.
Country taxis
The Herald Sun reports that after a draft
recommendation from the cells taxi
enquiring the cost benefit analysis, the
Victorian taxi directorate has suspended
the compulsory installation of cameras
in towns with 10 or more taxis. Security
cameras remain compulsory in all taxis in
Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
The directorate announced that it would
carry out spot checks of taxis in an effort
to ensure that the $2,800 devices worked.
At risk
Safety slogan
Victoria is getting a new vehicle number
plate slogan – ‘Stay alert stay alive’, a
slogan designed to help cut the road toll.
The new plates will have the same colour
scheme as the current plates.
Violence fix
Running trains and trams later on
weekends could reportedly help stem the
tide of drunken bashings in the CBD. The
Age reported Superintendent Rod Wilson
as urging the state government to consider
a trial running public transport until 3AM
or 4AM, to cope with some of the 380,000
people in the city each night on weekends.
Boom gates
Recently The Age reported that a multimillion-dollar plan to build an underpass
beneath the New Street railway crossing
in Brighton was quietly abandoned by
the Victorian government. Instead, the
government decided to install new
automated boom gates. The Herald Sun
reported that local MP Louise Asher
revealed that work on the new electronic
gates at Brighton would begin within six
Hospital parking
According to the Herald Sun, the cluster
of hospitals off Victoria Parade and Albert
Street, East Melbourne is the hardest-hit
clearway zone around Melbourne, reaping
$44,000 a month in fines and penalties for
The Age reports that new problems have
emerged with Yarra Trams’ troubled
first fleet of low-floor trams. A damning
ergonomic report found that they sway
so heavily at speeds above 25 kilometres
per hour, that the safety of drivers and
passengers is at risk. Engineer Mark
Dohrmann observed that the lateral sway
was likely to have contributed to a number
of workplace injuries in the past decade. It
was also found that the trams snaked at
the rear, potentially putting passengers at
West Gate Bridge
The 10-kilometre WestLink project,
which included a tunnel linking the Port
of Melbourne to West Footscray, has
been overtaken by research on a tunnel
connecting the Tullamarine and the
Eastern freeways. Plans for a second
river crossing to take the traffic burden
off the West Gate Bridge have also been
sidelined. Yarra community representative
Bruce Light warned the West would be
stuck with trucks, worsening congestion
and the bridge plagued by jams.
Peninsula Link
It seems that motorists face a longer
wait to use the troubled Peninsula Link,
as questions over financial reporting
irregularities engulf the company building
the major state project. According to the
Herald Sun, property giant Lend Lease
this week took control of subsidiary
Abigroup after discovering discrepancies
Letter from Melbourne
in accounting for two projects, including
the $655- million Peninsula Link. Four
senior executives were stood aside on
Monday and it is understood there are
concerns over whether the December
2012 handover timeline set by that team
will be met.
Ancient river systems
In early August, underground surveys
began, with the aim of finding any ancient
river systems that could affect progress on
the proposed $5 billion-dollar east-west
Tunnel. The gravity surveys are designed
to measure tiny distortions in the Earth’s
gravitational field caused by changes in
soil and rock conditions deep underground.
The test aims to identify hidden dangers
from cavities that could collapse during
construction or unexpected quarter
leakages. These tests will be continue over
the coming weeks at hundreds of locations
in Collingwood, Clifton Hill, Fitzroy and
East-West Road Link
The Herald Sun reports the new
underground rail tunnel, the East-West
Road Link, is at the top of the Victorian
government’s priority list. Billions of dollars
worth of major infrastructure projects
are on the wish list of federal financing.
The government’s 2012 submission to
Infrastructure Australia also includes
the Port of Hastings development and
expansion of the Dandenong railway
line. The government has also finished
its business case the Melbourne Metro
rail tunnel from Footscray to South Yarra.
Other projects include the Dandenong Rail
Capacity Program, the M80 Ring-Road
Upgrade, the Western Interstate Freight
Terminal, and the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.
Wettest July
According to the Herald Sun, this was
the wettest July in five years and topped
various water shortages. Melbourne Water
supply manager John Woodland said
that storages had not been so high in
Melbourne since December 1997.
The Age reported the consumers who
were overcharged a total of $230 million by
Melbourne Water, but who are no longer
serviced by one of Melbourne’s three
water retailers, will be able to apply for a
At last
According to The Age, water from Victoria’s
$5.7 billion desalination plant will begin
trickling into Melbourne’s supply in midSeptember, with quality tests under way.
A Royal Cup?
According to the Herald Sun, it appears
likely that Prince Charles and Princess
Camilla will attend this year’s Melbourne
Cup, amongst other royal duties.
Fed up?
Barry Humphries, in town for his Dame
Edna farewell show, recently labelled
Federation Square as ‘frog spawn’, and
that getting used to it was like getting used
to leprosy. However one of its architects
said he wasn’t fazed by the attacks – he’s
used to them.
Historic church
Victorian parliamentarian and water
minister Peter Walsh recently bought
St Mary’s Church in the small township
of Kingower, to preserve the history of
both his family and the district. The Age
reported that his great-great-grandfather,
the Rev William Hall, founded the church
in 1871.
Richard Francis Baillieu, a cousin of the
premier, 57. Dr Stuart Henry Bartle. Ken
Begbie, Marionette Master. Sidney Dean
Boxall, 95. Alexander Brock, former
member of the Doreen Fire Brigade. Jan
Brownrigg, former Assistant Secretary
of the Australian Nursing Federation
(Vic). Clive Bunston, former long serving
Vice-Principal at Kingswood College.
Max Bygraves, 89, veteran singer
and comedian. Daryl Cotton, 62, pop
star, actor and TV host. Adam Cullen.
Archibald prize-winning artist and one of
Melbourne’s best-known contemporary
artists. David James Bremner, former
executive director of the Victorian Bar.
Burtta Cheney MBE, life Member at
Golf Victoria. Br Robert Costello-Sparta.
Christian Brother. Archibald Paterson
Crow, Scotch College old boy and
later its school chaplain. Pamela Helen
Darling OAM, 90. Raymond Thomas
Davie, 91, journalist at The Age. Mary
Elizabeth Dossetor OAM. Chris Duffy,
63. Esme Weldon Dunell MBE, 92. Nurse
and administrator. Lesley Edna Doris
Fairbairn, 89. Nance Mary Featherstone,
90. Frank Fisher. Ronald Foskett.
Melbourne Legacy. Clarence Charles
Gardner, 97, former 460 Squadron
Leader, RAAF. Michael Stephen Fynn.
Dudley James Gay, 91. Mary Catherine
Gleeson. Dr Alan James Goble OAM,
87, cardiologist and rehabilitation pioneer.
Peter Ronald Gunnerson, 59.
Jonathan David Hardy, 71, actor, writer,
director. John Henry Lidstone Holberton,
international banker and businessman,
9o. Geoffrey Hughes, 68, British
television actor, famous for Coronation
St and Keeping up Appearances. Robert
Hughes, 74, art critic and historian. Irving
David Saulwick, 82. For 23 years, he
conducted the Saulwick poll which was
published in The Age and in The Sydney
Morning Herald. It was one of the ‘big four’
media-connected public opinion polls of
that time, the others being AGB, Morgan
Gallop and Newspoll. Samuel Thomas
Murray Johnstone, 87, sportsman and
scientist and former Caulfield Grammarian.
Jack Keating, former employee of the
Australian Electrical Union and teacher.
Richard Kingsland AO CBE DFC, 95.
Anastasia Mallos, 79, cookbook author.
Robert Maple-Brown, 72, respected
boutique funds manager. Gary McAllister,
former teacher at Xavier College. John
McCarthy, 22, Port Adelaide and
Collingwood footballer. Howard Winfrey
McCorkell. James Swan McDonald,
68. Kevin Alexander McDonald, 87.
Dr Damian John McMahon. Peter
Reginald McNamara. Reginald Michael
Montgomery, 91. Merv Neagle, 54,
former Essendon footballer. Barbara
Nettlefold, 93. Peter Michael Nickolls.
W. Bruce Nixon, 78, scholar, pastor,
historian, publisher and patron of the fine
arts. Peter Nolan, former ACTU Secretary.
Lady North, a beautiful and elegant lady
of racing.
Dr Bruce Osborne, 61, psychiatrist,
general practitioner and administrator.
Peggy Perkin, friend of Australian
Buckingham), 87. Andrew Preston
Ringin, 93, former RAAF. Bill Sandilands,
former curator and caretaker at Carey
Grammar. Craig Seymour, music director,
conductor. Clyde Simpson, 50 years
in radio. Ralph Slatyer, 83. Former first
chief scientist and former ambassador
to UNESCO. Anthony Carroll Smith,
69. Ron Taylor, 78, marine conservation
pioneer. John Treloar AM, athlete,
businessman. Denis Ashton Warner OBE
CMG, 94, war correspondent, author and
editor. George William Westlake, AM,
84, cardio-thoracic surgeon. Campbell
Riding Whalley, 75, game warden and
teacher. Sr Ruth Winship, former Principal
at Loreto Mandeville Hall.
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Strategic Advice. Successful Outcomes.
Established in 1993, Affairs of State has
built a strong matrix of client services
including government relations, mentoring, facilitation and research. Our wideranging network can connect you to the
If you have an issue, want to make new
connections, or have an specific matter
resolved - we can help.
We know the players.
We know the pitfalls.
We know how to plan.
We know how to succeed.
14 Collins Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000 | P: (03) 9654 1300
F: (03) 9654 1165 | E: [email protected] | W: www.affairs.com.au
Letter from Melbourne
The Hon. Robert Maclellan AM has had a
distinguished career in state government as
a cabinet minister with portfolios in transport,
industrial relations and planning.
Dr David Wilson, geographer and engineer,
has held executive positions in the Victorian
Government and the private sector. He is a
Senior Research Fellow at the University of
Doug Connell is a project management
and logistics expert who has held
senior positions in industry, the Port
of Melbourne, the Department of
Transport and Australia Post.
Alistair Urquhart is a respected
public affairs professional with over
20 years experience in Australia
and overseas.
Government Relations Master Class
A one-day course in public affairs and communication
The change of government in
Victoria brings new opportunities
and challenges.
Our team presents a unique
combination of experience and talent
from multiple perspectives. They
share their combined knowledge
and skill with participants on how to
successfully influence government
department policy and understand the
importance of research and strategy in
putting your proposal to government.
The team guides the participants in
understanding both the strategic and
tactical elements that must come
together in order to deliver a desired
Affairs of State is an established
independent public affairs firm which
also publishes two monthly digests,
Letter from Melbourne and Letter from
The course includes a VIP tour of Parliament
House, full catering courtesy of the Hotel Windsor,
a workbook, and a package of essential lobbying
materials valued at
Next Event:
Please call us for more
information on 03 9654 1300
The Hotel Windsor,
Spring Street, Melbourne
For a free brochure and general
enquries please contact:
Camilla Orr-Thomson
Affairs of State
Level 2, 14 Collins Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000
P: 03 9654 1300 F: 03 9654 1165
E: [email protected]