Melbourne Issues Letter from

Letter from
Issue 187
The Steady As She Goes Edition
9 August to 10 September
Our Parole Board ♦ Our new ’General
Jacques Raymond Adieu (just retiring!) ♦ Education. Some good practical ideas
Large tourist facilities in national parks! ♦ Dummy candidates locally
East West Link port access, perhaps ♦ Taxi CHANGES imminent
About us
Affairs of State
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Letter From Melbourne is a monthly public affairs
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public policy and government decisions, which
affect business opportunities in Victoria and
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Letter from Melbourne developed a federal and
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Letter from Melbourne
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Edited words in this edition: 8,586
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Cover image
The entire of Melbourne’ city citcle tram.
Author: Steven Wright
Alistair Urquhart
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About the editor
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 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.
About the publisher
Affairs of State
Established in 1993, is an independent Australian public affairs firm with contemporary international connections. Affairs of State provides a matrix of
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Infrastructure as our Melbourne gets bigger
Well, The (independent) Age, the Herald Sun, The Australian Financial Review
and The Australian have this month focused on the state of the nation: massive
amounts of bullshit therein. (See editorial in Letter From Canberra). However,
one of the practical things which did get a few bashings from a range of directions
was Australian infrastructure and in particular the big East West Link, perhaps
with extras, that Victoria will almost certainly proceed with now that the federal
Coalition government has arrived.
As perhaps an Age article said this week, ‘Melbourne is swelling by 2 per cent a
year, adding more than 900,000 people since this century began’. Gosh. I think
of some of the road turns and access/roads in the CBD and inner suburbs which
were so handy back in 1999, and the children’s sea saw playground in Yarra Park,
adjacent to Punt Road, which space now has several thousand vehicles an hour
pass over it when that road was widened.
Fifty more trams are presently being brought to readiness in engineering workshops
in Melbourne. Will all help. This editor has a positive view on train and tram
infrastructure proceeding in the next few years, for two main reasons. It has to be
done, and financing has a couple of options, which are being discussed with more
flexibility these days. Just see what former premier Kennett, in this issue, recently
had to say.
With this new government in Canberra, the Victorian government will have
education, some transport and other infrastructure, and other issues in the easier
to deal with basket. Fewer squabbles and stone-walling between the two levels of
government, and local government The referendum on local government/financing
was also not held.)
Our cover is the City Circle tourist tram which in former years was greatly used by
our parents and grand parents and further back.
The 1958 Hire Purchase Act allowed most Melburnians to have a car and so roads
and freeways had a greater emphasis.
Now, Melbourne people, whether living in the inner suburbs or further out, have a
greater need for trams and trains. The pressure is on.
Happy reading.
– Alistair Urquhart
The Age, the Herald Sun, The Australian Financial Review and The Australian have
this month focused on the state of the nation: massive amounts of bullshit therein.
Letter from Melbourne
9 August to 10 September
State government & politics
Our Roads foundations
According to The Age, Treasurer Michael
O’Brien confirmed that the business case for
the $6 billion to $8 billion tollway to link the
Eastern Freeway and CityLink, will never be
made public, citing commercial sensitivity.
Secrecy around the business case for the eastwest public-private partnership has fuelled
concern about the reasoning behind a project
that the government has struggled to justify. It
is also at odds with a call last year by former
Kennett government minister Mark Birrell for
the release of business cases for PPPs (privatepublic partnerships) in light of the financial
collapse of toll tunnels in Brisbane and Sydney.
Birrell is now the head of private infrastructure
lobby Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.
Jeff’s vision
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, who
made his political mark as a debt-busting
crusader for small government and privatisation,
has urged the Victorian government to borrow
whatever it takes to build a comprehensive
underground rail system for Melbourne.
RACV view
In the Royal Auto magazine, President and
chairman Ross Herron said ‘Melbourne’s
complex transport needs require both the EastWest Link and the Metro Rail Tunnel to see our
state prosper.’
Warning against budget pressure
and also...
John Doyle, Victoria’s new Auditor-General,
has declared the global economic downturn
has made the role of his independent office
more important than ever because of budget
pressure in government departments. In his
annual report, Mr Doyle also said that the
Napthine Government’s new laws for the
anti-corruption commission have introduced
‘serious challenges to the effectiveness of my
office’s operations ... some very problematic
provisions remain that may compromise our
timeliness and efficiency.’
The Victorian Government is again caught up
in a fight to restrict information about parolees
committing serious crimes, just hours after
the Premier vowed transparency following a
damning report into Victoria’s failed parole
system. The report – by former High Court
judge Ian Callinan – confirmed that there were
serious flaws in the system, including the Adult
Parole Board encouraging the assumption
that a prisoner would almost automatically be
paroled at the earliest opportunity.
Geoff is Open
Independent MP Geoff Shaw has left open the
prospect of quitting politics before the 2014
election to pursue other opportunities, raising
further questions about the Coalition’s tenuous
grip on power. According to The Age, Mr Shaw,
who resigned from the parliamentary Liberal
Party in March to sit on the crossbench, has
revealed he is ‘leaving my options open’ after
months of scrutiny from Labor and the media.
Tobacco money
The Victorian Liberal Party will no longer
accept donations from tobacco companies after
Tony Abbott’s decision to end the practice.
Our good wishes
According to the Herald Sun, former premier
Joan Kirner said she was diagnosed with
oesophageal cancer last month and had started
chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Good jobs. Congratulations
The Department of Treasury and Finance is
looking for a new Secretary. [email protected]
Grant Hehir is off to Sydney as the New South
Wales Auditor-General.
The Victorian government is also looking
for a new Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is
appointed by the Governor in Council for a
period of 10 years, Carolyn Soddy (02) 9006
At Last
Letter From Melbourne is about to hit the streets
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Hold that wheel
According to a report in the Herald Sun,
Victoria’s Great Ocean Road will receive a $50
million facelift under an Abbott government
to protect its status as one of the world’s great
coastal driving routes.
Passing on
According to a report in The Age, recognised
for more than 20 years as one of Melbourne’s
best chefs, veteran French restaurateur Jacques
Reymond chose the The Age Good Food Guide
awards to announce his retirement. Call it
confidence, but with his eponymous Prahran
restaurant having nabbed the guide’s highest
accolade for 17 of the past 24 years, he passed
the baton to his two sous-chefs.
Street art
Controversial artist Adrian Doyle raised the
ire of Melburnians after he painted one of the
city’s lane0ways completely blue. According to
the Herald Sun, Rutledge Lane, which connects
the jewel of Melbourne’s street art crown,
Hosier Lane, was covered with a block-out of
baby blue paint, destroying every piece of art
in the colourful lane.
Heart of the Arts
The Melbourne Festival will be held from 11 to
27 October.
Melbourne Festival is one of Australia’s
leading international arts festivals and has an
outstanding reputation for presenting unique
international and Australian events in the
fields of dance, theatre, music, visual arts,
multimedia, free and outdoor events over 17
days each October.
First staged in 1986 under the direction of
composer Gian Carlo Menotti it became the
third in the Spoleto Festival series – joining
Spoleto, Italy, and Charleston, United States.
Known as Spoleto Melbourne - Festival of
the Three Worlds, it changed its name to the
Melbourne International Festival of the Arts
in 1990. In 2003, the Festival was renamed
Melbourne International Arts Festival, and is
now commonly known as Melbourne Festival.
TAFE blowout
According to The Age, Victorian taxpayers
are spending tens of millions of dollars to
prop up yet another botched IT project, this
time across the embattled TAFE sector. In
the wake of trouble-plagued projects such as
the Ultranet, HealthSmart and myki, another
high-tech computerised system has come
under the spotlight for being over budget
and heavily delayed. The latest initiative is
a student administration system for TAFE
institutes to keep records of their enrolments
and finances, which began under the former
Labor government in 2009. Four years later,
the cost has blown out from $66.9 million to
almost $100 million, several major institutes
have refused to take part, and the program has
still not been fully implemented.
Training providers will be banned from
enrolling well-educated staff and students in
unnecessary remedial courses in a contentious
bid to stop rorting of government-funded
subsidies, a practice that has potentially cost
taxpayers millions of dollars. According
to The Age, in the latest upheaval to the
vocational system, school students, people
with diplomas or degrees, and those taking
part in a Commonwealth employment scheme
will no longer get public funding for so-called
‘foundation’ courses, which are designed to
enhance basic skills in literacy and numeracy,
and drew more than $60 million in government
funding in the first three months of the year,
according to opposition estimates.
Red tape lessens...
School principals will be able turn the tables
on bureaucrats and get them to complete timeconsuming paperwork under a state-wide plan.
According to the Herald Sun, the outsourcing
service, previously only available to Victoria’s
tiniest government schools, will allow all
principals access to a ‘lab’ of Education
Department experts to complete financial
and administrative tasks. It aims to free up
educators so they can spend more time in the
classroom. Education Minister Martin Dixon
said 78 rural and regional schools had so far
joined the Local Administration Bureau or
‘LAB’ project. The service will be available to
all government schools from next year, with
smaller institutions expected to be the biggest
According to a report in The Age, strike teams
of high-performing principals will be sent in to
shake up struggling schools – and make their
colleagues accountable for poor results – as part
of a State Government plan to bridge the gaps
in education. Conceding that too many students
are still falling behind, the government has
embarked on a radical new approach in which
principals will be made to judge their peers and
schools will be held to account by competitors.
Letter from Melbourne
Tender documents reveal the department is
setting up a new ‘review and intervention
services panel’, whereby leading principals and
education experts will forensically analyse the
results, staffing structures and curriculum of
under-performing schools. The worst schools
will be reported to the department, which will
deploy a group of ‘intervention specialists’ to
try and turn the school around.
government has found. According to The Age,
the findings have potential implications for
Victoria’s timber industry, with the cabinetin-confidence report suggesting tens of
thousands more hectares of forest habitat is
needed to give Leadbeater’s the best chance of
avoiding extinction. The research – from the
state government’s Arthur Rylah Institute
– investigated the status of threatened species
in the central highlands forests, which were
ravaged by the Black Saturday bushfires.
Oil and penguins don’t mix...
Almost two in three electricity smart meters
installed in some parts of Victoria are not fully
working, as the deadline for the contentious
roll-out looms. According to the Herald Sun,
about 350,000 devices fitted in SP AusNet’s
region are yet to go ‘live’ with remote meter
Bad news for the nationally beloved fairy
penguins of Phillip Island: they would face,
according to The Age, a ‘serious threat from an
oil spill at the Port of Hastings – set to become
Australia’s next major container dock under
State Government plans.’
According to The Age, three times in three
years, someone has crept into Melbourne’s
Royal Botanic Gardens at night and committed,
literally, crimes against nature. The most recent
incident, on 19 July, included the ring-barking
of a 400-year-old river red gum known as
the Separation Tree, a brush box planted by
the Queen and a spotted gum, the slashing of
four other trees and the attempted burning of
An electricity giant trying to slug Victorian
customers tens of millions of dollars more for
smart meters has had its legal bid for higher
prices rebuffed. According to the Herald
Sun, the Australian Competition Tribunal has
dismissed distributor SP Ausnet’s appeal to
increase charges over the next two years to
cover communications technology costs.
Public power
disconnecting homes are paying customers
hundreds of dollars for ruined food, lost
income and other compensation. According to
the Herald Sun, the cases were revealed in an
Energy and Water Ombudsman report.
Environmen & conservation
Baw Baw
Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort recently closed all
lifts, despite bumper snow falls and threats of
legal action from business owners. According
to The Age, the shock decision raised further
concerns about the financial viability of the
resort, which has received more than $13
million in taxpayer funding since 2008, but is
expected to announce another huge lost this
Victoria’s endangered faunal emblem, the
Leadbeater’s possum, has insufficient habitat
to ensure the species’ long-term survival, a
leaked report commissioned by the state
How sad
This could be big
Former State Governor and Olympic legend
John Landy has joined a group of eminent
Victorians urging the Victorian government
to abandon moves to open up national parks
for tourism development. The letter, titled
Privatising Our National Parks – A Betrayal
of Public Trust, says allowing tourism
development is risky, deprives Victorians of
their public land and is not in keeping with the
environmental values of national parks.
State emblems
A 3,000-hectare State Emblems Conservation
Area would be created on Melbourne’s eastern
fringe as part of efforts to help stave off
extinction for two Victorian species under the
recommendations of a major review. According
to The Age, an 18-month, governmentcommissioned study has called for the
conservation area to be established, bringing
together 13 existing reserves and 364 hectares
of other land and inscribing it under the
National Parks Act. The largely unknown and
tiny Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve
– which would be brought into the proposed
3000-hectare area – is home to the last wild
populations of helmeted honey-eaters and
lowland Leadbeater’s possums, both emblems
of Victoria.
Parkland developments
A gardening expert has slammed the use of
parks to build major developments and warned
we face an urban environment crisis. According
to the Herald Sun, Wes Fleming, whose firm
won the top prize at this year’s Chelsea Flower
Show in London, questioned the loss of land
in Royal Park for the new Children’s Hospital.
Department of Environment and Primary
Industries wildlife expert Peter Menkhorst
said he had observed sparrows dwindling from
an abundant population in the 1990s to a patchy
distribution and lower numbers. According to
the Herald Sun, one possible explanation for
the brown bird’s gradual disappearance was its
habit of building nests in the roofs of houses or
other buildings.
Cold snap
On 9 August, the weather was hovering around
10 degrees, but 50 km/h winds and 70 per cent
humidity pushed the apparent temperature
below zero.
Underground relief
Melbourne City Council has closed several of
the CBD’s underground toilets in recent years,
although four of them are heritage-listed and
six recognised by the National Trust. Steven
Wojtkiw, chief economist at the Victorian
Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, recommended that the council create
a public competition to come up with the
best ideas for what should be done with the
remaining toilets.
Springing into fashion
With Melbourne’s recent warmer weather, it’s
appropriate that the Melbourne Spring Fashion
Week should have been occurring during
the first week in September. This is the 19th
consecutive year in which the Fashion Week
has taken place.
Spend limit...
According to The Age, a new system to help
gamblers set limits on their poker machine
Letter from Melbourne
9 August to 10 September
losses is likely to operate on the same card as
venue loyalty programs aimed at maximising
their spending. The state government will
introduce legislation this year to usher in
voluntary pre-commitment cards for every
poker machine in Victoria, including those at
Crown Casino, by the end of 2015.
Talking of gaming, the Herald Sun announced
that ‘gaming giant Intralot has revealed its
intention to sue the state Government, claiming
a 2008 tender process for lottery products was
unfair. In a writ filed in the Supreme Court,
Intralot claims its competitor, Tatts Group, was
granted favourable treatment during licence
negotiations for two public lottery categories.’
A ban on solariums has moved a step closer,
following the progress of a Bill in Parliament.
According to the Herald Sun, the change to the
Radiation Act, which went through recently,
would outlaw commercial tanning units within
two years. Cancer Council Victoria prevention
division director Craig Sinclair said his
organisation was delighted that the ban of the
dangerous machines was progressing.
Helipad closure
Critically ill Victorians could face longer and
riskier ambulance journeys in coming months
after the Royal Melbourne Hospital decided to
shut down its helipad for more than 15 hours
every day. According to The Age, the hospital
– one of Melbourne’s two major trauma centres
for adults – has temporarily closed its helipad
from 3.30PM to 7AM on weekdays and for
40.5 hours over weekends, due to unmanned
cranes on building sites nearby. The paper
reported that one doctor who did not want to be
named said that staff wanted one crane manned
24 hours a day so helicopters could continue to
land at the helipad. Head of the Victorian State
Trauma Registry and professor of emergency
medicine Peter Cameron said there was no
doubt that paramedics would choose to go to
The Alfred over the Royal Melbourne Hospital
while the diversions were in place to avoid
Donor parents
According to a report in The Age, Victorian
laws will be changed to allow children of sperm
and egg donors born before 1988 to find out the
identity of their biological parents – but only if
the donor consents.
Good job
The Victorian Government is looking for a
Mental Health Complaints Commissioner
(Victoria). Kathy Townsend on (03) 9486 6519.
Car deaths lower.
A breakthrough ‘trauma vaccine’ was described
recently by the Herald Sun in glowing terms.
It’s to be used on car crash victims, and ‘could
save 70 Victorian lives a year. The vaccine –
which helps stem internal bleeding – will be a
key weapon in a bid to bring the annual road
toll under 200. It will be the first time the drug,
Tranexamic acid, is used outside hospitals in
Victoria, buying critically ill patients time after
they lose the ability to clot blood. ... Hospital
trauma surgeon Professor Russell Green, who
has written a paper on the trial published in
the Medical Journal of Australia ... called car
crashes a major battleground in public health.’
Business & investment
Opening doors
According to the Herald Sun, Victoria’s
business sector is burgeoning, growing faster
than in any other state. New research reveals
that over the past four years, 32,500 companies
opened their doors. The number of businesses
jumped to 551,220 last year – a rise of 6.3 per
cent since 2008, according to ABS statistics.
Nationally, almost 70,000 businesses have
opened in the same period.
Troubled lender
The Age announced recently that investors in
Gippsland Secured Investments, a troubled
rural lender, face an uncertain future. This is
because a proposal for community and business
leaders was rejected by the Federal Court in
NSW. The proposal was meant to try to pull GSI
from the brink of insolvency by recapitalising
and avoiding receivership.
Industrial relations
Dispute alarm
According to a report in the Herald Sun,
Victoria’s construction industry watchdog is
investigating alleged harassment by unionists at
a major rail project. CFMEU officials allegedly
demanded that non-union workers be barred
from level crossing grade separation works at
Port storm
According to a report in the Herald Sun, police
surrounded Station Pier in Port Melbourne as
an allegedly illegal protest, aimed at disrupting
freight deliveries to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry
continued. Up to 50 officers from public order
response units lined up at the dock, where an
estimated 20 protesters gathered from 6AM.
Justice & police
Parole Board
Corrections Victoria compiles a parole
assessment report for all offenders eligible for
parole, which includes a risk analysis using the
Victorian Intervention Screening Assessment
Tool. Professor James Ogloff found that this
tool had not been evaluated. An assessment has
since been completed. Recommendations made
in the Callinan review, which was released on
Tuesday, are set to guide the state government
in an overhaul of the parole system. The review
by retired High Court judge Ian Callinan
was established after the rape and murder of
Jill Meagher by Adrian Ernest Bayley in
September 2012.
Parole board (2)
According to the Herald Sun, the Adult Parole
Board has hit back at a damning government
report that criticised its handling of some of the
state’s most violent criminals. It said parts of
the review, by former High Court judge Ian
Callinan, were wrong.
Prisoners sentenced to three years or more must
apply for parole; parolees returned to jail must
serve at least half of their remaining sentences
before parole is reconsidered; it will be harder
for violent criminals, serious sex offenders
and burglars to get parole, with a second
‘review’ panel overseeing decisions; dangerous
prisoners would be paroled only if there is a
‘negligible’ chance of re-offending; legislation
would be put in place to make community
protection the paramount consideration; full
time chair for the Adult Parole Board;
Board members should serve no more than
six-nine years; victims to be kept informed and
given voice about the release of criminals; more
should be done to attract and retain experienced
parole officers; board operating manual to be
made public, and board must publicise parolee
homicides. All these are things the recent
Callinan review of parole has recommended.
According to Dan Oakes in The Age, ‘The
Parole Board has been silent over the months
Small business outlines ‘The BIG 4’ issues for survival
VECCI calls on the Federal Government to keep its ongoing focus
on the economy and business conditions by implementing the
national reform blueprint, Getting On With Business, prepared by
the national business body the Australian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry.
Federal Government to back business so it can get on with
creating jobs and prosperity.
With the federal election having decided the country’s leader,
the Government now has the responsibility to move forward
with implementing crucial reform in key areas including
tax, jobs growth, trade liberalisation and infrastructure.
Responsible economic management and fiscal discipline
Despite the best efforts of the business sector over the
last decade, competitiveness and productivity have
declined. VECCI strongly supports a whole-of-government
reform agenda targeting five national priorities aimed at
reinvigorating the private sector.
As outlined in Getting On With Business, the national priorities
include: a stronger economy; raising productivity and
competitiveness; accessing global markets; better functioning
institutions and supporting small business.
The blueprint highlights the need for reforms such as a
reduction in the company tax rate, a focus on the quality of
the education and training system, harmonisation of existing
regulations across states and territories and the adoption of
a regulatory culture that understands the business process.
These reforms will contribute to a positive economic
environment that will encourage growth, leadership and
innovation across the sector. This environment would be
underpinned by business confidence and economic stability.
Building the capacity of the private sector must be the central
operating principle of the Government. Victoria needs the
Issues VECCI is pursuing on behalf of our members are reflected
in Getting On With Business and include:
An acceleration in the pace and breadth of regulation reform
Continuing support to build new trade opportunities for Victorian businesses in key
emerging and traditional markets
Employer-focused training reforms
Strategic investment in infrastructure
Significantly, Getting On With Business profiles the support
needed for small business. During the election campaign, VECCI
promoted the issues identified through the Small Business, Too Big
To Ignore campaign, calling on both Labor and the Coalition to
commit to the key priority areas.
The BIG 4 You Can’t Ignore priorities issues as raised by
small businesses include: cutting red tape, simplifying the
tax system, making it easier to employ people and building
better infrastructure. The campaign amplified the voices of
the thousands of small businesses across the country that
voiced their support for these key issues in the lead-up to
the election.
We will continue to urge the Federal Government to act on Getting
On With Business, which is critical to the growth and success of the
Victorian business sector.
– VECCI Chief Executive, Mark Stone
Letter from Melbourne
9 August to 10 September
as public outrage has reached fever pitch, but
privately the head of the board, Elizabeth
Curtain, expressed her anger that the
government was not defending the board. For
its part, the government, you suspect, was happy
for the board to be drawing the heat. But with
the release of the 122-page report and the airing
of its 23 recommendations, the focus should
turn from recriminations to action.’
Not fit
is on remand. More than 80 per cent are mothers,
with their children at risk of being put into care.
Feral teens
A magistrate has refused to send a young repeat
offender to a state home over fears carers there
can’t control the children. According to the
Herald Sun, the Department of Human Services
said staff were unable to force young people to
stay because they lacked powers afforded to
youth justice centres.
According to the Herald Sun, unfit Victoria
Police recruits have failed a basic physical test Crime pays – for consultants
that an expert says any overweight couch potato The Ravenhall prison project, The Age revealed,
could pass. Ten out-of-shape probationary ‘has been lucrative for consultants, with a
constables could not pass a ‘very easy’ seven- State Government [spending] $10.7 million
stage fitness test, which includes completing for external advice. A private partner has not
five push-ups and climbing over a waist high yet been appointed for the new men’s prison,
obstacle. In 2009, Victoria Police announced but the Department of Justice has awarded
they would reintroduce fitness tests for frontline contracts to 14 legal, design, engineering and
officers, but the paper revealed that their security consultants and advisers.’
physical fitness is still not examined.
Victorians owe $1.2 billion in unpaid fines from
warrants, with the state’s watchdog warning
that a large number of offenders are not being
held accountable. Victorian Ombudsman
George Brouwer said there was ‘little
deterrent’ for not paying fines and road safety
was being compromised. The Ombudsman
said there were not enough sheriffs to serve an
escalating number of warrants issued for unpaid
traffic, public order, industry regulation and
environment protection fines.
Legal crisis
According to a report in The Age, national legal
bodies have called on federal political parties
to explain during the election campaign how
they will solve the crisis in legal aid. Cashstrapped state legal aid commissions and
community legal centres give free legal help to
the most disadvantaged in criminal, civil and
family disputes. Demand for their services has
grown considerably in recent years, with some
community legal centres saying they must turn
away many people because they can no longer
afford to help them.
Gated community
A Melbourne community with its own security
force and CCTV network is beefing up its
$800,000 safety system, despite concerns that
exclusive neighbourhoods create a ‘two-phase
society’. According to The Age, Sanctuary
Lakes Resort – near Point Cook – already has
number plate recognition technology at its
single entrance and a panic button in every
home. Now it plans to install new cameras in two
roving 24/7 security vehicles. The 8,000-strong
community is within the local government area
of Wyndham, which in 2012-13 had the secondhighest rate of residential burglaries in Victoria.
Too many
Koori women have become the fastest growing
segment of Victoria’s prison population, a
new report from the state’s human rights
commission has revealed. Unfinished Business,
to be launched on Monday, finds the number
of Koori women in jail has doubled over the
past five years. According to The Age, the
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights
Commission report finds that one in 10 female
prisoners in Victoria is Koori, and one in three
Local government
According to a report in the Herald Sun,
Darebin Council may be monitored for the rest
of its term after an Ombudsman’s investigation
uncovered serious breaches by members of the
tweak, is a neat fit for the Melbourne restaurant
industry’s tumultuous year. Last week saw the
shock closure of Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons
at Crown, and the six-week-old Mercy in the
city; last month saw the closure of South Yarra’s
Louie. Embrasse, Gigibaba, Libertine, Mask of
China, Wildflower and Walter’s Wine Bar all
closed their doors in recent months. They won’t
be the last closures in an industry doing it tough,
with several other “name” restaurants on shaky
Melbourne Day
Melbourne Day was Friday 30 August, the
date in 1835 on which settlers from Tasmania
disembarked from the ship Enterprise near
present-day Flinders Street. This was the 178th
anniversary, and the chief of Melbourne Day is
Campbell Walker, son of former lord mayor
Ron Walker.
New app
According to The Age, a free phone app that is
a walking tour and living archive of Melbourne
with anecdotes of memorable places from
memorable people. The National Trust has
released the ‘our city’ app for Melbourne –
just in time for Melbourne’s 178th birthday
Boris in town
London Mayor Boris Johnson jumped on a
bike and zipped down Spring Street – without
a care or a helmet. According to the Herald Sun,
he showed remorse after he realised he was
legally obliged to protect his head in THIS City,
but not back home in London.
There will be a sweeping review of local
council elections in a bid to reduce the number
of ‘dummy candidates’ and to reassess who is
eligible to vote. According The Age, the review
will be headed by respected Liberal Party
elder statesman Petro Georgiou and will also Musings
consider why almost a third of eligible voters
did not vote at the 2012 council elections, In the Herald Sun, Boris Johnson said Britain
candidate disclosures including membership ‘betrayed’ the Commonwealth by joining the
of political parties and campaign donations. European Union, and should intensify ties with
Recent local government elections have been countries such as Australia. In a provocative
plagued by claims of dummy candidates – newspaper article, the London Mayor said the
those with no real intention of winning – filling UK must distance itself from Europe and seek
ballot papers to funnel votes to other candidates. a ‘wider destiny for our country’ further afield.
At the last election some councils had as many A fervent critic of the EU, Mr Johnson said it
was time to ‘raise our eyes beyond Europe’ and
as 85 candidates for 11 vacancies.
not think of ourselves as ‘little Europeans run
by Brussels.’
Council sued
There is trouble at Campaspe Shire as one of its
own councillors sues the council on which he
sits for $50,000 in legal bills over a planning
dispute. Councillor Paul Jarman took the rural
council to VCAT when it knocked back his
application to build a cool room in the historic
Star Hotel he runs in Echuca.
Greater Geelong Mayor Keith Fagg has quit
the job less than 10 months after taking office,
citing personal health concerns.
According to a report in The Age, Melbourne’s
population is swelling by 2 per cent a year,
adding more than 900,000 people since this
century began – and putting it on track to be
a city of eight million people by 2050. The
Bureau of Statistics estimates that in mid-2012,
the city’s population was about to hit 4.25
million, after six boom years in which it grew
by almost half a million.
In The Age, ‘May you dine in interesting
times. The ancient Chinese curse, with a small
According to The Age, the running of
Melbourne’s venerable Kelvin Club is to be
taken over by a nightclub czar who once ran an
unlicensed venue called Shit Town. Established
in 1927, although its roots stretch back to 1868,
the Kelvin Club is a traditional private club,
which demands that men wear a suit jacket and
tie in the dining room. Members were told that
the new owner would overhaul the bar and the
dining room, which offers such traditional club
fare as bangers and mash. The club is believed
to have about 100 members. Most are men, as
the club only began admitting women in 1992.
According to the Herald Sun, city traders in
popular Degraves Street hadn’t realised how
much rubbish they were generating until they
started collecting it. About 57 tonnes of glass,
plastic, cardboard and other hard waste has been
gathered, plus about six tonnes of food waste.
Thanks to a $500,000 program sponsored by the
City of Melbourne, the rubbish hasn’t gone to
landfill. The traders are recycling most of their
garbage thanks to high-tech machinery. Key
to the project is an organic dehydrator, which
Letter from Melbourne
removes water from food waste and converts it
to compost.
Calls to shine
Melbourne’s rivers and bridges will be specially
illuminated under a $20 million council plan to
make the city more attractive and safe at night.
According to the Herald Sun, public and private
lighting will be co-ordinated to a single lighting
theme for the city skyline.
According to the Herald Sun, the relaunch of
the troubled Docklands wheel has been delayed
until 2014 – more than 1,800 days after its
closure due to cracks.
Good job
Federation Square is looking for a new Chief
Executive Officer, Jo Fisher Executive Search
(03) 9016 6000.
Green light for 26 storeys
When the ALP was last in office in Victoria, it
gave permission for a 26-storey redevelopment
project for the Melbourne site previously
occupied by the Windsor Hotel. This permission
was deplored in early September by Planning
Minister Matthew Guy, ‘The Victorian Labor
Party owes this state an enormous explanation
as to how on Earth they gave a permit to gut
one of the grand old ladies of Melbourne
Ansett building
According to The Age, a 1970s office tower has
been signed up for a $7 million environmental
upgrade as part of Melbourne City Council’s
ambitious target to retro-fit up to two-thirds
of the municipality’s commercial buildings.
The 19-storey former Ansett building in
Swanston Street will have its lifts, cooling
and heating systems upgraded with estimated
annual savings of 606,700 kilograms in carbon
emissions and an $80,000 reduction in the
building’s yearly energy bills. The building is
part of the council’s ambitious 1200 buildings
program in which building owners have access
to finance to upgrade the building with the loan
repaid through council rates.
According to The Age, ‘micro-apartments’ are
a trend in the world’s Western cities but not
everyone is in favour of them. Most are less
than 18.5 square metres, including separate
bathrooms. They typically come furnished,
sometimes with built-in beds and other
amenities. Few come with parking. Building
authorities in Sydney, Adelaide and London
have acted to stop such development by
requiring a one-bedroom flat to be a minimum
of 50 square metres. Melbourne Council is
considering similar rules because of concerns
about residents’ quality of life. The median
size of a new one-bedder in inner Melbourne
has dropped from 52 to 44 square metres in five
years, according to research by Oliver Hume
Real Estate group.
Hong Kong?
According to The Age, the Liberal Party has
averted a potentially damaging pre-election
court examination of Planning Minister
Matthew Guy’s botched rezoning of farmland
on Phillip Island, courtesy of a taxpayerfunded deal to silence the landowner and
developer involved. In a last-minute, out-ofcourt settlement, the Victorian Government has
struck a confidential deal aimed at putting an
end to the two-year row over Mr Guy’s backflip on rezoning of a 24-hectare property to
residential at Ventnor.
Phillip Island
Planning Minister Matthew Guy faces his first
censure motion in Parliament over the taxpayerfunded, multi-million-dollar payout for his
botched rezoning of farmland at Ventnor on
Phillip Island.
According to The Age, architect Rob Adams,
the city’s most influential planner and urban
designer, has warned that central Melbourne
will become ‘windy, dark and not a pleasant
place to be’ if 104 tall towers now approved
for construction in central Melbourne are built. Revamp
Professor Adams, Melbourne City Council’s
director of city design, joined the council in Barry Humphries has entered the debate over
1983 with a brief to reinvigorate the city core by the proposed redesign of Flinders Street Station
bringing residents back. Today there are 28,000 – calling it a ‘big drain’.
apartments within Melbourne City Council’s
boundaries. And 14,000 more are planned over Public rental crackdown?
the next five years. Professor Adams questioned The Age announced that ‘vulnerable public
whether Melbourne’s ‘flood’ of apartment housing tenants are increasingly facing eviction
development was now going too far.
for unpaid rent, with homeless services warning
they have been inundated with requests for help.’
Hotel call
Nevertheless a Department of Human Services
According to the Herald Sun, Lord Mayor spokeswoman ‘said there had been no change
Robert Doyle declared an indirect conflict of to the department’s rental arrears policy and it
interest and excuses himself from a council expected tenants to meet their responsibilities,
meeting when a controversial CBD hotel which were set out when they signed a lease.
proposal was raised. The Lord Mayor’s former “Eviction is always a last resort”.’
chief-of-staff, Alistair Paterson, is a consultant
to developer Jinshan Investments, which
wants to build a 100m luxury hotel and units Sport
on the Palace Theatre site at the top of Bourke
How sad
Essendon Football Club has been (1) banned
from the 2013 finals series, (2) hit with
Festival miffed
The Melbourne International Film Festival significant draft penalties (3) slapped with a
is facing a seating crisis, with the imminent $2 million fine for the derelict failures of its
demise of its largest venue casting a shadow football program in 2012, and (4) coach James
over its future as a city-based event. According Hird has been banned from coaching for 12
to a report in The Age, the Greater Union months. Oh to have been a fly or a flea on the
Russell Street is set to be demolished, with wall!
the six-cinema complex to be replaced by a
12-storey hotel and apartment block. Though Transport – Ports
the new building will be developed by the
company that owns the cinema, Amalgamated Port access?
Holdings Limited, its plans include a restaurant The first stage of the East-West Link could
and rooftop bar but no cinema.
include an extension to the Port of Melbourne
Letter from Melbourne
9 August to 10 September
as part of a plan to manage truck traffic linked
to a doubling of container trade over the next
decade. According to a report in The Age, the
government is believed to have encouraged
companies bidding to build the road to include
add-on plans for ‘further stages’ of the project –
including a raised road extending from CityLink
south of Dynon Road to the port. Although
the port connection is not a mandatory part
of the tender process, tender documents make
it clear that a truck access point to the port is
considered a priority. The link will be assessed
as part of the government’s comprehensive
impact statement examining the environmental
and social effects of the project, which is
expected to cost up to $8 billion.
Ferry service?
A ferry will transport visitors from the CBD
to Chapel Street as part of a newly released
master plan to restore the tired shopping strip
to its glory days. According to The Age, under
the master plan developed by Stonnington City
Council, a ferry terminal would be erected on
the Yarra River at the northern end of Chapel
Street at the intersection of Alexandra Avenue.
The terminal would form one of two major
gateways to the shopping strip in a bid to attract
visitors to the precinct, which is described in
the report as ‘run-down’ and ‘outdated’.
Transport – Air
Airport announcement
Essendon Airport’s 2013 Preliminary Draft
Master Plan outlines the direction and vision of
Essendon Airport with the aim to create more
jobs, increase community benefit, and provide
a greater vision for the next 20 years.
Transport – Rail
Rail tunnel
As Premier Denis Napthine pushes ahead with
plans for an east-west road between Clifton
Hill and Flemington, an economic report has
argued in favour of the alternative rail proposal:
an underground train line between South Yarra
and Kensington. According to The Age, the
report was prepared last year for the Council of
Australian Governments reform council. It says
the Melbourne Metro would improve travel
times, reshape employment opportunities,
and ‘significantly’ mitigate disadvantage in
Melbourne’s west by giving people more
access to work. In turn, labour productivity
would increase by about $384 million over
the next 30 years, and ‘equality of opportunity’
would improve.
Borrow to build (2)
Borrowing big could be the answer to boosting
Victoria’s public transport network, according
to the state’s public transport boss. According
to a report in The Age, with a rail expansion
‘vision’ – one that includes the multi-billiondollar Melbourne Metro nine kilometre rail
tunnel through inner Melbourne, linking the
Sunbury and Pakenham/Cranbourne rail lines,
and new lines to Rowville, Doncaster and the
airport – Public Transport Victoria boss Ian
Dobbs said borrowing should be on the table.
Lack of space
Metro-authorised officers fined almost 5,000
motorists last financial year for illegal parking
at just twelve Melbourne stations, government
data shows. The rail operator’s authorised
officers – who also fine fare evaders – issued a
total of 4,784 infringement notices to motorists
who had illegally parked at one of the network’s
12 most overstretched stations last financial
year, netting the state government more than
$265,000 in consolidated revenue. According
to The Age, the chronic parking squeeze is worst
at outer suburban zone two stations and at zone
one/two crossover stations, many of which do
have large car parks. Werribee, which has a car
park with 582 spaces, was the station at which
the highest number of fines was issued. In total,
1115 fines were issued there last financial year,
costing commuters $32,589, Department of
Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure
data reveals. Commuters at Watsonia station
were fined even harder, with 721 fines issued,
totalling $42,286.
According to The Age, an $18 billion backlog
of unrealised road and rail projects risks turning
Melbourne’s outer suburbs into isolated ghettos
because successive state governments have
failed to convert long-term plans into reality,
the state’s Auditor-General has warned. In
a new report on transport infrastructure in
Melbourne’s outer growth areas, AuditorGeneral John Doyle identified several longstanding transport projects for Melbourne that
have languished at the planning stage. At the
furthest extreme is the Doncaster rail line, first
identified in 1929 and now due for completion
in 2027, according to Public Transport
Victoria’s rail plan – a gap of 98 years.
Eddington on project costs
Infrastructure expert Sir Rod Eddington has
called for maximum transparency to allow the
public to make up its own mind about major
transport projects such as Melbourne’s East-
West Link. Asked about the Napthine cabinet’s
decision to keep the business case for the road
secret, Sir Rod told The Age that he hoped
to reach a point where governments were
prepared to release detailed costings to allow
independent scrutiny.
Talbot back
According to The Age, construction of a new
station will start in October, and will be finished
by the end of the year at a cost to taxpayers of
$2.5 million, Public Transport Victoria says.
Talbot, in the marginal Labor-held state seat
of Ripon, will be the smallest town in Victoria
with a functioning railway station. There is an
existing station, a single-storey brick and cast
iron building from the 1870s, but it cannot
accommodate V/Line’s modern VLocity trains
and so will remain in its current use as a plant
nursery. Talbot – 165 kilometres north-west of
Melbourne – is the only disused stop on the
Maryborough line. The Coalition promised at
the last state election to reopen it, to the joy of
locals who had lobbied for its return.
Transport – Road
No licence, please, we’re Gen Y
Adam Shand, columnist for The Australian,
wrote recently that for members of Generation
Y, getting a driver’s licence – far from being
the obligatory rite of adult passage it used to
be for millions of young people – seems to
have become an optional extra. ‘A new study
in Victoria by Monash University shows the
number of licence holders under 30 is dropping
at more than 1 per cent a year. Having a smart
phone is more important to Gen Y than having
a car.’
Freedom for roads, CityLink urges
CityLink has raised, according to the Herald
Sun, ‘the long-term prospect of charging
motorists more for travel in peak hours and less
for off-peak journeys. Transurban CEO Scott
Charlton said congestion could be eased in
peak times by selling blocks of off-peak time on
toll roads in exchange for fixed price contracts.
Speaking at a Freight Week conference run by
the Victorian Transport Association and the
Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce,
he acknowledged reform was “politically
charged”.’ But, he said, leaders ‘could not wait
for the perfect solution or keep building their
way out of congestion.’
New ramp fears
New ramps will connect the East-West
Link to Arden Street in Melbourne’s inner
north, funnelling thousands of vehicles on
to Kensington and North Melbourne streets.
Letter from Melbourne
According to a report in The Age, previously
concealed plans for the second stage of the
planned multi-billion-dollar toll road show
‘future Arden Street ramps’ joining a four-lane
elevated road alongside CityLink.
The map, created by the Linking Melbourne
Authority, has dotted lines indicating on and
off ramps connecting the elevated link to Arden
and Lloyd Streets. The map also shows 21
properties in Kensington that will be acquired
to make way for the four-lane road, which will
run for much of its length along the western
bank of Moonee Ponds Creek.
the eastern side of the road, which has been
under a public acquisition overlay since the
1950s. The government is weighing up the
road’s future as part of its strategy to manage
Melbourne’s long-term growth but insists it has
no plans to widen it ‘at this point in time’. A
‘preliminary study’ on the future of Punt Road,
completed last year, considered four options.
In the long-term, road widening is ‘the only
opportunity for providing additional northsouth capacity’ in the area, other than digging a
new road tunnel, VicRoads believes.
Bid rejected
Widening one of Melbourne’s key arterials,
Punt Road, and bulldozing homes in the
process is not on the State Government’s
horizon, according to its Planning Minister,
Matthew Guy.
According to The Age, the Victorian
government rejected a bid by Australia’s
largest superannuation fund to finance, build
and operate the entire East-West Link as a
single project stretching 18 kilometres from
the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road.
Industry Funds Management, which invests
more than $46 billion worldwide, lodged a
detailed proposal to build both sections of the
road simultaneously, suggesting it could be
done for under $12 billion with minimal risk
for taxpayers. Government sources confirmed
the fund handed in the unsolicited bid to the
Department of Treasury and Finance in late
May in the wake of the state budget.
The Victorian Government has launched a
scathing attack on Labor and its opposition
to the East-West Link, releasing an online
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews is a
hypocrite. Planning Minister Matthew Guy
said that Labor needed to stop lying about the
Not good
State Treasurer Michael O’Brien has revealed
that the government dismissed an unsolicited
bid to build the entire East-West Link because
it was not good value for money.
Benefits inflated
Traffic estimates used to justify the Victorian
government’s East-West Link toll road
‘artificially inflate the benefits that can be
expected from the project’, according to leaked
emails sent by a senior VicRoads manager.
According to a report in The Age, a separate
leaked memo from VicRoads’ senior transport
economist questions traffic figures put forward
to support the road, saying the projection
‘smacks of a desire to enhance the quantum of
benefits’. Premier Denis Napthine dismissed
the leaked emails as merely advice from public
servants who were ‘individuals that have
different views’.
They were not the view of VicRoads, he said.
Dr Napthine has vowed to see construction start
on the East-West Link road, joining the Eastern
Freeway to CityLink, before next year’s
election. The Coalition came to office promising
a variety of public transport projects, including
a new rail line to Doncaster, and ridiculed preelection suggestions it planned building the sixkilometre freeway. The $6-$8 billion road – the
most expensive transport project in Victoria’s
history – would tunnel from Clifton Hill under
North Carlton to Flemington, cutting the trip
from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink to just
seven minutes.
VicRoads has proposed widening Punt Road
from four lanes to six between Alexandra
Avenue, South Yarra and Union Street in
Windsor. This would require bulldozing a
20-metre-wide path through every property on
No F.... way
A giant
The RACV has become a giant in Victoria,
rapidly expanding to one of Australia’s biggest
tourism operators, boasting more than 2 million
service members and billions of dollars in
assets. Two out of every three households in
Victoria have some form of RACV membership,
and what started as a small motoring club in
1903 has boomed to have annual revenue of
$430 million.
The organisation’s Royal Auto magazine is
distributed to 1.5 million properties, making
it the highest-circulation magazine in Victoria.
While 1.13 million members are eligible to vote
in the election, fewer than seven per cent voted
last time. According to The Age, one who will
be voting is cyclist and car owner Noel Jacobs,
who believes the RACV concentrates too much
of its muscle on promoting car drivers.
According to the Herald Sun, more than 5,000
motorists were caught by Department of Justice
cameras travelling more than 30km/h above the
speed limit in one year, while police caught
another 7,500.
According to the Herald Sun, the speed camera
watchdog will call for fines for almost 1,000
motorists to be scrapped because they sped
inadvertently. Gordon Lewis believes this is the
only fair thing to do, because signs warning of
temporary 40km/h zones near road-works were
The taxi industry has asked Victoria’s
regulation watchdog to investigate the State
government’s reforms. According to the
Herald Sun, the Victorian Taxi Association
filed a competitive neutrality complaint with
the Victorian Competition and Efficiency
Commission, claiming the licensing changes
give the government a competitive advantage.
Cabs (2)
Foreign students on visas will be allowed to rent
a taxi licence from the Victorian Government
in a move slammed by existing plate holders.
According to the Herald Sun, the issue was
raised in a fiery meeting between Transport
Minister Terry Mulder, taxi tsar, (or a more
objective and sensible and non-journalistic
word) Commissioner Graeme Samuel and
several licence holders from the Victorian
Taxi Families group. Anyone can rent a taxi
licence from the government for $22,000 a
year, indexed at 0.5 per cent below CPI. This
decision comes as part of reforms aimed to
improve the troubled industry.
According to the Herald Sun, 80 elderly drivers
are being banned from Victorian roads every
week after being dobbed in by family, doctors,
police and the public. The licences of 4,106
drivers aged 71 and over were suspended or
can celled in 2012-13 after failing a VicRoads
medical review. That is almost one in six of
the state’s 24,824 drivers in that age group. A
further 84,000 have had licence conditions
imposed, including wearing glasses, kilometre
radius restrictions and night-time driving bans.
There have been six major accidents involving
older drivers in as many weeks.
Our friends
According to a report in the Herald Sun, vets are
warning tradesmen to keep their pets properly
restrained. Lort Smith Animal Hospital head
veterinarian Dr Andrew Kapsis said that
hundreds of dogs were injured every year while
travelling on ute trays.
Warm inner blow
During August, wind farms in four states
produced record levels of energy. The Age,
which announced this finding, said that the
energy thus generated ‘could power 155,000
Australian homes for a year. Across the country,
enough power was generated from wind farms
to make toasted sandwiches for more than 6.1
billion people, almost enough for every person
on earth. The new levels were a result of the
growing number of wind farms and a gusty
last month of winter, the Clean Energy Council
says, pointing out that 8 per cent of the power
in the National Electricity Market in August
came from wind farms. In South Australia,
wind farms produced the equivalent of almost
40 per cent of the state’s power, significantly
higher than its previous record of 31.2 per cent.’
David Robert Balderstone, 67. Dr Jan
Altmann. Bernard Barron, 86. World Vision
Australia founder. Enrico Bernoni, 92. Dr
T. Ray Bradley AM, scientist and jazzman.
William Brennan, 75. Former Catholic Bishop
of Wagga Wagga (1984-2002), notable for
wholesale reforms of education and seminary
life in his diocese. Tom Christian, 78.
Descendent of Fletcher Christian. William
Dimmick, 88. Member of 460 Squadron. Sir
David Frost, 74. Internationally renowned
British broadcaster over five decades, who
interviewed British Prime Ministers from
Harold Wilson to Tony Blair, but whose most
famous single televisual appearance was his
1977 post-Watergate grilling of Richard Nixon.
Robert Ebihara. Brigadier William ‘Mac’
Grant OAM RFD, 90. Veteran of World War
II and everywhere else and later employed by
ASIS, in which connection he became close to
Indonesia’s General Murdani. Alex Hawkins.
Mary Irving. Ivan Light. John McArdle
QC. Phyllis C. McBean, 101. Bruce McBrien
OAM. Former Honorary Secretary of the
Council of British and Commonwealth Societies.
Tessa Joy McCann. Donald McGinn. Former
chairman of MCM Entertainment. Hubert
Henry Miller OAM, 81. William Nicholson,
85. Bill Peach, 78. Veteran television journalist.
David Powell, 56. James Ramsay, former
MLA for Balwyn. Max Reed. Former St Kilda
Football Club player. Lt Col Ronald Rust, 89.
Prof Emer Dr Peter Schwedtfeger, 77. Peter
O’Shaughnessy, 89. Philip Roland Smibert.
Loti Smorgon AO. Joan Sturzaker OAM. Dr
Jack Swann. Michael Symmons. Ios Teper,
98. Soviet war hero and Jewish activist. Jack
Thompson, WWII veteran. Edward (Ted)
Woolcock. Bernard Worsam.