Category Archives: Uncategorized

Council Candidate Survey finds Victorians unhappy with direction of planning

SOS MEDIA RELEASE,  October 14, 2016:

Our state wide survey of council candidates for local government elections on 22 October indicates widespread community concern with the management and direction of planning in Victoria.

To date, about 450 candidates, from all backgrounds and political persuasion, have responded. The Survey is live and will continue until Election Day.

Candidates were first asked to list main local governance and planning issues in their area, providing a snapshot of key local issues across the State and revealing many common concerns.

Questions on improved governance received overwhelming support:
•    90% said we needed more transparency
•    85% support political donations reform
•    75% support stronger enforcement of permit conditions and oversight of building quality
•    70% said Council need more standardised financial reporting
•    60% support tighter planning controls to protect residents

Views were mixed on the benefit of the current development boom for housing affordability.
Views were also mixed on how to prioritise competing issues, such as “economic activity through construction” and long term environmental sustainability.

Candidates were asked about the vexed issue of political affiliation. Despite public interest and concern, there is much secrecy and little public information on political affiliation in Victoria.
Candidates responded about 64% with no affiliation, 8% Liberal, 13% Labor, 11% Green, 6% other.

Candidates were finally asked to give their view on “How happy do you think your local residents are with the way Victoria is being developed?”
•    27% “Very unhappy and concerned”
•    26% “Moderately unhappy”
•    27% said they thought that Victorians were unsure
•    18% “Moderately happy”
•    2% ” Very happy”

While the community survey has limitations due to bias and self selection, it is indicative of serious community concern and unhappiness with the direction of planning in Victoria. SOS members are concerned that Victoria’s liveability is being diminished by poor quality, poorly designed or excessive development. Inclusive local communities, local shops, safe streets and caring communities are not valued, let alone protected. Victorians from across the State, from different political spectrum and all backgrounds seem to share our concern.

The survey is supported by over two dozen community groups. Full details, supporters and results are posted below.

Responses to 2016 Local Council Candidate Survey

Candidates have started to send in answers to our Planning Survey, see below.

Thanks to all who have already responded.

The Survey is open until election day. Answers will be added as they arrive.

A link to the live answers will be sent to over 100 community groups across Victoria. Please feel free to use and circulate the Survey and Answers.

2016 Local Council Candidate Survey

In September, SOS sent a survey to approx 1900 Local Council candidates. The survey is supported by community and planning organisations from across Victoria, see below.

The purpose of the survey is to help inform voters on candidate’s views and also to draw candidate’s attention to some key issues of concern.

Results will be circulated and published on SOS and other community organisation websites over the next month, as they come in.

Please let us know if you wish to be included as signatory, so far:

Save Our Suburbs
Blue Wedges
Carlton Residents Association
Coalition of Residents and Business Associations
Green Wedges Coalition
Eastern Ratepayers
Citizens for a Liveable Melbourne
Glen Eira Residents Association
Ratepayers Victoria
Beaumaris Conservation Society
Darebin Appropriate Development Association
Croydon Conservation Society
Save Albert Park
Friends of Banyule
Port Phillip Conservation Council
Save Moonee Ponds
Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association
Save Coburg
Cardinia Ratepayers & Residents Association
West of Elgar Residents’ Association
Collingwood and Abbotsford Residents Association
Westernport and Peninsular Protection Council
Brighton Residents for Urban Protection
Brimbank Urban Planning – Community Discussion Group


Planning Act Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Bill 2015

Planning Minister Wynne claims the Bill is going to improve decision-making and planning outcomes, and increase the confidence of residents in the planning system. 

Will it make a difference?  Very little…..   See our edited submission to the Parliamentary Environment & Planning Committee (submissions closed on July 6).

THIS is how the relevant bits of the Act would read if the Bill in its current form is passed

This issue is politically important because this Bill is the result of an ALP election promise to ‘give the community a voice‘.  The Minister claims the Bill will improve decision-making and planning outcomes, and increase community confidence in the planning system.  But if it’s going to be able to do that, it needs to be toughened up a bit first – and the Upper House of Parliament is the best place to start!

So please lobby your local MPs and cross-bench Upper House MPs, even if you just reiterate some of our key points and your own comments.

Sixteen submissions have been lodged with the Upper House Parliamentary Environment & Planning Committee, which consists of 3 Coalition MPs, 3 ALP MPs, Greens planning spokesperson Samantha Dunn MP and Daniel Brown MP of the Shooters and Fishers Party – quite a varied bunch, and the cross-benchers have more power in the new Parliament.

At a half-day hearing on July 10, five organisations also addressed the Committee – the transcripts of their comments can be read HERE (including only one community group presentation).

The Bill won’t come up again in the Parliament until after the winter recess (ie, in August), so this is an ideal time to talk to your local MP.

We need to talk about Planning – Survey of election candidates

Community groups across Victoria have joined together to survey candidates on the conduct and direction of Planning in Victoria.

The Survey was drafted by SOS with input and support from a wide range of groups. These include some of our smallest newest residents groups and also long standing state wide groups like Green Wedges, Protectors of Public Lands, Planning Backlash and the Public Transport Users Association.

The Survey asks about local issues and key issues of concern including:

  • The need for VCAT reform and better protection of local amenity
  • Whether we have a failure of independent, long term infrastructure planning
  • Failure to secure the Urban Growth Boundary and Green Wedges
  • Whether the increasing deregulation and privatisation of planning is in Victoria’s interest
  • Whether Victoria has ‘an inappropriate culture of undue influence and political opportunism’
  • Whether candidates support reform of political donations laws

Continue reading

Save Our Suburbs AGM 2014

SOS will hold its AGM on Sunday 16 November at 2:30pm, Ground floor meeting room, Ross House, 247-251 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

SOS Notice of AGM 2014   SOS Nomination Form 2014

Guest Speaker, Professor Brendan Gleeson, Professor of Urban Policy Studies and Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at Melbourne University will speak at 3.00pm.

Professor Gleeson has researched and written extensively on the wellbeing of our cities and suburbs and the political, social, economic and environmental trends shaping Australia. Modern capitalist society has provided our present high standard of living but now also brings challenges and threats, especially climate change, resource depletion, social division and economic insecurity.

So how can we plan for a more resilient city designed to meet these challenges and maintain our residential amenity within sustainable limits? Economic and population growth cannot continue indefinitely – what sort of political, social and economic system might we need to move towards, and what should urban planning policy look like?

Here’s the link to Professor Gleeson’s presentation and the questions and answers that followed.    A transcript will be available shortly.

Glen Eira Residents Association AGM

On 6 November 2014, the Age featured an excellent Focus Report, It’s all go in the election zone.

The article highlights the discontent in Glen Eira with the impacts of the new zones and the fact that people were not consulted.

The article states ‘In a fortnight, Save Our Suburbs will hold a specially convened forum in Bentleigh on the zones’. However, this forum is convened by the Glen Eira Residents Association for the AGM on 19 November at the Bentleigh Club in Yawla St.

The meeting starts at 7.00pm and SOS president Ian Wood will be guest speaker at 7.30pm.

See Focus Report at

Election Candidate Survey reveals Crisis in Planning and support for political donations reform

The early results of the Candidate Survey reveal widespread concern across Victoria. See below for details of Survey.

There is a very high level of concern over ‘how Melbourne is developing’ and that we have an ‘inappropriate culture of undue influence on public decision making’. All candidates support the need to improve transparency, accountability and integrity, with overwhelming support for political donations reform.

There is a very high level of concern over ‘the increasing deregulation and privatisation of planning that successive Governments have introduced over the last twenty years’. All candidates agree that ‘the marketplace alone can not address planning issues that involve long­ term social, environmental and economic impacts’.

The candidates also express very high levels of concern over the lack of certainty in our planning scheme, with overwhelming support for minimum mandatory standards and for limits on Ministerial discretion. There is also strong support for reform of VCAT to make it fairer and more accessible. There is a serious level of uncertainty over the new zones.

There is also overwhelming support for greater precedence for Ecologically Sustainable Development, Green Wedges, public transport, and for local policy and amenity.

Candidate Responses are being collated and will be posted over the next two weeks.

Petition for political donations reform

SOS supports political donations reform.

Victoria has some of the weakest electoral donation integrity laws in Australia. 

SOS would like to see all donations over $1000 disclosed. The Federal Liberal Government recently increased donation disclosure levels to over $12,000. We also need timely reporting of donations, within 14 days as in certain UK and USA elections, not up to 18 months as in Victoria. We would also like to see a ban on certain classes of donation eg developer donations, as in NSW.

Rob Oakshott has started a petition calling for reform. See details and the link below:

To: The Governor-General of Australia

The Great Population Debate – two very different perspectives on our future

Last Monday, on 13 October, at the Deakin Edge, the Lord Mayor and ALP Kelvin Thompson presented two very different views of Melbourne and the impact of population growth.

Robert Doyle started the debate enthusiastically defending population growth, saying increased population made for a more interesting city and ‘generates prosperity’. He boasted about how well Melbourne City had grown, how proud he was of the number of coffee shops and rate of CBD development and population growth. He defended multiculturalism, suggesting opponents of population growth must be anti multiculturalism. He said we could have clever growth. He drew parallels with the way we reduced water consumption in the late 2000s. He said Melbournians needed to adapt. He said we could put 2.3m people along existing infrastructure hubs, using only 6% of Melbourne’s land. In any event, he said he didn’t know how it could be stopped. He said ‘population growth was inevitable … because this is what we are’.

Kelvin Thomson had a very different view of Melbourne, a ‘high rise boom dominated by high rise buildings – not only poor design but in the wrong places’ and the CBD as ‘Cold Big and Dysfunctional’. He spoke about more intrusive government, increased inequality and crime, economic impacts and infrastructure failure with higher population. He referred to impending environmental crises – ‘treating the Earth as a state in liquidation … with many species on a short, fast road to extinction’. He said our kids did not have the opportunities we had and faced an ‘axis of … housing shortage, unemployment, education debt and increased depression’. Thomson also had very different ideas of social justice and economic imperatives and referred to success of low growth Scandinavian countries with low currencies, low unemployment, free education and budget surplus. He concluded saying that we faced a ‘world broken by rapid population growth – global warming, poverty and terrorism, made by those who own the world [corporate interests, those promoting growth]’.

After lengthy question time, almost entirely supporting less growth, Mary Drost from Planning Backlash thanked both speakers. She then asked whether they supported a referendum on the population growth policy. Thompson supported the referendum, Doyle reluctantly conceded but seemed to suggest there wasn’t much point to a referendum!

Video of the debate can be found at:
Video of questions can be found at: