Meet some of your new councillors

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By Simon Barnett

Ogy Simic

Ogy Simic

The recent OPENvoice Q&A Port Phillip was full of in depth discussions on all the issues put forward with some surprises thrown in.

Richard Roberts, candidate for Gateway Ward, said, “Probably needed more time involving audience participation, at the same time a wide range of topics and covered in depth.”

“Quality of the shoot was great, really well done. Thank you,” said Nick Haines candidate for Lake Ward. Planning and Environment Lawyer Katherine Copsey said, “Yes, I thought it was a great event and well-structured to cover so many topics and keep the conversation flowing.”

The first question raised by Dr John Spierings was in reference to the CEO of the Port Phillip Council Tracy Slater resigning. “Why has she resigned,” said Spierings.

The comments varied and brought out issues such as losing the CEO’s after the last three elections, the level of trust between officers and council, giving the mayor more power and extending four year contracts with the CEO.

“It is welcomed that we are re-examining the relationship between officers and councillors,” said Dick Gross. Roberts said, “The model is too corporate, and I think citizens need more say and that was a measure to give the mayor more power.”

Street upgrades and the development of the Triangle created diverse opinion with mention of the economic study carried out a decade ago that concluded by not re-inventing and salvaging the infrastructure on the foreshore, that the area would go backwards.

Gross said, “We have had councils that failed to grasp the infrastructure challenge both on the foreshore and throughout the city. We’ve got this lazy balance sheet, high rates, and the consequence in that ineptitude is that we are suffering.”

Fisherman’s Bend is a big issue for the new council, “The biggest game in town,” said former mayor Janet Bolitho. Bolitho explained that it is the biggest urban renewal project in Australia with 485 hectares of development.

Copsey said, “Voters shouldn’t have to worry about the community’s interest being represented when it comes to decisions on this matter and we are going to need people on council who are prepared to stand up and advocate. There’s a huge state government element to what is going to occur in Fisherman’s Bend and we need people who are prepared to fight for our community and what it needs.”

“There is a community there that is incredibly worried about Fisherman’s Bend. I think it is right to say the problem exists in the way that zoning was organised,” said Ogy Simic candidate in the Gateway Ward. Simic continued, “If you want an example of how not to undertake planning, you need to look no further than Fisherman’s Bend.

There was controversy over Albert Park and how unfair it is for local sporting clubs since Albert Park is not part of Port Phillip and is owned by the state government and managed and funded by Parks Victoria. The council makes minimal contribution to the infrastructure, facilities and activities that go on there.

“There not local facilities … for too long we’ve had too many councillors roll their eyes when sport and recreation is mentioned, it’s not sexy, it’s not the arts, it’s not live music … those sporting clubs are often the backbone of community connections,” said panellist Jennifer Stone.

Simon Strictland, a Lake Ward candidate, said, “We are that far away from a rate revolt.” Rate increases came up and the main complaints were the lack of transparency and the method for determining rates.

“It’s about transparency and people feeling like they’ve got a say in how their rates are being used,” said Simic. He believes participatory budgeting which is used by the Melbourne City Council could be a good idea for Port Phillip.

Transparency was the subject of a range of issues and is the new council going to be more transparent. Resident and local business owner Colonel said, “When council is asked who they consulted with, they clam up.”

Anne Boyd from St Kilda Live Music Community said, “Venues have been over targeted by council noise limit compliance officers and if the noise levels are over some phantom limit, the venue is fined without consultation.”

Nick Haines responded, “I know of three venues who received fines in the mail for being too loud. How does that help anyone for god’s sake, I mean they don’t know which night, they don’t know how loud they were, they don’t know who made the complaint, what’s to stop another venue complaining about another venue and saying their too loud.”

Gross said, “There’s been a complete loss of common sense. Pure Pop has been a complete loss of common sense, the closure of the bookshop by once again one complainant.”

“There have been unclear enforcement practices,” said Copsey.

Finally, there were concerns over the future of Fitzroy St where it was stated by Richard Roberts that the council needs to do so much better in small business.

To see the full program, go to

For further information

Richard Roberts, Jennifer Stone, Andrew Dodd, Katherine Copsey and Dick Gross

Richard Roberts, Jennifer Stone, Andrew Dodd, Katherine Copsey and Dick Gross

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