The independent challenger: Peter Holland

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I, Peter Holland, am standing as an Independent in Melbourne Ports.

I am a long-standing local activist. I was Convenor of the St Kilda Foreshore Conservation Group and a ‘Turn the Tide’ Councillor in the St Kilda Council. In more recent years I have been President of unChain Port Phillip. I was the campaign manager for Tex Perkins in the 2014 State election. In my professional life, I was the Head of the Business Law Department at Swinburne University

My immediate concern is the PALAIS THEATRE. Port Phillip Council has decided to award Live Nation, an American conglomerate, the long-term lease of the Palais. Promoter Michael Chugg has said that awarding the lease to Live Nation will effectively close off the Palais to many acts because promoters will be wary of booking artists at a venue run by a competing promoter. This would be a disaster for the Australian music industry and the St Kilda economy.

The Minister for Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio, has to decide whether to approve Council’s decision because the Palais is Crown Land. A vote for me sends a message to the Minister to carefully weigh all considerations.

Council appears to believe that the Minister will simply ‘rubber stamp’ its decision. However, I have been assured that this is not so. Unlike the Council, the Minister will listen to submissions from the music industry and the community. She may ultimately conclude that the current operator, Neil Croker, or the Sydney firm, Playbill, is a better long-term operator of the Palais. However she may decide that provisions in the lease can adequately deal with the monopolization concerns and approve the Council’s decision. A vigorous, independent review by the Minister should ensure that we are getting the best possible long-term operator of the Palais.

A vote for me also sends a message to our Federal and State MPs to help Council implement its Masterplan for the ST KILDA TRIANGLE with the Palais at the core. A possible future is as a music and entertainment centre with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, new cabaret rooms, art-house cinemas and exhibition facilities.

My overarching theme is the need for more transparency at all levels of government. Council’s decision to award the long-term lease of the PALAIS was made in secret, with no public engagement. Council officers are contemplating removing our rights to appeal to VCAT for developments under the ST KILDA TRIANGLE MASTERPLAN. We, the public cannot see the ‘confidential’ documents behind the GRAND PRIX or the re-zoning of FISHERMANS BEND. The destruction of BROOKES JETTY by Parks Victoria and PTV’s 96 TRAM PROJECT are two examples of abysmal public consultation. This excessive secrecy has to change.

I am tying to make a modest contribution to the call for a more Open Society being inspired by people like former Premier John Cain. At the federal level this means changes to federal laws on freedom of information, whistleblower protection, disclosure of political donations and introduction of a federal anti-corruption body.

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