Anniversaries, centenaries, train stations and mulch-gate


    Rates, Roads & Rubbish is your monthly round-up of local council meetings brought to the Westsider by senior journalism lecturer at RMIT University, Dr. Josie Vine.

    Hobsons Bay

    Well mulch-gate is an issue that just doesn’t go away!

    Officers will be chasing contractors to pay back rate-payer’s money spent on removing asbestos-riddled mulch found in 15 parks across the municipality. 

    Recently-returned Infrastructure and City Services Director Matthew Irving told Hobsons Bay Council last month rate-payers had so far spent $70,000 on remediation works. 

    He said the cost was expected to rise to “anywhere between” $200,000 to $220,000.

    Mr Irving said costs would be “more fully understood” when works were completed at the end of this month.

    “At this stage, all costs have been worn by council as the responsible land manager in accordance with current EPA contamination management requirements,” he said.

    “However, officers are doing work and if we can clearly identify a connection or nexus with a contractor or supplier that has not fulfilled its contractual obligations officers will be looking to pursue recovery of costs accordingly.” 

    Asbestos was found in recycled mulch in Spotswood’s Donald McLean Reserve last April. 

    By May, the number of Hobsons Bay parks being investigated for using mulch containing dumped asbestos had risen to 23, with the final number identified as 15.

    Don McLean Reserve, Crofts reserve, Altona Coastal Park and GJ Hoskin reserve currently remain fenced off and closed.

    If you were walking through Techno Park Drive these days, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ blasting from all houses. Ironically, of course.

    Almost to the day of the anniversary of that date – when Techno Park residents were told to get out of their homes because it was zoned as industrial – council heard residents would be receiving a letter later this month outlining next steps in “this complicated case”.

    On April 5, residents received council communications saying the State Government had changed the game for any Victorian who could demonstrate existing use rights. The letter said council would take no further action ‘at this time’. 

    Sustainable Communities Director, Rachel Lunn said Council had been working with its legal advisors to “assess all elements of council’s role” at Techno Park, including planning, building, emergency management and “of course” the rights of the community.

    Ms Lunn said she was unable to give council a “legal update”.


    Brimbank ratepayers have so far spent more than $30,000 on the paused Fix the Calder campaign since it was launched three years ago.

    In 2019, the then Federal Liberal Government had committed $50 million to freeway upgrades, which was to be matched by the State Labour Government under its 2021-2022 budget.

    But since then, the Federal Labour Government withdrew its $50 million, and the State government announced its share would be discontinued. 

    Seven questions about the Fix the Calder campaign were tabled at last month’s Brimbank Council meeting.

    Mayor Cr Ranka Rasic told council work on removing the level crossing at Calder Park Drive had already begun, and was expected to be finished next year.

    She said council had completed a business case for a new diamond interchange at Calder Park Drive.

    She said Brimbank’s commitment to fix the Calder was a “priority” in council’s 2023 – 2025 Advocacy plan.

    “It is necessary given heavy congestion on the Calder and its dangerous state,” she said.

    Council heard the State Government continued to be committed to the Sunshine Station Superhub, despite shelving its plans for an airport rail link.

    The Superhub was originally proposed to provide Melbourne Airport Rail passengers with easy connections to Victoria’s regions and metropolitan areas.

    Since then, however, the Airport Rail Project has been on hold to help stem the state’s debt. 

    Mayor Rasic said council had been “advised” the state government “remained committed” to the Sunshine Station Masterplan, which includes the Sunshine Station Superhub. 

    She told council the Restoring Brimbank 2050 and Economic Development Strategy 2022 – 2027 “aimed to set a positive investment” from the private and public sector “for the benefit of the entire community”.


    Walter ‘Wal’ Hopkins sat next to his daughter, Julie, smiling gently, at last month’s Maribyrnong City Council meeting as councillors acknowledged his 100-years’ worth of community contributions.

    ‘Wal’ was the first century-old resident to attend in Maribyrnong council’s public gallery.

    He had turned 100 the preceding weekend at a celebration whose guests included councillors Sarah Carter, Michael Crawford and Mayor Cuc Lam.

    ‘Wal’ was the only Maribyrnong resident to be citizen of the year twice, Cr Carter said. 

    “You have such a long list of accolades, we’d be here all night if we went through them all,” she said. “You pretty much came out of the womb and were giving to the community, so early in life were your contributions.”

    In other news, the car park between Bradmill and McIvor Reserve will not be vacated until next month.

    Frasers Property Australia workers are currently camped out in the car park while work on the Bradmill Boulevard continues. The original date for completion was last April.

    CEO Celia Haddock said the project was being conducted in stages, with water and gas infrastructure along Francis street completed last year.

    She said the current second stage involved the construction of a new north-south connection from Francis street, which is expected to be completed next month. 

    Ms Haddock said the car park would be returned to community use and upgraded with crushed rock and gravel.

    She said council was not charging rent on the car park.


    Jack Sutton, RMIT Journalism

    Well it was an unruly Wyndham meeting last month, as councillors spoke over each other, got confused about who was amending what and who was seconding whom.

    The shambles appeared to be over which fund was going to pay for a proposed new $1.5 million scoreboard at Point Cook’s Featherbrook Reserve.

    It all began when Cr Josh Gilligan tabled a motion to commission a report into the feasibility of a new Featherbrook scoreboard as well as other redevelopments.

    Cr Gilligan’s motion was off the back of a 340-signature petition calling for “greater investment” in the Reserve’s sporting facilities, so they were “not left behind” investments in the newer parts of Point Cook.

    Cr Gilligan said there was $36 million, “and counting”, “sitting” in an “extraordinary” fund specifically for Point Cook, which “should be spent in Point Cook”.

    “As we know,” he said, “there are parts of each suburb that require a little bit more and this is a perfect example.”

    Cr Gilligan said the redevelopment decision was a “little bit different” because the money was not coming from the “ordinary funding method” of annual budget allocations.

    Speaking against the motion, Cr Mia Shaw said funding a scoreboard
    was “technically” outside council policy.

    She said it was an equity issue because “other clubs have attempted to use this funding” for similar items but were not allowed to do so.

    Cr Jasmine Hill called to move an amendment for an extra $19,000 funding commitment to power the yet non-existent, unfunded scoreboard and find a kitchen refurb.

    After what felt like an eternity of going back and forth between the councillors and who could vote to move on what, the $19,000 was, in fact, NOT moved, but the original motion for the new scoreboard went through.

    Mayor Councillor Jennie Barrera put the original motion to a vote, which was carried nine votes to two.

    Cr Shaw then called for a division, and, once again, everyone firmly put their hands back up for their respective vote. But the result was the same.

    Cr Heather Marcus said it was “totally embarrassing” for the public watching, and ended authority:

    “Please let us get it right”, drawing a round of applause from the six-person gallery.

    A Council is only as good as the people who get involved!

    Hobsons Bay City Council
    7pm Tuesday 11 June
    at the Hobsons Bay Civic Centre. The meeting will also be live streamed.

    Maribyrnong City Council
    6.30pm Tuesday 18 June
    at Council Chamber, Braybrook Community Hub, 107–139 Churchill Avenue.

    Brimbank City Council
    7pm Tuesday 18 June
    at Council Chamber, 301 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine.

    Wyndham City Council
    6pm Tuesday 25 June
    at Council Chamber, Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway.

    By Josie Vine
    RMIT senior journalism lecturer
    We all lead busy lives and don’t get time to attend council meetings or wade through council agendas and minutes. Yet local governments impact our lives more directly than any other and their decisions warrant public scrutiny. Rates, Roads and Rubbish aims to do that for you giving you a fly-on-the- wall account of council discussions and decisions.

    If you have a particular concern with your council contact: marked ATT: Rates, Roads and Rubbish, or call 0411 534 285.

    Josie Vine
    Josie Vine
    A column by Josie Vine, RMIT senior journalism lecturer.

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