If you watch the YouTube video of Brimbank’s June council meeting, you’ll notice something odd at about the 57 minute mark. The audio drops out and the screen fills with a static image, politely informing us the meeting is ‘paused’ and ‘will resume shortly’.

    Viewers won’t know the reason behind this disruption to your democratic process, but you, Dear Reader, will know because your correspondent was there on your behalf.  Read on! 

    Brimbank City Council – June 20, 2023

    Police were called to the June Brimbank City Council meeting, after unruly protesters against the Draft LBGTQIA+ action plan brought debate to a halt.

    The 10-person group in the public gallery interrupted council discussion at various intervals with Mayor Bruce Lancashire threatening eviction if they continued. But it was when the draft action plan was tabled that the public gallery became most rowdy. 

    Community Well-Being Director, Lynley Dumble could barely be heard above the ruckus so Cr Lancashire intervened:

    ‘You are disrupting the meeting by your actions,’ Cr Lancashire said. ‘If you continue to disrupt us in this way, I will have no choice but to direct you to leave the meeting.’

    Voice from the public gallery:

    ‘Who’s gunna make me? Yourself?’

    Cr Lancashire: ‘Yes.’

    Voice from the public gallery:

    ‘Go on then, come and make me mate!’

    At which point Cr Lancashire invoked section 72 of Council’s governance rules and adjourned the meeting. Councillors and executive officers abandoned the room, leaving four security officers to negotiate with the public gallery. And Channel 31/ YouTube broadcast ceased.

    The stony-faced security guards formed a semicircle around the protesters and formally requested them to leave.

    Meanwhile, protesters continued spitting their various grievances – ranging from inadequate attitudes towards child protection to abuses of freedom-of-speech.

    ‘I pay their wages,’ said one. ‘I have a right to be here! You can’t make me leave.’ And from another, ‘We want to know what they are going to do about the children’s safety.’  At which point two policemen silently appeared at the mezzanine door, which did little to quell the protesters’ rising ire. 

    It took another member of the public gallery, a middle-aged gentleman who’d been sitting quietly at the back, to suggest the group nominate one of its members to remain in the public gallery as representative and conduit of information.

    This seemed to appease all concerned. One member stayed, arms folded, while the rest followed police out onto the mezzanine. But you could see them still peering through the Chamber window for a few moments before they dispersed onto Hampshire Road.

    The Draft Action Plan’s series of proposals will see implementation of inclusive signage on Council services and promotional material, and using council communication systems to advocate against discrimination.  The Plan is also focussed on building resources and education, and creating partnerships with other institutions, including Victoria Police.

    The Plan has four key focus areas which include providing opportunities to celebrate and engage with the LGBTQIA+ community through events such as the Midsumma Festival and IDAHOBIT Day.

    In moving the recommendation that Council endorse the draft plan, Cr Jasmine Nguyen included the establishment of a LBGTQIA+ advisory group to council. 

    ‘I am quite proud our council is being as inclusive as it can to our community,’ she said. ‘Council has come such a long way to get to this point, to establish an action plan, to show we are dedicated to real action in helping people in our communities, including minorities … it’s taken a while, but we’re here now with an action plan.’

    Cr Jae Papalia said there ‘very clearly’ was a community need for an Action Plan. ‘LBGTQIA+ communities face actual and perceived discrimination and marginalisation at higher levels than the rest of the population, and I think that was evident tonight,’ she said.

    ‘This experience is associated with economic disadvantage, poorer mental health and poorer physical health outcomes, reduced community engagement and social connection.’

    Council voted unanimously to endorse the draft plan which is inviting community feedback until July 20 and can be viewed here.

    If this story has caused distress please contact Queerspace:

    Maribyrnong City Council – June 20, 2023

    Well it looks like plans to turn Franco Cozzo’s old furniture showroom into a high-end brewery are back on the table, with applicants, Maribyrnong council planning officials and Mayor Sarah Carter meeting last week.

    Moon Dog Brewery’s application to turn the iconic site into a three-storey venue for live music, roof-top bar and even a playground was rejected earlier last month, on the grounds that 900 patrons attending a night-spot as late as 1am on the corner of Hopkins and Moore Streets posed some safety concern.

    Resident support was split, with council receiving 52 submissions in favour of the proposal and 22 against.

    But Moon Dog co-founder Karl van Buuren said last week’s meeting to save the plan was positive. ‘We are very confident that over the next few weeks we can address the safety issues,’ he said.

    Mr van Buuren said next steps included a VCAT mediation process with Moon Dog and Maribyrnong Council to develop a ‘Consent Position Statement’ in which both parties agreed to the final proposal. 

    ‘We have been in the hospitality business for a long time, we are very experienced in providing quality family-friendly hospitality,’ he said. ‘We feel an overwhelming responsibility to the community, the residents, and we think we can be a very positive addition to area.’

    Mr van Buuren said he didn’t know when the VCAT processes would take place but speculated the old Franco Cozzo showroom’s doors could open as the Moon Dog bar as early as next December. 

    Hobsons Bay City Council – June, 2023

    Well, after 12 months of toing-and-froing, it looks like the Spotswood Slow Food Market location on Mary Street is a step further towards ‘beautification’.

    Hobsons Bay City Council voted unanimously to put the draft redevelopment plan of the old RSL site out for exhibition and further consultation at last month’s meeting.

    In moving the motion to adopt the plan Cr Peter Hemphill said the design had gone through an ‘extensive’ community consultation process and didn’t expect it to change beyond a ‘bit of tweaking’. 

    Cr Hemphill said the 2023/2024 budget had allocated $300,000 for the project, and expected a further allocation in the 2024/2025 budget to ‘finish it off’.

    See the draft Mary Street Reserve Masterplan, and all other projects open for community consultation here:

    Wyndham City Council

    Late month Council meetings have made it challenging to include Wyndham’s issues due to our print deadline but, from next month we’ll be including ALL the merriment of our western municipalities.

    A Council is only as good as the people who get involved!
    Council meeting Tuesday 11th July at 7pm
    Council meeting Tuesday 18th July at 6.30pm
    Council meeting Tuesday 18th July at 7pm
    Council meeting Tuesday 25th July 7pm

    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.

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #96 May 2024

    Recent editions



    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles