The following is a list of some of my policies which I can thankfully back up with what I did during my years on the council as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor. Other candidates can make claims about what they believe and how they behave, but can they back it up?
Openness and Transparency
Councillors represent the community and therefore their actions and decisions must be open and transparent. I am pleased to have introduced the following policies to the Hobsons Bay City Council:
(a) Council meetings are recorded and podcast on the council website within 24 hours;
(b) Councillor expenses are regularly made publicly available on the council website; and
(c) Matters are only considered in camera when absolutely necessary, and even then they are to be reviewed and made public once the reason for the confidentiality no longer applies.
As a Councillor I also ensured I regularly consulted with the community and informed the community what I was doing via twitter, facebook, this website and my regular email newsletter “Community Update”. I was also regularly available to meet with local community groups, individuals and business owners/operators.
Providing quality services for our community is one of the main roles of the council. These services vary and include services for childcare (e.g. council supported childcare, family day care, occasional care and school holiday programs), family support, kindergartens, maternal and child health, youth services, public health, multicultural services, services for senior citizens, services for people with a disability, libraries, community hubs and centres, supporting community groups and services for animals. I strongly support the continuation of these services and to ensuring that the council ensures we continue to provide the services our community needs at the quality and level of service that they expect.
Sadly, the current council opposed the retention of the council run childcare centres in Altona and Altona Meadows, with me being one of only two Councillors supporting the continuation of these centres (see http://briffa.org/council-run-childcare-in-hobsons-bay-12-february-2014). The council has also decided to merge the four kindergartens in Altona and Seaholme and move them to a single combined kindergarten “hub”. I opposed this move as a councillor and continue to support our current kindergartens.
As a Councillor I ensured Altona, Altona Meadows, Altona North, Brooklyn and Seaholme received our fair share of funding from council’s annual $100+ million budget. This included significant improvements to the Altona foreshore (such as the beach renourishment project, drainage upgrade, tree plantings, improvements to local reserves, new toilet on Fraser Reserve, upgrades to Apex Park and Doug Grant Reserve, Altona Boat Ramp and Altona Doggy Beach), the Altona Sports Precinct (upgrades to the facilities used by the Altona Football Club, Little Athletics Club, Altona Hockey Club, Altona Cricket Club, Altona City Soccer Club and Dog Obedience School). There is still much to be done. I would like to ensure an Altona and Seaholme Foreshore Strategy and Master Plan is developed in consultation with the community (including the establishment of a Community Advisory Group) and that the plan is funded for implementation. I am also keen to ensure upgrades to our local shopping strips are funded, our playgrounds and local parks improved and local footpaths/shared paths are maintained properly and even constructed in areas where we still don’t have any. Drainage and local roads are also a priority.
It is essential our council responsibly manages our environment and promotes environmental awareness and sustainability. This includes managing our creeks, foreshore, waste and recycling services, managing the use of water and energy at community facilities, protecting our biodiversity and conservation of our flora and fauna.
As we have significant industrial areas within Hobsons Bay, the council must also ensure the health of residents is not adversely impacted by them in terms of noise, dust, odours, chemicals or contamination. While jobs and industry is important, the council must strongly advocate for residents as our health is the highest priority.
Services and Support for People with Disabilities & Senior Citizens
It is vital our community provides services and support for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The council also needs to ensure public areas are accessible to people of all disabilities and are included in community programs.
Culture – Arts, Music, Festivals, etc
We live in a wonderfully diverse and vibrant community, and the council must support this via programs for the Arts including performing arts and music, and supporting local festivals. I support funding for local festivals, local arts groups, local music groups (such as the Hobsons Bay City Band), local theatre groups (such as the Altona City Theatre Company) and multicultural, multifaith and GLBTI groups that conduct various community events promoting diversity and inclusion.
Advocating for the local community – Public Transport, Police, Schools, Planning and the Environment
The Council – and Councillors – have a key role in advocating for the local community and lobbying other levels of government for appropriate funding and services. This includes issues with public transport (e.g. restoring services to the Altona Loop and reopening Paisley Station), resources provided for local police, schools (e.g. restoring years 10 to 12 at a public high school in Altona), planning (e.g. ensuring the local planning scheme respects the wishes of the local community) and environment issues under the responsibility of the EPA (such as dust, chemicals, odours, land contamination, etc).
The council has a role to work with the local police and other emergency services to ensure the safety of the community in public and in their homes. As a Councillor I initiated the Altona Summer Police Consultative Group which brought together the police, local traders, the life saving club and other local groups to ensure strategies were in place for the busy summer period. This included strategies about a visible police presence, the consumption of alcohol, use of glass on the beach, signage, lighting, etc.
I am opposed to inappropriate development and have voted against applications for developments that are contrary to the planning scheme, too high, too large, adversely impact the neighbouring residents by reducing their privacy or shadowing or that do not meet acceptable neighbourhood characteristics. This doesn’t mean I oppose town houses – some are tasteful, well built, appropriate and do not impact on the amenity of neighbours.
If re-elected I would like the council to facilitate a community discussion about the planning scheme for Altona and to seek an amendment to it to reflect the wishes of the local community. At present VCAT is overturning many decisions by the council when inappropriate developments are refused.
Capital Works Program
I support a vibrant capital works program that provides quality infrastructure across the municipality, but in recent years Cherry Lake Ward (and Wetlands Ward) have not been getting our fair share. The 2013/14 capital works budget for the three wards speaks for itself:
Cherry Lake Ward (Altona, Altona Meadows, Altona North, Brooklyn & Seaholme) = $1.571 million
Strand Ward (Newport, Spotswood & Williamstown) = $8.037 million
Wetlands Ward (Altona Meadows, Laverton & Seabrook) = $1.109 million
Rates, Council Budget & Resources
I do not support ongoing increases in council rates just because councils want to increase their revenue. Increases in rates must be justified and must not exceed inflation.
The council has a role in the short term and long term growth of the local economy, which is great for local jobs and builds a more vibrant and sustainable community. As a council this means ensuring industrial land is able to be developed and utilized (i.e. Burns Road), local business is supported and engaged with the local community, that we attract investment and opportunities in the local area (especially away from traditional dirty industry), and that we work with local businesses and business groups to understand their challenges and assist where possible.