Mary Drost responds to Planning Minister Mary Delahunty's jibes against residents' groups

September 13, 2010. Last night, when hearing about Mary Delahunty (ex-SBS and ABC journalist) launching her book in Hawthorn, I joined Margot Carroll (Orrong Group Convenor) and Julianne Bell (Protectors of Public Lands Victoria) at the event. Delahunty talked on about herself and family, and nothing about her time in parliament and what she said in her book about we residents.

So, at question time eventually, Julianne very humourously asked her to explain some of the mysteries in her book, for example, who were the groups who wanted to 'preserve their suburb in aspic', and who were the groups who were 'vain and venal' and who was the 'visiting thespian'?

She did not give a proper answer, just that she lumped all the groups together, and the visiting thespian was Geoffrey Rush. That seemed to stop her taking any more questions.

So, later I asked her if she knew what venal meant, and she said, of course she did.

So I read to her from a dictionary the awful things it does mean.

I said, 'I don't know any resident group people like that.' Then I pointed out that Geoffrey was not visiting, he had lived in Melbourne for 22 years.

After that she refused to speak to Margot. Oh yes the only thing she did say about parliament, was that she had brought in Melbourne 2030, and was still very proud of having done that.

I don't think any of us would agree with her about M2030. Or about us being venal.

So much for the book. Today, again, the Age ran a story where the author, Rupert Mann, President of Melbourne Heritage Action, deplored the continuing destruction of Melbourne's built past to make way for high density living and business facades. Nowhere in that article did the Age provide a point for people to rally.

Mary Drost and Sonya Rutherford also wrote about this for the Sydney Morning Herald on August 29, 2010

Margot Carroll of the Orrong Residents' Group wrote to the Age:

"Save our city"

THE author of the letter ''Move on, naysayers'' should get some of her facts right. Geoffrey Rush has never talked about growing up in Melbourne. He grew up in Queensland and has lived in Melbourne for the past 22 years, long enough I think to give him the right to speak about Melbourne. The comments about the authors of the opinion piece, ''Proof there's something rotten in our planning processes'' (28/8), are also way off. Mary Drost is certainly not Camberwell-centric or a ''nimby''. She networks constantly with more than 150 community and residents groups across Melbourne and Victoria and knows of the angst that communities all over the state are suffering from this government's appalling planning policies. Mary just happens to live in Camberwell, as Sonia Rutherford, who has been active for many years with the Broadmeadows Progress Association, just happens to live in Broadmeadows. The media has over the past few weeks covered numerous stories of communities in all parts of Melbourne battling to stop massive developments. It is clear something is seriously wrong with our planning policies. More and more, the powers of council and the rights of the community in having a say in how our city should look are being eroded. It's time the community united, rallied, marched and sat in front of the bulldozers to force a total review of this rotten system before what's left of ''Beautiful Melbourne'' is lost forever. MARGOT CARROLL, East Prahran


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