Mary Drost's 90th birthday party took place on 13 October 2021, while Melbourne was still in Lockdown, but you could meet in the open air if you wore masks and were within 20km of your home. I was unable to attend because it was out of my 20km range.
Hi to you all, and particularly to those of you who I do not know. As you will have heard from Mary, I have agreed to take over as Convenor from Mary Drost OAM. In 2005 Mary established Planning Backlash as an umbrella organisation and coalition of community and resident action groups.
"My objective, with your help, honourable members, is to make Melbourne, and even Victoria, a great place to live. Not merely a great place in population size or area to rival such places as Shanghai, New York, London or Sao Paulo. Such greatness would be mere obesity, with all the disadvantages of such.
It is important to hear policies from key MPs before the election. Thanks to Prof Michael Buxton, we have a large lecture hall in Swanston Street, on the west side, called RMIT Building 80, and we have room 7 on the ground floor. Take note - it is 3 weeks today - lets fill the hall. (Mary Drost, Planning Backlash).
2.30PM - Sunday 7th of October 2018. Open Public Meeting Stop Over-Development in Melbourne! Speakers: Professor Bob Birrell, Professor Michael Buxton, Mary Drost OAM Planning Backlash, Jack Roach, Boroondara Residents' Action Group, Leith van Onselen- economist. Venue: Zelman Room, Hawthorn Arts Centre, 360 Burwood Road, Hawthorne.
How dare the Urban Development Institute of Australia tell the State Government that it should set housing targets for each council to cope with Melbourne's rapid population growth and then if we don't meet the targets they set we will be victimised.  They even specifically mentioned Boroondara and Stonnington as not pulling their weight and referred to NIMBYs.
Today Mary Drost, of Planning Backlash, went to a Forum in South Yarra to meet the 14 candidates for Lord Mayor of Melbourne. She says, "We need a good Lord Mayor and not one who will overdevelop and wreck our city even more. These last few years have been terrible. Go and take a look.
Mary Drost, Convenor of Planning Backlash, speaks to the protesters at 'Restore Residents' Rights', a Planning Backlash Rally she convened on the steps of Victorian Parliament, Australia, 8 June 2017.
I have just come back from 2 weeks in my old home Jakarta. When we went there to live there were 3 million people and it was easy to get around and very manageable. Those were the good days. The Governor, Ali Sadikin, closed the city to more incomers on advice from UN city planning experts as they said the bigger a city gets the harder it is to manage and the mega cities are beyond human management.
Responding to "Plan Melbourne 2017-2050" and changes to the Planning Scheme which will transfer government powers to private developers, Planning Backlash will rally on the steps of Parliament on 8 June 2017 at 1pm.
RESTORE RESIDENTS' RIGHTS
‘PLAN MELBOURNE 2017-2050’ AND PLANNING SCHEME CHANGES WILL FURTHER REMOVE RESIDENTS RIGHTS.
Mary Drost, (Convenor of Planning Backlash Inc), Joanna Stanley (Brunswick Residents Group), and Ann Reid (Convenor of Malvern East Group) met VCAT President Justice Greg Garde on Wednesday April 18. One of our objectives in having this meeting was to persuade him to arrange a forum for residents such as the ones previously arranged by Justice Kevin Bell and Iain Ross some years ago.
Stop Press - Just received this minute.
(Submission inside) Plans for the proposed underground railway from north west to south east of the city are not yet finalised.
Mary Drost is the convenor of Planning Backlash, a group with a network of 250 residents' groups, which last year held the biggest ever population awareness function in Australia. Recently VCAT issued a very limited survey for users to fill out. Many of the 250 residents' groups in Planning Backlash were formed through bitter experience of appealing to the law via VCAT.
Here is an update on current overdevelopment trends in Melbourne, by Mary Drost, of Planning Backlash, with references to height and density, the Property Council of Australia, safety and a new activist group, Victorian Building Action Group.
UPDATED Oct 18 Inside is list of names of people running for local councils in Victoria who are members of groups affiliated with Planning Backlash. The list was compiled by Mary Drost, convenor of Planning Backlash, who says it represents 14 councils and it the total she has so far.
Mary Drost of Planning Backlash and the Marvellous Melbourne website has picked up Matthew Guy's 'challenge' on population growth and comes back with the figures and this statement. We look forward to Matthew Guy's response.
Federal Labor Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, has condemned reports in an article by Josh Gordon, "Push to cut planning appeals,"The Age, 29/11/11, that the Victorian Liberal Government is seriously considering prop
Committee for Melbourne growthers are scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for new ways to get people to move to the hated high-rises the property development lobby has planned all over Melbourne. Mary Drost says, "Both Andrew McLeod and Bernard Salt are obsessed with growth.
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.
Report on the Federation Square (Victoria, Australia) Population Forum on 23 April 2010, where Mark O'Connor debated Marcus Spiller.
Report on the Federation Square (Victoria, Australia) Population Forum on 23 April 2010, where Mark O'Connor debated Marcus Spiller.
(Photo of Mary Drost) The Brumby Government tried to undermine this crucial Melbourne Rally and to avoid criticism by announcing they were modifying their offensive Bill, so the mainstream journalists stayed away. But the alternative press is growing and we will not fall for such simple ploys.
Today Victorian activist groups working together stopped legislation which could have defined any local councillor who may have previously actively opposed a particular development proposal as an 'interested party' and hence ineligible to vote. Demonstrators wore tape over their mouths on the steps of Victoria's Parliament.
See also: "Backdown on activist councillors", in The Age of 27 Oct 08, "Govt backflip on council conflict of interest legislation" on ABC on 29 Oct 08.
[photo by Jill Quirk]
The photo above shows a crowd of very concerned Victorian citizens, with their mouths taped shut. They were demonstrating on the steps of Victoria's parliament today against proposed laws to gag local government councillors. The laws would have discouraged activists from running for local parliament and incumbent and prospective councillors from engaging with the community.
As Macedon Ranges Residents Association put it, the law "discriminates against those who oppose [a development], without equally penalizing those who propose [a development]."
The protest meeting was organised by unChain St Kilda in association with the Greens, Protectors of Public Land, Planning Backlash and various other community groups.
Correspondence between groups also indicated that activists wished to exploit the publicity these undemocratic laws had attracted in the mainstream press, using the opportunity to signal their increasing concerns about laws negatively affecting democracy, development and the environment in Victoria.
The black tape across their mouths may only be the first of graphic or theatrical demonstrations to get across to the public that governance in Victoria is in serious trouble.
Women activists prominent in defending democracy against developers in Victoria
Largely women protestors on steps of Vic Parliament, mouths taped. (Photo by Jill Quirk)
These photographs and others of similar protests on the same steps in the past few years show that women are playing a major part in Victorian politics today, although not necessarily in the mainstream. We see the women outside, defending democracy, because, unfortunately, the people inside - mostly men - seem more inclined to promote corporate agendas over citizens' rights. Vaguely reminiscent of Suffragette and Temperance movements, because of their predominantly female component, protests against development take long-term stamina in the face of apparently irresistible commercially-backed trends which have most of our elected representatives spellbound or hog-tied. One woman can be seen here wearing braces on her arm. This is Mary Drost, who, remarkably, was not stopped from coming despite two broken arms. Julianne Bell, of Protectors of Public Land, is another extraordinary human being who has succeeded in uniting groups from all over the [ever more] sprawling city of Melbourne.
Serge Thomann and Greg Barber
Despite this gender-trend, Victoria also has some wonderful male activists. Two men who played strong roles in the protests today were Serge Thomann of unChain Saint Kilda and Greg Barber, Greens MLC.
Unchain St Kilda movement
"Unchain St Kilda" is the product of a movement which, in the absence of useful formal process, rose in disgust against unnecessary and unwanted intense commercial development proposed for a triangle of land overlooking the promenade in the beach suburb of Saint Kilda, widely perceived as the last straw in a series of council-facilitated unrepresentative attacks on residential ammenity in that suburb. (Saint Kilda has also been the site of a series of despicable Port Phillip Council-led attacks on wild-life in the local Catani Gardens - See video investigation). Unchain St Kilda is "an incorporated association, no A00051216V. Its members are a coalition of people, from all walks of life, who live, work and visit St Kilda, brought together by our outrage at the size and focus of the proposed commercial development on the St Kilda Triangle Crown land."
Unchain St Kilda members running for Port Philip Council
The proposed law would have automatically disqualified many of the members of Unchain St Kilda from voting on the issue if they win the next Port Philip Council election. Apparently they have enough committed members to replace the entire council at the next local elections. The timing of the proposed new law and the decision by Unchain St Kilda members to run for council seemed a particularly unhappy coincidence.
The movement's "Save St Kilda" campaign has three objectives:
- To restore 3rd party objection rights (in order to enable a proper objection process)
- All 3 tenders include a huge retail component. We want to hold City of Port Phillip (COPP) to their promise the ‘Triangle Site’ wouldn’t become a ‘mini-Chadstone’
- To hold City of Port Phillip (COPP) to their promise the ‘Triangle Site’ would incorporate ‘large’ open public spaces like a ‘town square’ – a place for YOU, the locals to meet.
"Attack on local democracy - stopped in its tracks!" -- Greg Barber
Greg Barber, Member of Parliament for the Greens, first alerted many of us to the Bill which was proposing to muzzle activists in council. Tonight in an email headed, "Attack on local democracy - stopped in its tracks!" he wrote,
"Just a few minutes ago, tonite, parliament successfully amended the government's bill, to remove the offending clause from the Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters) Bill 2008.
All non government parties voted for the amendment, which completely removes 78D part (b)
Many thanks for all your help and congratulations on your campaign. Amazing what can be done when parliamentarians and the people work hand in hand."
The letter below, which was part of the successful campaign, describes the danger which has, this time, been averted:
More about that law that won't go ahead now
Christine Pruneau, Secretary of the Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc., who is a remarkably clear writer, sent the following letter to Victorian Upper House parliamentarians to ask them to reject legislation that could define any councillor who may have previously actively opposed a particular development proposal as an 'interested party' and hence ineligible to vote.
The Association writes to ask you to please not support 78D (b) (ii) in its current form. Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc fully supports increased accountability and transparency, however we don't believe this provision will deliver effective or equitable outcomes, for the following reasons:
There isn't sufficient definition of what 78D (b) (ii) means and encompasses. E.g. What is objection and what is comment, and who decides? Which submissions, about what? Which matters? What counts, what doesn't? How specific or how broad? Does a submission preferring red bricks over grey in an Urban Design Framework create a conflict of interest in considering the UDF? Are objections or submissions at State and Federal level included? Does a written question at Council count, and if submissions on Council budgets do, why not submissions on associated Council Plans?
It's retrospective. E.g. Would an objection to cutting down trees 20 years ago veto voting on a proposal to plant trees on the same land now? How will anyone know who made which objections and submissions on what, and when?
It intimidates and diminishes democracy: those who actively participate or oppose, if elected, could have difficulty meeting community expectations for representation; it could influence decisions on whether or not to stand for election; it could deter people from participating in consultation and objection processes for fear action now may hamstring them later.
A person needs a law degree to understand any nuances or connections between this provision and Winky Pop, and most people who would work with and implement this law won't have that level of expertise, leaving its application open to wide interpretation, confusion and abuse. E.g. What distinguishes objections and submissions addressing policy and strategy from those promoting personal interests or gain, and who decides?
From an explanation given in yesterday's Age, it will target planning rather than all Council issues and responsibilities Councillors deal with.
It discriminates against those who oppose, without equally penalizing those who propose. Why aren't those who have applied for planning applications included? Letters of support for an application? Meetings and deals with developers?
It penalizes those who operate openly with written submissions in the public domain, but would not pick up those who operate with a nod and a wink, who favour a quiet word, who have others lobby for or represent them or their views. In the end honest people will be disadvantaged, without equal disadvantage to those who already operate surreptitiously.
It won't improve disclosure, and we doubt it will improve honesty. There would be those who have spoken, and those who vote but never speak.
We ask that you please consider these points before voting on Tuesday.
Secretary. Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc. www.mrra.asn.au
"VCAT unelected, unaccountable and system has lost all respect from community." VCAT is Victoria's Civil and Administrative Tribunal. (Australia)
For his political courage in speaking out against undemocratic, but mainstream media and government endorsed, growth, actor, Geoffrey Rush deserves particular historic recognition from Australians. He launched a new website: Marvellous Melbourne at https://marvellousmelbourne.org.