Protectors of Public Land

Planning Minister Gatecrashes Parliamentary Enquiry Committee and Hearing Abandoned

Original newsletter sent out by Julianne Bell from Protectors of Public Lands, reporting on the Hearing of the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration. Dear Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. members and friends I. Planning Minister Gatecrashes Parliamentary Enquiry Committee and Hearing Abandoned

Dr Leigh Glover to speak on Sustainable Transport for Melbourne

Julianne Bell, Leading democracy with Royal Park Protection Group & Protectors of Public Land, Victoria

Royal Park Protection Group - the first of many groups standing between you and a total wipe-out of democracy - is having its AGM. Stand up for democracy; be there at the AGM:

Protest scheduled for Premier Brumby’s Transport Summit

Royal Park Protection Group Inc.

Media release 4 September 2008

Tomorrow the Royal Park Protection Group (RPPG) and the Yarra Campaign Against Tunnels (YCAT) are, in consultation with resident and environmental groups in the East and West of Melbourne, facilitating a Community Protest for resident, community, and environment groups plus concerned individuals at the Premier's Transport Summit to be held at Telstra Dome in Melbourne.

Opposition to the Brumby Government’s proposed extension of the Eastern Freeway in road tunnels under inner city suburbs, through Royal Park and Holland Park plus the western suburbs has steadily mounted since the Eddington Review was launched. Anger was expressed during June and July at rallies at local Council meetings. Anti-road tunnel protestors forced Councillors at Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Yarra then Brimbank to pass "no tunnels" resolutions. Many community groups were dismayed that the recent Transport Forums conducted by the Government and also by individual Members of Parliament were by invitation only and excluded many interested community representatives. People feel that they have no voice in decisions about Brumby’s Grand Transport Plan.

Rod Quantock of RPPG said today: "The East West Link is in essence a truck city by pass route designed to get freight via the Eastern Freeway and East Link to Dandenong. It will in no way serve commuters as they will not be able to turn off to the City but can only get to the Port of Melbourne or Tullamarine Airport. In the process of tunnel construction over five to twelve years, inner city suburban streets will be destroyed; Royal Park and Holland Park in Kensington will be transformed into giant quarries; and sports fields, community facilities and wetlands ripped up. In addition traffic congestion will worsen and gridlock will prevail. It is extraordinary that the Premier should be favouring building road tunnels at a time when the end of oil is in sight and the public is screaming for improved and expanded public transport. It is tragic that the Premier is considering spending $10 billion of our money on 20th century solutions to a 21th century crisis. Democracy goes underground."

Dr Paul Mees, transport expert and supporter of public transport, commented recently on the Eddington report tunnel proposals: "…the rail tunnel is not needed" and "…the road tunnel is a waste of money." He said that: "We seemed poised to commit the largest amount ever invested in Victoria’s history to dealing with non-problems in a way that will benefit only the vested interests associated with large engineering projects."

RPPG is opposing the construction of road tunnels and is demanding a proper review of the public transport and rail freight systems; remedies for climate change; for the Government to keep its hands off our parkland; and to protect residential amenity.

Media contacts: Julianne Bell on 0408022408 & Rod Quantock on 0438862079

Port Phillip Mayor steps up possum kill in Catani Gardens

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.


Sunday 3 June 2007

Port Phillip Mayor steps up possum kill in Catani Gardens

On Friday last, around lunchtime, a friend of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc (PPL VIC) observed workers of CityWide (a contractor hired by Port Phillip Council) high up on a cherry picker in St Kilda's Catani Gardens. They appeared to be taking out a sleeping possum from a large "possum box" (read trap) installed 20 metres up in one of the giant cypress trees and were forcing it into a large white bag, obviously for disposal. This represents a new development in the saga of the Council's bid to exterminate the colony of tame possums, which have lived in the Gardens for 80 years, delighting residents, tourists, plus generations of Melburnians.

Jill Quirk, PPL VIC Committee member, explains: "This latest covert operation follows the progressive installation over the last year of huge possum exclusion bands and traps designed to drive out the possums from their homes in the palm trees and to trap and euthanase them. It is most disturbing to discover that any possums, which managed to survive and flee to the cypress trees in the Gardens, are still being hunted and trapped. The absurd and discredited rationale for the banding given by Council bureaucrats in the past was that the possums are chewing fronds on the 103 palms and are damaging the trees. It is surprising that senior DSE officers and even Government Ministers appear to have swallowed the Council line that the colony of possums (now reduced to only 41) can damage enormous 90 year old palm trees by chewing fronds. They can hardly use the same excuse for kidnapping possums from cypress trees "

Julianne Bell PPL VIC Secretary points out: 'Port Phillip Councillors and bureaucrats constantly reiterate that their "management" of possums in the Catani Gardens is legal. They cite the Governor in Council Order of 10 July 2003, which requires them to have a management plan for brushtail possums that includes "non lethal" control measures. While Council may well have issued a management plan back in May 2006 it has, by its own admission, adopted lethal control measures of possums. It has openly stated that possums are trapped, collected and euthanased. (The Mayor denied it at a recent Council meeting but has subsequently written to enquirers admitting to a policy of euthanasia of possums.) Last Friday's incident in which CityWide workers apparently removed a possum from one of the latest traps (possum boxes on cypress trees) is further evidence. We are forced to the conclusion that, under Council directions, it is CityWide workers who are destroying the animals, given that veterinary surgeons in the municipality have vehemently denied that they are party to euthenasing possums under Council orders (or anyone else's orders)"

PPL VIC members have observed that ring-tailed possums are living in the Gardens' cypress trees and so are threatened with being trapped and destroyed. This species is protected without any of the qualifying clauses that relate to brushtailed possums. Thus Council is entirely deficient in its responsibilities to protect wildlife in its parks and gardens. Council may well claim that the Gardens are overpopulated with possums but PPL VIC has countered this by having a respected ecologist/zoologist undertake a possum count and certify that the numbers are sustainable.

It is imperative, therefore, that work on installation of possum exclusion bands and traps on the palms and "possum nesting boxes" on the cypress trees be halted forthwith as it can be considered illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act 1975 and under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986; it is patently inhumane and cruel; and is destructive of a tourist icon and much loved feature of St Kilda. The work involved in the installation of the possum exclusion bands and traps is also disfiguring and mangling the heritage palms trees listed as the State Heritage Register as the most significant in Victoria. A great deal is at stake. Will commercial interests involved in making work for Council's bureaucrats, consultants and contractors in parks and gardens outweigh heritage, community and animal welfare considerations?

Media contact: Julianne Bell, Secretary, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria (PPL VIC) 98184114 or mobile 0408022408 or Jill Quirk (PPL VIC) on 95097429 or 040 09742927