Thoughts on planning

The drafting of a Planning Scheme; State, Local and Municipal planning policies, as well as the determination of what land within a municipality gets which zonings, are all undertaken as part of a democratic process.  This statement is not an invitation on the relative virtues or not of a democratic system (or our democratic system), it is simply a statement of fact.  The Greater Dandenong Planning Scheme is an example of but one of many Planning Schemes state-wide which are part of this land use management and development process, which includes the rights to apply for the development of land in accordance with those democratically developed process, or to object to them through a fair process if one feels aggrieved at what is being proposed or approved.

Read More »

When council rate relief is bad

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, some local councils have introduced across-the-board rate freezes.

A rate freeze is a bad idea for these reasons:

Council rates are a “wealth tax”, not an income tax. Rates are calculated using property values. To quote a council CFO, six out of seven ratepayers are not negatively affected by COVID. A general rate freeze gives a benefit to the maximum number of voters, but most of the relief dollars go to the wealthiest landowners.

Under a general % rates cut or waiver, wealthiest landowners get the most $ relief
Read More »

“Social distancing” is the problem

Most people won’t keep their distance. I have been in a few public places in the last few days and haven’t witnessed any discernible difference in people’s behaviour.

That is why the “social distancing” policy is mostly ineffectual because:

  • it’s seen as rude to deliberately distance yourselves from others, particularly in a social setting.
  • personal risk of the virus won’t hit home to many people until someone they know has the virus.

Unfortunately, shut-down is the only next step worth taking. This removes places that people can come together and transmit the virus.

Masks are the new fashion

I wear a mask whenever I come within two metres of another person. If you come within two metres of another person, you should be wearing a mask.

People are infectious with the virus for four days before symptoms appear. The most common transmission occurs not from surfaces or hands, but from breathing. It surprises me that more in my local community are not wearing masks – in other countries, it is default behaviour to wear a mask even if you have no symptoms. Given that there are now projections for 50,000 to die in Australia, you could save a life by wearing a mask.

A four day incubation period with no symptoms. Any mask is better than no mask. Act as if you have the virus.

Coronavirus and social media

The way that news is propagated to the public has changed.

Before social media

Before social media, important government announcements in Australia were efficiently transmitted via:

  • two newspapers in each city; and
  • five television channels in each city.

The situation now

Now, a large proportion of the public’s primary source of news is via social media channels. News-related posts are mixed in amongst posts about cats and selfies.

This makes it more difficult during crisis situations for government to communicate a consistent message to the public. There is no consistent timing for social media posts to appear in a user’s feed, so it can happen that news stories can be out of sequence in a user’s news feed, resulting in misinformation and confusion.

What needs to happen?

In future, government should legislate so that in a crisis:

  • Government posts are mandated as highest priority across the main social media used in Australia; and
  • Mandated SMS text messaging should be used for official government information.



Planning document search

(requires PLN reference number)

Planning application search

(requires PLN reference number)


I’ve put together a draft guide on the council planning process. Please don’t hold me to the complete accuracy of it. I’ve just done it to try to explain the quite complex process when residents object to a planning application.

1 objection
1 objection
2 or 3
2 or 3…
4 or more
4 or more…
How many objections?
How many objections?
Decision made by council planning department
Decision made by council planning…
decision to approve
decision to approve
decision to refuse
decision to refuse
Decision made at public council meeting by elected councillors
Decision made at public council meet…
Recommendation made by council planning department
Recommendation made by council plann…
Meeting between applicant and objectors
Meeting between applicant and object…
Type of application?
Type of application?
Decision appealed by objectors?
Decision appealed by objectors?
Decision appealed by applicant?
Decision appealed by applicant?
Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal
Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal…
Final decision
Final decision
Decision appealed by applicant?
Decision appealed by applicant?
Application received
Application received
Advertise the application:
letterbox drop
Advertise the application:…
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
Viewer does not support full SVG 1.1

Note that many times council refuses an application, yet the application is approved by VCAT, examples:

Each time council defends its decision to refuse at VCAT, it costs around $10K in legal fees.


The September Equinox is the measure that is used in Victoria (ResCode) to determine overshadowing impacts in residential areas. It is used as it represents the ‘middle point’, between the worst case shadow scenario (winter) and the best case shadow scenario (summer).

Postal vs attendance voting

Postal voting

All voters receive a ballot paper through the mail. They are required to complete the declaration and return their vote through the mail.

  • Easier for mobility-impaired voters.
  • Easier for multicultural English-challenged voters. They have day rather than minutes to seek advice and help from family and friends
  • Increased window to vote. Some voters forget to return their voting papers.
  • More likelihood of “dummy” candidates being used to direct preferences to main candidates. This has been mitigated somewhat by candidate preference lists no longer included in the vote pack.
  • Public perception that votes are easier to manipulate than attendance elections.

Attendance voting

All voters are required to attend a polling booth on the election data. Other options are early voting (aka pre-poll), or voters can apply for a postal vote.

  • More likely to be person-to-person contact. Candidate might be at polling booth (note that there are around 9 voting booths per ward).
  • Local schools can run fundraising BBQs on election day, colloquially known as democracy sausage.
  • More difficult for genuine grass-roots community candidates to run a campaign. Newer candidates find it hard to staff around 7 polling booths from 8am to 6pm on polling day.
  • Some voters feel intimidated by having to “run the gauntlet” of people handing them how-to-vote cards outside the polling booth.
  • Waste of paper. A lot of paper is used for candidates’ how-to-vote cards.
  • Voters have to stand in queues on a Saturday.
  • Voters generally make a quick decision after receiving how-to-vote cards from candidates.
  • Bad weather.


Greater Dandenong attendance vote to cost more than $200,000

Election information

The information presented on this website does not represent a final position. All viewpoints will be considered up to the point where a final decision is made.

Keep clear markings

I received this response from VicRoads regarding generally how Keep Clear markings are implemented:

It should be noted that ‘Keep Clear’ markings are primarily used to minimise delays to through traffic on arterial roads caused by vehicles queuing to turn right onto a side road. Where right-turning vehicles are able to wait safely in a dedicated turning lane, as is this case, they do not obstruct the flow of through traffic and hence Keep Clear is not considered necessary at this location. These markings are not intended to enable motorists from side roads to turn into the main road.

Council meeting 25 November 2019

Dandenong Civic Centre
These are brief notes from the council meeting taken by myself quickly, are my interpretation, and not an official record of the council meeting.

Mayor Cr Jim Memeti thanked Cr Angela Long for her service. Her service to the indigenous community, community groups. Cr Memeti thanked Angela’s husband, Barry for his support of Angela.

Petitions and Joint Letters

Cr Kirwan asked about the petition regarding the trail network.

The officer said that officers had made contact with the lead petitioner. Council will be considering a number of projects from the plan, alongside road reconstruction. The officer said that council should continue its advocacy to Victorian Government for a funding contribution. The officer said that the 20/21 council budget may contain items relating to the plan.

Town Planning Application – No. 5 Riverend Road, Bangholme (Planning Application No. PLN19/0462)

Cr Angela Long moved an alternate motion. Cr Long summarised that the alternate is to grant the permit with different conditions (see details in meeting minutes). Cr Long thanked councillors for their unanimous support. Cr Long said that this is a water park, it provides a safe environment for families. It also has disability friendly equipment and activities.

Town Planning Application – No. 41 Imagine Way (formally known as 16 Jayco Drive) Dandenong South (Planning Application No. PLN17/0424.02)

Cr Brown questioned why this permit is only 6 times a year and not more frequent?

The officer replied that only 6 times a year was applied for.

Question time – public

The CEO read the question:

What are the development plans for the Sandown Park car park are? The questioner said that there are currently pools of water in the existing carpark. The questioner wanted further details on the plans for the car park. There is some information on the VicTrack website.

The relevant officer replied that there is currently a planning application regarding an upgrade of Sandown Station car park with 484 car spaces. In addition, it proposed a new car park on Lightwood Rd of 116 car spaces. They will include lighting, signage, CCTV and internal pathways. Expected to be completed by June 2020.

Planning Scheme Amendment – C223 Realignment of Urban Floodway Zone and Industrial 1 Zone Boundaries 1626-1638 Centre Road, Springvale

Cr Kirwan asked for a summary including flood risk assessment.

The officer said that the Minister for Planning for a rezoning of land from an industrial zone to urban floodway zone. This has occurred Melbourne Water data regarding potential flooding.

Public Car Share Policy

This is a new policy.

Cr Kirwan said that car sharing is when people can rent cars for a limited period, usually booked with a smartphone app or online. Example car providers are GoGet and FlexiCar. This reduced congestion due to fewer cars needing to be parked on-street. It reduces emissions as the cars are more likely to be zero-emission. Currently, share cars have the greatest demand around hotels and apartment buildings. Dandenong activity centre.

Angst about on-street parking and traffic. Inefficient use of space.

Public Electric Vehicle Charging Policy

This is a new policy.

Cr Dark asked whether CGD will absorb costs for the conversion. Cr Dark asked about cost modelling. The officer said that modelling hasn’t been done. The officer said that the first few examples will provide a guide on this.

Cr Dark asked what a regular car space costs the council. The officer said that this could be provided at some time.

Cr Kirwan said that the policy covers a number of areas. Cr Kirwan says that the actual implementation will need to be handled through the budget process. Cr Kirwan thanks the officers for their work.

Options for Improving Safety and Residential Amenity in the Vicinity of Dandenong North Primary School

Cr Kirwan said that the report may be frustrating to residents, as it says that we don’t need much action regarding this. Cr Kirwan said a large number of households replied to the survey. Cr Kirwan respects the officers’ recommendation that no extra infrastructure is required at this time.

Community Environment Centre – Implementation Report

Cr Kirwan said that this has been a long discussion, but it has arrived at a feasible endpoint. The conclusion that all came to was the same. A dedicated environment centre would have just been preaching to the converted. The recommendation to construct a mobile trailer is a more affordable and effective option that will reach a much broader audience. Cr Kirwan thanked council staff and the sustainability environment committee

Cr Dark queried the students from Shanghai request to visit CGD and how it will be handled. The officer said we will look into it.

Cr Dark queried the correspondence from the Dandenong Market customer. The officer said that they will report back.

Notice of Motion No. 74 – Noble Park Community Centre

Cr Dark asked for an amendment to change the date for the report to February 2020. The officer agreed with this.

Cr Dark thanked colleagues. Cr Dark said due to media coverage, audits that he believes that we need to see if all options are being considered and that other centres may be similarly affected. Stemming from this report, Cr Dark said that other centres could benefit from advice.

Reports from councillors/delegates and councillors’ questions

Cr Chea

Cr Chea attended Greater Dandenong Chamber of Commerce fundraiser to support children in Cambodia.

Cr Kirwan


Social housing and homelessness. Greater Dandenong has the highest homelessness in the state. Cr Kirwan gave some statistics regarding this. Cr Kirwan asked what is planned in the homelessness policy area?

The officer replied that quite a bit had happened in the last 12 months, and listed many events that council had contributed to. Council has now advocated for an increase in NewStart allowance. In 2020, council will send a request with rates notices to ask for assistance to homeless people. The officer replied that council will have programs to increase community awareness of homelessness.


Cr Kirwan asked a question regarding waste. The City of Wyndham Council found that migrants are confused by recycling and created an information campaign. Some community leaders volunteered to have their bin audited to get feedback. One point of feedback was that the community leaders were placing items in the recycling in plastic bags, which is not conducive to recycling. The officer said that council will make contact with City of Wyndham Council to find out about their program and see how it could apply to Greater Dandenong City Council.

Cr Kirwan also said that similar multicultural councils have more waste education officers than we do. The officer said that the Greater Dandenong City Council program is done jointly with our waste contractors and inspections are done by casual hire staff. Council also targets multi-dwelling sites for education programs. While we may have less waste education officers, our program is broader.

Cr Kirwan asked for some data on this to compare us to Monash and Casey.

Cr Kirwan asked about extending the hours at Dandenong and Springvale libraries, particularly extending the hours to open earlier on Sunday mornings. Also the possibility of opening on Saturday and Sunday nights. Cr Kirwan asked when the report will come to councillors, and when the results of the consultation will be known. Cr Kirwan asked how will we determine the demand for extended hours. The officer said that based on community feedback, the options have been costed and will be brought to councillors. The officer said that the libraries after dark will be starting, sponsored by gambling awareness, and this will mean that libraries will be open some nights at 10pm.

Cr Long

Cr Long listed events attended, road safety meeting, zipping classic race day meeting Sandown, sustainability awards, walk against family violence, 100th anniversary of Dandenong High School.

Cr Melhem

Cr Melhem asked about the resurfacing of Dorset road, Outlook Drive. When will it get done? The officer said that he will get back to Cr Melhem.

Cr Melhem said that there have been a lot of roadworks. Cr Melhem questioned the method – why are only short sections of road done at at time. The officer said that pothole assessment, or that contractors are only done for larger works.

Cr Sampey

Cr Sampey attended Malesi Club, Disability advisory committee, and a fundraiser for William Angliss hospital.

Cr Sampey asked about kerbing and channelling and protection bonds. She mentioned a particular applicant was required to grow grass on a small area, and council was holding the bond back because of this. The officer said that he will look into it.

Cr Tan

Attended sustainability awards in Dandenong, good to see that our community is on the right track; with Cr long the walk against family violence; SE community links AGM,

Springvale and District Historical Society AGM. Cr Tan asked about whether entrants to the new Springvale library will be required to have a working with children card.

Sichuan temple Sunday school concern. Dancing, keep culture.

SEMVAC multicultural concert that raised funds for the bushfire appeal.

Question: dumped rubbish on road. What is our strategy to reduce dumped rubbish on the road? The officer replied that this is one of the biggest issues. The officer replied that he will email councillors regarding the strategy.

Cr Dark

Cr Dark said that he’s been quite busy. Attended Alex Wilkie Reserve sustainability centre opening and Springvale Steamers (been there for 40 years). Said that Springvale Steamers was really busy. Attended Victorian Interfaith Network annual meeting coming together in Springvale. It was 30 years since GD Interfaith established. Attended Victorian Afghan Football Academy dinner, their event brings 10,000 people from across Australia. Cr Dark asked whether CGD could give them some financial assistance. Attended sustainability awards night, companies using solar,

Cr Dark asked about Kennett St, Noble Park and a resident has requested some play equipment to be installed there. The officer replied that there are no plans at this stage. The officer said it would require a budget bid.

Cr Dark asked about capital bids in Paperbark ward. Cr Dark said that many projects are sitting in the design phase, and wanted to know when contracts or tenders would be brought in? The officer said that he can inform Cr Dark about the status of the individual projects.

Cr Dark asked about shopping trolleys. Cr Dark said that there seems to be a spike in dumped trolleys, people are chaining them together. Cr Dark asked whether council could impound the trolleys and then charge the supermarkets a fee to get the trolleys back. The officer said that shopping centres had been spoken to by

Cr Long said in Ecuador, you cannot physically take the shopping trolleys out of the supermarket.

Cr Dark said the Dandenong bypass, there are problems with people turning and it’s been on the Somerfield facebook page. The officer said he will take it on notice.

Mayor Cr Memeti

Attended SICMAA AGM, Be Ha president; congratulate staff re Alex Wilkie sustainability centre, the sun came out, staff were prepared. Cr Memeti said that Cr Brown was there. Cr Dark went to see the Springvale Steamers.

Cr Memeti attended Victorian Interfaith conference at Springvale City Hall.

Cr Memeti attended the screening in Harmony Square with Tariq Khan performing.

Cr Memeti attended the Afghan Football Association dinner. 34 teams, women’s teams, over 35s teams, over 5 days at Tatterson Park.

CGD Sustainability Award night. CGD is leading the way, thanked the staff.

Cr Memeti attended the 100 year anniversary of Dandenong High. Cleeland High and Doveton High merged. Good to have guest speaker, Taylor Jackson, Dandenong boy, Anne street, he saw school as a safe haven. Wanted to become prime minister. became a policeman. Dandenong High helped him to become a good person. Became state member for Bayswater. Cr Memeti said there were many, many stories like this stemming from the great environment at Dandenong High. In 2017 council funding a short film about the history of Dandenong High.

Springvale Historical Society – good bunch of people, work tirelessly, and they will be moving into the library, Very very passionate about history and the community. They were asking questions about their move.

Further information