29 July 2010

Victorian branch – president’s report July 22nd 2010

The Victorian government in its eagerness to squeeze population growth into our city and surrounds devised an amendment to the planning act to allow development to occur on the sacrosanct Green Wedges, a new tax on tax land holders in previously rural zones on sale of land and to provide for high rise development along transport routes

Conservation groups including SPA joined forces with the adversely affected landholders and staged a protest which stopped traffic in Collins Street on July 14th 2009 outside a hotel where the planning minister was dining with developers. Having been defeated in the Upper House the matter is still before Parliament and will most likely re-appear in another form.

The most obvious highlights of activity for the rest of the year were

In November 2009 when SPA Vic held a public meeting with our guest speaker Hon. Kelvin Thomson MHR for Wills addressing the meeting on. "Population reform: political challenges" The meeting was filmed by Andrew Melville Smith who flew in especially from Adelaide.

 In February 2010 volunteers from the branch manned a stall for 3 days at the Sustainable Living Festival at Federation Square providing information to the public for 3 full days.

They were: Gloria O’Connor, Jonathan Page, Jill Quirk, Mark Feltrin, Peter Schlesinger, Kit James, Jennie Epstein, Vladimir Stoikovich, Steven Gage, Nicholas Howe, Vivienne Ortega,  Margit Alm, and one notable “fly in fly out” volunteer from Canberra, Geoff Buckmaster.

In March 2010 SPA Vic hosted the National AGM at Trinity College with Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy as guest speakers   -on –“Population growth and greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.” .The meeting was well attended and a great networking opportunity. We held a dinner at The Hilton Hotel attended by about 20 people.  Thanks to members of the Victorian committee and to Bob Braby, Bob Whiteway, David Hughes, Marie Epstein and Peter Schlesinger and for their help before and at the National AGM and anyone else who escaped my notice or fled my memory. Special thanks to Peter Schlesinger’s friend Wally who filmed the entire proceedings.

 The Victorian Government in September to November held "Victoria in Future" forums throughout country and metropolitan areas to prepare people for rapidly growing population.  These were not well publicized but SPA Vic members on email were notified via our branch to increase our presence at these growth fests. Jill Quirk Jonathan Page and Walter Grahame attended one in a south eastern Melbourne suburb and managed to dominate the round table discussion. Gloria O'Connor attended one in the Pakenham area. 

 During 2009 Peter Schlesinger (with Jenny Goldie ACT and Dr. Jane O’Sullivan NSW) attended the UNFCCC talks representing SPA. It was Peter’s initiative which set SPA on the course to bring population to the Climate Change agenda.

We were sorry to lose Peter from the Victorian committee when he resigned in December-due to family and work demands.

Towards the end of 2009 3CR offered SPA a monthly interview on population and this has taken place over the last few months on the 2nd Friday of the month at about 8.15 a.m. This is a good opportunity to promote events as well as to discuss current issues in a calm and measured format. Sheila Newman did one of these interviews while the president was away in May 2010

 While the president was overseas for 6 weeks following the national AGM, a rare opportunity to debate former Premier Steve Bracks on local ABC radio 774 Jon Faine's show arose. Sheila Newman agreed to step in on her behalf for SPA Victoria and in our opinion brilliantly demolished her opponent. (Podcast is available on the ABC website April 7th– Google "774 conversation Hour population forum”.)

 In June we participated in another Sustainability Festival in Pakenham for 2 full days – Thanks to the following volunteers – Ilan Goldman, Gloria O’Connor, Vlad Stoikovitch, Vivienne and Pepe Ortega, Walter Grahame.

The branch continues to be a member of Protectors of Public Lands Vic. which is an invaluable and consistent link via Secretary Julianne Bell to numerous other groups throughout the state with strongly related concerns and to very fresh news on the political scene as it plays out in Victoria.

 The issue of population has well and truly made it onto the political agenda now, to the extent that one cannot avoid reading about it or hearing it. There is much confusion in the debate and political rhetoric. SPA needs to remain firmly factual and clear in its objectives as opportunities for us to be heard increase.

Thanks to the Victorian committee 2009 -10 and all other members who donated their resources to carrying out the activities of the branch.

JIll Quirk

President: SPA VIC.


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