Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Melbourne-Saint Petersburg Sister City Relationship saved

Melbourne City Council tonight voted overwhelming to maintain the Melbourne-Saint Petersburg, Russia Sister City Relationship

Councillor Rohan Leppert, who originally championed the cancellation or suspension of the Sister City relationship,  was forced to back down in the face of opposition from not only the Melbourne and Australian Community but also the Russian LGBTI Community.

Councillor Leppert had jumped on the bandwagon of the gay lobby group who called for the City Council to cancel its relations for what they claimed were human rights abuses in Russia. 

Councillor Leppert failed to recognize that the Russian legislation that was the focus of his attention was aimed at banning promotion of gay sex involving children.  "Pedophilia Tourism" is a major concern in Russia, with cashed up Westerners traveling to Russia looking to pay for child sex. that even those in Western democracies would find abhorrent and offensive. The Russian legislation made it illegal to promote such activities. something the Western media failed to mention or down played when they reported on this issue 

Members of the Russian LGBTI community wrote to the City of Melbourne urging them to not cancel the Sister City Relationship as it would not be in their best interest .  It was reported during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic in an interview with a gay club in Sochi that the only harassment they had experienced was from the Western Media seeking interviews.

Better to be inside the tent then outside

Thanks to Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and other City Councillors, common sense prevailed and the Leppert/Greens motion was thwarted.

Melbourne is the only city in the Southern hemisphere that has a Sister City agreement with Saint Petersburg. This relationship is more valuable to us then it is to Russia.  Had Melbourne sought to suspend the relationship Russia would have cancelled it, and rightfully so,

Discussion with the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade highlighted the inappropriateness for Melbourne to suspend the relationship. Melbourne Sister City relationship is a vehicle to promote cultural and economic exchange It is not there to push Geo-political issues or to lecture St Petersburg what they should and should not do or for us to push our values on another State.

Leppert's sincerity brought into question.

If Rohan Leppert and others were sincere about their concern of alleged Human Rights abuse against the LGBTI community, why single out St Petersburg?  Arizona and Kansas in the United States have more direct discriminatory legislation in place and yet we do not hear Rohan Leppert calling for the suspension or cancellation of Melbourne-Boston Sister City Relationship or the relationship with China as a result of Human Rights abuse in Tibet or Japan for hunting Wales in the antarctic region.

Rohan Leppart has an obligation to represent all of Melbourne and not just his own personal sectional interests.

What was also telling was that Green Councillors Rohan Leppert and Cathy Oak failed to consult or consider the impact of their proposal on the Melbourne Russian speaking community who are very proud of the relationship between the two cities and who want to help foster greater understanding and cultural ties.  Nowhere in Rohan Leppert thinking did he consider their needs or aspirations.

The City of Melbourne is celebrating 25 years since the signing of the Melbourne Sister City Relationship. Instead of helping develop and fostering the relationship Rohan Leppert was quick to discard it and embark on another round of cold war, anti-Russian, Geo-political chest beating, so he can grab a few cheap headlines and pander to what he perceives is he is constituency. Cr Leppert forgets that his obligations, as an elected councillor, is to represent the interests for Melbourne as a whole.

Please do not rain on our Parade and City Pride

Thank god common sense prevailed and Rohan Leppert failed to receive the support he once thought he had. Instead of raining on the parade we can now embrace Melbourne St Petersburg 25 year Sister City relationship and learn from each other without sexual politics interfering.

Facts ignored by Rohan Leppert

Is being gay a crime in Russia?
No. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993.
But why are homosexuals being punished?
A law was passed earlier this summer that levies a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (about $1,500 dollars) on any individuals, and  up to 1 million rubles (about $30,000) on any organizations engaged in “propaganda of non-traditional relationships to minors”.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The City of Melbourne Planning Scheme is in tatters. A fire brigade without a hose or a truck

The City of Melbourne has failed its first major test before the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal with the advice given to Council by officers proven to be false and the Council left dumfounded and embarrassed by not paying due and proper attention to this issue well before now

Recent Ministerial changes to the State Planing Scheme made by Matthew Guy have resulted in the City of Melbourne no longer able to control development within the city boundaries instead we have a free for all where the market is allowed to rage unchecked and out of control

The decision of VCAT to grant a planning permit for the establishment of a licenced cafe and restaurant at 157-159 Domain Road, South Yarra. - PERMIT APPLICATION NO. TP-2012-388 had demonstrated that the Council Strategic Statement is worthless.

Recent amendments to the Victorian Planning Scheme have resulted in licenced premises (Taverns, Pubs Restaurants and Pokie venues) which fall under the board definition of Retail Premises, no longer requiring a planning permit for use in a Commercial 1 Zone. (CZ1).  The City of Melbourne and a host of other inner city municipalities have been caught out by the changes which have a detrimental impact on inner city residential amenity.

 A commercial business premises now has an "as of right' use to establish a night club. Tavern. Bar or licenced restaurant within a CZ1 zone without a planning permit regulating its use.

The recommendation to remove licened premises from the definition of Retail premises, if adopted and implemented. would subject all licenced premises to a proper planning process and help restore public confidence.

The City of Melbourne needs to consider a Supreme Court challenge of the ruling of the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT)

The proposed development in Domian Road undermines the terms and provisions of the Melbourne Planning Scheme

Clause 21.08, “Economic Development”. states: There is a need to support the provision of local shops to serve the residential and working communities in local centres. A proliferation of eating and entertainment uses should not undermine the character and range of services offered in these local centres.

A stated objective under the Melbourne Planning Scheme is to support the Central City and local retail uses. A related strategy is: Ensure that a proliferation of eating and entertainment establishments in local centres does not undermine the viability of their convenience retailing

The South Yarra Domain Road precinct is listed as area of stability with minimal potential for new development, and notes that residential amenity to date has been maintained and the area’s historic character and features have been preserved

The Melbourne Strategic Statement aims to ensure Domain Road shopping area maintains its role for convenience shopping, neighbourhood facilities and as a neighbourhood focus

The City of Melbourne policy framework identifies the Domain Road shopping area as one of the municipality’s local centres. Policy seeks to have this centre maintain its role for convenience shopping and as a neighbourhood focus. Policy also seeks to ensure that a proliferation of eating and entertainment establishments does not undermine the viability of the centre’s convenience retailing

A significant difficulty in implementing this strategy is the fact that the use of the land for a restaurant is no longer subject to a planning permit, given the Commercial 1 zoning of the land. Under the provisions of the previously existing Business 1 zoning, there existed the ability to specify in the Schedule land upon which a restaurant use could not be established without a permit. The Council had not nominated any land within the municipality in the Schedule. With the change of zone, the ability to include this requirement has disappeared.

As no permit is required for the use, it is difficult to understand how the strategy relating to the ‘proliferation’ of eating establishments can be implemented in a land use sense. The regulatory tools necessary to give effect to the Council’s aspirations for this centre, as expressed in this specific strategy, do not form part of the suite of controls which apply in this case.

The granting of the permit pursuant to the revised planning scheme undermines public confidence in the administration and implementation of planning with-in the City of Melbourne

Changes to the Planning Scheme required to wind back the Guy amendments

The City of Melbourne need to as a matter of urgency review the current zoning of the Domain Road, South Yarra precinct with the view of having it rezoned as a “Mixed Use" Zone in which case licenced premises and restaurants and taverns can once again be subject to proper planning controls

- The Melbourne South Yarra Group has invited the Labor Candidate or the State seat of Melbourne Neil Pharaoh to address residents concerns on planning within the City of Melbourne at its Annual General Meetings scheduled for March 2014