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Brunswick Newsletter - December


Here's our December edition of the Brunswick newsletter. What an eventful couple of months it has been!

Here's what you'll find in this issue:

  • Scale it Down campaign update

  • My recent interview with Brunswick Voice

  • Moreland city to be renamed

  • Update on our efforts to stop gas drilling at the Twelve Apostles

  • Getting Brunswick Baths off gas

  • Good news from Parliament

 

 

Scale it Down on Albert St

People living around Clifton and Gilpin parks recently gathered at an event to raise funds for their fight in VCAT against two oversized apartment towers going up on Albert St, between the two parks. I was really impressed by how well they have organised their campaign to bring these developments back to a scale better suited to this area.
I raised this in parliament almost three months ago, pointing out to the planning minister that the planned 8-10 storey towers will act as wall between the two parks, which became so popular during lockdown.

The minister, Richard Wynne, responded in writing, simply observing that he may “call in” the development. This could go either way, considering that when he intervened in 2017, it was to rezone this site with an increased height limit. If you would like to support the community campaign, visit their website.

Visit the website

Brunswick Voice

Brunswick Voice is a new local news website worth following, and they interviewed me one year ahead of the next state election, happening on 26 November next year. At the election, the boundaries of my electorate will change, bringing Carlton North, Princes Hill and Fitzroy North into the electoral district of Brunswick. Sadly the electorate will lose Coburg, Pascoe Vale and Parkville Gardens. If you're in these areas, keep an eye out for your next local Greens candidate!

Read the interview

City of Moreland to be renamed

You’ve probably heard by now that the traditional owners of the land north of the Yarra, the Wurrundjeri Woi-Wurrung, have written to Moreland Council asking that the local government area be given a name other than Moreland. This is because the name came from a slave plantation in Jamaica and was given to a local farm on land taken from the Aboriginal people.

Last night Moreland Council voted in favour of starting the process of choosing a new name, in partnership with the traditional owners. They didn't decide on the name last night, that will be put to the community. I strongly support this plan to replace what is now clearly a disrespectful name, with something more appropriate.

Gas drilling at the Twelve Apostles

You may recall that in October, my colleague in the upper house, Samantha Ratnam, moved to prevent an oil and gas company from drilling beneath the Twelve Apostles to reach off-shore gas fields. The motion was defeated by both major parties, Labor and Liberal, and some of the minor parties, and was only supported by four votes (Samantha Ratnam, Fiona Patten, Andy Meddick and Clifford Hayes).

One of the government’s key reasons for allowing the gas drilling, was a looming “shortage” of gas in Victoria, as other gas fields run out. But too little thought has gone into how Victoria can use less gas and indeed how we need to phase it out as soon as possible to cut carbon emissions and avoid further worsening the climate crisis.

Read More

Getting Brunswick Baths off gas

'Natural' gas is mostly methane – a fossil fuel – and emissions from gas make up about a third of Moreland Council’s carbon footprint. Much of that comes from heating their four pools.

So in parliament, I asked the state government to offer grants to councils encouraging them to convert their swimming pool heating from gas to electric. This would enable them to be heated with renewable energy, now that Moreland Council obtains its electricity from a wind farm.

The Minister’s response was underwhelming. She pointed out that Labor are doing some other things on renewable energy, failed to mention swimming pools and concluded with some low-level jibes at the Greens.

But there’s always good news. The Northcote pool is being renovated, with support from the state government, and will soon be 100% electric. So it can be done! I'll keep working on it next year in parliament.

Local speed limits

Are you bothered by cars fanging down our back streets at dangerous speeds? Lowering speeds on residential streets makes our neighbourhood safer and quieter as well as lowering carbon emissions. So I recently asked the government to allow Moreland council to lower the speed limit on local roads to 40 kmph across the municipality.

The Minister for Transport said he is “considering” Moreland Council’s proposal. I’ve also supported proposals to trial an even lower limit of 30 kmph in some streets. I’ll keep an eye on this and let you know what happens.

Good news from Parliament

 

Amidst the angst around the pandemic bill, you may have missed some more important news (much of it good) from state parliament, which I will summarise:
  • We are on the way to almost complete legalisation of sex work. When a new bill is passed by the upper house, almost all forms of sex work will be legal, apart from some quaint exceptions, such as street sex work near schools and churches. The continued illegality of unregistered brothels, sex work at home and street sex work only served to make sex workers vulnerable to exploitation. This bill from the government is a step forward.

  • Church schools will not be able to fire LGBTQ+ staff, under a bill that passed parliament recently, finally legislating something that LGBTQ+ groups and the Greens, particularly Prahran MP Sam Hibbins, have spent years pushing for.

  • And some good news on local planning! When sites are rezoned to allow a greater level of development, their value rises many-fold overnight, giving developers a quick unearned profit. But state parliament has just legislated a 50% tax on any increase in value above $500,000. It's a smart move by the government that echoes a Greens call for a 75% tax. We supported this bill enthusiastically, but not the 50% land tax concession for “build to rent” apartments that was also in the bill. These build to rent developments have led to rent increases and enriched property developers as they become landlords on a grand scale.

  • Parliament also passed a bill to boost recycling in Victoria, by setting up a container deposit scheme and introducing a fourth rubbish bin, for glass, to those councils that don’t yet have one. This will reduce contamination of materials collected for recycling, making it more likely to be recycled rather than dumped. After three or four Greens bills to introduce a container deposit scheme, it’s great to see one finally come from the government.

  • With the debate on the controversial pandemic bill over, it’s incredible how close Victoria came to being the only state in Australia with no emergency powers to limit the movement of people in a public health crisis. This was averted by one vote in the state’s upper house. I explored the reasons for this in my final speech for the year in parliament.
That's all from me for now! Enjoy the summer break if you're able to take some time off. I'll be getting some sand between my toes, and returning to work in mid-January.

Dr Tim Read

Greens State MP for Brunswick

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Dr Tim Read
Greens MP for Brunswick
14 December 2021
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