Archive for the ‘Local Politics’ Category

Sarah Henderson, Liberal candidate for Corangamite, met with 60 local residents to hear their case for a heated swimming pool in Apollo Bay. Corangamite is the most marginal seat in the September federal election, currently held by Darren Cheeseman ALP.

?????????????????????????????????????????.Sarah Henderson meets Apollo Bay residents about their new pool
Ms. Henderson spoke with community members in the Senior Citizens Hall about their needs for a heated pool:
” I’m doing my very best to advocate for the really important projects in our region…from what I’ve seen today, the pool is the number one project in Apollo Bay.” If elected, Sarah says she’ll ” bang the drum, bang the table and do the very best I can for projects such as this one.”

The community members at the meeting ranged in age from parents with young children to grandparents. ??????????????????????????????????

They told their stories of the need to have a heated pool for children to learn to swim, for rehabilitation, for hydrotherapy for an aging community, and for visitors too. One resident wants to celebrate her 80th birthday in 5 years time, in Apollo Bay’s heated pool.

For many years, Apollo Bay community has been calling for a heated swimming pool so the treacherous trip through the Otways to Colac, or to Lavers Hill once a week, to access hydrotherapy or swimming lessons for children, wouldn’t be necessary.This recent push for a heated pool started over two years ago with the formation of Apollo Bay Aquatic Centre Inc.

In March this year, after the pool committee presented a self-funded feasibility study and concept plans for the pool, the Colac Otway shire voted unanimously to provide the running costs.  A community fundraising campaign to raise 10% of the capital cost has begun with Bendigo Bank pledging $20,000. Now it’s up to Federal and State funding for the remainder of the capital costs.

Jane Gross, Secretary of the Aquatic Centre committee was pleased with the community’s  response at the meeting, and with Ms. Henderson’s support. Jane Gross at meeting with Sarah Henderson

Jane is feeling hopeful: ” Sarah was happy to come down to meet with us. Darren Cheeseman too was fairly positive when we met  at his office in Waurn Ponds on Wednesday . He noted that Apollo Bay hasn’t had any spending or infrastructure for a very long time.  If we get a federal election promise this September by whoever gets in, we’ll hope to have the pool up and running by2015 “.


Victorian Boat Operator Licence

Jet Ski riders in Victoria are facing new restrictions after the Sandringham Foreshore Association has called for crackdowns on “aggressive and reckless” riders.

It comes only weeks after a 51-year-old South Melbourne man was killed after being struck by a Jet Ski near Port Melbourne Beach. The accident occurred when a 21-year-old driver entered a restricted zone.

Sandringham Foreshore Association president Vicki Karalis said “more accidents would happen unless tougher licensing laws were passed”.

Jamie Raffelt, a veteran boat builder and operator, believes tougher laws are not the answer.

“The current licensing system is a joke. Applicants are given a book to read and then sit a written test. Unless these soon to be operators are physically taught how to control a vessel in the flesh, then tougher laws will be of no help” he said.


Lake Nagambie, Victoria

Kristen Fonseca, a 16-year-old American national was killed earlier this year after Australian Tyler Dagley, 20, was recklessly operating a Jet Ski. This incident has yet again placed Jet Ski riders under review, and has prompted further action to be taken.

Queensland has been the first state in Australia to adopt new legislation for Jet Ski riders. From January 1 this year, all riders will be required to carry a registered Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, when boating more than two nautical miles from land.

In addition to this, handheld flares have become a requirement.

“Carrying extra safety equipment and flares won’t help a user who has collided with a swimmer at the beach” Mr Raffelt said.

While these laws have been a positive change for Queensland waterways and users, the rest of Australia is still using dated safety legislation.

While still behind the other states, Victoria made a step forward in December 2009 with the introduction of ‘Hoon Boating Laws‘. The initiative aims to punish users who choose to act in an irresponsible and dangerous manner. While this will no doubt curb some of the reckless behaviour, it is no substitute for proper education.

Until such a time when boat licensing moves toward a pratical and hands on competency test, swimmers and boat operators are at increased risk of injury to themselves, property and others.

The question now is if the other states are willing adopt these changes before anyone else gets killed.

David Kirby

Just over 12 months ago, the future of Australia’s favourite steam train was in dire jeopardy. Puffing Billy faced possible closure, requiring a 25 million dollar cash injection to continue operating.

One year on, the iconic tourist attraction is thriving. Recently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous Belgrave to Menzies Creek line, the hardship of the past year seems a distant memory, but not to the people involved with the heritage railway.

Puffing Billy is an iconic Melbourne tourist attraction, and has been loved by families for generations, and its possible foreclosure came as a shock to visitors and volunteers.

Henry Shultz has been volunteering as an engine mechanic for nearly 20 years, says the railway is more than just a tourist attraction or a old steam train it is by no means just that –  “The steam locomotive machine is a snapshot into history, into an era that has shaped our world today, and the community support shown by the visitors, and countless volunteers shows the determination to keep Puffing Billy alive”.

The heritage railway relies almost solely on donations and visitors to keep the locomotive alive and running. Although the number of visitors is on a continuous rise, with a record 268, 984 passengers in 2011, Shultz says that “we still need further financial assistance and more volunteers to keep the railway running for years to come”.

From each ticket sale, 37% of funds go towards train operations and maintenance, 25% to track and land maintenance, 22% administration, 10% to marketing and 10% to coal. The locomotive is run predominantly by volunteers, who spend their weekends and spare time providing maintenance services to the track or engines, driving the train or tending to the thousands of visitors of this historic landmark.

“We have received enough donations to keep this beloved steam train running for now, but who knows what the future holds? That is why we want people to continue showing their love for the trains by visiting us, buying a ticket, and even donating money where possible. I want my great grandkids to enjoy this locomotive as much as I have” Shultz warns.

Although out of the woods for now by receiving overwhelming support and donations to repair the necessary tracks and engines ensuring the safety of the line, the threat for the future is still a concern.

Click here to watch the history behind Australia’s favourite steam train.

Amanda Beardmore

By Abid Ahmadzai

Victorian teachers and Education Support (ES) along with the Australian Education Union (AEU) took part in a 15,000 strong rally yesterday (September 5, 2012) to increase teacher’s salaries and for better working conditions in the state.

The rally took place at Rod Laver Arena where the Victorian branch president for the AEU, Mary Bluett, led the charge against the Baillieu governments broken promises.

Mrs Bluett said that the support numbers for the AEU had overwhelmingly grown and that the AEU had surpassed the 50,000 member mark for Victoria during the current action that’s taking place.

Many schools across the state had been affected by the strike action yesterday with schools and teachers from as far as Ballarat taking part in the strike.

“We estimate 400 schools are closed across the state,” Mrs Bluett said.

The Baillieu government has offered the AEU a 2.5 per cent increase in salaries along with the introduction of performance pay and contract employment.

According to a media release from the AEU, Western Australia and New South Wales teachers get paid “$7,441 and $2,822 respectively more than Victorian teachers for the same role”.

AEUVIC_12_Media Release_Historic statewide education strike_KB_040912

A complete joke and insult, according to Mrs Bluett.

Federal President for the AEU, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the Baillieu should honor their promise.

“Treat education support staff, teachers and principals in this state with the respect they earned and the respect they deserve”, Mr Gavrielatos said.

“The announcement in this year’s budget of a cut of $300 million from the TAFE budget is a fundamental attack on public education and an attack on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in Victoria,” he said.

Mr Gavrielatos did however announce that the federal government has stated it would embrace schools funding reform consistent with the Gonski funding principals.

The Gonski report according to their website was “the most comprehensive investigation of the way schools are funded in Australia in almost 40 years”.

State member for Narre Warren South, Judith Graley, said almost all the schools in her electorate where taking part in the strike action.

“Strike action is a last resort but they’ve been pushed into this situation because of the failure of the Baillieu government to honour their word and live up to their promise that they [Victorian teachers] would be the best paid teachers in Australia,” Mrs Graley said.

Mrs Bluett also launched a new website for all parents, teachers and members which has all the up to date information on the campaign.

Please click on the link to view photos of the Teachers Rally

If you were in the city on August 16th you may have heard the chants “Bailliue Bailliue, he’s going to fail you,”  you may have seen the flood of teachers and students streaming down towards Parliament and you may have asked yourself, what’s all this fuss about?

Students and teachers march through the city.

In the latest state budget the Baillieu government cut a brutal $300 million from the TAFE sector. Now hundreds of teachers and TAFE staff have lost their jobs. Many campuses are  facing closure, courses have been shut down and fees have been massively increased for thousands of students. And to further rub salt into the wound, the government is considering cutting another $230 million.

I asked some TAFE students and staff why they were so passionate about this issue.

Neil, Latrobe Valley




“Because some of my friends have already lost their job, but I’m more worried about where the students are going to go.”





Matthew, Box Hill



“Because not many places have a quality and recognised music course like Box Hill Institute, if it shuts down it will have a substantial effect on the Melbourne contemporary music scene.”





Angus, Swinburne




“Because Swinburne is already under funded, one of my teachers leaves an hour early to get to another class.”





A lot of protesters had travelled from the country to make their voice heard as rural and remote towns will most likely suffer worst from these cuts. If their TAFE’s are closed, students and teachers will have to commute miles and miles to work and study. Julia Gillard even hit out at Mr Bailliue claiming it will be a heavy blow for towns such as Warrnambool, Morwell and Mildura, calling TAFE part of their ‘social Fabric’.

A major concern for protesters was where will the kids who have tried and failed at normal school go?  The kids who just don’t fit in?  And the others who have unimaginable home lives and struggle to cope with school as well?

Chloe Williams is one of those students, completing a child care diploma at GoTAFE in Seymour, country Victoria. “I dropped out of school because of bullying, if TAFE didn’t take me I would be doing nothing” Chloe said. She fears her and the other people on her class have no future without TAFE.

And what about the students who use TAFE as a pathway to university? Many students HAVE to go to TAFE in order to get into their desired course.

A student stands up for Swinburne as it faces closure. Swinburne offers many university pathway courses.

Angus Cameron, a student of Engineering at Swinburne TAFE says he won’t be able to complete his university degree if his TAFE shuts down. “I’m not sure if I’ll still be able to go to uni” Angus said.

Baillieu has hit back claiming “enrolments exploded in courses that were cheap to deliver, profitable for providers but did not deliver on jobs.” This is his attempt to shift the blame to the previous Labour government, whose funding regime allowed private providers to flourish. These registered training offices don’t have the same overheads and are running diplomas in days when the skills take months to acquire and TAFE’s just can’t compete.

Despite the previous governments errors, Baillieu has still made the decision to cut TAFE’s funding in a time when they need all they could get. He however refers to it as a ‘reform’ and claims it was “designed to save the system from collapse”.

But this reform has already shut down RMIT’s Professional Writing Diploma through lack of numbers, while cuts have also led to the closure of the Engineering department at Bendigo TAFE’s Castlemaine campus.

The future is uncertain for TAFE students and teachers but one thing is for sure, they’re not going to take it any more.

If you missed the protest join the constant virtual rally on twiiter at

The debate as to whether graffiti is an art form or simply just vandalism has been a hot topic in Melbourne for years.

Laneways, alleys, and walls across Melbourne explode with colour and character, as the city plays canvas to Melbourne’s street artists.

But while some believe this radical expression is art, others believe our city should look more like the Melbourne John Brack depicts in his painting, ‘Collins St., 5pm’.

Thomas Elliot of Hawthorn is frequently paid by business owners to spray paint artwork on bare walls in both the Boroondara and Yarra municipalities.

“There’s a big difference between what artists like my group and I do, and others tagging public and private property without permission,” said Elliot.

The derelict California Hotel in Hawthorn, a graffiti hotspot in Boroondara

So, is graffiti simply vandalism because it’s in a place where it legally should not be?

And, if the council allowed for designated graffiti areas, would it be considered art?

According to an article by Progress Leader this month, Boroondara council spent more than $250,000 on graffiti removal last year.

Camberwell Railway Station, the deserted California Hotel on Barkers Road, Hawthorn, and the Glenferrie shopping precinct are some of Boroondara’s graffiti hot spots.

Furthermore, a special report by Leader has found more than $5 million is spent every year removing graffiti from around Melbourne.

Stephanie Andrews, 21, of Kew said there should be a place for artists to graffiti legally.

“As soon as society puts a ban on something, people tend to rebel against that,” says Andrews.

“We should be encouraging creative members of our society to express themselves.

“The council should dedicate areas where artists can do their thing legally.”

The  last few months has seen a renaissance of protesting, sit-ins and political unrest at la Trobe University in response to 500 plus proposed cuts to the humanities and social science faculties.

The students are concerned about the university’s plans to cut 45 academic staff jobs and 500 subjects from its humanities and social science departments due to depleted enrolment.

The university announced the plans in a document released June 20 with Humanities and Social Science Dean, Tim Murray declaring a final decision will be made sometime this month.

Since hearing of the news students have partaken in overnight occupations of their university grounds, protests, marches and a series of petitions to combat these changes.


Under the threat of expulsion and weeks of peaceful protests, the raging debate reached a tension filled apex as the Stop HUSS Cuts Collective  and Occupy La Trobe grew forceful in their frustrations.

Escalating from peaceful to pushy, a La Trobe University Professor was forced to use an underground network to escape the student’s wrath.

Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar was ushered into a room by security staff during La Trobe’s annual Open Day when students protesting against proposed cuts confronted and reportedly hounded him into a building at the university’s Bundoora campus.

Student protestors and media take over the Bundoora campus Humanities and Social Sciences building

Since this time significant changes have been made to the proposal including a decline in the number subject and staff redundancies.

 As it stands La Trobe University are planning to cut 37 jobs by the end of this year along with the dismissal of 370 subjects.

La Trobe University Professor John Dewar released a statement  on the reviewed proposal late last month.

  “We may all wish it were otherwise, but we must recognise that traditional arts degrees are no longer sufficiently enticing nor relevant to school leavers and employers alike, and students have been voting, in effect, for a smaller humanities faculty with their feet.” He stated.

Morgan Cummings, a third year arts student at La Trobe University and student union representative believes the battle is far from over.  Morgan took the time to answer a few questions about the future of the movement.

With a final decision still looming on what will come from the tireless protests and student efforts, Occupy Latrobe have implored the university to enter into negotiations with the National Tertiary Education Union in good faith, to create a shift in focus from saving money to saving jobs and for a redistribution of executive pay to save other jobs at the university.

Grace Stevens, Madeleine Gray and Caitlyn Kelly pictured at the La Trobe Agora showing support for the No Cuts protest.

Madeleine Gray (pictured above), a third year International Relations student at La Trobe University  and active member of Stop Huss Cuts considers this to be a positive step forward in the ongoing movement but one that still has far to go in ensuring their beloved institution is maintained.

With negotiations still surging it will be some time before the impassioned students and staff of La Trobe University receives final word on the proposed cuts. For the students and faculty members this will be a fight not soon to slow down.

A protest against “Innocence of Muslims” – a 14-minute video posted on YouTube, was initially planned Sunday 23. September, but got cancelled by the organiser over fears that the event could spark the kind of violence that erupted between police and Muslim protesters in Sydney.

An argument erupted on the steps of the State Library of Victoria.

No major outbreak
It was calm in front of the Victorian State Library, site of a cancelled Islamic rally, before four men wearing “proudly atheist” T-shirts and carrying signs saying “Islam is false” came.

A passing Sydney-living man was drawn into a debate with the atheists over the content of their signs when he asked them to take them down.

There was no physical violence, but tensions escalated as the young men draped in Australian flags got involved.

The group of men, some with SS insignia and some with shaved heads, had been waiting at the library for a couple of hours. They denied being part of any organisation, and said they only came there to enjoy the nice weather.

Vocal, but peaceful
The arguments lasted for about 20 minutes when the police asked the pro-Muslim man if he could leave before things got out of control.

The Victoria Police was prepared for the worst, but said it was a peaceful argument.

Ending with the nationalist protesters waving the Australian flags and chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” and “we grew here they flew here”.

Police Commander Jeff Forti said: “We’re very thankful the rally really didn’t go off, there was a small gathering of people there that was peaceful.”

Police also said that they didn’t know if the group of men with SS insignia were in any particular group, but the police knew some of them.

The video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, made by a US-based filmmaker, has incited violent rallies around the world. And the violent protest in Sydney, resulted in 17 people injured.

The video has now more than 13,5 million hits.