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August 09 Edition Cover

Candidates grilled on local issues

01 May 2018

Candidates grilled on local issues Image

Docklanders had a chance to assess 11 lord mayoral candidates’ knowledge of local issues at the Community Boating Hub on April 30.

The evening was hosted by the Docklands Chamber of Commerce and was well attended by local residents and business people.

Candidate Sally Warhaft commented that the Docklands crowd was the biggest of the various candidates nights held around the municipality.

The Docklands night was also different in that, questions were submitted via a smart phone app, with the most popular questions being asked first.

Another unique characteristic of the night was a 15-second time response for questions asked of all participants. As every question was generally addressed, the Q&A section of the night turned into a “speed answering” session, which put the lord mayoral hopefuls under particular pressure.

Below is a summary of what candidates said specifically about local Docklands issues in their opening three-minute speeches.

Sally Capp

Ms Capp acknowledged that short-stay apartments were an issue. “I am seeking, together with you, reform to legislation to make sure that we rebalance the governance to make sure that Airbnb owners and operators to make sure that residents’ concerns are dealt with,” she said.

Rohan Leppert

Cr Leppert said he had been working on behalf of Docklanders during his five years as a councillor.

“A good example is the Harbour Esplanade masterplan where, rather than letting Development Victoria crash through and put all the heritage sheds straight back on the waterfront and blocking everyone’s views, requiring that they undergo more consultation so we can get right what we got wrong in the first place,” he said.

“The Docklands is the most extraordinary community and it has grown faster than any other part of the municipality over the last few years. In 2017 alone, it grew by 14.7 per cent – more than the CBD – and that’s just residents.”

“There should be a special focus on Docklands by the council because there are particular challenges facing the fastest growing part of our municipality.”

Cr Leppert said change needed to be made at the state government level to ensure that Harbour Esplanade was properly developed.

He also said flammable cladding reform was needed. “Changes to building laws (are needed) so that issues with cladding can be dealt with fairly and very, very quickly – rather than what we have seen with the Lacrosse situation” he said.

On the short-stay issue, he said “accommodation” needed to be defined in planning law. “Short-stays have a higher impact on the wear and tear on our buildings. Without those definitions, you can’t start to properly regulate for new apartments that are going to be built in this area,” he said. “And owners’ corporation laws as well. The current laws are not fair for all.”

On the Yarra’s Edge tram bridge issue, he said: “I have great issues with the way it has been planned. We need to ensure that all planning for Fishermans Bend is transparent and that people can see the feasibility of various options and not just take it on trust that the announcement that has been made is the best outcome.”

Ken Ong

Mr Ong commented that all Docklands’ precincts were different but “somehow all the same” because they all comprised businesses and residents.

On short-stays, he said: “My belief is that we have to get the state government to change the OC rules to get short-term operators registered and get them to contribute more into the maintenance sink funds because their customers cause quite a lot of damage.”

He said he didn’t think the proposed Yarra’s Edge tram bridge was a workable solution.

“I think we need to look at a different solution and I am working with groups over there to try to find a solution, which includes a submerged approach,” he said.

Sally Warhaft

Ms Warhaft advocated reverting to a subdivided municipality whereby Docklands would elect its own ward councillor.

She also said the $250 million budgeted for Queen Victoria Market renewal could be better spent in Docklands.

Allan Watson

Candidate Alan Watson said: “Coming down here, I feel like a little kid looking at Disneyland. It’s just absolutely fabulous.”

Katie Sfetkidis

Ms Sfetkidis said she was part of the “Renew” project in Docklands as an artist. The project ran between 2013 and 2016.

“Docklands was part of the Renew project which, unfortunately, is no more,” she said.

“Projects like these attract people and bring back communities. And I want to bring this back to Docklands.”

Renew actually returned to Docklands in 2017 and is operational at The District Docklands shopping centre.

Ms Sfetkidis said she wanted creative spaces to be made permanent.

On short-stays she said a way needed to be found “to regulate the balance of interests in high density areas”.

She said regulation was needed to ensure that residents felt like their buildings were their homes.

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