New laws show Spring St is out of touch
New laws for short-stay apartments being introduced into State Parliament show that the government is totally out of touch with residents and all that the We Live Here movement is fighting for.
The legislation has come out of the blue, with no consultation and effectively opens the door to short-term lets in Victoria. It also comes just days after the conclusion of the Watergate Supreme Court appeal against a VCAT decision that ruled the OC did not have the power to make rules about the use of lots.
The judge reserved his decision citing that “it was a significant case”, so one wonders why the Andrews Government has proceeded with such undue haste, and without waiting for the decision.
In our view, it is a total capitulation to the tourism lobby. The government has lost a golden opportunity to put Melbourne on the map alongside San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Paris and other world cities by coming down hard on the short-term stay industry but instead chose to invite them in with open arms.
We will keep you up to date with further developments. In the meantime you can read the Ministers for Consumer Affairs Media Release and the response from We Live Here on our website at http://www.welivehere.net
Our petition is now live. We need as many people as possible to sign it so that the government understands that short-term letting in residential buildings is an issue affecting many residents and our community at large. Remember every person can sign, not just you representing your apartment, family or building.
Please sign the petition now and encourage your friends, family, workmates and neighbours to also sign. http://www.welivehere.net
Meet the council forum
Though it was disappointing to have the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle cancel his attendance just hours prior to the start, we feel that the May 9 forum for residents to meet with the council was a worthwhile evening with more than 75 people attending.
We were fortunate to have councillors Richard Foster, Jackie Watts, Ken Ong and Cathy Oke attend as our very lively panel. They obviously enjoyed having the opportunity to genuinely engage with residents and Michael Kennedy was a very able moderator.
The panel was asked to respond to and discuss a number of questions sent to them before the meeting. These included:
What do the council see as the role of residents in the City of Melbourne, and how may they become more involved?
How much weight is given to the views of residents compared with businesses, workers and visitors?
How can more residents be encouraged to nominate for council?
What steps are being taken to ensure that residents as well as businesses are on the electoral roll?
At the last election businesses were granted two votes and residents one vote. Is this fair and should it continue?
To ensure a level playing field for all voters do you believe attendance voting should be reintroduced as an option to the exclusive postal voting introduced in 2012. If not, what steps should be taken to prevent voters whose ballot papers do not arrive on time from being disenfranchised?
Consumer Affairs, local council and owners’ corporations. Who should be responsible for dealing with short-term letting in residential buildings?
A question and answer session followed and some lively discussion ensued. Some of the important issues raised on the night included.
Lack of tram access for disabled persons or those with prams;
Lack of public toilet facilities;
Developer contributions; and
Managing and supporting the homeless crisis.
As we approach the upcoming election it was great to see these four councillors give their time to meet with the residents they represent and to answer questions and understand their issues. Ring and write to your council members telling them of the issues that concern you. As Cr Watts said: if you don’t like something a councillor says, “tell them”.
A video of the night is available to view on our website at http://www.welivehere.net and on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hitZqir8gFk
Stand for council
Local government elections will be held on October 22. If you’re interested in nominating for the Melbourne City Council there will be an information night held at the Town Hall administration building on Monday, May 30 from 6pm to 8pm. More information is available from http://www.standforcouncil.com.au
Our growing inner city community needs more representation from residents with the time and passion to have our unique issues heard. Currently businesses within the City of Melbourne have two to one voting rights over residents, despite annual increases of 6500 to the residential population. So make sure you are enrolled and eligible to vote and ensure a greater proportion of residents are elected to council for the next four years.
Us being heard
We Live Here continues to grow and be a platform for residents’ voices. An example of being heard is our recently-received invitation to meet with Consumer Affairs Victoria for an opportunity to discuss our submissions to their review of the Owners Corporation Act 2006.
The We Live Here submission is available on our website at http://www.welive.net
Please continue to send us your feedback and tell us of the issues that are important to you. We’d also be particularly interested to hear your ideas for future forum topics.