Instead of the usual practice of merely ‘noting’ and accepting the records of assembly, Magee moved an alternate motion and was seconded by Delahunty. Hyams, Lipshutz and Esakoff declared a conflict of interest and left the chamber. The motion reads –

That the record of the above assemblies be received and noted and that council writes to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and asks if the code of conduct adopted at the most recent meeting of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust meets the compliance standards outlined in the Auditor General’s recommendations. Specifically recommendation 2 which deals with the governance framework and the need for contemporary and public reporting. And recommendation 7 which challenges the Trust to address their community engagement obligations.

MAGEE: said that the Auditor General in September 2014 released ‘an absolute scathing’ report on the trustees and the department. ‘It showed that the community were ignored’ and that ‘the land was almost totally utilised for racing’. On 21st November before the election Lisa Neville wrote to Magee (and he quoted) that Labor supports the Auditor General recommendations and that they would ‘implement the recommendations’ if elected. The records of assembly show that Delahunty asked the councillor trustees to ‘report on the latest’ trustee meeting. They said that a ‘new code of governance was voted in’ which set down that ‘no trustee is allowed to speak outside the trust’ and nor can they ‘say what is happening inside the trust meetings’. The Auditor General was ‘scathing on this’ and his recommendations were ‘that this was not to continue’. Magee then quoted Greg Sword from September 2014 where ‘the trust welcomes the Auditor General’s report’. He then said that what is ‘disturbing’ about the code is that it ‘gags, silences’ and stops trustees from ‘saying what happens on a $2 billion community asset’. This asset ‘has seen over 400 children’ from Glen Eira ‘having nowhere to play sport’. ‘What’s most upsetting’ is that the code of conduct was ‘written by the Victorian Government Solicitor’. Didn’t think that Neville was even ‘aware of this’. Said he’s ‘drafted a letter’ and will be telling her that the Government Solicitor has drafted this code in ‘total contradiction’ to the Auditor General’s report. Went on to say that the ‘last time’ the trust even produced minutes was in February 2014 – 7 months before the report and since then ‘they have met once’. So ’14 months’ after the report the ‘trustees decide to have a meeting’. And the ‘first thing they do’ is pass this code of governance ‘gagging all trustees’. So ‘you, I don’t know what’s happening with a $2 billion asset’. Said his letter will be asking that they ‘dismiss’ this ‘anti-social, dysfunctional, secretive organisationwhich has ‘no place in contemporary Australia’ and a ‘framework of governance’. ‘There is no standards within this board of trustees’ that recognises the community’s use. Said the trustees had this ‘little consultation about the new plan’. ‘No one has seen the plan’ or heard of it. So when the trustees are talking to the community about what they want, ‘one-third of the trustees have actually produced their own plan’ and this was ‘to lock everybody out’ and from what they’ve heard ‘night racing’ is part of the proposed plan. Said that the trustees at the first opportunity have chosen to ‘reverse, go backwards’ and they are ‘now back in the 1800 hundreds where we should be seen but not heard’. They see the racecourse ‘as theirs’ and the activities on this land as ‘making money for them’ – their Tabaret makes $12 million ‘off crown land and very little of that finds its way back to the community’. Ajax footy club ‘train and play outside Glen Eira because there’s no space’. Games are ‘cancelled’ because of no space. ‘I can’t handle that. I can’t take that. I can’t allow that to continue’. He will continue to write ‘letter after letter’ and when they say ‘they will do something’ ‘nothing has been done’. Quoted Andrews on the Auditor General’s report welcoming the recommendations and said that it was not ‘worth the paper it was written on’. (Melodramatically) tore the sheets of paper in half!

DELAHUNTY: said it was hard to follow Magee because he speaks with ‘such passion’. Said they don’t know what’s going on. Also that there is a ‘theme’ running through the first two items on the agenda tonight – ‘an open and transparent body should be the only body’ that is acceptable. Said this arose because of her question to the councillor trustees asking for an update from the trustee meeting and ‘they provided it as best as they could’. Said that the motion is relevant to ‘us’ because it seeks to know how ‘constraining and blocking and gagging code of conduct’ meets any of the Auditor General’s recommendations. And ‘how you are going to adopt a governance framework that is consistent with contemporary standards’. Said that they thought they ‘had some tractions’ with the Auditor General’s report and whilst hundreds are being turned away from sporting activities ‘is heartbreaking and we won’t rest’ until this is resolved.

OKOTEL: endorsed Magee and said that a year ago ‘we were all pleased and optimistic’ about the report and they had hoped that ‘some real action’ would be taken. Now when ‘not one single recommendation’ has been implemented ‘it is devastating’ for ‘those sporting clubs’. Thanked Magee for the motion and ‘encouraged’ him to ‘continue advocate on this issue’.

LOBO: can ‘go on an on playing the broken record’ but nothing will change unless they lose the backing of the Minister and unless ‘we all go to VCAT’. ‘Don’t waste our time. Fight for the residential codes rather’ than this ‘which will not come to you’.

PILLING: also ‘endorsed’ the ‘long’ issue and both sides of politics are involved. ‘We need more sports ovals’ and for the MRC ‘to consider the community far more’. Things can be done but just needs ‘the political will from the State Government’.

MAGEE: the Government Solicitor also gave ‘advice’ that the trustees ‘should adopt the committee of management guidelines’ . These ‘guidelines state very clearly that all meetings should be open publically’ and that ‘minutes should be made public’. He also ‘recommended that 6 of the trustees have conflicts of interest’ and shouldn’t vote on ‘matters’ dealing with the MRC. ‘those 6 trustees agreed that they would disagree’ and ‘they voted that down’. ‘They have said that they will vote on anything that relates to them’. Spoke about leases and how the MRC writes the leases and then ‘sublets’ to members of the trust. ‘If this is not an absolute travesty of justice’ he is tired of writing to politicians and ‘everyone says ‘ugggh’ ‘not touching that!’ Finished by ‘surmising’ that the councillor reps on the trustees were ‘very disappointed’ by the code of governance and that ‘they cannot tell us, they cannot communicate with us’. ‘this is not their fault’. Nothing will change until ‘this group united (15 trustees) will stand up for residents’.



  • We do not disagree with any of Magee’s criticisms of the trustees as stated above. However, we do find it terribly ironic and hypocritical that not 5 minutes previous, Magee, Pilling and Okotel were part of the successful gagging and silencing of Delahunty’s motion. Their votes helped cement the ‘secrecy’ and dysfunctional council that we now have. We suggest that all of the criticisms levelled at the MRC and the trustees would appear to apply equally to the vast majority of Glen Eira City councillors and council’s total disregard for good governance and open, transparent government!
  • If our trustees are so ‘desperately disappointed’ then why don’t they resign? Given that their presence is totally ineffectual, then surely a mass resignation will achieve far more in terms of publicity and condemnation of the trustees?