Councillor camps out at Caulfield Racecourse to campaign on public space

Date: May 30, 2016
Councillor Jim Magee at his Caulfield Racecourse camp site.Councillor Jim Magee at his Caulfield Racecourse camp site. Photo: Jason South

Jim Magee is camping out. Conservative by nature, the Glen Eira councillor is not the type to conduct a sit-in, or break his own council’s by-laws banning camping on public land.

But he was worried his long-running campaign to draw attention to the little-used public space inside Caulfield Racecourse might end up going nowhere with the state’s new environment minister, Lily D’Ambrosio.

So last week he dug the family tent out of the garden shed. “Finally in my old age, I’ve become an activist,” says Cr Magee, sitting by a fire, outside the five-person tent he pitched on Saturday by the racecourse.

Jim Magee at his Caulfield Racecourse camp sit-in.Jim Magee at his Caulfield Racecourse camp sit-in. Photo: Jason South

There are local laws against camping on public land, which Glen Eira is usually quick to enforce.

“But this is a political sit-in,” says Cr Magee, who has been told by council officers that unless there are complaints from residents, they are unlikely to issue him with a notice to vacate.

Cr Magee will stay put until Saturday afternoon, by which time he hopes to have met Ms D’Ambrosio to discuss the fate of the 54 hectares of land in the centre of Caulfield Racetrack.

The reserve, set aside for the public more than a century ago, is hard to get to, because of the racing infrastructure that must be navigated. It’s open from 9.30am each morning until sundown, and many locals don’t even know it’s there.

Cr Magee was concerned that, with Ms D’Ambrosio only recently taking over environmental matters, she might not pay enough attention to a review under way by the Andrews government.

There’s little chance of that now, with the land at the centre of a fight that has led to much debate – and a scathing Auditor-General’s report. It found the public land was being used almost exclusively to serve the interests of the Melbourne Racing Club.

Cr Magee has five more nights ahead of him before his hoped-for meeting with the minister, and a rally of sporting clubs who want ovals built on the land, which equates to 15 MCG playing surfaces.

“I’ve been here through two very cold nights so far – I’ve made friends with a couple of foxes,” says a slightly blurry Cr Magee, who says he is waking every 90 minutes or so. “I’m doing more sitting than sleeping – I’m actually right next to a very busy roundabout.”

The Andrews government is reviewing the status of how the land is governed and controlled, and Cr Magee – who was once a member of the trust that controls the land – says it must change.

He wants Ms D’Ambrosio to step in as minister and take control of the land and help Glen Eira council turn it into sporting fields and parklands for use at all times.

Ms Lily D’Ambrosio said she understood the high level of community interest in the public land at the racecourse and that the government had set up a bi-partisan working group to consider the issue.

“I’m expecting to receive this report next month and look forward to working with the community to reach a resolution,” she said.

24 Responses to “Magee & The MRC”

  1. anon Says:

    ii looks like the minister is trying to delay as long as possible. The report was due this month. The John Patrick land management plan was due 6 months ago. Wonder if the sports minister and herself will turn up on Saturday?

    1. Anonymous Says:

      We won’t see the Patrick plans. They haven’t been put up on the trustee website despite being up on Magee’s Twitter account. That means no publication and the reason is obvious. The trustees are dead and buried and what we’re dealing with is the mrc land management plan and the government’s bending over backwards to accommodate them. No need for Patrick in this scenario.

  2. Anon Says:

    Is this Councillor for real , or is an election year , or is Richard Craniam an apt description.

    1. anon Says:

      Interesting that people like you representing the MRC resort to attacking the man.You need to justify using the land for night racing for a minority sport instead of allowing the residents of Glen Eira to use it.

    2. Making a fool of himself. Says:

      Election year for sure. Only a dumb person would do such a thing. What has the Council said about this?

    3. Public Land for Public Usage Says:

      You also need to justify why the MRC and Government have so rigged the system that the MRC gets 89% (or 48 ha) of crown land for free while the public get 11% (or 6ha) of the crown land. And that 6ha is so physically hard to access and so devoid of adequate facilities that few bother to access more than once.

      But hey, you obviously prefer to shoot the messenger rather than listen to the message.

      1. Public Land for Public Usage Says:

        I forgot to mention the Reserve has (and has always had) 3 separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public park and public recreation ground. Yet that isn’t the reality, the reality is a pretence of public usage that allows racing to get the lot without paying a cent.

        Interesting isn’t it, that the MRC is looking to add night racing and new track in the centre (which will not doubt further diminish the already miniscule amount of pretend public open space) on crown land that is supposed to 67% public park. Forget using their own freehold land ie. Sandown (now Ladbrookes Park) or Mornington Racecourses.

  3. Reprobate Says:

    Cr Magee has managed to get favorable publicity concerning better public access and use of the racecourse reserve and that helps to maintain pressure on state government. The governance regime has been dreadful as has the non-existent response to the Auditor-General’s report. Minor gripe though: the campsite and photos are NOT of the caulfield racecourse reserve but of the land MRC exchanged with the government as part of a sweetheart deal to support “Caulfield Village”.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Once again evidence of a dis functional council. Why cant they run GE professionally and get decisions made on behalf of residents.

  5. anonymous Says:

    If Jim wasn’t such an advocate for filling our what little open space we have with huge buildings and car parks, and chopping down trees left right and centre to achieve it. He might have some credibility.

    Jim’s a human pendulum swinging from one side to the other with mindless easy, what he said last week, has no bearing on what he will say next week. He seems to have no real ground beliefs or consistency with his open space thinking or actions. Sadly there’s little hope with Jim.

  6. D.Evans Says:

    Magee deserves some credit I feel for pursuing the mrc. My wish would be that he had this same passion for other issues in Glen Eira such as overdevelopment and heritage and making sure that good governance was at the top of his agenda.

    1. anonomous Says:

      Well said,

      But I don’t think Jim has the depth of personally to do all these things, his 1960’s attitudes make him very one dimensional in 2016.

      I think his statement about finally becoming an activist is telling, what was doing before he became an activist? which was only a few days ago, a rubber stamper for the system would be my guess

      A councillor or anyone considering running for council, should take an activist approach on behalf of residents, otherwise what the heck are they doing, other than camping out with their town hall mates and leaving residents out in the cold. We know this is exactly what been happening.

      I suppose his next big issues to draw public attention to himself without crossing swords with the real public enemies the Town Hall bureaucrats, will be his new found friend the fox.

      I can hear him now, … yabba, yabba yabba foxes … yabba yabba – endangering sport and children, I’ve seen them with my own eyes …..

      I’m yawning already.

    2. Public Land for Public Usage Says:

      Jeez, D. Evans would it hurt to actually give Jim more than “some credit” for his, past and present, considerable efforts regarding the opening up of the racecourse. One year as Chairman of Trust (and the first time a non-MRC representative has been appointed Chairman) has resulted in more consideration being given to public usage of the Racecourse than has been given over the entire past 150 years.

      Thanks to him the AG investigated and reported. He is now keeping the issue on the public agenda when the Govt. was hoping to sweep it under the carpet.

      That’s a real achievement and it becomes even more so when you factor in the considerable foe he was up against.

      Sure you can disagree with him on any number of issues but for god’s sake stop with bad tempered swipes which are both mean spirited and utterly inappropriate.

      By the way, refresh my memory, what exactly have you achieved on the racecourse issue?

      1. D.Evans Says:

        Some credit to Magee is an appropriate acknowledgement of his role regarding the racecourse. It is not “mean spirited and utterly inappropriate” as you claim when seen in perspective. Countless residents and even some councillors like Whiteside and Penhalluriack fought hard for greater access to the racecourse. The racecourse is only one issue within Glen Eira. Whilst thousands are screaming about the zones Magee remains firmly on the side of granting permits for most applications. Even on the racecourse applications if I remember correctly Magee voted in favour of the huge screen. There is more to being a good councillor concerned about residents than staging a boys own camp 6 months out from an election.

  7. gleneira Says:

    The last few comments have lead to this comment. We are in the process of compiling a list of voting patterns for all current councillors. Readers may be interested in knowing how each of their representatives voted on each planning application that came to council. The following list is from 2012 (ie after the election) up until February 2016 and features most of the developments that Magee voted in favour of granting a permit to. He did reject some proposals -but they are in a clear minority and equal nothing more than a handful. Here is the list –

    47 Wheeler Street, Ormond – 3 storeys, 10 units
    8 Railway Crescent, Bentleigh – 3 storeys, 10 units
    451-453 SOUTH ROAD BENTLEIGH – 5 storeys, 12 units
    261 CENTRE ROAD, BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 18 units
    674 CENTRE ROAD, BENTLEIGH EAST – 3 storeys, 8 dwellings
    149-153 NEERIM ROAD & 4 HINTON ROAD, GLEN HUNTLY VIC 3163 – 17 double storeys
    2 MORTON AVENUE, CARNEGIE – 6 storeys, 40 dwellings
    730A CENTRE ROAD BENTLEIGH EAST – 4 storeys, 21 dwellings
    677-679 Centre Road – 4 storeys, 10 dwellings
    548 & 550-552 NORTH ROAD ORMOND – 5 storey, 30 dwellings
    30-32 Ames Avenue, Carnegie – 13 double storeys
    534-538 North Road ORMOND – 4 storeys, 20 units
    7 Ormond Road Ormond – 3 storeys, 15 units
    115-125 Poath Road Murrumbeena – 4 storeys, 33 units
    67-73 Poath Road MURRUMBEENA – 6 & 7 storeys, 39 units
    487 Neerim Road MURRUMBEENA – 7 lot subdivision
    401-407 Neerim Road Carnegie – 5 storey, 57 units
    24-26 Mavho Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 28 units
    15-17 Belsize Avenue & 316-320 Neerim Road CARNEGIE – 4 storeys, 52 units
    22-26 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 41 units
    254 Jasper Road MCKINNON – 4 storeys, 7 dwellings
    29-33 Loranne Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 42 units
    168 Hotham Street ELSTERNWICK – 5 storeys, 78 units
    495-501 Glen Huntly Road ELSTERNWICK – 5 storeys, 32 units
    14-16 Elliott Avenue CARNEGIE – 4 storeys, 21 units
    339-341 Neerim Road & 19-21 Belsize Avenue CARNEGIE – 4 storeys, 30 units
    1A Orrong Crescent and 632A Inkerman Road CAULFIELD NORTH – 4 storeys, 18 units
    477 South Road BENTLEIGH VIC 3204 – 4 storeys, 5 units
    14-18 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 55 units
    97-103 HAWTHORN ROAD CAULFIELD NORTH – 5 storey, 18 units
    64-66 Bent Street MCKINNON – 3 & 4 storey, 31 units (Magee voted against refusal of permit)
    1240-1248 Glen Huntly Road CARNEGIE – 6 storeys, 117 units
    27 and 29 Jasper Road BENTLEIGH – 3 storey, 25 units
    817-819 Centre Road BENTLEIGH EAST – 3 storey, 26 units
    143-147 Neerim Road GLEN HUNTLY – 3 storey, 30 units
    198-202 BALACLAVA ROAD CAULFIELD north – additional floor and 15 units
    337-343 Balaclava Road CAULFIELD NORTH – 3 storeys, 32 units
    1100 Dandenong Road CARNEGIE – 4 storeys, 22 units
    40 Mavho Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storey, 23 units
    5-7 Nepean Hwy ELSTERNWICK – part 4 & 5 storeys, 53 units
    23 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 34 units
    9 & 9A Truganini Road, Carnegie – 4 storeys, 20 units
    10 & 12 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 35 units
    670-672 CENTRE ROAD & 51 BROWNS ROAD BENTLEIGH EAST – 3 & 5 storey, 67 units
    15-19 VICKERY STREET, BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 46 units

    1. Peter Jenkins Says:

      Thank you for collating all this information. Okay Magee is fighting the mrc but they’ve got their Caulfield Village and plenty more besides. I want to know where he was from 2008 when he got elected and the plans were already in the making. Don’t remember hearing a peep out of him then. And all the permits he voted for is only half the story because he is supporting to the hilt the new zones and what they have caused. Plenty of these are in Tucker ward that he is supposed to represent. Great representation that is. I hope people remember all this when they get to the polling booths.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      That list may be good for scoring cheap political points, but the real question is how did they vote on the planning scheme? How did they vote on policy?

    3. anonomous Says:

      Do not listen to what Magee says, look at how he votes, my conclusion is he is largely responsible for the overcrowding of sporting grounds that he now canvases as a big problem.

  8. anonomous Says:

    My sympathy is with the fox.

    Jim cannot do anything without disturbing the wildlife

    Magee’s vision for the racecurse stinks, it just another one of Jim’s ill thought-out sport fixes everything fantasy.

    The man is Glen Eira’s King Con, everything he touches turns to concrete.

    Oh Geee the poor blokes having sleepless nights even nightmares, laying near to all that green open space, waking every 30 mins frustrated that he cannot build his trademark giant car parks in there.

    Jim go back to Tucker Ward, and sleep at Bailey Reserve, you’ve only half finished converting all greenery into a car park


    Thank you so much for your efforts in the interest of this community. Your efforts in the hope of a fair share of the Racecourse reserve for all is commendable. Having spent many thousands of dollars briefing lawyers, writing hundreds(if not thousands) of letters to councils, politicians and activists, prepared submissions to every known enquiry in connection to the said supposed public space without any success… I thank you for your great effort.
    Just look at MRC’s expenditure of a mere $93,000.00 for an annual rental of 54hectares of land worth about $2billion. A mere peppercorn rent. The Caulfield Racecourse Trust engaged an independent body to set the corect rental and its figure was $1 million annually.

    On the income side this year the MRC has leasing agreements with:-
    Monash carparking value???
    Cabrini Hospital ***
    Aquinita Stable $10,000 (Mr. Mike Symon, MRC chairman and is a company director of Aquinita)
    Ciron Maher
    Western stables $10,000 (probably)
    Metro Guineas car park $ 50,000 (parking for displaced commuters from Ormond and McKinnon)

    So the cost tp MRC is certainly less $20,000 FOR THE LAND FOR THE FOLLOWING BUSINESSES.

    a) training every day of the year.
    b) race meetings 24 days a year (Currently attempting to take more land to lay another track for night racing) after it sells Sandown for BILLIONs.
    c) The venue for 100 pokie machines which is in the top ten revenue earners and incidentally because it is a not for profit sporting body which owns more than 700 machines it only pays the government 27% fee where as hotels, like Zagames, have to pay 33% in the dollar.
    d) The Glasshouse Restaurant and outdoor cinema venue
    e) Social events, trade shows in fact “wedding parties and anything”
    f) It is the examination venue for most Monash University students from all campuses.

    Ratepayers will nbe happy to learn GECC gives the club concessional rates (at our expense) because the MRC provides us with the “opportunity to access open space”.


  10. Just a thought Says:

    Ya know folks, pollies are people and subject to the same responses as you and I. They don’t respond well to continual slamming by folks, particularly when it’s as offensive as the above and lodged by those unwilling to stand up and be counted.

    However, give them the some praise and show that you are willing work with them to achieve a goal (doesn’t have to every goal) and you’ll get a much better response.

    1. anonymous Says:

      Ha Ha, naive comments like this really show up the talkers and not the do’er, so uninformed, and obviously someone who has never talked with Magee, or is in fact Jim Magee posting this red herring

  11. anon Says:

    If this is the biggest issue facing Glen Eira and worth a councillor dedicating a week to then we must be flying. The house must be in order and everyone happy. Great news!

    P.S has anyone noticed we year after year have the highest rate rises, the council has massive debt, there is currently a bullying and harassment enquiry, the government has inserted its own CEO, the planning scheme is in disarray and the council was slammed by the Minister…?

    This racecourse thing is a sideshow. I can just go to our new $9m park 400m away.

Comments are closed.