Item 9.2 of the current agenda features an officer response to a Request for a Report on ‘advocacy’ actions available to Council in relation to VCAT.  Given that meeting after meeting VCAT is portrayed as the total villain in  that it repeatedly ignores council policy, is undemocratic, and that its decisions are arbitrary, depending on the whim of appointed individuals, it is astounding that the recommendations include:

(that Council) considers its VCAT advocacy position in June 2018. This will allow time to monitor the effect of Council’s Planning Scheme Review program on Glen Eira’s number of appeals or success rate at VCAT.

Once again it seems as if council is urged to do absolutely nothing but wait and wait and wait. We point out the bleeding obvious –

  1. advocacy’ and the work plan resulting from the Planning Scheme Review are not mutually exclusive. Surely strategic work on the planning scheme review work plan can continue alongside some decent advocacy? Besides, council has stated that it will take 4 years to produce two structure plans. What ‘damage’ can VCAT do in the intervening period, unless there is some strong advocacy to change legislation? What advantage do residents gain by waiting, and what happens if the resulting data shows that the ‘number of appeals or success rate at VCAT’ have not been reduced in this period? We remind readers that both council and Matthew Guy promised that VCAT appeals would decrease as a result of the new zones. That furphy has well and truly been put to bed in recent years!
  2. Part of the Camera report includes some advocacy ‘options’ which somehow do not feature in the ultimate recommendations. He summarises possible council involvement as:
  • Through peak bodies for local government in Victoria such as the Municipal Association of Victoria
  • In partnership with neighbouring Councils, such as through the Inner South Metro Mayors’ Forum
  • Directly to the Attorney- General who is responsible for VCAT.
  • Directly to the Minister for Planning

All of the above is possible right now. We can see no salient reason for delay and doing nothing! Councillors need to ensure that proactivity and not reactivity is the agenda of this new council!