Too many candidates make grand promises they cannot possibly keep. I will not make commitments I don’t think I can deliver. However, I will commit to delivering the best outcome for the ratepayers of Hobsons Bay.
What I have always believed in is ensuring that ratepayers’ dollars are well spent. That means we need to ensure we are getting efficiencies in the services we provide. Healthy surpluses in the operational budget are used to fund our capital works program. These surpluses are supplemented by reserves and grants provided by other levels of government.
Our capital works program has increased in the past two years from traditional levels of $20-35 million to $60-70 million. That is evident by the massive amount of works you can see at the moment.
In the new term of Council, I commit to (in no order of priority):
- Running a financially prudent council, delivering responsible budgets and ensuring debt remains at a manageable level.
- Ensuring Council does all it can to boost business and community spirit in the Covid recovery.
- Fixing up our roads, laneways, footpaths and gutters, in order of priority.
- For roads, let’s start with the southern sections of Truman Street, New Street and Stephenson Street, along with Aloha Street in South Kingsville. Others in need of repair are Hall Street in Newport/Spotswood, Blenheim Road in Newport, Rifle Range Drive in Williamstown, Hudsons Road in Spotswood, Ross Road in Altona North and Rennie Street in Williamstown, to name a few.
- Lobbying Vicroads for a roundabout at the Kororoit Creek Rd/Rifle Range Drive intersection in Williamstown.
- Building more bike paths, particularly “internal” bike paths through the centre of Strand Ward, as opposed to the river/coastal route.
- Opposing overdevelopment of former big industrial sites being converted to housing, particularly in the Spotswood, South Kingsville and Altona North area.
- Improving our natural environment, through measures such as lobbying the State Government to implement the Inner West Air Quality Community Reference Group’s recommendations. That means more air monitoring systems along the Westgate Freeway corridor in particular.
- Planting tens of thousands more trees, particularly along the Westgate Freeway corridor.
- More funds towards the Williamstown wetlands to improve biodiversity.
- Rejuvenating South Kingsville and Spotswood through a Better Places program, similar to the fantastic design for the Laverton area.
- Finding ways to further reduce the amount of garbage going into landfill. The recent changes to the waste bin system resulted in 37 per cent less waste being buried but there may be opportunities to reduce that even further.
- Connecting residences and businesses to Hobsons Bay’s Solar Power network. That is important now that residents with solar power on their houses are getting lower payments for excess electricity sold into the grid.
- Building a new park in front of the mosque in Blenheim Rd, West Newport.
- Pursuing new indoor netball/basketball courts in Newport or Williamstown. The obvious sites are the Williamstown High School’s existing gymnasium/basketball centre in Pasco Street, Williamstown, or between the athletics track and gymnasium in Newport.
- Saving the North Williamstown railway station east building.
- Pursuing the State Government to commit to a better, wholistic design for the North Williamstown railway station
- Renewing the Robina Scott kindergarten building.
- Upgrading the Power St and Williamstown Beach tennis pavilions.
- Renewing the senior citizens building in Dennis Reserve.
- Renovation of the Williamstown Mechanics Institute.
- Redeveloping the Williamstown Life Saving Club building.
- Ensuring Council commits to fulfilling sports centres and playing surfaces in line with the Sports Needs Analysis.
- More outdoor fitness equipment.
Big sports redevelopment program
As co-chair of HBCC’s Active and Inclusive Communities Portfolio Advisory Committee, I am pleased the Council has funded an extensive array of sporting and open space facilities since June last year.
The groundwork was completed with the adoption of the Open Space Strategy, Sports Facility Needs Analysis and the Tennis Needs Analysis in June, 2018.
These reports identified that Hobsons Bay would need to spend more than $95 million over the next 10 years to cater for our community’s involvement in sport.
Since the adoption of those strategies, we are already more than half-way there, with about $20 million spent in 2018-19 on oval and pavilion upgrades, particularly with new basketball and netball courts at the Altona Sports Centre in Altona Meadows.
About $31 million was allocated in the 2019-20 Budget alone, some with funding contributions from the State Government.
Another $6.4 million in contracts have already been let for 2020-21.
As the Sports champion on the Council, I have this view that we need to invest heavily in sporting facilities to keep kids and adults active and healthy.
With two sons and a daughter who have been active in athletics, football, netball and lacrosse over many years, I know we need to continue to upgrade our sporting facilities.
And particularly with reports Covid-19 may turn women off sport, it is now more important than ever to provide these facilities.
The construction contracts allocated in the past two years include the following:
- Bryan Martyn Oval resurfacing in Newport, $1,030,387, August 14, 2018.
- PJ Lynch Reserve lacrosse pavilion in Altona North, $711,267, December 11, 2018.
- Bayside College Paisley campus rugby pavilion, Newport, $1,100,649, March 12, 2019.
- JT Gray Reserve pavilion on Kororoit Creek Road in Williamstown, $4,593,952, September, 2019.
- Fearon Reserve lacrosse pavilion, Williamstown, $633,565, September, 2019.
- Various sportsground resurfacing and floodlight works across Hobsons Bay, $10,975,346, September, 2019. These included the Donald McLean Reserve in Spotswood; the Digman Reserve in Newport; Bayside College Paisley campus in Newport; Greenwich Reserve irrigation works, Newport; WLJ Crofts Reserve in Altona North; Altona Green Park (lights), Altona Meadows; Fearon Reserve (floodlights), Williamstown.
- Tennis courts at Bayside College, Williamstown campus, at in Dennis Reserve, Williamstown, $1,634,974, October 8, 2019.
- Pavilion renewals at Donald McLean Reserve in Spotswood and WLJ Crofts Reserve, Altona North, $7,504,090, November 12, 2019.
- Bayside College Williamstown campus pavilion, $1,462,850, November 12, 2019.
- Sports pavilion, ground development and floodlights at the HD Graham Reserve in Altona Meadows, $4,121,111, September 8, 2020.
- Williamstown Cricket Ground oval redevelopment, $2,239,842, September 8, 2020.
I look forward to the Council delivering on other big sporting projects in the near future.
July, 2016. Updated July, 2020
Redevelopment of the Altona Sports Stadium
As part of my Mayoral program in 2016, I convened five sports forums, allowing local clubs and state code representatives address the council on what the problems we have in the municipality and how to fix them. In the combined netball/basketball forum, we were told there were 82 netball and basketball teams having byes, simply because the stadium was short by four courts. With basketball our fastest growing sport and netball the most popular girls’ sport, it was clear we had to add more courts to the stadium. A feasibility study was carried out in 2017 and it recommended four extra courts be added to the Altona Sports Centre. In June, 2019, Council let a contract to local construction firm Devco to build those extra courts, plus seal the gravel car park to the west of the complex plus build a second carpark to the south. It would become one of the biggest capital projects in Hobsons Bay’s history, with a $3 million contribution from the State Government. The car parks surrounding the building are complete and the court construction well under way.
August, 2016. Updated July, 2020
More netball and basketball courts for training
There is also a shortage of training facilities for netball and basketball right across the municipality. After the completion of the Altona Sports Centre, we need to start looking at courts in the east of the municipality, particularly Williamstown where the biggest clubs are situated. The Williamstown High School’s court site on Pasco Street is one option. We are adding a full-size court rather than a half court to Armstrong Reserve in Newport, largely at local residents’ requests.
Better floodlights at sports grounds
One of my big wins is changing the thinking at council on upgrading training floodlights to competition standard lighting. It is far cheaper to install competition grade lights at sports grounds and get night games played at a site than look for the alternative: converting open space or other sites to sports grounds, which is not always an option.
The grounds we have converted or are to soon upgrade include Williamstown Cricket Ground, the Fearon Reserve, the Donald McLean Reserve (home of the Spotswood FC), JK Grant Reserve (home of the Altona FC), WLJ Crofts Reserve in Altona North and Bruce Comben Reserve in Altona Meadows (home of the Altona Rooster Rugby). Another about to be opened is the Paisley campus of Bayside College in West Newport, which will be used for rugby. Others I hope will get completed in the next term are Lofts Reserve (Williamstown CYMS FC), KC White Reserve (baseball) and PJ Lynch Reserve (the lacrosse centre at Paisley Park).
Finding extra tennis courts
We are plugging the gap in the shortfall of courts with two extra courts at Williamstown Central and three more at Bayside College in Williamstown. I have been working with Liston Tennis Club to find other local courts for its use in the municipality and the Altona Tennis Club to get two extra clay courts on their site.
As a bit of a history buff, I have always fully supported anything to do with history or preservation of our local heritage. The following are some of the projects I have supported in Hobsons Bay.
November, 2015. Updated November, 2018.
In 2004, I was asked to get two maritime groups together to pitch for the abandoned former Port of Melbourne Authority site at 82 Nelson Place together to be handed over to the public. We formed the Williamstown Maritime Association to lead the charge. I was the inaugural president of the WMA, which had hundreds of like-minded members at one point. We named the site Seaworks. The Seaworks Foundation was later set up to manage development of the site and I sit on its board.
The WMA established the Pirates Tavern at Seaworks as a money spinner to put funds into Seaworks. Its volunteers spent many hours cleaning up the site. Seaworks is now where all tall ships coming into Melbourne from Australia and around the world want to moor. The volunteers have built up an amazing museum on the site, called the Seaworks Maritime Discovery Centre.
Heritage signs program
As part of my Mayoral program in 2016, I kickstarted the heritage street signs project across the municipality. The idea came from Professor Ian Rae, a member of the Williamstown Historical Society. Other parts of Melbourne, such as the Yarra City Council, had installed heritage signs. It was only fitting that Hobsons Bay install heritage street signs as Williamstown was the birthplace of Melbourne.
A swag of signs were unveiled in Williamstown in June, 2016. These were followed by signs in Newport, Altona Meadows and Altona later that year. The signs continue to be rolled out to reflect Hobsons Bay’s great heritage.
Thanks must go to the respective historical societies or individuals who have actively supported the heritage street signs project.
Anzac Honour Boards
I have supported the restoration of local Great War honour boards the telling of stories behind the diggers who went off to war in 1914 to 1918. In April 2016, I had the great privilege of unveiling the Sons of Williamstown: A Labour of Love project, where the Great War honour board in the Williamstown Town Hall was restored. The project included documenting the stories of the 265 sevicemen from Williamstown who fought in the war. Loraine Callow and Lindy Wallace have done a fantastic job in researching the diggers’ stories. Go to www.sonsofwilliamstown.com.au to see their work.
In May, 2016, I had the privilege of unveiling the Old Laverton School’s Great War honour board. This was a project begun by Cr Colleen Gates and Laverton historians. That project also saw interpretive information permanently displayed near the honour board. There is still the Melbourne Harbour Trust honour board at Seaworks to research and tell the stories of those who gave up their lives for their country.
September, 2016. Updated July, 2020
Residential solar panel program
I am one of many local residents who have added solar panels to their houses. It has cut our power bill substantially. The investment will potentially pay itself off within six years the way we are going. Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, the solar panels have been a boon in reducing our power reliance on the grid.
September, 2016. Updated November, 2019.
Solar panels on council and community buildings
I have always been a strong believer in renewable energy. I have long held the view that whenever we build or refurbish council buildings, we should make provision for solar panels for electricity generation.
For a number of years, I have been advocating for solar panels to be installed on the roof of the main shed at Seaworks. I am sure if that one eventuates, it could power half of South Williamstown, particularly if we can story the energy!
In November, 2019, the Council resolved to source 70 per cent of its electricity requirement from renewable sources. Stay tuned on that one!
Revamping the waste collection system.
The State Government has just ramped up the charges for waste going into landfill. If we headed the way we were, ratepayers’ charges would escalate. So we have moved to a four bin system to get better recycling results. While it was a big change for residents and takes a while to get your head around what goes where, it is already proving its worth, with 37 per cent less waste going to landfill.