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 Don't Screw KewThe Archive  2006 @  WWW.KEW.ORG.AU
Kew Cottages Coalition Reg # A0044698H


State Election Update.

Thursday 14th December 2006

Bracks loses Upper House majority after recount

The ABC reports that, "The recount delivered mixed results for the Government.

It has lost the seat in the electorate of Western Metropolitan, which had been provisionally won by the ALP's Henry Barlow.

The seat has now gone to the Greens' Colleen Hartland......

However, in the electorate of Northern Metropolitan, Labor has just been declared the winner of a seat which had been provisionally won by the DLP's John Mulholland.

There has been no change in the electorate of Western Victoria - the recount confirming the DLP's Peter Kavanagh as the winner.

The results confirm the ALP has 19 of the 40 seats in the House.


Sunday 26th November 2006

The Battle for Boroondara
Round 3


3 times


The Boy from Ballarat

....... is back :-(

Friday 24th November 2006

Preferences give chance to People Power
Michael Bachelard
The Age  Friday  24th November  2006 p.11

" IF EVERYTHING goes right for them, the tiny, little-known start-up party, People Power, could actually win a seat or two in the state's upper house.

An analysis by The Age has established that People Power has managed to negotiate such favourable flows of preferences from most other parties that it could emulate the feat of Family First's Steve Fielding at the 2004 federal election and find itself with a seat in Parliament despite a tiny primary vote. (more..)

Regardless of the ballot, this activist is a winner

People Power candidate Christian Astourian, who suffers from

People Power candidate Christian Astourian, who suffers from cerebral palsy, outside his Brunswick home yesterday.
Photo: Penny Stephens
The Age, 24th November 2006  p.11

"In terms of membership, the party is primarily people interested in disability issues and mental illness," says People Power co-founder Robyn Allcock, who is standing in Gembrook. They are carers, sufferers, and a few people who work in the field. (more..)


Willsmere from Belmore Road

'Secrecy' hinders city's major projects. The Age 9.9.6

Tuesday 12th September 2006

By last Friday 8th September over 200 Objections to Bracks Secret Planning Document "V"  were emailed to Planning Minister Hulls !

So much for Government secrecy in the age of the Web...

Mr Bracks preaches transparency....

So thank you to everyone who responded to our request (below). Thank you for helping us shed a little light into one of the  darker corners of the Bracks  Government.

We have now written to Mr. Hulls, noting your objections, and asked him for a response within 14 days for publication here on this website...

Document 'V'
Lesson 1.

Q.  "How to get approval to bulldoze over a hundred native trees on Crown Land  without a permit in Melbourne. "

A. Option 1: Stage 1.
Try the 'Moonscape' approach
Apply for a permit

The secret 18th August 2006 DHS application (Document 'V') for Native Vegetation removal from Kew claims that, at the time of the application,  there were  292 Trees - including both Heritage Trees and Native Trees growing in the Stage 1 Development Area at Kew.

Stage 1 Development Area

Of these 292 trees Document 'V' proposes the  removal of 
up to 177 trees
- ie: over half of all the trees in Stage 1 alone.

However,  Document 'V' focuses on, and indeed claims that a permit is only actually required  to remove 20 native trees ! This leaves a very  substantial number of trees whose removal, Document 'V' would appear to be claiming in each case is exempt from permits.

(Note: The exact number of trees involved is still hard to establish on the currently available data. Not all trees are clearly identified in Document 'V', nor do all the details that are provided  appear to be completely  accurate. more...)

Document 'V' stakes its claim for so many permit exemptions largely on Clause 52.17 of the Boroondara Planning Scheme eg: The Notes on the  above Tree Plan state:

Document 'V' Plan Notes

However, as the stated primary objective of Clause 52.17 is actually:

 "To avoid the removal of native vegetation"

Readers may be forgiven for thinking  that 'Document 'V'is likely to have a good deal of unintended entertainment value, laced with loads of 'good honest spin'  and the occasional rhetorical flourish designed to keep the "Sir Humphrey's" of the Minister's Department amused.

Readers will not be disappointed.
Messrs Costermans, Wills, Faher, and Rotherham, for example, as referred to above, no doubt provide a very learned discourse on categorising  Victorian native vegetation, but , prompted by Document 'V' the reader will now also apparently be encouraged to look to these distinguished authors for answers to  the interesting 'wattle and daub' development question posed in Document 'V's' Plan Notes, that has puzzled Planners for generations. Namely:

Q.  Just how much native vegetation is actually "necessary for the construction, use and maintenance of a dwelling and building and works ancillary to a dwelling." (sic)
 (See Tree Plan Notes Above)

 More importantly perhaps,  the redoubtable botanists can also apparently be relied upon, according to Document 'V', to help Departmental  readers also address the 'minimum extent of native vegetation'  necessary for such  'construction, use and maintenance...'

Unfortunately, however, readers will be sadly disappointed, because Document 'V', appears to have got it wrong, in more ways than one in its approach to removing native trees from the Crown Lands surrounding Kew Cottages.

Far from extolling the virtues of 'wattle and daub' as the construction medium to be adopted at Kew Cottages,  what Document 'V' really appears to be trying to claim is that (without being too specific)

 "Many trees are exempt as they form part of the minimum extent of native vegetation that needs to be completely removed in order to construct new dwellings in the manner and form shown on the Document 'V' plan."

What is still strangely missing in Document 'V', however, is any of the 'compelling evidence' (to quote a favourite expression of  one of the Minister's Planning Department spokesman) that one would expect to find to support
each claim, as required under the Boroondara Planning Scheme. eg:


52.17-5 Decision guidelines

Before deciding on an application, in addition to the decision guidelines in Clause 65, the responsible authority must consider, as appropriate:

General issues
  •   Victoria’s Native Vegetation Management –  A Framework for Action Department of Natural Resources and Environment 2002).
  •   Whether the proposed development can be located and designed to avoid the removal of native vegetation.
  •   Whether the proposed development is located and designed to minimise the removal of native vegetation.
  •   The need to offset the loss of native vegetation having regard to the conservation significance of the vegetation.
  •   The conservation and enhancement of the area.
  •   The preservation of and impact on the natural environment or landscape values.
  •   Any relevant approved Regional Vegetation Plan.
  •   Whether the proposed development is in accordance with any property vegetation plan that applies to the site.
  •   The cumulative impact of native vegetation removal on biodiversity conservation and management.

Land protection....
--( end extract of Boroondara Planning Scheme)

So at this stage we invite you to make up your own minds, albeit,  on the limited information currently available .... and would welcome your feedback.

To the best of our knowledge no detailed building plans and permits have yet been approved, so we fail to see the merit in any current claim that all the trees identified for removal in Document 'V' do in fact have to be removed. We would envisage that some trees could be pruned or relocated, or indeed that some buildings might be better designed to accommodate the local environmental conditions - rather than just being transported en mass from a Sydney draftsman's CAD software package to the banks of the Yarra like pieces of Leggo.

You  can now view what we believe to be current extracts of Document 'V's proposed Stage 1  Tree removals at Kew Cottages here:

1. Schedule to remove up to 125 Native Trees (unspecified, and un-numbered,other than by Lot No.) WITHOUT a permit to remove native vegetation.

2. Schedule to remove up to 32 Trees including Native Trees (specified, numbered, and shaded pink) WITHOUT a permit
to remove native vegetation.

3. Schedule to remove 20 Native Trees (specified, numbered,
and shaded blue ) WITH a permit for the removal of native vegetation - for which application is made in the document.

Please Note: For further information, including corrections, additions, and changes to planning permit applications, and associated documents we recommend that you contact the Responsible Planning Authority for Kew Cottages, The Victorian Minister for Planning, Mr. Rob Hulls.

Thursday 7th September 2006


Bracks Secret Permit Application

Yarra Bend Land Clearance

Brian Walsh, President,  Kew Cottages Coalition, today accused the Bracks Government of secretly planning to 'bulldoze' over 176 native trees and vegetation at Kew Cottages  in an attempt to get private developers to buy the site before the State Election in November.

Mr. Walsh said that it appeared that developers  were worried that the State Government Environmental 'offset' policy combined with the risk from phytophthora on the site would make it too expensive for them to remove the trees if they are forced to buy the land  'as is' with all the eucalypts, wattles, sheokes, and other native vegetation still left standing.

"The Government knew they had a big problem as soon as they found phytophthora on the site back in February , Mr. Walsh said. "First they tried to get away with helping potential buyers by rushing through a secret Planning Scheme Amendment in March, quickly followed by a Development Plan, neither of which, however, even mentioned the fact that the Government had found the deadly tree fungus  phytophthora!"

Now it looks like the
Bracks Government is bending over backwards again to do the developers another big financial favour at the expense of all Victorians ! We've heard that land clearance might even be one of the conditions of the sale," Mr. Walsh said.

Mr. Walsh called on all four Ministers who appear to be involved in the scheme - the Premier, Steve Bracks, the Minister for the Environment, John Thwaites, the Minister for Planning , Rob Hulls, and the Minister for Community Services, Sherryl Garbutt,  to publicly condemn the secret Planning Permit Application that was sent to Hulls for approval on 18th August 2006, apparently with the full support of the Department of Human Services. 

"The 18th August Application for Native Vegetation Removal seeks to 'moonscape' large parts of the site, and defer any consideration of  the native vegetation 'offsets' that are required under the Planning and Environment Act," Mr. Walsh said.

This tree lined 27 hectare site is still Crown Land and adjoins Melbourne's largest expanse of natural bushland Yarra Bend Park.

However,  within days of the August 2006 Council debate on the need for new laws that  would help provide more tree protection throughout Boroondara, the Bracks Government has been caught out planning to secretly remove by stealth nearly 200 indigenous trees, including River Red Gums and other native vegetation  from the grounds of Kew Cottages.

One Example....
Kew Cottages Yellow Box Tree on Emerald Hill
Bracks says this Yellow Box tree must go
because he wants to build a new house ...
Do you agree ?

  • Would you keep the tree and build your house next to it ? or
  • Moonscape the block like Bracks recommends ?
The Document.
Our investigation shows that a 
Stage 1 Planning Permit Application for Native Vegetation removal appears to have been secretly lodged with the State Minister for Planning on 18th August 2006. The Minister failed to make the documents public, and failed to notify residents when he received the Application. No public notices were issued or erected on the site as required by the Act. When the Kew Cottages Coalition requested a copy of the Application the request was ignored, and we were merely informed by the Minister's Departmental spokesman that a revised application had been received and that:

 "We are about to issue a permit for Native Vegetation Removal" (31/8)

and that

"The Scheme excludes notification, hence the applications have not been advertised other than to the relevant referral authorities."

Who or what (in this particular case) the "relevant referral authorities" were, remains something of an additional mystery as the spokesman suddenly decided to go on leave for a month! However, we can now reveal that:

The Planning Permit Application:
  • Identifies over 170 Trees that the Bracks Government plans to axe in Stage 1 alone; and
  • Includes deep in the Bracks' hit list, one of the largest Yellow Box trees still standing in Melbourne, plus groups of River Red Gums, She Oaks, and Wattles, overlooking the Yarra.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the extent of the proposed Stage 1 destruction of native vegetation at Kew, the 18th August Application completely ignores the additional  threat of a 'biological bulldozer' that has been found following  the February 2006 discovery of the deadly tree fungus phytophthora on the site.

 The August 18th Permit Application then goes on to:

  • Make the extraordinary claim that the Government should delay making any decision on how to replace any of the native trees at Kew ! and
  • Recommend waiting until Bracks' new houses have actually been built before deciding on how to replace the trees...!

The latter date that will obviously be long after the trees themselves have fallen to the Bracks' axe,  long after the land they grew in has been replaced by concrete, and, surprise, surprise.....  long after  the forthcoming State Election !

The People.
So who is really behind this extraordinary Application ? And why the haste to get it approved in secret ?

Well the Permit Application documents were lodged by the Melbourne Planning Consultants, Collie Pty Ltd, who we understand represent both the Sydney based Developer Walker Corporation in this matter, and a new Sydney based company Walkers appear to have set up called the "Kew Development Corporation". Walkers in turn,  we understand now have a licence to occupy the Kew Cottages site from the owners, and have commenced some building work on the land close to Princess Street.

The owners, however,  are still, in terms of the Planning and Environment Act, the Victorian Department of Human Services, who in turn manage the land on behalf of the Bracks Government.... and the State of Victoria.

The Caretaker Bracks Government
However, with less than 80 days to go before the next election, the Bracks Government is effectively now in 'caretaker' mode.

So, in the State Election context,  these Government 'arms length antics',  and parlour games with secret Planning Permit Applications are now starting to make the situation at Kew look much more like a 'cover up' than simply a 'stuff up'.

Bracks Environment Policy
A  'slash and burn' land clearance starting with nearly 200 native trees on the banks of the Yarra is after all clearly not Government policy. So it is understandable that both the Minister for the Environment, and the Premier, would clearly like to, and should, publicly distance themselves completely from any suggestion that their Government is promoting native vegetation removal on the Yarra that is contrary to Government policy.

'Yes Minister' ?
A Permit Application that is withheld from the public always sounds like a good idea to some politicians, particularly  if they are trying to avoid public criticism before an election. A Permit Application lodged in someone else's name may sound even better to some of the slower donkeys running in the polls, particularly if they have a good 'Sir Humphrey' on hand to help ensure none of the associated documents present any tricky hurdles for them to jump - either in what they hope will be a relatively easy canter up to the forthcoming November polls, or in the much more challenging charge for the line they will need to mount if they are to secure a place in the  'Yes Minister' Victory Stakes to be held at Spring Street after Victoria's "Big Day Out".

The next Victorian State Election will be held on
25th November 2006...

Email your Objection to the Minister for Planning. 
It only takes 3 mouse clicks as follows:

Step 1. Click here to go to our Email page. Then:

Step 2. Click one check button at the top of the Email page.

Step 3. Click the Submit button at the bottom of the Email page.

That's it !

Your email will be sent, and a copy displayed on screen.

Please note that we do not transmit or store any of your personal information on our servers. If you wish to supply your email address and other details to the State Planning Minister, Rob Hulls, you should do so under separate cover eg: just copy and paste the text of the attached objection into your own email application, make any amendments or additions that you require and then  email it to rob.hulls@parliament.vic.gov.au

Thank you for your support.

Time is short....

Please Send Your Message
Friday 8th September 2006.


Monday  28th August 2006

Boroondara Council takes Bracks Government back to VCAT

Council is applying to VCAT this week for an enforcement order to be issued by VCAT against the State Government in particular DHS.

The purpose of the order is to confirm that the State Government has breached the planning scheme at Kew Cottages. by not getting a planning permit for the units that are underway, or for any future subdivision ie: the next building.

Thursday 10th August 2006


Thanks to everyone who has already signed the Planning Backlash Petition calling for the Revocation of Melbourne2030.

Now we are asking you for 2 minutes of your time to vote again, this time with your mouse instead of your pen...

We have heard that Boroondara's recent move to update its Tree Protection Laws in line with those of other Melbourne Councils has run into stiff opposition from developers.

Our own experience at Kew Cottages illustrates just how easy it still is in 2006 for developers to cut down significant trees in Boroondara - even when those trees are located in what is supposed to be a secure  "High Risk Phytophthora Zone" on a Bracks Government controlled State Heritage Site !

Some trees at Kew Cottages recently just disappeared over night, including the 100 year old rare Bishops Pine axed on 15th June.

Our investigation shows that:

So we believe Boroondara's proposed new Tree Protection Law deserves your support. It is not perfect. But it is a start.

Your Tree Vote.

To email your support to Boroondara Council only takes 3 mouse clicks as follows:

Step 1. Click here to go to our Email page. Then:

Step 2. Click one check button at the top of the Email page.

Step 3. Click the Submit button at the bottom of the Email page.

That's it !

Your email will be sent, and a copy displayed on screen.

Thank you for your support.

Submit Your Tree Vote by
11th August 2006.


The Killing of Bishops Pine 295

Monday 10th July 2006

Melbourne Channel 10 TV News Reports

"Yarra Bend Park May Now Be Under Threat"
Deadly Tree Disease
Kew Cottages

View  Windows Media 
wmv video file (1min39s):
mp3 file


Tuesday 14th March 2006

Brian Walsh tells the ABC's 774, Jon Faine, he is astounded that the Government now claims it was unaware of the discovery of the fungus at Kew Cottages. Walsh says the Government claim is nonsense, "our information is that they have known for weeks.. " (see below)

Listen to the full Interview mp3 audio (2min 34s): mp3 file

Herald Sun 14.3.2006 p.31

Monday 13th March  2006

Brian Walsh, President, Kew Cottages Coalition  today called on the Bracks Government to immediately suspend its demolition works at Kew Cottages and quarantine the site pending a full investigation of the extent of the deadly fungus phytophthora cinnamomi found in the Cottages' grounds last month.

This is the same fungus that has wiped out many grape vines throughout South Australia and is the same fungus that has spread in the jarrah forests of Western Australia.

Infestations are permanent. There is no cure.

Mr. Walsh said our information is that without quarantining the site, the fungus  will quickly spread to other nearby trees, especially trees along  watercourses.  This could be a major disaster for the Yarra Bend National  Park as well as the many mature trees in nearby suburbs.  Our information  is that the site should be quarantined until an assessment is completed  regarding how widespread the fungus is now in the soil on the site.

Mr. Walsh said that,  "Melbourne University Senior Forest Pathologist, Mr. Ian Smith apparently undertook soil tests several weeks ago. However, the Government for some unknown reason appears to have been very slow to act when their environmental alarm bells started ringing loudly on 27th February.

"We understand that construction work on the site is continuing, without adequate and appropriate quarantine controls being implemented."

"I am told phytophthora  is the botanical equivalent of bird flu  for some Government's", Mr. Walsh said, "It kills plants and trees - but its transmitted via infested soil and water by humans, animals, and vehicles.

"Unfortunately, as with bird flu, not all Governments apparently react as quickly, as they are supposed to when phytophthora outbreaks occur.

"The Victorian Government needs to pull its proverbial 'Commonwealth Games' finger out on this one, get its act together, and set a good 'international best practice' example in how to treat phytophthora fungus outbreaks like the one in Kew.

"Because, phytophthora cinnamomi is not only a Victorian problem it is a national problem, and  an international problem, and it needs to be dealt with properly, and it needs to be dealt with immediately."

The Government, however, instead announces its approval for the Walker Corporations December 2005, Kew Cottages Development Plan, and tries to turn a blind eye to the phytophthora outbreak.

A spokesman for Minister for Planning, Rob Hulls, tells the Herald Sun, that "the Government was unaware of the discovery of the fungus but such concerns would be considered." 

(Hulls alters Kew Plan, Geraldine Mitchell, Urban Affairs Reporter, Herald Sun, p31, 14.3.6

Click Here for More  Links & Resources ..

Friday 10th March 2006

Ray Tonkin, Executive Director, Heritage Victoria phones  Brian Walsh, President, Kew Cottages Coalition, to say that his Deputy Director is in Queensland over the long weekend, but that Tonkin will seek further advice, on the KCC quarantine request, and respond to Walsh first thing Tuesday (14/3).

Thursday 9th March 2006.

KCC seeks an urgent explanation from Heritage Victoria as to why the site has not been closed and quarantined, as KCC originally requested on 16th January 2006.

Wednesday 8th March 2006.

KCC requests further information on the phytophthora outbreak from Heritage Victoria (HV). Amazingly, further details are declined, and HV instead refers KCC  to the Government's preferred private contractor,Walker Corporation.

..The report by Ian Smith has been sent to Brian Walsh
The recommendations are being implemented by Walker and I can't add any more than what Ian Smith has
I have sent your email onto John Ball from Walker who may be able to add more.. (HV to KCC 8.3.6)

 Walsh notes," This sounds to me like a gamekeeper who has suddenly got a problem.  In the past  3 years of discussion between HV and KCC about how the significant trees can best be protected, I have found that HV have always acted in the most helpful and professional way possible... "

KCC then contacts Walker Corporation, and KRS/DHS tree consultants Galbraiths Pty Ltd.. Neither of the latter indicate that the site will be quarantined.

Tuesday 7th March 2006. 

Heritage Victoria  emails the pathologist's fungus report to KCC.

Thursday 2nd March 2006 Walker Corporation emails
pathologist's fungus report to Heritage Victoria (More..)

Ian W. Smith, Senior Forest Pathologist, School of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne emails Walker Corporation  "Phytophthora cinnamomi is most likely the cause of the tree dieback". (More..)

February 2006

Deadly fungus  (Phytophthora cinnamomi) discovered at
Kew Cottages.

27th February 2006 .

Official Soil Test Results Bishops Pine Tree 295
Melbourne University School of Forest and Ecosystems Science  confirm presence of phytophthora cinnamomi at varying depths, together with significant  water levels, in the soil on the hillside surrounding the tree. (PDF File.)

Wednesday 15th February 2006.

Ian Smith, Senior Forest Pathologist, Melbourne University, School of Forests and Ecosystems Science inspects dying Bishops Pine, and undertakes soil tests. 
(Site Inspection Notes and Pictures  - View PDF File)

Friday 10th February 2006. 

The Bracks Government which has been managing the Bishops Pine tree inspection through Heritage Victoria, KRS, and the Department of Health, suddenly appears to start distancing itself from the investigation...John Ball, Project Manager, Walker Corporation emails Forest Pathologist, Ian Smith...

I confirm that Walker Corporation Pty. Limited will cover the costs of such inspections, testing and reports...." (More.. pdf file )

Monday 6th February 2006.

DHS/KRS tree consultant Rob Galbraith writes to KRS to advise that,  "It seems more apparent to me that the tree is being affected by a pathogen or antibiotic agent not obvious from a visual inspection...."., and to recommend " .. Arrange for Ian Smith, forest pathologist for the Centre for Forest Tree Pathology which is part of the Department of Sustainability and Environment to inspect the tree.. (More.. pdf file) Our emphasis added.

January 2006

Monday 16th January 2006

KCC writes to HV requesting that Heritage Victoria :
Instruct the Owner and contractors to cease all works at the Cottages pending the outcome of your investigation... (More.. )

Sunday 15th January 2006.

KRS tree consultant Rob Galbraith writes to KRS to advise "Disease and death of the tree in the foreseeable future is unlikely unless there is some  slow unknown and unseen pathogen at work.... (More..)

December 2005.
The Bracks Government Releases its Draft Strategic Plan for the Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Victoria

This Strategic Plan presents a series of actions to improve the management of  what it calls

"Victoria's most significant native plant pathogen,
Phytophthora cinnamomi."
The Archive  2005 @  WWW.KEW.ORG.AU

ENotices: .

Heritage Background Information.

Tuesday 23rd November 2004

Heritage Council 
Approves Listing
Kew Cottages 

Kew Cottages Coalition Media Release  Nov 2004

Current and Historical views of Kew Cottages and Grounds 


The story so far....

Listen to
ABC Stephen Mayne's

Heritage story about 

the Bracks Government's 'preferred developer'

Sydney Billionaire
Mr. Lang Walker

Monday 6th June 2005


MP3 Audio:  use WinAmp on a PC, or Quicktime or similar on a Macintosh  to listen in real time. Otherwise, eg: if you have a slow dialup connection,  download the file first (~1MB), and then use any MP3 player to listen.) 

 Other Links

Newsletter  (June'05) (pdf file format)


  1. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the electronic information presented on this site. However, Kew Cottages Coalition accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material presented in this service.

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