Council fails to support those in financial hardship

Council has voted against motions put by Greens Councillor Geraldine Brooks that would help those suffering financial stress in our community.

“Not one Councillor would second an alternative budget motion to lift the rate rebate for those experiencing financial hardship and not one councillor would support a motion to increase the rates for commercial gaming venues which profit from the destruction of families and our community” said Cr. Brooks.

Gaming is a significant community problem in Brimbank which affects the entire community, not just problem gamblers. Gambling related problems are mainly associated with Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) and gaming losses are now the most severe of any municipality in the state. A differential rate levied on this sort of antisocial activity is one method of integrating Council’s policy position to make it less attractive for venues to profit from EGM's in our municipality.

It is Councils job to use differential rates where appropriate to achieve enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.



The Brimbank Greens have cautiously welcomed the appointment of the council inspector, following the Ombudsman's report, but are concerned it will be business as usual. Brimbank Greens secretary, Alex Schlotzer, expressed concern that a motion seeking a public meeting about the Ombudsman's report was not supported.

“It looks like the current Councillors just want to push this issue aside and bury it,” said Alex Schlotzer, local Brimbank Greens branch secretary.

“It was clear at a special meeting convened to respond to the Ombudsman's report into Brimbank Council, that some Councillors are more interested in getting back to business as usual. Even in the full gaze of the council inspector, Greens Councillor Brooks' motion for an open public meeting wasn't supported.

“It's a missed opportunity for the Council to mend some relationships with the community. And disappointing that such a simple gesture has been overlooked,” said Greens Councillor Brooks.

“Not one of the 10 other Councillors supported the motion meaning it wasn't entered on the public record or debated. It seems to reinforce the Ombudsman's findings about the behaviour of Councillors,” said Mr Schlotzer.

“The community can't have any confidence in the Councillors acting in the best interests of the community when they can't support a motion for an open public meeting,” concluded Mr Schlotzer.

For more information contact:
Greens Cr Geraldine Brooks, mob: 0429 327 061
Alex Schlotzer, secretary Brimbank Greens, mob: 0434 856 429
Council’s Urgent Letter to the Premier

At the Ordinary Council Meeting of 23rd June, Council supported Greens Cr Geraldine Brooks’ urgent motion to write to the Brumby Government regarding the defunding of Reconciliation Victoria.

In a wonderful show of support for this important issue, all councillors voted for its adoption except for Cr Stuart Miller.

“I was appalled to have learnt that the Brumby Government would defund Reconciliation Victoria, especially without measures to build on its invaluable work,” said Cr Brooks.

This absolutely devastating situation means several communities across Victoria are now left without any reconciliation services, because Reconciliation Victoria had acted as the core body and serviced any areas that did not have an independent group. Reconciliation Victoria also carries out important work to address that the social determinants of Aboriginal health that are largely based on the attitudes, systems, lack of understanding and exclusion of Aboriginal people by the non-Aboriginal community.

I’m heartened that most councillors recognised the urgency of the matter, and agreed that Council could at least put our concerns in writing to the Premier.”

The letter from Council urges the Premier to intervene
“to reinstate ongoing funding to Reconciliation Victoria to send a clear message to the Victorian community about the Victorian State Government’s commitment to reconciliation and the prevention of racism”.

“It is important that many individuals and groups across Victoria voice their support for Reconciliation Victoria funding and tell the State Government that they think their response is short-sighted and hypocritical. We need to tell this government that reconciliation is important” Cr Brooks said.

For enquiries please contact Cr. Geraldine Brooks 93612693


Greens Councillor condemns Brimbank Council move to silence debate

Greens Councillor for Brimbank Council, Geraldine Brooks has labelled changes to the Brimbank Local Meeting Law as grossly undemocratic.

"With the whole of Victoria watching Brimbank and the conduct of Brimbank Councillors, we need to demonstrate that we are a democratic Council making transparent and accountable decisions." Cr Brooks said, "I am very interested to know Bill Scales' view on this."

In an attempt to stifle independent opinions and debate, the ten Labor councillors voted to require a second councillor's signature before any motion can be moved.

"It is clear that this is aimed at preventing me from moving any motions and raising issues in the community interest," Cr Brooks stated.

"Motions may fail in the chamber but at least Councillors should have the right to raise the issues. Under this law that will be so much harder."

"It is also of concern that council staff agreed to this change at the request of an as yet unidentified Labor councillor”

"I have lodged a rescission motion, so this law will now need to be debated again at the July council meeting. I am hopeful that at least some councillors show enough respect for democracy and the community that elected me, and agree to throw out this undemocratic move."


Greens Councillor demands $30 Million civic centre funding to be spent on parks

Brimbank Greens Councillor Geraldine Brooks has called for the immediate cancellation of the $30 million dollar council civic centre project, with the money to be diverted to the improvement of parks and community facilities. "The benefits of this can flow immediately as the $2 Million dollars in the current draft budget that is destined for architects design fees could be go towards parks and playgrounds straight away" Cr Brooks said speaking to the ABC TV news today. "By this summer, our kids can be playing in an extra $2 Million worth of desperately needed playground and park improvements"
"At the April council meeting all 10 Labor councillors refused to second my motion to cancel the project to the benefit of parks, playgrounds, walking and cycling facilities" she said "Some councillors are now reacting to the community backlash by attempting to exclude Errington Reserve in St Albans as an option, however they all still believe the $30 Million should be spent on a council building elsewhere." Cr Brooks said. "This is beyond comprehension when many of our communities still lack the basics like quality parks for our children that those in other parts of Melbourne and even our neighbouring municipalities take for granted" she added.
"At the next council meeting I will once again be moving a motion to cancel the project so that such a huge amount of ratepayers funds can benefit them". "The park improvements are ready to go through the Better Parks Plan adopted last year." This is an opportunity for all councillors to get serious about funding it, not a $30 Million a shrine to themselves," she said.


Council media ban shows continued lack of transparency at Brimbank says Greens Councillor
Media Release 27th May 2009

Brimbank Greens Councillor Geraldine Brooks believes that the refusal to allow television media into last night’s council meeting shows councillors have not learned a thing from the damning Ombudsman’s report.

“Last night, all 10 Labor councillors refused to allow an urgent business motion I had proposed to override the Mayor’s ban on television media in the council chambers,” said Cr Brooks. “It is such disrespect for transparent governance that allowed the culture apparent in the Ombudsman’s report to thrive at Brimbank in the past.”

“The fact is that all ten Labor councillors are afraid to have the residents and the broader public scrutinise their decisions in a public council meeting via having the media present. It does not bode well for a fresh start at Brimbank” she said.

“The Brimbank Local Meeting Laws need to be amended to enshrine the right of media to scrutinise council meetings including recording the meetings,” she said, “With the Council due to amend the those meeting laws at the June council meeting, I will be moving an amendment to the Local Meeting Laws to ensure that media are entitled to film council meetings in future.”

She added, “I am calling on the ten Labor councillors who banned the media last week to join with me on this. It will be the first of many steps toward open and transparent governance at Brimbank.” Cr Brooks said.

For more info, contact Geraldine Brooks on 0429 327 061.


Ombudsman Report - Letter to the Age

To the Editor,

It is an open secret in our community that Councillors at Brimbank have been acting in an abusive, self interested way for a very long time, often under the direction of external influences from within the Labor Party.

The recently released Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank Council has found that the ‘ruling faction’ in the previous Council ensured a culture of dysfunction and bullying.

The report also found that this is unlikely to have changed very much as evidenced by members of the newly elected Council including Sam David, Troy Atanosovski, Robert Shamon, Tran Siu, Heidi Seitz, Maria Kiselis, acting with external direction from Sam Tabban, Telmo Languiller and George Seitz to form a new ruling faction and decide the Mayoralty within hours of the November 2008 election. As a new Greens Councillor my observation would be that while the bullying and abuse no longer occurs, the modis operandi has not changed.

The amazing thing to me is that while they have been operating in this way, with no thought to the community interest or to the responsibility they have been charged with to act in a morally and ethically responsible manner, the Labor Party then and now, seem to be only concerned with having been caught red handed.

Dick Gross (The Age, 12/5/09) says “it is absolutely legitimate to organise to increase a group's political power”…I agree with him. There is no problem with groups of people getting together to organise and put forward a point of view. But that is not what we are talking about at Brimbank. We are talking about individuals, using vulnerable groups to stack political party branches. Rather than excusing it because “everyone does it”, I rather think it emphasises that we need to be looking to build a genuine alternative for Brimbank.

We know the Liberals are not that alternative. Look at what they have done to workers rights, the sell off of our public infrastructure and enterprises so we no longer have the power to protect ourselves from financial and environmental crisis, and lets not forget that they too participate in branch stacking.

There is also a problem with those councillors taking decisions in the chamber just because they are part of a faction and not being open to listen to arguments put to them by the community and being able to make their own independent decisions based on robust discussion and debate.

Brimbank residents have been deprived of community infrastructure projects over a long period of time in order to accommodate pressure from these councillors, MP’s and Labor party hacks voting purely and simply to advance their own personal or factional interests.

This has meant that one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Melbourne has suffered with gross neglect for our parks, community services and facilities.

We cannot rely on the Labor party to fix this mess. It is nonsense to say the Minister for Local Government will do anything when his office has refused to take action up until now. Every Labor MP and heavy weight in this area is implicated - right up to Mr Brumby who relies on these players for his power base.

Sacking the Council is only part of the solution. And one that the Labor party would find very convenient. We have to ask, “What then”? Would an administrator appointed by the very people who have refused to investigate the problems be likely to find a genuine solution?

We need to call for an extraordinary election to elect people from and for the community of Brimbank. Our community needs to stand up to these bullies and stand genuine and endorsed candidates in an immediate election, and let the people of Brimbank decide.

Geraldine Brooks
Greens Councillor
Brimbank Council