Seaspray is a beautiful little community in Gippsland regional Victoria. A few of us from YCAN made a day trip of it and delighted in the pleasure of sharing another community’s victory against the coal industry’s plans to destroy our agricultural lands.
The Victorian ALP Opposition has announced a clear position against the fundamentally flawed East West Tollway debacle.
YCAN delegates met with acting Shadow Transport Minister, Richard Wynne on July 18.
This was part of the combined actions that the community has taken to promote public transport and prevent a flawed tollway project. YCAN is proud to be part of a great coalition that is getting traction on the issue of tollways vs public transport. YCAN has been on the ground and working with the Trains Not Toll Roads campaign from the beginning.
We call on the Victorian Government to fund much needed public transport and to abandon this unjustified step back to the 1950s and deliver the trains the public wants.
We had our first ever YCAN excursion this week. We visited the Rethink Centre at Banyule which houses a Material Recovery Facility or MRF (rhymes with Smurf). We were amazed at the extent of the technology to retrieve different materials. Particularly aluminium cans, which are non-magnetic. (It involved rare earths and electromagnetic forces which caused magnets to ‘repel’ the cans into collection chutes.)
Even the most obsessive recyclers among us learned something. Here are some of the tips that I came away with.
- Don’t screw the caps back on bottles. It turns the air-filled bottle into a lethal weapon when it’s squashed.
- Don’t put plastic bags in your recycling. In most facilities they don’t get recycled and they clog up the works.
- Never put your recycling in a plastic bag. The whole lot will be discarded.
- Bottle caps are too small for the machines to separate out. If you want to recycle them, collect them up and put them inside a steel can (eg baked bean tin) and squash the opening so they can’t fall out.
On Tuesday night Yarra Council, spooked by an article in the Herald Sun, voted not to levy a $105 annual fee for publicans, café and restaurant owners who want to use outdoor heaters for their patrons. Unsurprisingly, the traders objected saying they couldn’t afford to pay the fee. The whole point of the exercise was to be a deterrent. The idea was that they would stop using the heaters and not pay the fee. It was supposed to be an incentive to be more innovative about keeping the outdoor patrons warm.
These heaters sit out on the footpath attempting to heat the winter air. All of it. Not only do they consume enormous amounts of gas (how much does that cost per year?) they emit greenhouse gases. When councillor Alison Clarke suggested the traders provide blankets for patrons instead, this was met with derision. Fancy using a blanket to warm you! What a crazy idea, when you can sit under a heater churning out heat, 90% of which is going straight up in the air. Obviously that makes more sense! Perhaps next time there’s a 40 degree day, we should put our fridges on a long lead, wheel them out onto the lawn, and open the door to cool us in the garden.
In Europe, where it is obviously a lot colder in winter, these heaters have been banned. Parisians put on a coat if they want to sit outside. Those crazy Europeans. What will they think of next?
Last weekend my partner and I went to the café at the Collingwood Children’s Farm. There are no options there. All the tables are outside. The patrons had chosen to sit outdoors, so they were all dressed appropriately for the weather. If they did feel chilly, there was a stack of knee rugs they could use. No one was demanding a heater.
This is a small issue, I know, but it is symptomatic of the lazy, wasteful, “someone else will take care of it” attitude that Australians have developed about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It all adds up. It’s a few less tonnes that end up in the atmosphere. Every car journey we don’t have, every plasma TV not left on standby, every outdoor heater turned off does make a difference if everyone does it. It also shows our spineless government(s) that we are willing to do what it takes to prevent climate change and that we are able to change our behaviour to achieve it. Even if it does mean we have to put on a coat when it’s cold.
Last night some of YCAN’s Local Action Group went to the Yarra Council meeting at Richmond Town Hall. We were there for two reasons. Firstly, in Public Question Time, we wanted to ask if the Community Gardens Committee (which has Yarra resident members) would be continued next year. We’d heard a rumour that funding for community gardens was one of the things that the councillors who are pushing to build a $35 million indoor sports centre were keen to axe. YCAN is a strong supporter of community gardens where vegetables and fruit trees can be grown. Our second question was if Council could assist residents in approaching owners of vacant private land with a view to using it for community gardens.
The response was a masterful example of saying a lot, telling us nothing we didn’t already know, and not actually answering the questions. We’re use to it. Undaunted, we will keep a close eye on the situation with regard to community gardens in Yarra.
The second reason we were there was to support Council on their submission on the Dept. of Transport’s proposed peak hour bus lanes along Hoddle St and Victoria Pde. Council is critical of the plan which lops off some of the central median, removes parking, but doesn’t actually reduce the number of lanes available to cars.
We also wanted point out that no provision for bikes had been made in the plan. Councillors agreed that this omission should be rectified. An amendment was proposed and passed unanimously.
So job done, no opposition, all over and done with in a matter of minutes…not exactly. We arrived at 7pm as Public Question Time is early on the agenda. We had done our bit by 7.30. The Hoddle St/Victoria Parade Bus Lane was later on the agenda, much later. It was almost 11pm by the time it came up.
In between there were a couple of contentious planning issues, where passionate residents were able to voice their opinions. Councillors listened to their concerns, asked questions, debated the issues. Amendments were proposed, voted down, new ones proposed, etc. It was a long process, but a fascinating one.
We left at 11pm, but the councillors still had half of the agenda to go.
If you’ve never been to a local Council Meeting, you should go. It’s much more entertaining than CSI Alaska or My Cooking’s more Pretentious than Yours. It’s democracy at work, and you can take part in it.
We just wish the chairs were more comfortable.