(Press Release October 10)

Council candidates use wonky “Winky Pop” to dodge questions

A wonky excuse is being used by council candidates to evade stating their policies, says local climate action group Lighter Footprints.

Many candidates have responded to a Lighter Footprints survey, asking candidates’ policies on climate change, environmental health and sustainability. Six candidates have claimed that a precedent set in the “Winky Pop” legal case prevents potential councillors from expressing views on specific issues prior to election.

This excuse is preventing voters from knowing those candidates’ policies on climate change and sustainability – one of the biggest issues facing Council. And this is not the only community group whose survey has been spurned.

“Voters are being denied their right to know where these candidates stand on important issues,” Lighter Footprints Convenor Carolyn Ingvarson said.

“It is clearly absurd and undemocratic to use the Winky Pop legal case to avoid being open with voters. Winky Pop related to a councillor making a formal independent objection to a planning committee and then sitting on that committee when it ruled on his objection.

Using such a ruling to avoid answering broad policy questions when standing as a candidate for election is not supported by the Victorian Local Governance Association.

Their advice on this issue is to follow proper processes and to be open to arguments rather than closed. It does prevent candidates or councillors outlining their own views.

Candidates all round Victoria including in Boroondara have been answering community surveys, and behaving professionally in doing so. One might be forgiven for asking whether there may be other reasons for not answering these surveys.”

Fourteen of the 38 candidates (26%) have completed the Lighter Footprints survey.

Those who answered the survey were supportive of a range of strong actions to improve sustainability and environmental health in the city. There were significant differences between candidates in the ways they showed a commitment to these principles through what they had done to date.

Best responses on climate change action, environmental heath and sustainability from candidates in each ward were:

Bellevue – Jim Parke
Cotham – Theo Bila
Gardiner – Coral Ross
Glenferrie – James Searle
Junction – Meredith Butler
Lynden – Heinz Kreutz
Maling – Peter Campbell
Solway – Kevin Chow

No responses from Studley.

Six candidates cited the Winky Pops case as the basis for not responding – Philip Healey (Studley), Jack Wegman (Junction), Simon Phipps (Bellevue), Judith Voce (Cotham), Erika Wilke (Solway) and Steve Wolf (Gardiner).

Here are some summaries from our survey:

Which ward the respondents came from.

Strong support for climate change issues and Council playing its part.

Transport has an important role in emissions reduction.

As does cycling infrastructure.

Question 8  was in seven parts and relates to aspects of renewable energy, denser living and sustainable community living:

In Questions 9 and 10 we asked candidates how they had demonstrated commitment to saving the environment and also any further comments they might wish to add. A little bit of analysis helps us to see where priorities lie across all respondents.

A summary of how we rated candidates from their responses (1-5 scale):

Candidate Name Strong Response Q’s 3-7 Strong Response to Sustainable Boroondara Environmental Commtiment
Jim Parke 5 5 5
James Searle 5 5 4
Heinz Kreutz 5 5 5
Peter Campbell 5 5 5
Michael Nolan 5 5 4
Maree Williams 5 5 1
Theo Bila 5 4 4
Geoff Hayes 5 4 3
Coral Ross 5 4 4
Meredith Butler 5 4 4
Kevin Chow 5 4 4
Steve Hurd 4 4 5
Jane Addis 4 4 2
Jacob Rodrigo 4 3 3

We thank all of those candidates who chose to respond to our survey. They showed a strong commitment to environmental health and sustainability as drivers for addressing issues as they arise for Boroondara. Those who chose not to respond either didn’t want their views recorded, or didn’t value the opportunity to convey them to the public. The Winky Pop case cited by six candidates is a very different situation from answering a few broad policy questions in a survey, and we regret that this case was used as the reason for not responding.

If you would like more information, such as candidates specific responses, please contact Carolyn Ingvarson 0411 115 186.

As a bonus, we present some more detailed answers!

Question 9: What have you done to demonstrate your commitment to saving our environment?

Maree Williams – Response
Water tank.

Jacob Rodrigo – Response
As a young person running for council I am acutely aware of the need for sustainability within council’s work: it is why I have made sustainability of of the key issues of my campaign.

Coral Ross – Response
As the Gardiner ward councillor I have always supported and promoted sustainable programmes at all levels – both within and outside council. As Mayor, I chose to have a Prius as the Mayoral vehicle to not only set a good example but also raise awareness about vehicle emissions. I also held a community forum about the environment. I believe strongly in Co-generation and changing our street lighting to energy efficient globes, promoting sustainable forms of transport and green travel plans. I was behind Council holding a sustainable expo at the Boroondara Farmers’ Market and Councils’ Sustainability awards for houses and gardens. I have also promoted cycling. Gardiners Creek Trail runs through Gardiner Ward and I have pushed for upgrades and was part of the team which successfully lobbied for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Gardiners Creek to the east of Glenferrie Road.

Kevin Chow – Response
Building a sustainable future is the key economic, social and environmental challenge facing our community today. During my term as a councillor I have strongly supported initiatives to improve sustainablity both by Council as well as by our local community. Some of these initiatives have included: improved bicycle and walking trails (completing the missing link in the Gardiner’s Creek Trail, Warrigal Road underpass, Solway Street bridge, solar powered lights) to make it easier for people to walk and ride; the Ashburton cogeneration plant to supply renewable energy to the Ashburton Recreation Centre and nearby community buildings; energy efficient street lights throughout Ashburton and Glen Iris, requiring new Council buildings to be built to a 5 star energy rating.

Michael Nolan – Response
Co-founded Green team at local Primary School, and particpant for 4 years; collaborated to get Solar panels on school; taken own house from 1 star to 5 star with solar PV, solar HW, indigenous plants, insulation . Attended numerous Walk against Warming, Human signs, Canberra National Climate Summit, submission of proposals to Council on Low Carbon, Council Budget, headed up application for Grant to Council for east-west off road bike trail (BBUG, LF, Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre); avocated for protection of open space at Hays Paddock, and redevelopment of Pavilion rather than demolition; lobbied Federal and State Politicians on a ‘price on carbon’, spoke at local Church on climate change.

Jane Addis – Response
I would be interested to learn more about this. So far I have not personally done a great deal as I am yet to be convinced that actions on an individual level are likely to have a great impact. Such actions need to be at a government level and to be backed by strong scientific evidence of their validity and usefulness.

Theo Bila – Response
I have attended regular council meetings in regards of: preserving our green existing environment by rejecting inappropriate developments which is replacing the green area with concrete; preserving the significant trees; parks etc. I have suggested to the council where appropriate to redirect rain water into parks and sport grounds as well as complete redesign of new dwellings to be more self contain by reusable water as a closed system. I grow my own vegetables.

James Searle – Response
I refrain from driving unless it’s absolutely necessary and I participate in campaigns promoting sustainable initiatives.

Heinz Kreutz – Response
My track record as Councillor and mayor speaks for itself. Boroondara is now considered a leading local government in sustainable living. We have a low carbon strategy, won the KABV Most Sustainable City Award, the best waste transfer station in the country award , storm water management award, introduced a low carbon strategy etc.

Steven Hurd – Response
Since age 16 I joined what was then the bicycle institute of Victoria and now bicycle Victoria to promote bike paths and lobbied extensively for the yarra path. I worked as a young lawyer on the constitutional case around the Franklin river as well as have been on several state parliamentary committees around public transport. However while there are still people sleeping on the streets in Hawthorn and 80% of people with disabilities out of work I see other moral challenges as important as climate change and I think enviro groups need to take a broader view on what sustainability means.

Jim Parke – Response
As a community, environmental sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing us today. Motivated by a desire to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise recurrent costs, I committed my business to operating in accordance with principles of sustainability. We are presently refining our Environmental Management System to achieve sustainability through best practice as outlined in ISO 14001. On a personal level, I travel to work through a car-pooling arrangement and have installed LED lights, solar power panels, sensor lights and insulation at home.

Meredith Butler – Response
We choose to live where we can walk, ride and use public transport daily. How we live is about sustainability, reducing our footprint. We eat locally grown, fresh food, avoid packaged food and foods utilising packaging. We buy from local green grocer and butcher who source locally. I was chairman of the Metropolitan Transport Forum and co-edited and created a book “creating the transport web”, setting out sustainable transport options to be built in order for the community of Wider Melbourne to be able to be given the choice of mass transport. I was instrumental in council putting in place water tanks for parks and sporting ovals. I have studied Sustainability at Swinburne and received a HD (99/100). I had one of the first hybrid cars in Australia as Mayor in 2002. As mayor I implemented a major tree planting program adding thousands of additional trees to council’s annual tree planting program, for our nature strips across Boroondara. Have continuously encouraged water tanks and solar panel usage for developments for both new and existing properties.

Peter Campbell – Response
We completed a sustainable renovation of our Surrey Hills home in 2001 while maintaining neighbourhood character, and won the Sustainable Homes Gold Award in Boroondara in 2012.

Geoff Hayes – Response
Cycle to work, use public transport.

Philip Mallis – Response
First off, I use a car very rarely, perhaps one round trip per week on average. For all other travel, I use public transport, walk or cycle. My house has had energy-efficient halogen lightbulbs fitted for over 12 years and we are now replacing them with even more efficient LEDs (our house was purpose-built to accommodate these changes). We also recycle all that can be recycled, we have a compost bin and we have only one small portable air conditioner and one small portable 1000W halogen heater.As for my campaign, I am strongly supporting three specific sustainable transport policies:
Construction of the Doncaster Rail Line;
Extension of the Route 48 tram line; and
Upgrading bus routes.

Question 10 Responses – Any other comments you would like to add?

Jacob Rodrigo – Response
The decisions the coming council makes will have ramifications for future generations. I will ensure that council preserves the natural beauty of Boroondara’s parks, open-spaces and tree-lined streets though sustainable, green decisions wherever I can. However, I cannot commit myself in this survey to any specific actions, for fear of removing myself from the vote due to current Victorian law.

Coral Ross – Response
I am the only candidate who lives in Gardiner Ward – the other candidates would have to travel to get to the ward! I an unsure what question 7 means. Would be happy to discuss.

Michael Nolan – Response
I am a strong advocate for Sustainability generally, with action on Climate Change as a pressing issue. We have the technology, but not yet the will at all levels of government. I accept the findings of every major science body on the world, e.g. CSIRO, IPCC, NASA, etc as to cause and effect of greenhouse gases, Ultimately weaning ourselves off fossil fuels will create a much more healthy and resilient economy. Failure to act will create the opposite, and runs the risk of significant unpredictable damage to the global ecosystem.

Jane Addis – Response
Your “forced-choice” questions do not provide a proper format for answers that accurately reflect my views. I do have a strong commitment to protecting our environment, but do not necessarily agree with the way in which you have presented the issues in your questionnaire.

Theo Bila – Response
I do believe that the enviroment is crucial to our future and CO2 reduction is one component of it, however I do believe in good fundamental science and not in ones politically motivated. I do believe that more trees and green will be beneficial to our climate so protection of them it is important.

James Searle – Response
The questions that I have answered as ‘unsure’ are because my support would depend on the specific location. In principle I support all of the proposed sustainability actions however dense developments are not always appropriate.

Heinz Kreutz – Response
It’s important that council council to evolve and embrace sustainable living initiatives.

Steven Hurd – Response
I totaly support green ideas around making Boroondara energy sustainable bringing back a co-op task for local government. I would fully engage with ideas round local food and power production and creation of a business incubator forlocal people developing these ideas. I wouldlike to invest in electric transport options. Small cars on rails shuttling people around Glenferrie shops or what I call Green Cabs golf cart type of electric transport to assist people to transit long precincts. These things would be installed after reducing motor traffic through legislation I would be happy to work to develop.

Jim Parke – Response
Council must become genuinely committed to environmental principles and ensure this is reflected in its policies, practices and operations. Response to climate change is a shared responsibility that requires partnerships across the community so individuals, businesses, communities and governments can respond effectively.

Meredith Butler – Response
An Age journalist said I have more green values than the Greens.

Peter Campbell – Response
We need a safe and family-friendly shared bike and pedestrian trail through Boroondara from Hawthorn to Box Hill. Any developments around railway station must be carefully planned in close consultation with local residents.

Geoff Hayes – Response
6 star energy efficient buildings are important.

Maree Williams – Response
No Response

Kevin Chow – Response
No Response

Philip Mallis – Response
As our local, national and world populations continue to grow at record rates, we need to find more sustainable ways of living. Local government is where much of these initiatives need to start, as this level of government is closest and most accountable to citizens. Even seemingly small things like sustainable transport policies for staff, renewable energy use on council buildings and tree planting can set precedents that affect areas beyond council boundaries.