The Rally was jointly organized by the Coalition of Concerned Councillors (CCC) and the PLANNING BACKLASH network of groups under the banner,
RESTORE RESIDENTS RIGHTS.
Councillors and Residents are angry about the erosion of or democratic rights as the State Government takes over more and more Planning Power from Councils. The leaders of both groups decided to start a campaign with a Rally on the steps of Parliament.
The CCC placed an open letter to the Premier in the Age on the 9th June, signed by over 60 Councillors from across Victoria (the number of supporting councilors is growing).
There was a huge amount of pre- rally publicity and, in spite of the terrible weather, cold, rain and hail, there were about 700 people at the rally.
Three hundred red balloons were handed out waving in the breeze as well as some posters brought by the opponents of the desal plant at Wonthaggi. Then a bobcat arrived from Brunswick, to be part of an act by the Darebin group.
The proceedings started with Jack Roach as MC outlining the proceedings and apologizing for Geoffrey Rush being unable to be with us as he was on Broadway receiving an award for his performance of Exit the King.
Claude Ullin, Mayor of Stonnington, Convenor of the Coalitiion of Concerned Councillors, then spoke about the issues we are facing with the Planning Minister’s policies.
Followed by Mary Drost, Convenor of Planning Backlash who demanded Restoration of Residents Rights.
Next speaker was Brian Walters SC, is President of Protectors of Public Lands, speaking about the democratic right of people to object.
Then came Rosemary West of the Green Wedges Coalition who spoke against the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary and the need to have a population summit.
Light relief in the form of actor Chris Gaffney playing Dave the Developer, dressed as a toff and drooling about all the money he was making because the government was letting him build anything he wanted. He said it was great in Kennetts time but much better now. He then went to the bobcat and proceeded to mow down nice little houses and gardens and then build up big blocks of flats, called Brumby Towers, Villa de Maddening etc . Naturally Dave the Developer was booed by the crowd. All the houses and buildings were made by the Darebin Appropriate Development Association with Terry Scully as President. It was a great comedy act with a message.
Then there was another show by the Watershed Group opposing the desal plant at Wonthaggi. A 3,000 signature petition was presented by Roger Thorrowgood to National Party Leader Peter Ryan, It was housed in a black coffin representing democracy carried by a couple of penguins, victims of the desal operation.
Also present a number of people with farms on the outskirts who are angry about the new unfair tax being thrown at them by the government if they sell their land, no matter who they sell it to. Michael Hocking explained their case. Somewhere there was also an out of control brumby horse.
Finally Cr Clifford Hayes, Deputy Mayor of Bayside, spoke and presented a list of demands quoting promises made by Bracks to strengthen council powers when in opposition and demanding that these promises be kept.
This list of demands was unanimously approved by the crowd and these will be tabled in Parliament.
Significantly, at the beginning of the rally, the rain gave way to sunshine and blue sky but the weather closed in again at the conclusion.