Brunswick candidates debate planning

Brunswick, Melbourne.

More than 100 people attended a Brunswick candidates’ forum about planning issues on November 11. The high attendance reflected anger at the many high-rise buildings planned for the inner-Melbourne area. Six state election candidates addressed the meeting.

Socialist Alliance candidate Trent Hawkins said residents must be involved in decision-making. Planning minister Justin Madden has "called in" 230 projects so far this year, allowing him to overrule local council decisions. Hawkins said development decisions must involve the community.

Labor candidate Jane Garrett promised to support mandatory height controls on new developments. All the other speakers criticised the Labor government's record.

Greens candidate Cyndi Dawes said the Greens would end arbitrary call-ins and allow local councils to set height limits.

Independent candidate Phil Cleary said the state government was "in the pocket of developers", and was not interested in social housing. He said community action could win change.

Other speakers included independent Bill Cawte, who called for an expansion of bike paths, and Amy Mulcahy from the Australian Sex Party.

Liberal shadow planning minister Matthew Guy criticised the Labor government for overriding local communities. But he said a Liberal government would not abolish call-in powers, which might be necessary for "significant projects".

After a lively and at times heated discussion, the meeting passed a motion calling on the elected candidate to meet with the Brunswick Residents Network soon after the election.