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Dennis Madden – Letter to the Editor —— today’s Chronicle —–

“It’s very difficult to get the milk out of the tea”. Proposed changes should be further investigated, the deadline for public comments September 8th 2014 does not allow sufficient time to access the impact of changes to planning schemes that have served the community for 160 years.

In 1851 the Government surveyor Robert Dunbar Scott arrived in Camperdown and laid out the township with its broad avenues it was fashionable to draw inspiration from their homeland and recreate a typical English village even down to the vegetation the sprawling oak and elm trees were planted to remind the early settlers of their homeland.

The town had a defined business centre and live stock market near the present fire station it was typical of an English village, fostering a sense of community even though the traditional boundaries were observed the Irish had their own quarter as did the Scots and they held separate religious followings but essentially they hung on to the sense of communal village.

The idea of a central shopping precinct has served the community well for one hundred and sixty years. The Shire wants to change all that, they want to yield more power, they wish to change the Town Planning scheme throughout Corangamite to the very American idea of a strip shopping zone.

Power is revered in the public service it’s their holy grail, a classic ploy is to contrive to create fear in the community whilst offering a solution to alleviate it however it has to come at a cost. The cost in the Shires proposal for residents is access to the independent umpire in this case VCAT the Victorian civil and administration tribunal.

The administrative division of VCAT, “Deals with applications from people seeking review of government and other bodies’ decisions that affect them.” These include decisions relating to * local council land valuations and planning permits. By amending the planning scheme and changing the town centre from Commercial One Zone to Clause 52.28-4 to define: Strip Shopping Centres there is no access to VCAT the Shire have rid themselves of the right of appeal, there is no access to the independent tribunal.  

The State Government controls the placement of gaming machines and they don’t allow gaming venues to be established in strip shopping centres, however they do allow gaming venues to operate in established town centres which is the case in Camperdown, Colac and Warrnambool.

To support their grab for more power the Shire have compiled a forty three page report on Gaming and the horrors of it, according to the Shire it’s as toxic as the Ebola virus, although only ten percent of the population ever play poker machines and the percentage of people statically at high risk is .07 of one percent which equates to seventy nine people, not with a gambling problem but at high risk.

To get to the real figure affected by poker machines you refine the figure and take off the people that bet on race horses, trotter, dogs plus all the sports bets on football, golf all sports, then factor in people that binge bet at the Casino or take out a $25 weekly Tattslotto ticket then finally there’s the internet.

According to the Shire 60% percent of problem gamblers have issues with poker machines that leaves the total number of people at high risk but not necessarily with a problem at forty seven people.

This is the number of people required to change zoning regulations that have stood the test of time some one hundred and sixty years. This is the trigger point when as executives in the shire you have to step in and change the rules, get rid of the umpires and the right of appeal, commission a forty three page study that has more holes in it than Oscar Pistorius’ defence.

The figures bandied about by the shire executive is that residents in Corangamite gamble $272.64 per year which is below the state average of $626.27 by $353.63 for the families that take out a $25 tatts lotto ticket they have an annual spend of a whooping  $1300 per year. I cannot imagine what the shire executive is contemplating to protect these poor lost souls.

The proposed changes should be further investigated, the deadline for public comments September 8th 2014 does not allow sufficient time to access the impact of changes to planning schemes that have served the community for 160 years.

It’s very difficult to get the milk out of the tea and the Corangamite document “Planning framework on electronic machines June 2014” is very cloudy, the research data questionable, the desire to rid the right of appeal worrying.

Dennis Madden.



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