Meet the candidates: Stonnington City Council
15.10.2020

Meet the candidates: Stonnington City Council

Chapel Street Precint - Photo by Fifi Michelle via Wikimedia Commons
By Kate Streader

Introducing the candidates for Port Phillip City Council and their priorities for the community.

City of Stonnington encompasses Armadale, Glen Iris, Hawksburn, Kooyong, Malvern, Malvern East, Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak and Windsor. It is broken up into three wards, each with three councillors.

Visit the Victorian Electoral Commission website to see a map of ward boundaries.

City of Stonnington’s current councillors are Jami Kilsaris, Glen Atwell and Sally Davis – East Ward; John Chandler, Matthew Koce and Marcia Griffin – North Ward; and Melina Sehr, Judy Hindle and Steve Stefanopoulos (Mayor) – South Ward.

Meet the 2020 candidates for Stonnington City Council below.

East Ward

Three vacancies, 13 candidates

Benny Hill – Independent

It is important to understand that vote4bennyhill.com campaign is completely unique to any other campaign at any level of government to date.
 
Benny Hill
It’s not about me.
It’s about Digital Democracy.
Power to the People.
In an oversimplified context, my views and opinions don’t matter. But rather, those of the people who I am elected by. For example, I support live music and climate change action. But I am one vote of ~30,000 in Stonnington – East Ward.
If elected as a councillor, I will be facilitating a democratic revolution that will see a different kind of leadership, a leadership that recognises the people past the #1 vote popularity contest and into a world that is informed and engaged in true democracy.

William Moore – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown? 

There has never been a more important time to come together and support our local businesses and those residents struggling. For small local businesses, I think council should be delivering a massive shop local campaign that highlights our amazing local traders. Council could help revitalise some of our shopping strips with better signage, greenery, lighting and art – actively placemaking, resulting in vibrant streets that our residents are eager to visit. I would love to see council help new local businesses start up and breathe life into the empty storefronts littered around our area, and also ensure that our streets remain clean and accessible for all our residents. 

Council needs to work with local artists, organisations and venues to offer a massive program in 2021 that includes festivals, events and street parties that bring our community together. 

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown? 

Council needs to look at out of the box approaches to helping the music scene come back as restrictions continue to be lifted. This includes closing off streets, providing parks and gardens for performances, with these run and facilitated by some of our local music venues. There needs to be a  huge array of events and support delivered by council in 2021. Council could also start meaningful conversations with our live music venue owners on what they can do to support them to re-open and thrive.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them? 

They are essential to the cultural strength of our community. They bring people together and create an incredible sense of community. Live music provides the opportunity for us to come together with our friends, neighbours, family and strangers. All councillors have a responsibility to support our local artists, including through grants, planned activities, installations and, in some cases, discounted retail space to showcase their works. 

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor? 

  • Support local businesses and residents doing it tough
  • Protect, improve and expand parks and canopy cover
  • Make Stonnington an inclusive and safe place to walk, ride and play
  • Protect our local heritage 
  • Genuinely engage with and provide accountability to our residents

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council? 

Climate change is, more than anything, a local issue and council has a huge range of actions they can take to combat climate change. These include delivering more safe bike paths to reduce the number of cars on the road, improving canopy cover to reduce the urban heat island effect, moving their fleet to electric, ensuring new developments are net zero carbon, providing incentives for solar power, improve recycling rates through education, and increasing the number, size and quality of our local parks.

Twyla Sturzaker – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

A key part of my plan is to advocate to the state government for rent waivers/stimulus package for small businesses. An evidence-based paper that takes into account the flow-on effects of small business closure will be vital to proving the viability of Stonnington’s business groups.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Well for one, I’ll be visiting them! I can’t wait to get back out there, Melbourne has always had a thriving music scene. Encouraging people to go out to their local venues, be it through a concerted (pun intended) radio and flyer advertising effort, or through another incentive, will be a priority or me.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Hugely important. Culture and the arts are cornerstones of any vibrant society. Once businesses are shored up, securing arts grants and running festivals/helping organisers to run events will be on the agenda. Arts are a great way of rebuilding the community following this pandemic period.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

I want to leave it a better place than I found it. Protecting green spaces, encouraging a return to a thriving and safe nightlife, and supporting local cultural events and artists.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

It’s one of the reasons I decided to run. Seeing overdevelopment across a range of Melbourne suburbs, I feel as though I have a duty to stand up to developers. I’m a big nature lover, and when I have kids I want them to experience the vibrant green spaces that I did as a child. Protecting green spaces by voting against major developments and ensuring that rubbish is collected and managed in a timely and efficient manner are passions of mine.

We reached out to Michaela Moran, Alexander Lew, Chintan Bharwada, Polly Morgan, Peter Hammond, Claudio Bevilacqua, Jami Klisaris, Sonali Sanghvi, Sally Davis and Joe Gianfriddo but did not receive a response. They are also running for council in East Ward. 

North Ward

Three vacancies, 13 candidates

Sarah Barton – The Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I think small businesses will really need targeted support post-lockdown. That might take the form of small grants for particular costs, such as additional public liability insurance costs or the cost of moving hospitality outdoors. Also, retailers will need help but they really need our streets to be dynamic and happening with people.  The time for business as usual is over.  We need to get more people shopping at their local high street and getting there by bike or walking, so there will need to be a rethink about what our streets look like and how we prioritise modes of transport.  Research shows that if you prioritise public transport and active transport, you can bring many more people to local areas than if you are relying on going by car. Of course, there will still be cars moving around our local streets but so many people have told me they’d love to travel by bike but they don’t feel safe enough, so that needs to change if we are to change that behaviour.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Stonnington has lots of music venues and night clubs and it’s going to be really challenging for those businesses with limits on the numbers of patrons allowed inside. I think, for the next few months at least, life is going to be happening outdoors – particularly our social lives. In some ways, our streets could really come alive during this time and this might include allowing live venues to operate outdoors in some capacity, so long as it can be compatible with the needs of residents. I think we need to be creative and find out what ideas the venue operators have and how that can work for them and for the rest of the community.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I’m a filmmaker by profession and the arts are absolutely crucial for the vibrancy of local communities. Stonnington doesn’t have a grants program that supports local artists directly to create work (like they do in Port Phillip, Yarra and other council areas). I’d like to see Stonnington have a broader, more effective arts strategy that engages and links the council to the arts community for the benefit of both. Currently, the Prahran Town Hall and council offices are vacant pending another hugely expensive plan to restore the building and upgrade the library (which was upgraded fairly recently). I’d like to re-examine this project to see if it might be better to create a community arts space that would really connect artists and Chapel Street and bring vibrancy to the area.

There’s been calls to bring back the Chapel Street Festival too, which hasn’t run for 20 years. I do think that there could be a sophisticated approach to attracting crowds to the street that might be a combination of food markets and live music and makers markets. Something that really reflects the diversity of Chapel Street.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

There’s so much that can be done to build community in Stonnington, but at the core of everything must be the climate emergency that we are all facing and that needs urgent attention. We must be working towards zero emissions, ideally by 2030. As a councillor, every decision I make will be viewed through that lens. How does it stack up environmentally? That must be the number one priority, but beyond that, we can do so much to build community. That means changing our composting system so everyone has access to composing services for their food and garden waste. It means encouraging cycling, walking and public transport that is accessible for disabled people. Putting in electric vehicle charging stations that are solar-powered. All of these things will reduce our impact on the environment. We also need to be planting trees at a scale not seen before. Planting trees where they’ve not been for centuries because we need our cities to be greener and cooler and tree planting is the way you achieve that.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate change and the climate emergency is at the root of everything. It’s the reason I’m running for council, because I can’t just stand by and watch bad decisions being made which is what has been happening locally in Stonnington for too long. Strong climate action is needed urgently. There is much we can do to support and encourage the community to reduce their carbon emissions and it’s council’s’ role to show leadership with this, to put it on the agenda locally and to make it front and centre of local community life.

We reached out to David Gillespie, Kate Hely, Alexander Taylor, John Velos, Michael Van Doornik, Matthew Koce, Patrick Winter, Ingram Spencer, Martha Tsamis, Emma Sandford and Daniel Merivale but did not receive a response. They are also running for council in North Ward. 

South Ward

Three vacancies, 16 candidates

Nicki Batagol – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I strongly believe that COVID recovery is essential and that council has a role to play. In my opinion, it is about supporting local businesses (retail, hospitality and the arts) AND initiatives focused on the overall well-being of our residents. I work in mental health and family violence and the increase in demand has been of great concern. These issues won’t go away just because restrictions get lifted. While many will embrace being able to be out in public again, others will be filled with anxiety and fear and we need to be mindful of this, and not just assume that the mental health fallout will go away.

Specifically responding to your question on post-COVID BUSINESS recovery, I would look to the experts and the community for ideas and advice. I know that plenty of thinking has been done in this space and don’t consider myself to have all the answers. I am committed to providing support for small businesses and workers. I support the changes being made to fast-track and upgrade outdoor dining options. I would also look at ways to bring artists and street performers into the precincts, so that we can support the arts, while also bringing trade into local businesses. I am also committed to revisiting the budget as this area needs targeted investment once restrictions get lifted, which may result in other projects being delayed.

I think there is also a chance to work with other councils and share ideas, and that there is an opportunity to advocate the Victorian and/or federal government for micro-level ideas that they might not have considered.

Warm weather and long days are just around the corner so we need to act fast while also considering some longer-term recovery plans. Bringing our community back into our precincts will have the double benefit of creating social connections while also supporting local businesses.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

COVID has changed how we live and work. The 5km radius has forced most people to get to know their local neighbourhood and behaviours have changed. I have heard so many people discover new parks, walks, streets, cafes and the list goes on. I also believe that “shopping local” actually means something now and has captured the heart of many people. The challenge is in how council can nurture and encourage that further, and this extends to supporting live venues recover and get back on their feet.

I love listening to live music and am a regular attendee at various venues, but I know that these venues need help. The state government has provided $13m in grants to help kickstart the live music scene for over 100 venues, but many in Stonnington will have missed out on this lifeline. If I am elected into council, I would take the time to inform myself on which venues have received the state government support and which venues have missed out and may need access to other supports. I would work together with these venues to understand their needs and how we, as council, can support them.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Arts and live music is incredibly important to me and I am a regular attendee at live music, comedy, festivals and various forms of the arts. In terms of how I would support as a councillor, I think that much can be done by listening to and working with the venues and groups and being open to new ideas. As mentioned above, I would provide practical support by revisiting the budget and making funds available. I would also look at ways that council can help promote the venues to attract visitors.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

  • Trustworthy Governance: To ensure we have a council who will act with integrity, represent the views of the community and work collaboratively with each other to make appropriate and transparent decisions.
  • Economic and Social Recovery: A council who will work tirelessly to support our local businesses and residents recover from the economic and mental health impacts of COVID-19, revive our retail, hospitality and arts precincts and deliver solutions which improve the well-being of our community.
  • Inclusion: A council who will continually strive for a community which embraces difference, celebrates diversity and provides services which promote equality and accessibility.
  • Public Spaces: A council who will advocate for responsible investment in our parks and facilities, promoting solutions that are sustainable and represent the needs of the community.
  • Appropriate Planning: A council who will support appropriate development – where the character, history and heritage of our neighbourhood is preserved, open and green spaces are maximised and streetscapes are inviting.
  • Quality Services: A council who will ensure the delivery of quality childcare, maternal child health, aged care services, community sport and community hubs.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

I believe there is an urgent need for climate action in Stonnington. A climate emergency was declared earlier this year, but that is only useful it is backed by targets and a detailed action plan with clear goals, activities, accountabilities, timelines and measures. What is lacking is real leadership in this area. I am elected to council, I would ensure that all climate emergency initiatives are consolidated into a single climate emergency strategy which is a critical component of the overall council plan, and that we measure against that plan and share progress against targets with the community in a transparent way.

I would also look at increased community consultation to generate ideas, as well as working with other councils to share learnings. Importantly, I would advocate for creating real cultural change within and across council operations where every project, budgeted item, event and service passes through a climate emergency lens. And finally, change needs to happen locally with our residents and businesses as everyone needs to be doing their bit to preserve our planet. Council has a role to play in providing the right messaging and education which is simple and clearly articulated, as confirmed with a community survey in 2017 which showed that only half of those interviewed felt well informed about environmental issues. Council also has a role to play to look at incentives which are specific to our community. For instance, 44 per cent of residents in South Ward are rentals, so what can we do to incentivise landlords to install solar? And why do we charge for green waste bins but provide general waste bins for free?

Stacey Moran – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?
 
As a small business owner myself that works exclusively in Stonnington, I know how important it is to support small business owners. There is not enough being done, and the council has been slow to move on helping small businesses. They have not been nimble or flexible enough to ensure that small business owners survive extensive periods of not being able to do business. They also are not vocal enough in lobbying government to allow businesses that have social distancing measures in place to continue to operate. To rebuild, there has to be better foundations in place to immediately support small businesses. That means waiving of fees, flexibility to use spaces and business and marketing support drawn from local business owners.
 
How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?
 
Who doesn’t love live music? Why isn’t live music being allowed throughout the entire duration of COVID in parks, gardens, on the streets? It’s easy to do social distancing measures for outdoor venues and giving this space free of charge to those who have indoor venues would have been smart. It’s depressing to see how much people are restricted from having fun, enjoying good music and having a dance. Being a voice for live music on council as an Independent will ensure that the issues facing the industry are addressed. Live music is important to the heart of communities. To get back on their feet, fees do need to be waived, approval processes fast-tracked and marketing support provided – the latter not being a “course or webinar”. These venues will be working twice as hard to get back to work fast, and they will need all the hands they can get.
 
How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?
 
The arts are important to communities and in Stonnington, we are fortunate to have some of the most talented artists in the world at our doorstep. How we engage with art, see it, and are part of it needs to be better understood by councils in general. To fully understand this world, the council needs to participate more from a leadership level down to the people who work in key positions.
 
What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
 
Due to the current economic environment, homeowners are finding juggling finances difficult. Reduction in rates is paramount to helping families put their funds where it is most needed. As a candidate that is married with two small children, I understand the struggles that families are facing. We have been restricted in where we can go for the best part of the year. Our existing infrastructure, in terms of parks and gardens, needs investment. Chapel Street precinct is the cornerstone of the Stonnington community and it has been hardest hit in the past few years. Rejuvenating Chapel Street and giving reason for people from all over Australia, as well as the community, to visit is essential to rebuilding our community. Faster response rates across all areas of council is also important – and that has never been more evident than right now. Slow response rates, especially to business needs, is causing hardship.
 
How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
 
Climate action is a topic that was on everyone’s lips prior to COVID, but with the current economic environment, survival is key. There are people that are experts in this area and, with full transparency, while I do my bit I am no expert and debate should be steered by those who have spent their lives understanding the pros and cons.

Ilja Sidoti – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

Listening to the community is the priority and having ward meetings set up straight away.

As for small businesses, the first thing I would propose is a retail summit to bring the “best of minds” together – retailers, business owners, locals, council, and landlords.

What would need to be achieved:

  1. The correct retailers – engage with retailers who will bring a unique difference to Chapel St – the target demographic is teenage to mid-30s.
  2. Landlords to invest in their property – some street frontage is over 20 years old. Invest in your place and rent out your space. Paint the amazing fronts of these classic buildings.
  3. Retailers to have websites/click ‘n collect/a point of difference/offer courier service interstate and overseas.
  4. Customer service – what has happened to good customer service? You can spend millions on a refurb but if you get attitude from staff, you lose that customer forever.
  5. Council have a part to play, a massive part. Review of current rates, marketing to bring people back, discounted parking, close certain side streets for outside entertainment. A revised version of Chapel Street Festival.

All these things can happen but will take time (at least five years) and a commitment from all of us.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

We have an abundance of indoor venues that are not utilised properly, starting with Chapel off Chapel! It’s running at a loss and it used to be a go-to venue for bands. We also have Town Halls that have amazing space that sit empty! Imagine these were available for gigs? Theatre? Musicals? Then we have pubs and bars where we could have live bands or even acoustic gigs. Cato Square could be used for LIVE music, that is what the original designer had in mind for the place.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I am passionate about the arts and especially live music. I have over 10,000 CDs in my own music collection. Council should have a responsibility to ensure all arts/music is supported in our area. What that support entails will be something that will have to be discussed post-elections. I am not knowledgeable of the support council have given or not. What marketing have they assisted with? What I do know is that we need to ensure the information of What’s ON in Stonington is available at everyone’s fingertips.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Back to basic RRR: roads, rates, and rubbish. Our streets are falling apart and especially places like Windsor and Chapel Street. Some footpaths on Chapel have had gum stuck to them for 20 plus years. We need the community spirit to be high after COVID and a focus on bringing Chapel Street back to life is paramount.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action is important, but it must also be financially viable. I would like to see a glass, aluminium and plastic recycle scheme available in all supermarkets and bottle shops. Albert Heijn in The Netherlands do this. You can bring back items and [be] given credits to use in-store. Genius.

Rebbecca Monck – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown? How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown? How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Live music and the arts have been a big part of my life – I’ve won a People’s Choice Award for a documentary I co-produced about it, have been a regular volunteer at one of our largest community radio stations, and awarded a Lions Club Community Contribution Award including for my support of the arts and performing theatre. We’ve suffered enormously during these lockdowns, and been disproportionately affected and unsupported due to the casualised and gig-economy nature of our industry.
I’m here to listen and advocate, not dictate, so from small businesses, live music venues and performing arts theatres in South Ward themselves this is what I’m hearing about the post-lockdown rebuild:
  1. They want a seat at the decision-making table themselves, to be heard and listened to first-hand before solutions are decided, as opposed to being consulted afterwards. I aim to make this happen.
  2. For the solutions to come out of these (their) ideas, not from external consultants. To date these have included:
  • Creating pop-up parks and night markets inside streets surrounding venues, increasing foot traffic and visibility, coupled with venues-as-destinations campaigns.
  • A yearly festival similar to the St Kilda and Johnson Street Festivals with Chapel St/Glenferrie Rd/High St and the areas around Prahran, Windsor, Malvern and Toorak Stations open to foot traffic with live music and performances combined with food vans and market retail stalls, with several smaller, event-based regular festivals in between.
  • A specialised marketing team whose remit is to connect landlords with small businesses, including to rebuild the area with destination shopping and the arts in the day and live music venues and performance theatre at night. This would be council funded and involve finding then directly approaching both parties one-on-one.
  • A second specialised team whose job is only to work with new and existing small business, live music, art and theatre venues, one-on-one, to help them increase their own customer base and numbers. These staff would need to be business professionals experienced in running and seeing the same type of venues exceed.
Would love to know what you think too, and if you feel this supports you I trust in your support also.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Stonnington is already a wonderful place to live, work and play. My aim is to act decisively on the unprecedented opportunity we have now to protect and back our local community and economy.
By leveraging residents and small business’ own voices, my aspiration is to:
  1. Reinvigorate our fantastic local shops and restaurants in the High Street, Chapel Street and Glenferrie Road precincts, and around Toorak, Prahran, Windsor and Malvern Stations.
  2. Revive our well-known, loved events.
  3. Further improve on the opportunity for multi-use of our family-friendly neighbourhood parks, as well as their character, safety, accessibility and inclusiveness.
  4. Fast-track delivery of critical council-owned infrastructure, sporting, care and education facilities.
  5. Minimise inappropriate development to safeguard our already great city for future generations, setting a new commercial standard for sustainability and incentivising existing operations away from activity that causes harm.
  6. Have the proven commitment and energy to ensure South Ward continues as one of the most desirable neighbourhoods, with an incredible lifestyle.
Don’t know me? I’m efficient, effective and impartial and know, understand and demonstrate community representation – I’ve been recognized as a Sir Charles Court Young Leader, One Young World Australian Nominee, Lions Club Community Engagement Awardee. I have represented communities as a Board Member on the Young People’s Policy Advisory Group, Local Area Education Planning Committee, at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, the Inspire Foundation, as Development Coach for the AFL player’s charity. I’ve served as the highest non-commissioned rank in 50th Australian Army Cadet Corps, mentored CALD high school students, and as an Australian-first Peer Mediator/Leader in a program rolled out nationally.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

There is an urgent need for climate action in Stonnington. If elected, how will I support action to address the climate emergency? We can make a meaningful difference now, across three levels.

  1. Household – by integrating positive action into everyday life for the majority of households.
  2. Commercial premises and business – improved standards while incentivising operations away from harm.
  3. Public infrastructure – identifying initiatives and making the financial commitment and investment now. How?
  • Door-to-door soft plastic recycling, making it as easy as possible to do the right thing.
  • Early roll-out of the four-bin, colour-coded waste and recycling system, not allowing an extra decade of waste (currently due by 2030).
  • Promotion of incentives for household water collection and repurposing systems, permanent composting set-ups, native-tree gardens and passive-buildings/fitouts.
  • Separate, well-lit and accessible cycling lanes, making it safe and more convenient to get to work or go out with the kids, whether you’re in a car or not.
  • Converting unused roads to temporary parks and green walking thoroughfares, and increasing tree canopy coverage throughout Stonnington.
  • Creating walkable neighbourhoods, with every household within easy, well-lit, safe, maintained and shaded walking distance of attractive parks, inviting local shops/dining and public transport.
  • Improving and incentivising commercial new-build, maintenance and tenancy standards, including for water collection, waste reduction and reuse, passivity with insulation and orientation preferenced, and contribution to native planting and green open space.

What is my number one priority for climate action in Stonnington? At an individual level, converting unused roads to temporary parks and green walking thoroughfares, increasing native tree canopy coverage and creating walkable neighbourhoods – with every household within easy, well-lit, safe, maintained and shaded walking distance of attractive parks, inviting local shops/dining and public transport, and with separate, well-lit and accessible cycling lanes, making it safe to get to work or go out with the kids, whether you’re in a car or not.

At an organisation level, incentivising commercial new-builds, maintenance and tenancy standards for inclusion of water collection and redistribution systems, waste reduction and reuse, and contribution to native planting and green open space, plus expanding the early roll-out of the four-bin, colour-coded waste and recycling system to businesses and setting new standards for passivity including material choice, insulation and building orientation.

If elected, which existing local climate action initiatives would I support being expanded? The fantastic Stonnington Environmental champions program, which empowers people to do what they are personally passionate about and culminates in the delivery of local environmental projects. Plus:

  • The large-scale installation of urban-sensitive, green public rain gardens, rainwater tanks and tree pits.
  • Street light replacement program.
  • The Gardiners’ Creek biodiversity project.
  • Indigenous, drought-tolerant tree planting programs.
  • The seven key biodiversity hot spots and 12 habitat hollows for native animals.
  • Expanding the existing support of at least 14 community groups, and re-continuing the Sustainable Schools Initiative.

Do you have more ideas? I’m here to impartially listen – not dictate – and give South Ward residents a place at the decision-making table. If we haven’t met yet, I’m a Sir Charles Court Young Leader and Lions Club Community Awardee. Give me a call, send me a message, email me or contact me on Facebook. Find all the details here: https://www.facebook.com/monckforstonnington/

Matthew Lanigan – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I will commission an independent report by Charter Keck and Cramer to identify the supply and demand issues facing the commercial precincts like Chapel Street, Glenferrie Rd, Malvern, Toorak Rd and High Street, Armadale. This report will outline the total number of vacancies in each area, recommend a standard commercial rental market price, factoring in a Peri-COVID economy and make recommendations of incentives landlords will need to offer to attract new tenants and keep existing tenants. This report has already been in the making for the last two months and will go straight to the top of the agenda.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

I have proposed that we create activity hubs in each suburb and each high street precinct (as mentioned above). Each activity zone will cater for a live music offering and live performances in dance and acting (following COVIDSafe practice guidelines). The first proposal for this is the Chapel Street Summer Series and is sitting with the council executive in charge of the COVID Recovery response team – Cath Harrod. This strategy had great momentum early, however, there is a big risk that they are now starting to drag their feet with this and any similar ideas.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I am on the record as saying that “I believe that the arts, live music, events, entertainment and hospitality industries are the foundation of Melbourne’s world-renowned culture and we need to do whatever it takes to rebuild these quickly to ensure Melbourne bounces back as fast as possible.”

Along with the Summer Series Concepts, I will be looking to ensure all council objectives are focused on rebuilding the local economy before any excessive capital works are carried out. Smooth, consistent and transparent communication with all that need it. If this means staff roles, internally, are repurposed, then that is what will have to happen.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Mental Health Support and stability so that the community are best positioned to make the right decisions to help rebuild our local community and local economy. Streamline all community facing processes at council and make the council a more approachable service to the community. Rebuilding the high streets and bringing back the magic to Stonnington. Including protecting the heritage, strategic development that encourages more open spaces and rebuilding the Chapel Street and Glenferrie Rd Precincts and creating “Experience Hubs”.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

I believe that climate action is a global issue and, at a local level, we can play our part. I will be looking at introducing a Community Energy Solution that will reduce dirty electricity by 40 per cent, reduce energy bills for commercial premises by 20-40 per cent, provide owners of properties an opportunity for another revenue stream, the form of a commercial lease with the third party energy provider and make the area more attractive to new commercial tenants. I will also focus on waste management and keeping the waterways clean. Practical solutions-based strategies are what is needed in this rebuilding phase of our history.

Lucas Athanasopoulos – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown? 

My strategy is simple, firstly a 30 per cent reduction in rates to ease the burden. This is costed and achievable. Remove all permits immediately to all traders and fast-track existing permit applications; currently, it is a lengthy application process.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown? 

One of my policies is a business grant to all business owners and traders of up to $15,000 to either upgrade facilities or to promote their business to encourage customers to get back in the venues. Council has been saving money for a rainy day. Well now it’s pouring, so let’s spend and stimulate the Stonnington community.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them? 

Extremely important. Arts and music are a passion of mine and we need to support them. We have many facilities throughout Stonnington that can support all our local and Indigenous artists.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor? 

Firstly, I would tackle the homeless issue. A joint summit with state government and joint funding to place them off the streets and into suitable accommodation. The issue is the temporary accommodation available is poorly run and poorly supported to the point where the homeless would prefer to live on the streets than what’s available to them.

I would also reduce rates by 30 per cent to ease the financial burden of the ratepayers.

I would hold a joint summit with the landlords to discuss the ongoing issue of commercial vacancies throughout Stonnington.

I would bring back the Chapel St festival which was once the biggest festival in Melbourne.

To assist the traders, I would offer a grant of up to $15,000 per business to utilise on promoting their business and get foot traffic back on Chapel St and other precincts.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action should be a huge priority; the health of the environment is essential to ensuring we look after our planet for the future of our children. I plan to consult with the best environmental experts to advertise and implement practical ways in which the residents and business owners of Stonnington can further improve their already excellent progress in recycling, and other initiatives. Let’s take climate action one step further and get everyone on board!

We reached out to Steve Stefanopoulos, Monica Griffin, Henry Buch, Patrick Stephenson, Mike Scott, Gina Collins, Adam Kopf, Tim Staker-Gunn, Melina Sehr, Judy Hindle and James D’Alessandro but did not receive a response. They are also running for council in South Ward. 

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