Who is Darebin Council working for? Is it the Greens in Spring St or the ratepayers?
An email from Samantha Ratnam, Greens Leader in the Victorian Parliament, to a list of supporters, hints at an intention by some Greens Darebin Councillors and possibly officials to scuttle public consultation over the controversial Northcote Public Golf Course.
The fight to keep golf at the Northcote Public Golf Course has involved months of lobbying by the local ‘Northcote Community & Golf Hub Group’. During COVID lockdowns the course was used as a parkland and Darebin Council said it wanted to go to the people to determine the future of the course – should it become a shared space or should golf be banned altogether.
Members of the Northcote Community & Golf Hub have claimed all along that the Council was determined to get rid of golf. But the Council has hit back at these claims. On October 27th, 2021, on Sammy J’s ABC Breakfast Program, Darebin Greens Councillor Trent McCarthy said, “We are asking the community how they would like to use it”.
In response to a question from Sammy J, Cr McCarthy said, “Council has not said that golf won’t continue or will continue”. He said it was left open to the community to, “Tell us”.
Recently, the Darebin City Council began a consultation phase, claiming it wanted to find out what the people wanted. The survey component of the consultation phase ends on December 12.
However, this week an email by Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam exposes a clear intention within the Council’s Green ranks, regardless of the consultation phase.
In her email she encourages people to have their say and contribute to the Council’s consultation survey but urges people to push for the space to become a public parkland.
Samantha Ratnam concludes her email to supporters with a damning comment: “I want to extend my thanks to Greens Councillor Trent McCarthy, and the whole Darebin Greens team, who have led the campaign to have the Northcote Golf Course returned to public parkland …”
Bill Jennings, part of the Northcote Community & Golf Hub, said Ms Ratnam’s email clearly points to Councillor McCarthy’s intentions before the consultation survey phase even closes on December 12. It makes a mockery of his claims on ABC radio on 27th October.
“This is really disturbing when you have an elected Darebin Greens Councillor, Trent McCarthy, go on public radio and claim he has no position and wants to hear from the people. But his leader comes out this week applauding him for his ‘fight’ to return the area to public parkland, with no reference to golf even being a possibility.”
“It begs the question, who does Trent McCarthy work for? Is it the people of Darebin, or is it the Greens Party in Spring St? I think he needs to come clean and soon.”
“This raises questions as to whether Samantha Ratnam is interfering in Council Business and if Darebin residents can have any confidence that Greens Councillors can possibly vote on this issue with an open mind in March 2022. Will those Councillors now need to absent themselves from the vote as their State leader seems to be indicating they have formed a pre-determined position”
“Samantha Ratnam has also shifted the terms of the consultation contradicting Trent McCarthy on Sammy J’s program who said, “The big question we are putting to the community, ‘What does shared use look like?’ and that hasn’t been defined.” It is hard to reconcile this with his State leader who has outlined the space only being available as public parkland which means golf is eliminated from the site.”
“And who is the ‘whole Greens team’ Ms Ratnam refers to. Is that all the three Greens Councillors, and Council officials with Green affiliations? This now goes to the heart of democracy in local government. We need to hear from the Darebin Greens – is this a consultation phase to determine if the golf course can become a shared space, or is it an expensive whitewash?”
“This is now about so much more than golf, this is about our democratically elected councillors saying one thing and then acting in a way that is far from democratic, or honest.”
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The Northcote Community & Golf Hub are a group of local residents who have volunteered their time to share a vision of mixed use of the Northcote Public Golf Course. This vision presents a win for the Community and the Environment and the Darebin Ratepayer and Public Golfers who can continue to enjoy playing at the site seven days a week in daylight hours whilst a comprehensive array of additional activities and venues are implemented around golf at the Northcote Public Golf Course.