Saturday, November 28, 2009

Caulfield Racecourse and public access- important progress

As many readers would be aware the issue of the racecourse and the lack of public access and usage has long been a difficult problem to resolve- the inequitable landswap proposed by the MRC had been the latest in this sorry saga.

The breakthrough as outlined by Sue Pennicuik from state parliament below is great news!-

Greens MP Sue Pennicuik moved an amendment in state parliament today to try to prevent the government from handing over valuable Crown land just north of the Caulfield Racecourse to the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC).

"The MRC has been making huge profits for decades from using the public land at Caulfield Racecourse solely as a racecourse despite it being set aside under the Crown as a public park, public recreation ground and racecourse. The community and Glen Eira Council have struggled for years to get the trustees to manage the land for all three purposes equally, but to no avail. Instead the trustees have delegated the management of the land to the MRC, whose only interest has been in promoting horse racing and making money from the onsite tabaret and other commercial ventures, Ms Pennicuik said."

"Very little of these huge profits have made their way back to the community, which has been locked out of the public land for decades. Despite an agreement with the Glen Eira Council to facilitate greater access by the public to its public land on non- race days and to improve and install public amenities in the centre of the racecourse, virtually nothing has happened. "The state government was preparing to reward this non-action by exchanging a very, valuable parcel of Crown land, for commercial development by the MRC, for a much smaller, less valuable parcel of land on the edge of the racecourse for community use. The Glen Eira Council has opposed this land swap."

"I was concerned that if the state government went ahead with this unfair land swap without conditions, then the commitments that the MRC had given regarding more public access and improved public amenities would never eventuate," she said.

"I am pleased that at the eleventh hour, Minister Jennings has listened to the concerns I have raised on behalf of the community and has given an undertaking that conditions will be imposed on the MRC regarding public access and improvements and that there will be no financial loss to the Crown from the land exchange. "This is a breakthrough in the long-running saga around the use of the public land at Caulfield Racecourse. I will be closely watching what happens because despite the assurances of the Minister, the MRC has a poor a poor track record with regard to fulfilling its responsibilities to the public park and recreational aspects of the Crown deed, Ms Pennicuik concluded."

Cr Jamie Hyams has summarized yesterday's excellent news from the Victorian Parliament as follows:
-I understand that among the concessions given by Gavin Jennings are that the land is to be valued and any difference between the value of the two pieces of land is to go to the Crown, and that the land swap will not occur until the MRC has fulfilled its commitments in relation to the centre of the racecourse and signposting to better inform the public of the land’s availability. Further, according to Sue Pennicuik’s interpretation of Jenning’s remarks, the MRC will have to pay commercial rent for the areas it uses for training, and that rent is, according to Jennings, to “be available for the ongoing maintenance and development of the park or other Crown public land within the Glen Eira area.” He also flagged that he could see Council being the manager of the land in the middle of the racecourse that is to be a public park.

The tide has turned remarkably- special thanks to Sue Pennicuik for her efforts , Gavin Jennings for acknowledging and acting on the inequities and those in the community and council who have campaigned long and hard on this issue


  1. Whilst not wishing to preempt the final decision, congratulations is certainly due to Sue P., and in particular Frank Penhalluriack and all those community activists who fought long and hard for this outcome. It's just a pity that Glen Eira council couldn't have been more vociferous a lot earlier on!!!!!

  2. There is no way the MRC will pay commercial rent on training land. Can you imagine the cost.

  3. It could be that previous Councils were satisfied with the balance between racing and public access and the benefits provided to the general community by Racing and associated activities. What we have is a number of State Polies have been influenced by a few Councillors. Wait until the Racing Industry has a go back. Watch the hero Polies fall to bits.

  4. Interesting that this weeks Leader has the spokesman from the MRC quoting "that Greens MP Sue Pennicuik raised the issue in parliament recently made no difference because her amendment was overruled". Shows how much notice the MRC take of politicians, especially the Greens.

  5. Interesting that the spokeperson for the MRC is quoted in todays leader saying "that Greens MP Sue Pennicuik raised the issue in parliament recently made no difference because her amendment was overruled". Shows contempt that the MRC has of Politicians, especially the Greens.

  6. It certainly does not show contempt at all.It shows that any threat to the Racing Industry which is worth billions of dollars to our State and employs thousands of people will be protected against a handfull of unrepresentative individuals connected to a few Polititions who should think before they speak.

  7. So what does putting a 15 storey building and 5 storey carpark on a public reserve have to do with saving the racing industry. lets just develop all public space and give the proceeds to Crown while we are at it - they employ heaps of people. Geez some people are dumb!

  8. Councillor Pilling is it true what Brian Discombe said in the leader newspaper on 8th Dec that the issue above raised in parliament recently by MP Sue Pennicuik "made no difference because her amendment was overruled"