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If only the Police association were as worried about shooting people, as they are when they are shot by a community member

During my HUSO1215 assessment #1 typing, I took time out to read the latest Victoria news online. They one that caught my eye, was "End solo patrols, urges union" in response to the sad events in the outer N.E. of Melbourne on the weekend that involved a male police officer and a young male community member. The quote that took this article from a piece of news to a piece of 'what did he just say!!' was the line:
“He also wants a review of policies that allow institutionalised people with a psychiatric history to be released into the community. Bailey had a history of mental illness diagnosed as obsessive compulsive disorder.”
"The question is, has the policy gone too far in a general sense that has led to a member being put at risk and the community being put at risk?" Mr McKenzie said.

He being the Police Association assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie, referring to the young male that shot the male police officer and then took his own life. Many arguments about roles and responsibilities will come out of this event, and will bring many painful arguments to the table for discussion. Painful, but any discussion away from reality tv is a blessing.
So then, what have I done about this outrage? I have contacted the Police Association assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie, and I spoke to his secretary. I asked what was the context of this quote, and what is the exact meaning of his perceived policy improvements. Firstly, she was surprised 'a lay person not connected to the press' was calling to ask this question, and secondly, absolutely did not know how to answer this question. My name and number has been taken, and I am to receive a returned cal by COB today. (Stay tuned for PART 2: THE ANSWER).
It saddens me that these events do take place, but what saddens me even further is the labelling of one person, to be reflexed onto society. Imagine if you were hospitalised for OCD related to excess washing of your hands? Does this mean you will no longer be allowed to hold a driver's license and be let out after dark, as you will shoot a policeman on the way home from a 21st party? This article has offered us a chance for reflection of our process of public policy, and how is it implemented, enforced and updated. Let's hope this is managed in a balance argument in our State Government.
PART TWO: At 1619 today, I received my returned call. What was outlined to me was that the Herald Sun had paraphrased content that came from a discussion that the Police Association is concerned that (an example of the psych hospital in Ballarat was given) on day 1, 600 people were institutionalised for mental illness, and then on day 2, that institution was closed, and those 600 people were released without society integration, and the only public service that MUST attend to all phone calls is the Police. The relevance of this statement, was that Police are not equipped to respond to these calls, and that this incident has brought up the policy of de-institutionalising certified patients, and that the Police wear the brunt of this. We shared a 22 minute phone call, and it was good to talk to the Police Association. They have used this media outlet to raise a burning issue, that is affecting the amount of public and police officers' lives being lost on duty, and that it should be reviewed and it is a community issue. Public safety, and public welfare, and the supply of Police officers, to me falls under the wider banner of Planning, and how we help build better communities. Thank you all for your comments.

General 26th April, 2005 14:23:30   [#] [3 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: LXVIII, April 2005
Russell Degnan

The final in the series on "places, near which, I have lived"; this time the Carlton Gardens. And yes, that is near the previous picture. I literally moved just over a kilometre once. Taken April 2005

Melbourne 25th April, 2005 00:00:00   [#] [0 comments] 

Thoughts on the new CBD Congestion Charge
Russell Degnan

Regular readers will know that I am all in favour of user pays road pricing schemes. However I might make an exception for this one.

Unlike the London scheme that was introduced on the back of a mayoral election campaign, substantial debate, and an extensive economic analysis, this seems to have been dreamt up in a London hotel-room during the Premier's visit.

Take these quotes:

On Wednesday Premier Steve Bracks said from London that he was "leaving open" the idea of a levy. Barely 24 hours later it was reality and the majority of the revenue was headed not to the council but to the Government.

Acting Premier John Thwaites said the Government's share of the revenue would pay for improvements to public transport, expected to be announced in the May budget.

Treasurer John Brumby said the Government did not have figures that showed how the plan would ease congestion, but said the aim was to reduce traffic in peak periods, and not to punish casual visitors and shoppers.

Does this sound like a well thought out policy?

This wouldn't be a bad thing if it was a great idea. But it isn't. It is symbolic, simplistic, poorly targeted and likely to be ineffective. Firstly, the CBD is not congested. It is nothing like London was before the charge, even at peak hour. The congestion that does exist is near freeways and arterial roads in the suburbs. Secondly, the exceptions in the CBD - King St. and Lonsdale St. - are congested, not because of parked cars but because of through-traffic, which is not affected by the charge. Thirdly, the $400-800 a year will generate only $57.5 million over 3 years, which is a drop in the ocean as far as public transport is concerned. Fourthly, it is barely a quarter of an average all-day parking rate and unlikely to shift user preferences in any substantial way. Fifthly, it is not equitable, as it targets the CBD and its users. After years of policies to try and attract businesses and residents back to the CBD this policy is a direct imposition back onto them, even if it is small.

Conversely, I do support the use of parking as a measure of road congestion, because it has no effect on freight transport and because it is relatively cheap to implement; unlike tolling.

However, if the government was serious about city congestion they would create a study to examine congestion city-wide. The roads suffering from congestion are in Deer Park, Nunawading, Springvale, and other outer suburbs with severe public transport deficits and large freeways that draw in more traffic. A far more sensible policy would assess land uses for the number of vehicles they attract and create a charge based on that figure, with the money to go towards public transport in the area, and concessions for policies that attract alternative non-vehicle uses, such as bicycles and pedestrians.

And yes, this would labour large shopping centres and business parks with large bills. This is why economic analysis - despite its limitations - is an important part of policy making. It would need to phased in slowly to give people time to change their market preferences, and be supported by substantial public transport expenditure. It would require vision and commitment.

By contrast, this charge has neither. It is shoddy.

Planning 23rd April, 2005 17:01:56   [#] [3 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: LXVII, April 2005
Russell Degnan

Still on the theme - and still late. When I live here I used to look at the back of the State Library and Daimaru with my feet out the window, and Gershwin on the stereo. Taken April 2005

Melbourne 21st April, 2005 02:08:38   [#] [1 comment] 

The ephemeral city
Russell Degnan

Recently, I talked about the importance of festivals in cities such as Melbourne. The basic argument was that there isn't a sufficiently large market for most cultural activities to sustain them year-round; hence the need for festivals.

In Metroplis this month is an interesting article on cities pursuing "tourism, culture, and entertainment" in the absence of more traditional economic activities.

The interesting aspect is it works against the idea of promoting a "creative class" on the basis that "there aren't enough yuppies to go around".

I am not sure either way. On the one hand there are substantially higher numbers of young singles living in inner-city areas now and pursuing an energetic lifestyle. This is a class that previously didn't exist in large numbers - at least from the 1950s - and which will drive inner city growth, even if it is in a seperate direction from the suburbs.

On the other, this statement is quite true:

"In the past, achievement in the arts grew in the wake of economic or political dynamism. [...] The extraordinary cultural production of other great cities--Alexandria, Venice, Amsterdam, London, New York--rested upon similar nexuses between the aesthetic and the mundane."

Perhaps in a globalised economy, the creative and leisure classes can live seperately from the productive class, not just within the context of a city, but in the context of a state or nation. But I doubt it. The provision of services implies proximity and that still means the same city.

It raises many questions on the way cities tune their economies, and the way certain economic activities are catered for within the urban context. I speak especially here of zoning for large industrial or business parks. Catering for culture is nice and all, but we shouldn't forget the jobs that really count.

Planning 21st April, 2005 02:00:18   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: LXVI, April 2005
Russell Degnan

Continuing the theme of places near where I've lived. The suburban streets of Brunswick. Taken January 2002

Melbourne 15th April, 2005 00:08:25   [#] [0 comments] 

Planning and the Labor Party Part 1 – Melbourne 2030
Citizen #381277

Naturally, this is a very amateur assessment so flame away!

As an exercise in fair-handedness, I’ve decided to write a piece on what the Labor Party is doing in regard to Planning in Victoria.

As noted in my previous post, the Victorian Liberals have offered very little in terms of a viable alternative to the current Victorian planning system. Far from creating policy, the Liberals criticise the system that operates under the current Labor Government. This is quite understandable, especially considering the continuous problems that dog the Government’s metropolitan strategy, Melbourne 2030.

The main problem with M2030 is that it is first and foremost (in my opinion) a public relations document, designed to alleviate fears from some sectors in the community. Advocacy groups such as Save Our Suburbs, the Brighton Residents for Urban Protection and the Save the Casey Foothills Association all have certain agendas they wish to push, and M2030 is a response to these concerns.

Secondly, the while within the document the reader will see all the happy smiling faces of residents, colourful graphs and short catchy phrases, there is very little mention of actual funding strategies. The line between solid strategic policy and glossy brochure begins to blur…

Additionally, what should be complementary strategies don’t actually appear to be terribly complementary. Take for example Direction 1: A More Compact City and Direction 8: Better Transport links. The former concerns the much maligned Activity Centre policy while the latter revolves obviously around upgrading Melbourne’s transport infrastructure. For example, let’s assess the following two directions:

Direction 1.3 Locate a substantial proportion of new housing in or close to activity centres and other strategic redevelopment sites that offer good access to services and transport.

Direction 8. 1: Upgrade and develop the Principal Public Transport Network and local public transport services to connect activity centres and link Melbourne to the regional cities

Clearly Direction 1.3 is referring to already established activity centres that offer good access to services and transport. Direction 8.1 seeks to upgrade existing public transport links to activity centres. With M2030 the old chicken or egg proverb is a good sort of parallel. If you plan to put housing into a certain area, people will find it hard to see the benefits if there is a lack of transport options. Likewise, public transport operators will be hard pressed to increase services to an area that (currently) has a very small population…but I digress Such directions when put next to each other show that there are sections of M2030 that are quite conservative in nature. For such a ‘revolutionary’ document there are certainly a large number of initiatives that are rather timid.

As the former Planning Minister, Ms Delahunty noted in her address to Parliament 9 October 2002:

The overarching plan is to protect what we love about Melbourne while absorbing up to an extra 1 million people. It is a great place to be. It will be a greener city. It will have better transport links. It will be a more compact city -- a city that brings shops, services and opportunities to your doorstep rather than seeing subdivisions out on the fringes struggling for those services that many others take for granted.

Conflicting aims within aims, M2030 is as leaky as a rusty sieve and will need to be fully assessed should the Labor party retain office come November 2006

Next week Part 2 – The Victorian System

Planning 6th April, 2005 15:29:32   [#] [3 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: LXV, April 2005
Russell Degnan

The top of Errol St., North Melbourne, with the town hall in the background. Taken January 2005

Melbourne 4th April, 2005 23:24:31   [#] [0 comments] 


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