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Only aerial images are available of the proposed development, yet not even these can hide the steps leading UP from the Upper Esplanade to the grassy slopes. These grassy areas, slope up from the public footpaths of this century old Upper Esplanade 'balcony', to block
forever public views of the foreshore, sand and sea. These views will now only be visible by entering the designated 'public' areas within private realm of the commercial complex.

The Wizard and the White Witch of Clown Hall...
The article Costly magical spell cast on Port Phillip Council (The Age, 19 May 2008) reveals how deeply the City of Port Phillip is suffering due to lack of clear leadership by its Councillors, and how costly this has been in human terms for employees and in dollar terms for ratepayers. We can only speculate why Councillors could not see and hear the culture of fear, the low staff morale, the break down of communications at the most senior levels, and the lack of due process in tendering for consultants. We can only wonder why they failed to act on legal advice to redress the excess of chief executive David Spokes?

One of the key complaints underpinning the Triangle campaign is the lack of governance and transparency demonstrated during the tender selection and the planning assessment process. At the chief executive's discretion, the terms of the Development Agreement, signed a year ago with the Triangle developer, remain a secret that even the Freedom of Information laws have so far failed to uncover. Local planning guidelines, developed to protect Crown land abuse, have been distorted by planning officers to approve its antithesis.

We are at a low point in the governance of Port Phillip. It's time for change and renewed accountability to the community. Councillors must now act to review the Triangle decision, given the undue influence of its chief executive, David Spokes, as both the chair of the tender selection committee and the boss of the planning department that then approved it. But first they must sack Spokes.


Triangle propaganda watch

Council PR machine in overdrive!
Age writer Julie Szego, friend of Cr Dick Gross and wife of sitting State Labor MP, Tony Lupton, has launched a tirade of abuse against people who speak out against the Triangle process and its outcome. Read Julie Szego's article here.

Paid Council spin doctors have also been very busy with their new St Kilda Live web site, created to counteract the bad publicity Council have been receiving lately.

What do you think of all this? Email your thoughts to hello@unchainstkilda.org and we'll publish them here.

Manufacturing St Kildaness - and other realities
A response to Julie Szego by Krystyna Kynst

What is 'St Kildaness'? It's a clever, but meaningless, term used to muddy the debate over the proposed development on the St Kilda Triangle foreshore crown land.

The ploy has worked, successfully distracting Age journalist, Julie Szego from exploring bigger issues of local governance, Crown land uses and valid community consultation, in her Triangle musings.

'St Kildaness' is no more than a marketing concept invented by Council to lure development interest in the Triangle site, and to promote the aftermath.

Residents and visitors do not spend hours in cafes pondering the concept of 'St Kildaness'. People who know the essence of St Kilda don't need to define it nor write copious words about it. Only those who come to exploit this part of Melbourne - the developers, the real estate agents, developer-friendly councillors, and their spin-doctors - engage in such meaningless exercises.

Add to this list Julie Szego. Mesmerised by 'St Kildaness', Szego reduces the debate about the future of St Kilda's foreshore Crown land into a battle around the type of consumption that should define St Kilda - tattoo shops or made in China fashion franchises, palm readers or cheap electronics, vintage or pret-a-porter, beer or wine.

That's it. The issue is the Style Wars engulfing St Kilda. From this premise Szego quickly moves to defend the proposed Triangle shopping complex and late night alcohol precinct, regurgitating the statements and views of the developer and Council as her own insights.

She also mirrors their anger at the outspoken middle-class, conveniently ignoring that amongst the protesters are the elderly, the unemployed and the homeless, who wonder what this new Triangle has to offer them. Maybe one need look no further than the developer's arrogance of calling a multi-level food hall a Soup Kitchen. Who will this new eatery cater to? The homeless people who have traditionally found refuge in St Kilda, or the aspirational classes enjoying the frisson of this highly marketable grittiness?

The real story of the Triangle is of a Council that broke a series of promises made to its community, removed the opportunity to have the development plan subjected to independent scrutiny at VCAT, relied on property developers to deliver the public good, and consequently, distorted its planning scheme to approve an over-ambitious commercial vision for a unique and beautifully located foreshore Crown land site.

Szego demonstrates little knowledge of these realities, preferring to cacoon her perspective within Bruce Mutard's comic strip vision of rampant consumption and boozing, commissioned by the architect, developer and Council and drool at the improbability imagined in this cartoon, that Goth rocker Nick Cave might consider the Triangle complex worthy of his presence. Szego calls him an urban icon; but the 'stars', who speak against the development, are derided for delusions of grandeur.

Leaping from comic strip to caricature, she uses the classic tools of propaganda to demonise opponents and trivialise the underlying issues of governance and transparency.

Objectors are stripped of their individuality and humanity, and are portrayed as the 'unchained people', 'shrill detractors', 'quasi apartheid' and 'cashed-up residents'. Complex issues are twisted into 'protecting vested interests', 'settling scores', 'holier-than-though posturing', 'hypocrisy and conceit'.

The manipulation of planning controls, the sham of community consultation and the effective privatisation of unique public land - what does Szego say of this behaviour?

Nothing. Instead she segues into