THE two candidates in the Melbourne byelection both want the state planning system reformed, saying residents and councils are being excluded from large-scale development decisions.
Cathy Oke, who was named as the Greens candidate last week, and Jennifer Kanis, who won Labor preselection unopposed, say the Planning Minister has too much power.
The two candidates, who have served side by side as Melbourne City councillors for four years, say the state government has to involve councils more in decisions on large developments.
Developments larger than 25,000 square metres are automatically referred to the Planning Minister, bypassing councils.
Ms Kanis cited Woolworths’ proposed Canning Street development in North Melbourne – which Melbourne City Council and residents opposed.
“These plans have been sitting on the Planning Minister’s desk for months,” she said.
Ms Oke pledged to expand that policy during the campaign. She said there had to be consistency with decisions made at council level, as well as assurances for residents.
Views on planning weren’t all that both candidates have in common. They are both opposed to an eastwest road link through Melbourne.
They both spoke out against the state government’s decision to fund a $15 million feasability study into plans for an east-west road link.
Ms Kanis said money should be spent on public transport such as underground rail projects.
Ms Oke said she wanted to see public transport connect east and west, such as a link from Kensington to Collingwood.
Ms Kanis said Labor was the only party that could form an alternative government.
“I’m looking to make a difference and the current Baillieu government isn’t doing enough, it isn’t doing what needs to be done,” she said.
Ms Oke pointed to Greens MHR Adam Bandt’s record in the federal Melbourne electorate, saying the Greens offered a real alternative.
Ms Kanis is a former secondary school teacher, now a lawyer with Holding Redlich.
She said she wanted to tackle issues such as education and homelessness.
Ms Oke, who has a PhD in genetics and runs education program Kids Teaching Kids, named sustainable public transport and delivering for the electorate as her priorities.
At a glance: The seat of Melbourne
* The Melbourne electorate covers parts of two local government areas – Melbourne and Moonee Valley.
The seat stretches from Flemington to East Melbourne, including Parkville, Carlton, Kensington and North Melbourne
* Once the date for the byelection is announced residents will have one week to enrol to vote or update their enrolment details
* Greens and Labor have both named their candidates for the seat, but the Liberal Party is yet to confi rm if it will run a candidate in the byelection
* Bronwyn Pike held the seat since 1999 until she stepped down this month
* 43,916 people were enrolled to vote in the electorate in the 2010 state election but only 38,176 cast a ballot
* The electorate has been safely Labor since 1908, until 2002 when the Greens vote began to threaten Labor’s dominance
* Liberal preferences decided the winner in the 2010 election when Labor was just 3.7 per cent ahead of the Greens’ primary vote
* Looking at voting centres in the 2010 election the Labor Party won Flemington, Kensington and Carlton, the Greens won Parkville, Central Carlton and North Melbourne and the Liberal Party won Docklands and East Melbourne
* The Liberal Party won 27.96 per cent of the primary vote at the last election
* With two Melbourne City councillors as candidates the result could leave the council short until the October local government elections. The council can vote on whether or not it will fi ll a vacancy if a councillor leaves six months or less before a council election.