The Auditor General’s above Report was tabled in Parliament this morning. In preparing the report, the Auditor General invited community groups and individuals to make submissions to the Audit. GERA was one of those community groups. While GERA has not had time to fully digest the content of the Auditor General’s Report, for the time being it is sufficient to say that GERA agrees with the Report’s summary findings. Same starting point, different paths taken ( determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.
Subsequent GERA postings will contain comments on the details of the report.
For GERA, the big question now is, will the politicians do anything – the tools are available, is the will?
The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in August, 1958 “to provide a site for a Race Course Public Recreation Ground and Public Park at Caulfield” and management of the reserve, in accordance with these 3 separate yet equal purposes, was vested in a Board of Trustees.
“Fifteen trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council to manage the reserve—six each representing government and the Melbourne Racing Club and three representing Glen Eira City Council. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has a role in overseeing the performance of Crown land managers”.
Both historically and currently, residents have long argued that
- Trustees have focused on the racing purpose, to the exclusion and detriment of the public recreation and public park purposes, and
- The Victorian Government representatives appointed as Trustees, and the overseeing Government Departments, have also focused on racing purpose to the exclusion of the other two purposes.
AUDITOR GENERAL’S FINDINGS
“The audit concluded that the trustees have not been effective in their overall management of the reserve. There is an absence of governance arrangements and management tools to effectively guide the management of the reserve, and the trustees have not established a strategic plan for land use and development of the reserve. Consequently, conflicts of interest have not been adequately managed and preference has been afforded to racing interests with insufficient attention given to use of the reserve for recreational pursuits and as a public park.
DEPI has not effectively overseen the management of the reserve by the trustees and has not intervened in significant issues that adversely affect the trustees’ management of the reserve. There is no framework established for trustees to report to DEPI, and in turn to the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, and therefore there is a lack of accountability over the trust’s performance.”
GERA’s AUDIT SUBMISSIONS
GERA made two submissions
• A Preliminary Submission, specifically requested by the Auditor General, on the public access points to the reserve, and
• A Final Submission (which included supporting documentation in a separate Appendices)
For those interested in reading our submissions, we advise that even allowing for the inclusion of photographs they make for hefty reading.
Our thanks to the many who contributed to GERA’s submission – your significant contribution is greatly appreciated and hopefully will result in a significant change to the Reserve’s management.
The following sentence has be added to our original posting to aid clarification:.
“Same starting point, different paths taken (determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.”
Apologies for any inconvenience caused.