The Area of Gorton Political Reportage: Research Report
Date: 11th March, 2016
Jonathan Pertile – Federal (s3542020)
Isabel Stewart – State (s3487338)
Hayley Peppin – Local (s3540238)
- Executive Summary
This research report on the electoral area of Gorton aims to assist political journalists who are searching for a story to release into the public sphere through the Melton Leader newspaper and the Brimbank Leader newspaper.
It examines how Gorton will fare in the upcoming election; the current information on the City of Melton and The Brimbank Council, the State electorate and its members and the Commonwealth electorate and its members.
Gorton is located in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, and covers a vast area of approximately 562 square kilometres (2013).
2.2 Political Background
The area of Gorton is relatively new having only been created in 2003. Before this, the division of Burke governed the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne. Gorton is largely left-leaning – the fourth safest Australian Labor Party (ALP) seat.
2.3 Population Profile
The official population of Gorton according to a 2011 census is 189,518 people. The gender percentage is evenly poised: 50.1% females and 49.9% males (2011).
- Gorton features a high proportion of young families; the median age of the people in Gorton is 33 years of age (2011).
- Gorton is the home of the working class, hence the left-leaning nature of the area. However, the types of work people do – vary. 16.3% are clerical and administrative workers, 15% are professionals, 14.8% technician and trade workers and 11.9% are labourers (2011).
2.4 Major Industries
- The Automotive Sector: 28,000 jobs alone in Victoria are linked to the automotive sector. The area of Gorton has 1970 people working in this industry (2013).
- Transport and Construction: Natalie Kotsios (2015) in The Weekly Times reports the the Melton town centre alone, will be funded approximately $5.54 million (2015).
- Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry in Gorton employs the largest number of people: 6,452 (2011). 14.7% of people work in manufacturing within Gorton (2011).
- Federal Government
Gorton intersects with the electorates of Calwell, McEwen, Maribyrnong, Gellibrand, Lalor and Ballarat at the Federal level of Parliament (2010). The members of whom are all aligned with the ALP: Maria Vamvakinou (Calwell), Rob Mitchell (McEwan) (ALP), the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong), Tim Watts (Gellibrand), Joanne Ryan (Lalor) and Catherine King (Ballarat).
The current member for Gorton is Brendan O’Connor from the ALP.
MP: Brendan O’Connor (ALP)
Office Phone: (03) 8390 6166
Suburb: Caroline Springs
Additional Role/s: Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations member for Gorton.
Background: Brendan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2001 as the Member for Burke. However, since the newly created electoral boundaries, it was re-named to Gorton; he is serving his third term here.
3.1 Potential News Story Idea
- Federal Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund: Particularly the City of Melton and their significant construction.
News Angle: The Government provided $5.5 million towards the Pride of Melton project.
- The intended outcome was to have increased business growth, and provide better connections for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.
- Could potentially interview a cyclist, transport user – as to whether the project has assisted them.
- Another option: profile a business and see whether their profit margins have improved, as a result of the project.
- According to the Melton website, stage one has just been completed (taxi shelters). Stage two which involves a full redevelopment of Palmerston Street is anticipated to commence in April 2016.
3.2 Federal News Story Pitch
Melton’s rail line needs an upgrade, and the Melton mayor Kathy Majdlik is calling on the Federal Government to “duplicate and electrify Melton’s railway line.”
The Melton Leader
- Proximity – the Melton Leader newspaper already supports the the Fund our Future campaign concerning the upgrade of Melton’s railway line.
- Human Interest – the residents of Melton have been complaining about the congestion on trains for years and the ability to arrive to and from work, on time.
- Impact/Consequence – it could spark change and put the government on notice that outer suburb residents no longer tolerate having to deal with poor transport infrastructure.
- Conflict – by highlighting Melton is one of Melbourne’s fastest-growing suburbs, and yet investment in providing better and more services has been thus far, neglected.
Infrastructure Australia listed the duplication and electrification of Melton’s railway line as a “priority project”. The project needs to undertaken to ease congestion and provide Melbourne’s outer western suburbs more access to Melbourne’s CBD.
There is a ‘Fund Our Future Campaign’ led by the NGAA, Melton Council and Leader Community News. The desire is to meet the needs of more than one million people living in Melbourne’s growth suburbs. Melton alone grows approximately four per cent annually.
To highlight the lack of commitment to the duplication and electrification of Melton’s railway line, by both the opposition and the government. Also involving stakeholders, such as the National Growth Areas Alliance and providing statistics to back up points.
- State Government
The Melton district includes Bacchus Marsh, Brookfield, Darley, Exford, Hopetoun Park, Long Forest, Melton, Melton South and Merrimu. Parts of Eynesbury, Kurunjang, Maddingley, Melton West and Parwan.
Current State Member: Don Nardella, ALP
Contact: 9743 9825
Don Nardella has been the State Member for Melton since 1999 and has been in Parliament since 1992.
4.1 Potential Story 1: Human Interest
We could do a story about youth perception of politicians. We could focus this story on the youths of Melton and interview them to find out what they think the role of politicians is in their community. Ask them about Nardella specifically and bring in certain policies. The story would then be contrasted with Nardella’s interest in heavy metal music. We could also get some quotes from a teacher at Melton Secondary College. Get their perspective on youth voting habits and political knowledge.
District includes Caroline Springs, Burnside, Burnside Heights, Kings Park, Albanvale, Cairnlea, Ravenhall and Derrimut.
Current State Member of Kororoit: Marlene Kariouz
Contact: 8361 7133
Marlene Kariouz has been the member for Kororoit since 2008. She has been outspoken on the need to do more to help settle refugees in Australia.
Potential Story 2: Refugee settlement in Brimbank
Brimbank Council is a Refugee Welcome Zone and thus we could do a story where we interview a recent refugee to the area. We could contrast this with someone like Marlene Kariouz whose parents were immigrants in the 70s, and could compare the two as a way of highlighting the positive impact of integrating refugees into the community.
4.2 State News Story Pitch
Youth perception of politicians and engagement in youth engagement in politics
The Melton Leader
- Proximity – in the local paper, relevant to the community.
- Human Interest – will be of interest to youth in the area, parents and teachers. If I can accentuate the interesting aspects of Don Nardella’s musical interests and personal life, this may also generate interest in the ALP and the specifics of Nardella’s policy.
- Impact/Consequence – it could increase interest in Nardella’s policy and perhaps increase his loyal voting base. There is also a potential for schools to see a need for further political education in the classroom.
- Conflict – the news story might highlight a severe lack of political knowledge amongst local youth.
Don Nardella has been the State Member for Melton since 1999 and has been in Parliament since 1992. Nardella’s website lists interests including heavy metal music, reading, his grandchildren and motorcycling.
Melton Secondary College was established in 1975 and offer students courses in both VCAL and VCE education. In 2015, the school was ranked 475th in the State by Better Education (Better Education, 2015), with 2.1% of study scores over 40.
Look specifically at Melton Secondary College to get an idea of what student’s perception of their politicians are. Interview a teacher, a student and hopefully Nardella to get a variety of information from different generations and positions. Questions will also be around voting habits and specific political knowledge and policies.
- Local Government
5.1 Brimbank City Council:
Encompasses 25 new and established suburbs including, Albion, Cairnlea, Deer Park, Delahey, Hillside, Keilor, Kings Park, St Albans, Sunshine, Sydenham and Taylor’s Lakes. Recent residential growth is evident in Delahey, Sydneham, Taylors Lakes and Cairnlea.
Administrators act as councillors and have no additional power outside the formal decision making process, as outlined in the Local Government Act 1989. They have no responsibility to the Victorian Government, nor any special reporting relationship.
Brimbank Panel of Administrators
- Chairperson – John Watson
- Administrator – Jane Nathan
- Administrator – John Tanner
Brimbank Council Area Information
- Poor history of governance under various Labor Party factions led to the sacking of councillors in 2009 and government administrators taking over, prompting neglect across the municipality.
5.2 Melton City Council:
One of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia, covering a series of townships and communities including Brookfield, Burnside, Burnside Heights, Caroline Springs, Diggers Rest, Exford, Eynesbury, Hillside, Kurunjang, Melton, Melton South, Melton West, Mount Cottrell, Parwan, Plumpton, Ravenhall, Rockbank, Taylor’s Hill, Toolern Vale and Truganina.
Councillors are elected representatives by the community, which act as a board of directors and informs and leads the council. They do not direct or have full authority in operation or leadership, the CEO and his/her executive team do.
Melton Organisational Structure
- CEO – Kelvin Tori
- General Manager Community Services – Maurie Heaney
- General Manager Planning & Development – Peter Bean
- General Manager Corporate Services – Luke Shannon
- Mayor – Kathy Majdilk
- Deputy Mayor/Councillor for Watts Ward – Renata Cugliari
- Councillor for Coburn Ward – Myles Bentley
- Councillor for Watts Ward – Lara Carli
- Councillor for Cambridge Ward – Nola Dunn
- Councillor for Coburn Ward – Sophie Ramsey
- Councillor for Coburn Ward – Bob Turner
- Potential News Story Idea
- Harmony Day is coming up on the 19th March, and as the city of Melton is extremely diverse and multicultural, it would be interesting to go to the event at the Caroline Springs Library.
- Could speak to a few residents about moving and integrating in Australian culture.
5.4 Local News Story Pitch
How Brimbank feels about councillor’s being re-introduced within the area
The Star Weekly (Brimbank & North West)
- Proximity – due to its publication within the local area’s paper, it’s geographical and relevant.
- Human Interest – involves opinion in discussing the views of the Brimbank residents and the current administrators.
- Impact/Consequence – its effect on residents.
- Conflict – by presenting the information on the downfall of the council in 2009.
Until 2009, Brimbank Council has had a history of poor governance due to Labor-controlled councillors. An investigation within that year revealed that councillors had abused their roles to set their own agenda, which led to local government Minister, Richard Wynne’s, decision to sack the councillors.
In May 2014, the Victorian Government extended the Administration of Brimbank City Council to October 22nd 2016 to coincide with statewide council elections.
After seven years of an administrated run council, it would be interesting to learn the community views of the re-introduction of councillors. Whether they are happy to elect members again in order to become more of a democracy, or if they prefer the administrators being in control of the area, as they don’t get involved in the political side of things (which happened to get the councillors in trouble in the first place).
The Area of Gorton Political Reportage: News Stories
- Hard News Stories
6.1 Federal News Story:
15 April 2016
Melton’s railway line requires urgent attention
The government and the opposition have avoided funding the duplication and electrification of Melton’s railway line, despite Infrastructure Australia listing the project as a priority.
Melton is one of Melbourne’s fastest-growing suburbs, growing almost four per cent annually, relying on a single-track rail line which barely meets demand.
Melton Mayor Kathy Majdlik, said the City of Melton “deserved better” and the community are campaigning through the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) Fund our Future petition.
“Funding is too often dependent on electoral cycles, denying our communities adequate infrastructure which fails to accommodate for fast-growing outer suburbs,” Cr Majdlik said.
“In the lead up to the Federal elections, the online petition will gather the voices of those affected, they will hear them calling to get their fair share of the funding pie.”
The NGAA established more than one million Melburnians living in rapidly-growing outer-urban suburbs lack adequate access to transport and health services.
Western Metropolitan State Green MP, Colleen Hartland, said the congested train services in the fast growing outer-suburbs should not be tolerated.
“It is desperately needed so the booming suburbs of Melton and surrounds have access to regular Melbourne metro train services,” Ms Hartland said.
“This will free up already crowded train services. The rail line duplication would take a few years to complete. It is disappointing the Liberals and Labor have ignored this issue,” she said.
In Sky News’ podcast, Australian Agenda, the Assistant Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor said, “we need to invest more to reduce the time it takes to get to work, especially in the outer suburb.”
Ruth Spielman, Executive Officer at the NGAA responded to Angus Taylor’s statement, “it’s a step in the right direction, but what we really need is a dedicated infrastructure fund, allowing projects to be funded strategically and over the long-term,” Ms Spielman said.
A spokesperson for Gorton Labor MP Brendan O’Connor declined to comment directly, but said: “Federal Labor recognises the electorate of Gorton is amongst the fastest growing regions in Australia, we believe in the importance of investment in transport infrastructure now and into the future.”
SGS Economics and Planning projects Victoria needs $22 billion solely dedicated to providing sufficient infrastructure for growing outer suburbs, across a sixteen year time frame.
6.2 State News Story:
15 April 2016
Are the future leaders of Australia engaged with political issues?
In 2016, youth are passionate about political issues, but they lack the knowledge and understanding of how government and the political system work.
“Young people I have come into contact with are very passionate about political issues, but they would not necessarily view themselves as being engaged with politics,” says Kate Nye-Butler.
The Youth Strategy and Engagement Planner for Melton City Council explains, “something like gay marriage, for example, young people have a strong opinion about, but not many would be politically active in protesting for this to become legalised.”
State MP for Melton Don Nardella says, “unless people understand the system and understand the things that rule their lives, it’s difficult for them to change it.”
Mr Nardella adds, “people don’t understand what politicians do, they see the adversarial nature of the parliament, they might see question time people screaming at each other but they don’t see the real work that politicians do.”
Last year only 147 VCE students chose to study politics. Considering that 49,000 students undertook VCE studies Victoria wide, this figure is incredibly low.
Ms Nye-Butler attributes this low level of interest in studying politics to the content heavy nature of the course. She says, “there is limited opportunity for young people to do experiential learning or engage with interesting case studies.”
The question remains, how can we get young people engaged with politics?
Jacqui McKenzie, Policy Advocacy Manager of Youth Action says, “a step in the right direction would be for politicians to directly engage with youth in the issues they care about, but also providing a focal point in government for young people, like a minister for youth.”
Youth Action, NSW peak body for young people and the services that support them, has recently launched a survey for youths to identify the issues that are important to them.
The results of the survey will be published in a report used to advocate youth issues in the 2016 Federal Election.
6.3 Local News Story:
Star Weekly (Brimbank & North West)
15 April 2016
Brimbank voters to go to the polls
Brimbank City Council’s elected members will face scrutiny from the community, as they prepare for a democratically-elected council after seven years of administration.
In 2009, the Labor Brumby Government sacked the dysfunctional Brimbank City Council and installed three administrators.
Moonee Ponds Councillor, Jan Chantry, said that there was a lot of “aggravation” in the community during the last Councillors’ reign.
“The community wanted to see their dollars spent wisely and didn’t believe the elected officials at the time could undertake those tasks,” said Cr Chantry.
Representative for Keilor Residents and Ratepayers Association, John Bennett, believes the administrators have done a good job in re-stabilising the community, which is evident from the improved results from the annual community satisfaction surveys.
“Administration has proven that a team of three people can run a council area of 200,000 people effectively,” said Mr Bennett.
During the extended period of administration, Brimbank Chairperson, John Watson and administrators, Jane Nathan and John Tanner, instilled a community first consultative approach to governance.
As Brimbank braces for a return of elected members, Cr Chantry believes the community is prepared for a change in leadership and is looking for representation rather than party-alignment.
“Brimbank has been holding community forums so the expectation is that unaligned community members themselves will put their hands up to run for council,” said Cr Chantry.
Mr Bennett said that the new eleven elected members will be watched closely by the community, and groups like the Keilor Residents and Ratepayers Association, will be ready to take action with voters.
“The Keilor Residents and Ratepayers Association will always try to be constructive in dealing with all three levels of Government,” said Mr Bennett.
The Brimbank City Council will go to the polls on October 22nd, coinciding with the Statewide council elections.
Offices from the Department for Environment Land, Water and Planning and The Brimbank Council declined to be interviewed for this article.
The Area of Gorton Political Reportage: Reflections
Barring a few outliers, journalists are a liaison to the public, and by doing so, we as “the press” fulfil what Thomas Carlyle terms as the imperative ‘Fourth Estate’ role.
In 1841, Carlyle in his book On Heroes, Hero Worship & Heroic in History wrote: “Burke said there were three estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporter’s Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”
As a group, we attempted to represent these values the best we could. All of our topics ranging from Brimbank councillors being sacked, to political ignorance concerning outer suburb transport, and youth engagement in politics required no bias, but a careful highlight of how stakeholders were responding to these issues.
Jonathan contacted many relevant sources for his Federal news story which failed to end up published for one reason or another; such as Public Transport Australia (which conveyed a very dry comment of merely describing the project) and Bob Turner a Melton councillor (his comment was replaced by the Melton Mayor’s). Jonathan attempted to speak with the Assistant Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor but had to resort to his comment on Sky News’ audio podcast. He decided not to contact the National’s Federal Minister for Infrastructure Darren Chester. However, just by researching Chester, Jonathan learnt the distinction between the Nationals and the Coalition and how they, while unified, were not entirely the same with the Nationals, who supported initiatives such as small businesses associated with farmers.
Using the Hansard website to pinpoint contact details, Jonathan focused on acquiring comments from the Federal representative of Gorton, Brendan O’Connor and/or Daryl Lang, his opposition counterpart. Lang expressed it was too early in the election to be commenting specifically on the transport issues of Melton. Following the need to respect the rights of others, explicitly advised by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Jonathan didn’t further harass Lang for comment, respecting his Fourth Estate duty. O’Connor was contacted via email and phone, and had to wait three weeks before some type of comment was acquired. O’Connor’s statement was from his office worker/spokesperson. Adiam Tsegay, Jonathan predicted (given the research report revealing that Labor had not yet committed to the project), his comment wouldn’t directly answer the prevailing question of whether he supported the upgrade of Melton’s railway line. Given this non-statement and following the inverted pyramid structure, O’Connor’s statement was placed towards the end of the news story.
Regarding the State news story, Isabel was lucky enough to organise a sit down interview at parliament with Don Nardella, the State MP for Melton. Considering that her news story would be about youth perception of politicians and youth engagement in politics, this interview was crucial as it gave her the chance to talk to a politician and learn about what their job entails and how they conduct themselves. The interview went really well and lasted over an hour, which was great, but also made it difficult to choose the most relevant and newsworthy quotes to go into the article.
Finding a second source for the State news story proved to be a lot more difficult. Isabel had hoped to get in contact with a staff member from Melton Secondary College and perhaps a student from the College however; the assignment unfortunately coincided with two weeks school holidays, which made things a little bit more complicated. Considering this, Isabel tried to contact education bodies and also organisations involved with youths or youth politics.
Isabel first contacted VCAA and was told to send an email through but received no response. She also tried the Council of Professional Teaching Associations of Victoria but could not get through. When finally, Isabel got through to the Victorian Youth Parliament, they were happy to comment but explained via phone that they would need a few days and would respond via email. Melton Youth Services also said they would be happy to respond; however they would also reply via email in several days.
In the end Isabel used quotes from Don Nardella, Melton Youth Services and also from Youth Action, NSW Peak body for young people and the services that support them. The use of these three sources meant that Isabel could get a varied perspective on the issue, and could fulfil her Fourth Estate role to be a representative of different groups within society.
In her Fourth Estate role, Hayley encountered many setbacks in trying to cover a political article based on conflict. She attempted to contact nine different sources, and only received two replies back, both of which did not include a sit down interview or a response to specific questions she had formed. Nevertheless, these two responses provided enough basis for a story, so despite not being happy with the outcome, an article was produced.
Hayley’s journey began with her decision to gain clarity on the issue by seeking out statistics, questionnaires and surveys of resident opinions. Finding an email for a Media and Communications department within Brimbank, she contacted them in the hope of a favourable response. Instead, this department referred the issue to the State Government, as they did not have any authority on the reintroduction of Councillors. Hayley then, optimistically, emailed the Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, about this query. Failing to gain an answer, she found a number for the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning and spoke with policy maker/staffer, Matthew Cooper, who suggested that she email him the assignment details. After hearing no response, she called him again and Mr Cooper vaguely said that he and his colleagues had not yet “gathered enough information” and that they would “get back to her.”
Amid this uncertainty, Hayley also tried emailing some local Residents and Ratepayers Associations. After not hearing a response from the Sunshine Association (and realising no number was provided), she messaged the Association’s Facebook page and received a response saying that they will pass her query onto “the relevant person,” with no guarantee of a reply. Luckily, a representative for Keilor responded, John Bennett, and provided a backstory on the Council’s demise, how the administrators improved Brimbank and the upcoming election. Unfortunately, he wished not to be interviewed or to answer her specific questions as he did not want to engage in the “conflict side of reporting.”
Browsing through the Brimbank Council site, Hayley thought she would try her luck again with a different department – Community Engagement and yet again was she bluntly told that the council had no interest in the matter. But, she did not stop there with the council, after emailing the Chairperson of Brimbank, John Watson, and hearing no response after a week, she decided to call all three Administrators. Initially after two no response calls, Hayley left a message on her third call, which was not returned.
When Hayley was just about to lose all hope in her role as a student journalist, during one of the class lectures, Moonee Valley Councillor, Jan Chantry, briefly mentioned the sacking of councillors within Brimbank, and as a last resort, Hayley phoned Cr Chantry. Gaining a couple of quotes from this source allowed her to finally gain two sources after a tough couple of weeks.
The Area of Gorton Political Reportage: Sources & Research
- Sources and Research
8.1 Federal Government
Sources and Research:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/west/infrastructire-victoria-says-upgrading-meltons-rail-line-a-priority-to-ease-congestion/news-story/1537fcf8d9d75 ac6583480ac48b36ff7#load-story-comments, http://www.fundourfuture.info/, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/senator-ricky-muir-supports-fund-our-future-campaign-for-infastructure-funding/news-story/66f0090e694e0e25e23e38e3abf51ce9, http://www.starweekly.com.au/news/council-calls-o n-state-to-fund-melton-rail-duplication/, http://www.starweekly.com.au/news/infrastructure-australia-upgrade-the-melton-railway-line/, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/longplanned-melton-rail-line-upgrade-being-pushed-for-next-state-budget-20160224-gn2du0.html
People Contacted for News Story:
- Federal Member for Gorton: Brendan O’Connor (contact details already specified above)
- Discuss with him whether he actually supports the duplication and electrification of Melton’s railway line.
- The Executive Officer of NGAA: Ruth Spielman
- Phone: 0407324178
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Asking Ruth what she hopes to achieve with the Fund our Future campaign.
- Liberal of Gorton: Daryl Lang
- Phone: 0423 618 730
- See if the opposition would actually support the policy.
- Infrastructure Australia
- Media enquiries: 0427 010 989
- Mayor of Melton, Kathy Majdlik
- Phone: 0412 584 058
- Email: email@example.com
- Asking her what she thinks of the opposition and the government rejecting the prompts of Melton take to improve their transport infrastructure.
8.2 State Government
Sources and Research:
http://www.starweekly.com.au/news/council-should-help-rehouse-syrians-irouz/, http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/members/details/1697-ms-marlene-kairou,https://www.facebook.com/marlenekairouzmp, http://www.marlenekairouz.com.au/).
People Contacted for News Story:
Don Nardella, ALP
- Contact: 9743 9825
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Discuss his personal life, interests. Ask him his opinion on youth involvement/engagement with politics.
Melton Secondary College: 03 9743 3322
- Principal of Melton Secondary College: David Reynolds
- Hopefully through the teacher source, I will be able to find a student who is willing to be interviewed.
Youth Strategy and Engagement Planner, Melton City Council
- 9747 5373
- Would be good to get a local perspective on youth engagement in politics
Katie Acheson, Chief Executive Officer
- (02) 8218 9802
Jacqui McKenzie, Policy and Advocacy Manager of Youth Action
- A quote from Youth Action would be really relevant considering they have just launched a national survey where youths can identify the issues that matter to them.
Council of Professional Teaching Associations
Statewide Resources Centre
150 Palmerston Street
- Carlton, VIC 3053
- (03) 9349 3019
- CPTA would be able to give an overview of how politics is or is not taught in schools
VCAA (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Committee)
- General Enquires: 9032 1629
- VCAA would also be able to provide an interesting overview of how politics is or is not taught in schools
Mick ‘Della’ Delaney
Youth Leadership & Development Unit
YMCA Victoria – Youth Services
- Address – Suite 9 / 570 Lygon St Carlton (P.O. Box 1145) VIC 3053
- P 03 8397 3116 M 0403 289 373
- E email@example.com W www.vicyouth.ymca.org.au
- Considering that YMCA are the organisation who run the Victorian Youth Parliament, they would have some interesting ideas about where today’s youth are headed politically.
8.3 Local Government
Sources and Research:
People Contacted for News Story:
- Brimbank Council
- 1) Media and Communications Department
- 9249 4347 or 0423 554 868
- 2) Coordinator of Community Engagement
- See if these departments have conducted any survey work etc. regarding resident opinion on the election in October. This would provide the basis for my discussion.
- Sunshine Residents and Ratepayers Association
- Talk to a representative of the association to gain an unbiased resident opinion, which is reflective of the community
- Keilor Residents and Ratepayers Association
- Talk to a representative of the association to gain an unbiased resident opinion, which is reflective of the community
- Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning
- 1) Minister for Local Government: The Hon Natalie Hutchins MP
- 2) Staffer/Policy Maker: Matthew Cooper
- 8392 6125
- As the State Government were responsible for the sacking of councilors in 2009, could ask them whether they have gathered any resident responses in regards to the reintroduction of a democratically elected council again.
- Administrators of Brimbank Council
- 1) Chairperson, John Watson
- 0419 984 675
- 2) Jane Nathan
- 0419 101 411
- 3) John Tanner
- 0409 417 849
- Discuss the administrators’ role over the past seven years and how they’ve improved the council since their leadership.
- Moonee Valley Councillor, Jan Chantry
- 0411 704 625
- Contact Cr Jantry she has some background knowledge on Brimbank Council (evident from her lecture) and is a councillor.
Court Report One: Melbourne Magistrates’ Court
Magistrate sends a message to previously convicted shoplifter
Moonee Valley Leader
7 May 2016
A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to 94 days jail and found guilty of shop theft with 28 criminal offences yesterday at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Abdelmoez Elawad threatened to stab one Coles employee in the eye and another in the neck from the Showgrounds Village in Flemington on 30 April 2016.
Elawad returned in the afternoon and stole a 200ml Bailey’s liquor bottle, before police located him and discovered a green dart in his pocket and two more within his belt strap.
Magistrate John Hardy said he had to “draw a line in the sand,” with previously convicted shoplifter, Elawad.
“I’ve given Elawad many chances. The Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) was meant to reform him but he has ignored their advice, threatened to harm innocent employees and continued stealing.”
Defence lawyer Matthew Hooper said Elawad’s schizophrenia disorder, acquired brain injury, torture in Egypt 2008 and homelessness are “undeniable factors” contributing to Elawad’s decisions to steal.
Mr Hardy said he moderated the jail term based on Elawad’s full admission and schizophrenia disorder.
“Without a guilty plea and Elawad’s diagnosed schizophrenia disorder, I would have increased the 94 day jail sentence up to 25 per cent.”
Elawad will be treated at the Mercy Mental Health Saltwater Clinic during his jail term, as he needs an antipsychotic injection every fortnight.
Court Report Two: County Court
Men plead guilty to storing 152 cannabis plants in St Albans house
7 May 2016
Two Vietnamese men pleaded guilty yesterday in County Court for cultivating 40 kilograms of narcotic cannabis plants, dried and ready for distribution within a rented house in St Albans.
Ba Nguyen, 22 years old, and 33-year-old Tuan Nguyen, a former wine connoisseur, who are not related, were caught storing cannabis plants across four large bedrooms, following a 6:00 AM search warrant from police on 6 November 2015.
Defence lawyer, Patrick Casey, said a potential jail term for Tuan Nguyen should be moderated as his mother only had up to “five months to live due to stomach cancer,” and was not informed of his mother’s deteriorating condition until today.
“He works in a timber factory and spends every cent on affording a conversation with his mother in Vietnam,” said Mr Casey.
Judge Michael Bourke said while he would consider a reduced jail sentence, Tuan Nguyen’s absence of a visa and impending deportation from Australia, “leaves this delicate situation out of my hands.”
Ba Nguyen studied English at RMIT University and travelled to Australia on a valid student visa.
Ba Nguyen’s defence lawyer, Nigel Leslie, said Ba Nguyen was a “vulnerable student” who was promised but never acquired, $6000 over two months.
Mr Casey said Tuan Nguyen “claims he was recruited by the 22-year-old student.”
Both men will be sentenced on Tuesday.
Court Report: Reflection
A court reporter is bound by many legal and ethical regulations, which preserves the right to a fair and free trial for all involved. For instance, if I revealed the fact Abdelmoez Elawad is a previously convicted shoplifter before the end of the trial, I would be in contempt of court. By revealing Elawad’s previous convictions before the trial was done, this reduces the chances of a fair trial for Elawad and prejudices magistrate John Hardy against the accused. As Stephen Lamble highlights in his academic textbook: News as it Happens: An Introduction to Journalism, all cases normally from when legal papers are lodged and until after the court’s decision are under sub judice (Lamble 2013, p. 348). I am restricted in what I can publish, especially content that may influence a court’s decision or anything subject to a suppression order (Lamble 2013, p. 354). A journalist’s role is to release information into the public sphere to keep citizens informed and not to ‘run a trial by media’.
I had to remain objective, otherwise I would have provided ‘colour’ to the shoplifting court report. Elawad was intimidating within the court room, occasionally interrupting magistrate John Hardy, wearing a rough blue coat – marked on it in bold the word ‘rebel’. According to Lamble, Elawad could have been found guilty for showing contempt in the face of the court for calling out multiple times during the hearing, but he was not (Lamble 2013, p. 349). Mr Hardy seemed more preoccupied going through the extensive charges Elawad pleaded guilty for. Additionally, Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) Journalist Code of Ethics states to “not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics” (Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance 2016, p. 1), this guideline was essential to follow when writing my first court report, even though it was tempting to highlight Elawad’s erratic behaviour towards the magistrate.
Elawad was a convicted shoplifter several times across a decade; one case was for as little as $6 of stealing an item. I gained access to the online public system criminal records by paying approximately $23.50c afterwards, to find out Elawad has been convicted previously for shoplifting, and the 28 charges he pled and was found guilty for (Melbourne Magistrates’ Court 2016). I wanted to gain more information, within what journalists are allowed, and formed the basis of my headline in the Moonee Valley Leader which covers Flemington, confirming he has committed a similar offence again. Since sensationalism in court reporting leaves the door ajar for a host of legal issues such as defamation, I had to be creative with the headline and pay for additional newsworthy facts – the intention was for more readers to read my court report.
A crucial point which I published in my court report, was identifying the 36-year-old male as homeless. It would have been poor court reporting to dismiss the fact Elawad is homeless, and as confirmed by his defence lawyer Matthew Hooper, it would be one of the central reasons why he steals. Mr Hooper also mentioned Elawad suffers from ABI and I had no idea what this acronym meant. Luckily, Elawad’s public system criminal records clarified the acronym ABI to be an acquired brain injury which Elawad suffered. Given he has been convicted many times, suffering from mental health issues, this is a necessary fact to publish alongside of his diagnosed schizophrenia disorder.
The court case involving the cultivation of cannabis plants with Ba Nguyen and Tuan Nguyen, presented a delicate privacy issue which I was not brave enough to publish in the Star Weekly which covers St Albans. One being the exact address of where they stored the cannabis plants. A County Court report is allowed to state where the cannabis plants were stored. However, I did not want to trespass upon the privacy of innocent residents who lived nearby by naming the address, which I wrote down in my notes. Though I identify the area of St Albans, I decided not to mention the road or number of the rented house and unless a suppression order is enacted, this is an ethical decision which could go either way depending on the journalist.
I disregard mentioning any of the prosecutors in the court cases. Concerning Ba and Tuan Nguyen’s court case, the prosecutor merely read out the facts of the search warrant rather than directly blaming them. The onus was on the defence lawyers to potentially lessen the impending imprisonment sentences of Ba and Tuan Nguyen.
I attempt to make up for my conservative method of writing court reports, by searching for newsworthy information pertaining to each case. The restricted word count of 220 words, meant that I had go over the 25 word per sentence guideline on occasion, despite knowing short and punchy sentences are a better read. Even though the following sentence concluded my article: “Both men will be sentenced on Tuesday,” it was sharp and concise. I will continue to strive for more consistent and shorter sentences, and also to maintain a degree of vigilance when publishing information which may be liable to the court. This area of the course has opened my eyes up to my interests in sports broadcasting, where criticising a player upon false information will potentially lead myself into a defamation case.
Lamble, S 2013, ‘Contempt’, 2nd edn, in K Innes-Will (ed.), News as it Happens: An Introduction to Journalism, Oxford University Press, Victoria, pp. 347-367.
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance 2016, MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, viewed 14 May 2016, <https://www.meaa.org/meaa-media/code-of-ethics/>.
Melbourne Magistrates’ Court 2016, Abdelmoez Elawad’s Criminal Records, viewed 6 May 2016, retrieved from the public system criminal records.