Geelong, your councillors need to hear from you

This message is for our readers and members in the Geelong municipality. We have three requests of you and your family, friends, communities and workmates:

Currently, Geelong Council are not getting the message from the community that we want adequate action on climate. It appears some councillors either don’t get it – or they get it but have vested interests in maintaining society’s destructive fossil fuel-based structures the way they are, so they choose to ignore it.

Council staff, in the meanwhile, find themselves stuck within a slow and complex system.

To change this situation, Geelong Council needs much more ongoing feedback from as many ratepayers as possible. They need to hear again and again that we want win-win-win solutions that have climate and ecological action as the highest priority. 

So here’s three opportunities to have a say quickly: 

1) Give feedback on this document currently open for feedback: 

2) Ask one climate-related question a month. Best done before noon of the Monday before the monthly Tuesday night Council Meeting. You can submit your question here: 

3) The Climate Change Response Plan draft will be out soon – predicted July – and will be open for comment. You can register to receive notification here:

In the recently passed budget, Geelong Council did things like giving sporting clubs millions of vote-buying dollars in the 2021-22 budget and allocating just $365,000 each year in a three-year budget to the implementation of the upcoming Climate Emergency Response Plan across council and the community, business and farming sectors.

Even though Geelong Councillors have acknowledged that we are in a global climate emergency, they insist on calling their new plan a Climate Change Response Plan, thereby reducing, in the eyes of council staff and the public, the significance of the dangerous situation we are in and the need to act at speed and scale.

By comparison re: wording, Surf Coast Shire just released it’s Climate Emergency Corporate Response Plan, which states in the last of six bullet points, that Surf Coast Shire now aspires to become a Climate Emergency Leader. While Queenscliffe Council has decided on a Climate Emergency Response Plan, which will transition Queenscliffe to a zero carbon community by 2031. 

By comparison re: amounts in the budget: just one golf club in Kardinia ward was given $3 million for a new pavilion, and the free one hour parking that Cr Eddy Kontejl pushed so hard for will cost the city $8 million. Figures like that make all the bragging about Council having “doubled the grants for environment and sustainability activities” with a measly extra $150,000 – out of a $400 million budget – sound like clearcut greenwash. Each of these sustainability grants are still no bigger than $10,000 and will not pay for many things.

Unpublicised is that festival grants were halved, meaning for instance that community groups like Transition Streets Geelong cannot afford to run another successful festival like they did last year, attended by 2,500 Geelong citizens.

Current circumstances
It would appear Geelong Council needs a renewed reminder that this is NOT “climate change”, this is a climate emergency. That reminder would possibly make more of an impact if it came from you this time around. You can find the Councillor’s contact details here.

The Earth is now trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did just 16 years ago, in 2005. Researchers have discovered an “unprecedented” increase of heat, and NASA’s scientists are alarmed. Why are our local leaders not?

Temperatures in the Arctic Circle reached 48°C during the longest day of the year last week. In Pakistan, cities broils in world’s highest temperatures, hotter than the human body can handle.

The impact of unregulated carbon emissions have been killing people already for years, and there are more deaths to come that will rise exponentially unless we all act locally and globally. As we speak, hundreds of deaths have been linked to the record-breaking heat in Canada.

We are responsible for allowing our Council to do the wrong thing without at least speaking up.


Put climate first
Geelong Council dismantled the Futureproofing department which employed three people part-time to work on climate related initiatives. They have now formed a 12 member Sustainability Advisory panel of great people who volunteer their time to advice Council. However it seems very optional as to whether any of this panel’s advice will be adopted.  

With the right budget and priorities in place, our city council can take care of the environment, people and the economy – it’s called the “triple bottom line”. As David Suzuki said to the effect of, the environment is the only one of the three which is not negotiable. We rely on it as biological beings. The other two are human constructs that can adapt and be flexible. 

Another significant thing which is likely not to be addressed in Council’s Climate Change Response Plan draft is the fact that 75 per cent of the City of Greater Geelong is rural land, and there is an amazing opportunity to educate farmers to drawdown carbon and water especially using the practices from the Australian Landscape Science Institute – the work of Peter Andrews and the practices of Natural Sequence Farming – to restore the hydrology of the landscape, thereby also reducing fire risk, increasing fertility, securing water and restoring biodiversity.  

Our councillors need to get a clear message from MANY people – and not just the same few – to prioritise climate and ecological solutions that are also good for the community. We need as many people as possible to bombard Council with new messages. For a start, why don’t we demand they allocate for instance $4, 6 or 8 million to properly implement a Climate Emergency Response Plan (or CCRP as they call it) across all sectors, educating the public as they go?

Warm regards
Monica Winston

Sal Fisher wrote:

Here’s my response…

“This plan needs to have at the forefront the fact that the City must be totally de-carbonised asap. We have no time to lose, we are in the decade which will decide whether we have catastrophic climate damage (3-5C + warming). To achieve this it must be advocating for an Energy Transition Plan to state and federal governments to ensure that workers are retrained to enable them to participate in the jobs of this century and we can all share in the benefits of cheap, clean renewable energy. Without such a transition, none of the rest of this plan is achievable as health and wellbeing will deteriorate, jobs will be lost to countries which have been early adopters with cheaper and cleaner tech and prosperity will be lost as we face the mounting costs of climate damage. It is irresponsible to future generations to not have this as a central part of any plan for the medium to longer term future.”

Sal 😊

Alan Barlee wrote:

Here’s my response to the CoGG document:

“The most obvious deficiency in the list of ‘areas requiring more focus’ is the absence of an urgent and comprehensive response to the acknowledged  climate change emergency facing Greater Geelong, in common with all of humanity. This item must be at the top of all such lists, in order to be consistent with the acknowledgement that we have a genuine crisis on our hands.

All other priorities must be seen as secondary to this one, since NONE of them will be realised if we don’t avoid a runaway climate. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t identify other areas where we want to do better. It simply means that we must integrate the climate imperative into all such initiatives, so that dealing with the climate crisis doesn’t become a simplistic bipolar choice of ‘will we or won’t we’, or just as bad, spreading our resources thinly across too many ‘important’ projects results in ‘infinitesimal progress across an infinity of ideas.

Climate action must  have its own agenda, managed by a focused senior officer accountable to Council. It should be that manager’s responsibility to ensure that emissions abatement milestones are set and programs engaging the whole community are established and rapidly deployed, and that climate change resilience programs are similarly initiated. 

Community engagement strategies to support the rollout of these programs will continue to be be important if the goals are to be realised quickly.