Madam Liong is 102 years old, and has waited a long time to get into the On Luck Nursing home. There are many others like her still waiting for a place in the 60-bed Chinese-specific nursing home. In a victory of compassion and common sense, the Planning Minister and the Department of Planning and Community Development approved Ammendment C88 to the Manningham Planning Scheme, which allows On Luck to compete for Chinese-specific aged-care bed licences in this year's ethno-specific Federal allocation. The nursing home will still have to go through a planning process with council, but the Amendment gives the nursing home, and other elderly citizens like Mdm Liong, real hope for dignity and compassion in their old age.
Do not be misled by some of my fellow councillors, whom I believe seek to capitalise on the recent political bandwagon rolling against our Planning Minister. Do not indulge romantic misconceptions that this Green Wedge is a land of pretty plants and prancing possums ... As the picture below of On Luck's neighbours shows, the site is already surrounded by semi-urban developments whose impacts far exceed anything the nursing home will do. The modest 28% site coverage that On Luck will have when it fully expands will not look anything as bad as this neighbouring development!
I for one, was raised to respect my elders. I cannot ever agree that in this case, it would have been preferable to indulge in a 2+ year planning process, before the final Amendment would have had to be decided by the Minister anyway. Council cannot decide on Planning Scheme Amendments, only the Minister can, that's the current Law, however much we may dislike it, and a separate grievance to take up with the State Government. We should not take out this frustration about processes on elderly nursing home residents, for they are the victims in all of this! During the suggested 2 year alternative process, several elderly residents on the nursing home's long waiting list would have passed away without ever having experienced the comfort and peace that such a language-specific facility provides. For what? To indulge the political ploys and witch-hunts by the type of Green councillor who votes against helping bushfire victims?
No, for fellow Councillors Pick, Macmillan, Downie and I, people will always come before plants or politics, and for that I make no apology!