Religion ruling ‘a win for wedge’ Neil Walker firstname.lastname@example.org A CONTENTIOUS council-backed bid to build a place of worship on green wedge land in Carrum Downs has been rejected on religious grounds by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after an appeal by the Defenders of the South East Green Wedge group. A VCAT panel found the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) — a self-proclaimed “philosophical organisation based on the spiritual teachings of all religions and dedicated to a process of inner development under the guidance of a spiritual teacher” — is not a recognised religion despite being granted nonprofit religious institution status by the Australian Taxation Office. In the VCAT report outlining the decision made after hearings on 1314 February, panel member Michael Deidun noted: “I was informed during the course of the hearing that members of RSSB Australia Pty Ltd maintain their existing religious beliefs, whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or another religion.” Mr Deidun said: “The activities being conducted on the land are not related to the the practice or following of a religion.” RSSB’s “spiritual leader” is Baba
Gurinder Singh who lives in northern India. Frankston Council officers and councillors — with the exception of then mayor James Dooley — supported the RSSB planning application in July last year to build a place of worship, guest dwelling and caretaker’s house on 26.3 hectares of green wedge land between EastLink and Frankston-Dandenong Rd and Boundary Rd near an existing Hindu temple. Yarra Ranges Council in 2014 rejected a proposal by RSSB to build the place of worship at Chirnside Park. Defenders spokesman Barry Ross said the group welcomed VCAT’s decision to overrule council’s approval of the “massive” planned “church”. “The tribunal accepted our argument that the development does not qualify as a place of worship and was therefore prohibited,” Mr Ross said. “Disappointingly, the tribunal did not agree with our arguments about the development not meeting the Planning Scheme Green Wedge protection measures. Nonetheless, a win is a win.” RSSB Australia can appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria against the VCAT ruling. Chairman Michael Cooke did not return calls from The News.
Demolition time: Moorabbin Reserve facilities will be bulldozed to make way for a new sports precinct. Picture: Gary Sissons
Reserve revamp cleared to kick off OBJECTIONS against the redevelopment of Moorabbin Reserve have been dropped and the $28.4 million project will begin soon ahead of St Kilda Football Club’s move back to its “spiritual home”. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal had agreed late last year to hear an appeal arguing the demolition and rebuilding of the Linton St premises would mean the club may have to reapply for a licence for its 83 pokies machines at the venue. Objections to the proposal have now been dropped. Kingston mayor Cr David Eden said council is pleased to contribute about $4 million of ratepayers’ money to the
mers said the club is looking forward to a return to its heartland. “We want the revitalised Moorabbin Reserve to be a true football and community hub and we’re thrilled to take another step forward with the project.” The AFL club moved its administration and training base from Moorabbin to Seaford after an acrimonious departure in 2007 over a dispute with Kingston Council about the number of gaming machines at Moorabbin. The $28.4 million redevelopment is being funded by Kingston ratepayers via Kingston Council ($5 million), taxpayers via the Labor state government ($8 million), the AFL ($5 million) and the club itself ($5 million).
Moorabbin Reserve redevelopment. “In addition to the new building works, Council is also investing $1million to upgrade the surrounding parkland,” Cr Eden said. The redeveloped oval and facilities will host training sessions for Auskick juniors, Saints AFL players, the Southern Football Netball league, the South Metro Junior Football League, Sandringham Dragons and AFL Victoria. An indoor court for basketball and netball training will be built as part of the redevelopment. Stage one of the project is expected to be complete before the 2017-18 AFL season. St Kilda FC president Peter Sum-
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