Permaculture activism is about creating the positive local alternatives to the control of our food by globalist corporations, because those alternatives are healthier, better for the environment and local economy, more democratic, and fairer to farmers. As the co-originator of the permaculture concept, my life’s work has been committed to creating the world we do want, rather than focusing on fighting the world, we don’t want. I don’t often discuss publicly what is wrong in the world. But when there is an issue that so strongly illustrates the divide between common sense of local communities and the dysfunctional globalist takeover of our democratic decision making, it is important to take a stand.
(An excerpt from the letter of support David writes for an anti McDonald’s campaign in Tecoma in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.)
Following, an excerpt of an email sent to us from a local permaculture activist, Kerry Furnell telling us what is going on, which prompted David to pen the above letter of support. The list of websites and videos is also provided by Kerry. All pictures ©Glenn Stephenson Photography (http://www.glennstephensonphotography.com/). Reproduced with thanks.
You may (or not!) remember I live in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges. The next town along is Tecoma and there’s a chance you’ve already heard, but we’ve been fighting against a McDonald’s being built in the area for sometime. We managed to prevent them back in the 1990s but they’ve been looking for a spot since and found it in Tecoma.
Over 1,300 objections were received to the planning application – the largest in the Yarra Ranges Council’s history. The council unanimously voted against the application and it was turned down.
McDonald’s had threatened to take the council to VCAT should they do that and even received legal advice from Stuart Morris QC, a former president of VCAT, in advance. They sent the council a letter effectively saying ‘we will take you to VCAT and we will win because we have more money than you’.
At VCAT we had over 300 submissions from local residents on grounds of health, environmental and planning concerns. The unelected VCAT panel of 2 decided to ignore ALL community objection that did not directly relate to planning law and overturned the council, granting McDonald’s a permit to build.
The state Planning Minister Matthew Guy MP has stated that ‘Tecoma is the one VCAT got wrong’ but is unable to do anything as VCAT comes under the courts and is outwith planning. The Yarra Ranges Council couldn’t afford the $1.5m minimum estimated cost to appeal to the Victorian Supreme Court so our community have protested, built permaculture gardens, marched in their thousands, made albums, blockaded and done everything we can to get media attention on us.
It’s worked. The Obesity Coalition have issued statements saying ‘health should be at the heart of planning’. Experts on democracy have written opinion pieces on ‘corporatocracy v democracy’. Celebrities and experts across Australia and the world have supported us and we’re getting some amazing results with a petition that has been signed by over 91,000 people and funding raised to deliver that direct to McDonald’s HQ in Chicago within one hour of the crowd funding being opened!
McDonald’s responded to this by sending over 60 riot police to facilitate demolition of the historic dairy we wanted to protect. They have injunctions against 8 members of our community and 2 representative groups to prevent them protesting. The people in these groups are not named and protesters don’t even know if they’re included.
On Tuesday the judge allowed McDonald’s lawyers to add a further 2 groups including one group who ‘trespassed on the site’ between the two court dates.
Prior to requesting this, McDonald’s ‘moved’ the site boundary using red spray paint… the press there at the time asked what was going on and the McDonald’s site manager ignored them. The red line is down an easement that provides access to other local businesses.
Over 4,000 people, including the media, attended the last march we had and they ALL walked down there. The number of people potentially included in this latest injunction who don’t even know is enormous!
Despite this snowball effect and the larger concerns re: democracy that people are now discussing, the main reason for the protests are simple:
- the location is across the road from a primary school and preschool and will be visible from both. McDonald’s admit that the target children and mothers in their advertising. Sponsorship of sport activities for children such as Little Athletics and Hooptime (where participants are given McDonald’s vouchers) and provision of ‘educational’ materials to school is bad enough. They also have a McDonald’s outlet in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. We do not believe children should be exposed to such cynical, targeted, marketing techniques.
- health is a huge concern in the Yarra Ranges area with rates of diabetes increasing, particularly in the areas with McDonald’s stores
- the site is on a ridgeline where run off feeds into our local creeks – road runoff is a recognised concern for healthy waterways in the area with two endangered amphipod species and also locally threatened platypus
- the site is 1km from a national park and a reserve, in which 60% of the litter is already McDonald’s branded
- the junction where McDonald’s will be is already dangerous and the volume of increased traffic, where children cross for school, is very concerning. It is a single lane road at that point with several turnoffs for residential streets, carparking, roadside parking etc within a hundred metres and McDonald’s will be adding more filter lanes to this.
- local businesses rely on tourist trade to survive with over 730,000 tourists coming through an area that is otherwise a low growth zone due to being mainly green belt & national park. On that location, McDonald’s will be the first thing those people see. It will not just impact on the visual amenity for tourists and locals, it’s ability to undercut local businesses & steal customers due to it’s familiarity will see many of those valued local business close.
- Noise, light, sound, smell pollution for the residents, mostly elderly, who will be the direct neighbours of the McDonald’s are real concerns.
- The store will open 24 hours a day – no other business in the area does that.
- It will become a focal point for potential social nuisance and the local police are unsure how they’re going to have the resources when the local station covers the entire eastern side of the hills and not always staffed.
- sustainability is a huge issue. Many of those in the area are environmentalists and there’s a growing population of permaculturists and interest in transition towns. McDonald’s is NOT a sustainable business.
- an audited survey of the entire adult population in Tecoma saw over 80% being asked whether they were for or against the proposed McDonald’s – Over 90% of the respondents said they were against.
I won’t go on much longer as I guess you’ve got the point!
- The Age has been following the issue pretty well. Some examples.
The Burger Off main website
Tecoma8 Support site
Community Facebook page.
Little Athletics Petition (Spin off petitions established due to concerns about direct marketing to children and inappropriate sponsorship of children’s sporting activities).
Hooptime Petition (Other spin off petitions).