Local Government Elections 2020

Meet our neighbour. Discouraged by commercial development along the St Kilda foreshore, our neighbour asked in a letter to the editor:

Why was a Government reserve laid out with so much judgment on this very spot, but to enforce the keeping free and open this beautiful locality?

Ignored, yet undaunted, our neighbour asked in a following letter:

Why was this plot reserved? 

[I]n order to prevent the possibility of parties building thereon, thereby enclosing the most beautiful part of St Kilda, and depriving the inhabitants […]

Open Space’ is on many a local’s lips in Lake Ward this election. Our neighbour was one of the first to recognise it as a concern.

Who is our neighbour?

Our neighbour is an architect, Victoria’s first international architect. Our neighbour sponsored the state’s first survey exhibition of art in Victoria along with likeminded others. Our neighbour has been fighting for open space every day these past weeks, months, years. In fact, our neighbour has been fighting for open space these last 164 years — albeit through words in archives, awaiting recognition. Our neighbour made open space an issue within Melbourne’s first decades. 

Who, again, is our neighbour? Charles Swyer, who embedded a deep history into the garden setting of Church Square on Acland Street that not only heeded, as well, his call for open space, but entwined that call with his advocacy for artists’ livelihoods.

Vote for Swyer’s garden setting this council election, by voting for a candidate who recognises we as a community deserve Swyer’s extraordinary work to be protected, developed and extended through:

  • Reinstatement of Swyer’s historic garden at the back of Church Square, reticulated by stormwater runoff to remain green all year; and
  • Redevelopment of the Former Bishop’s Residence into a museum and arts library amongst an ecosystem of supporting activities that increase a community’s interconnectivity, inclusiveness and automatic wellbeing; and stimulates neighbouring Fitzroy Street into a beehive of discovery, enthusiasm, and art’s dare to be and to become;

While at the same time fighting the climate crisis.

Yes, while at the same time fighting the climate crisis. It is that simple.

Vote for which candidate? 

We invited all eight for Lake Ward — Andrew Bond, Geoffrey Conaghan, Katherine Copsey, Adrian Jackson, Bernard Mandile, Robbie Nyaguy, Christina Sirakoff and Roger Ward — to reply to three questions to find out. 

We thank Adrian Jackson, Christina Sirakoff, Geoffrey Conaghan, Katherine Copsey and Robbie Nyaguy for at least replying (listed in the order of their replies). Andrew Bond, Bernard Mandile and Roger Ward ignored us. 

Our three questions? 

We sent each candidate our Annual Report for 2019 that includes ‘An Historical Study of Church Square: New Research’. A link to our annual report is below, in which you can also read the New Research. In a followup email to remind candidates, we also included our Heritage Impact Statement submitted to Heritage Victoria for the Heritage Council Hearing, and noted that the Heritage Council Committee ruled against presentations by locals participating in the Hearing in May 2019, in favour of the developer.

These are the three questions we asked candidates:

  1. Have you read ‘An Historical Study of Church Square: New Research’ that is part of Artefact’s 2019 Annual Report?
  2. Can you name at least three main points you would like to emphasise from the new research?
  3. In what capacity as a councillor do you envisage you would be able to help obtain state funding for the new research’s alternative redevelopment? 

Two candidates answered the questions:

Katherine Copsey

  1. Yes
  2. It was a fascinating read. I enjoyed reading about the indigenous connection to and use of the land and surrounds, the importance of open space and natural forms in landscaping in the design of Church Square and the long-term presence of educational facilities on the site.
  3. If re-elected I would be happy to have a further meeting to discuss the findings of the New Research and your vision for the site.

We thank Katherine Copsey for reading our research while under the duress of campaigning for re-election, and for making herself available to discuss our research if re-elected. Please vote for Katherine Copsey.

We wholeheartedly welcome Robbie Nyaguy’s answers, as well.

Robbie Nyaguy

  1. Yes!
  2. I found it very interesting that the site was the first allotment in what became St Kilda, that its layout as an island site is rare and that the site has always had multiple uses beyond worship at the church itself. 
  3. I am very keen to ensure the site is protected into the future and would love to meet after the election to discuss the findings of the research and options for the future of the site. 

Vote for Robbie Nyaguy and Katherine Copsey to ensure this has every possibility of happening.

Residents of Lake Ward are to elect three councillors.

Vote for Geoffrey Conaghan, too. Geoffrey Conaghan is a steadfast supporter of art with unwavering commitment. This is evident in his policy aims to ensure artists can move back into St Kilda with somewhere to work, and with somewhere to live. Geoffrey Conaghan is a natural ambassador whose feel for community is tireless.

Since first publishing our questions to candidates and their answers, we have received Cr David Brand’s final newsletter to supporters and colleagues—a farewell. We take this opportunity to thank Cr Brand for his attentive and productive service to Port Phillip, and wish him prosperity in his new endeavours. Cr Brand’s final words offer numerous insights into work completed by council during his term, work started and yet to reach fruition, and work still to do. In hope Cr Brand will not mind, we’ve included some of his closing sentiments below. With the prospect of incoming councillors there is, as always, the reality of outgoing councillors as well. Cr Brand’s final reflections are situated at this juncture and are well worth the read.

Internal politics: This Council has certainly had its problems keeping its party-political urges under control — a problem emanating predominantly (but not exclusively) from the Right, I need to say. I have no problem, in principle, with councillors running for the political parties that represent their political ideals. But when party-political ambitions, culture-war agendas and retaliatory tactics start dominating Council affairs, the effect is deeply corrosive. As one of the only two non-aligned councillors, I often found myself in the middle of the resulting disputes, and often with a casting vote. I have always voted independently on the merits of each case (just ask some of my loyalest CAPP supporters!) and always in what I’ve taken to be the best interests of the community and its functioning council.  This has applied particularly in each mayoral selection — emotionally the most horrible time of the year, for all councillors. 


Some of you have asked me which of the candidates running for Lake Ward I’d recommend as our community’s representatives the new Council

For some time I’ve been working with Progressive Port Phillip, an ad hoc community grouping set up to promote community issues, rather than run individual candidates or party tickets. (I invite you to visit progressiveportphilip.org for an issue-based survey of all candidates)

Nonetheless, when we vote we vote for individual candidates. And in the multi-member ward system, we elect three individuals as our ward councillors.

I’ll be voting first for Robbie Nyaguy, who I think has the broadest and deepest set of policy interests and aptitudes, and (of the non-incumbents) has had the deepest engagement with Council and its workings.  He’ll make an excellent councillor from the word go. (He is a member of CAPP, like I am. He is the endorsed candidate for the ALP, which, as you know, I have no affiliation with.)

I would also commend my highly capable colleague, Katherine Copsey (Greens). We’ve worked extremely well together on many important issues affecting the city.

If you are looking for someone who’d take a harder line on noise and anti-social behaviour than I did myself — but who’s a moderate independent, with excellent credentials in the arts, culture, diversity politics, organisational management and representation — you would do well to consider Geoffrey Conaghan.

There are a couple of other candidates who I think have their hearts in the right place.  But if we ended up with my top three, we would have an exceptionally well-rounded and highly impressive set of representatives.

If you need any further encouragement, I would note that none of these three are old straight white males — like me.

David Brand, 2020

I would also urge you not to be taken in by the Ratepayers of Port Phillip promise of a ‘better Council’. I do understand that some of these ratepayers have been shocked and surprised by the rapid rise in their rates bills (caused by the rapid rise in their own property values, relative to everyone else’s property values in the City).  In reality, the narrow political remedies they propose will only lead to a lesser council, a diminished community, and a legacy of severely under-funded essential services. (I am very keen to discuss these rates-based issues at greater length with you if you would like.)


I am leaving this Council happy and proud to have been an active part of it. I hope you think what it’s achieved this term has been worthwhile. There is also a lot still in the pipeline and coming through. And there is a massive amount yet to get started on. Please go out and support candidates with the broad agendas needed to achieve all these things — and with the broader visions of community, civil society, and progressive politics our present era so clearly requires.

Thank you so much for your support over these years. 

I’m looking forward to seeing you around the neighbourhood, and catching up with you when we can.

Councillor David Brand
City of Port Phillip, Lake Ward
15 October 2020


If you signed our petition last year and are a member:

If you signed the petition and would like to become a member please register, as well. Members who signed the petition and would like to introduce a new member, please have them register.

Nominations are open for President, Secretary, Second-secretary and Treasurer by Friday 16 October 2020. Please consult our AGM notice sent to members to nominate for these office bearing positions. Lost your notice? Let us know and we’ll send another.

We are delighted to announce Dr Judith Buckrich, celebrated author of ‘Acland Street: the Grand Lady of St Kilda’, 2017, will join us at the upcoming AGM for a brief discussion on her work in relation to a number of points raised in ‘A Historical Study of Church Square: New Research’, 2019.

Date: Sunday 18 October
Time: 2-3:00pm
Place: Zoom – Members to register and receive your entry link into the meeting

photo: The first allotment surveyed by Thomas H Nutt in January 1842 is Church Square. You can see the allotment divided into three for a church, school and parsonage. Reserved for the Church of England as written at the very top of the block, at this point the subsequent parish that congregates at Church Square does not exist. This was the first allotment on top of the hill, around which the rest of St Kilda was subdivided. Towards the end of 1842, Acland Street was named and the original survey plan updated with each new administrative event. The image is a detail of the original 1842 survey plan, PROV, Historic Plan Collection. This survey plan is intact and safely stored at the Public Record Office of Victoria. If we can adapt the Former Bishop’s Residence into, in part, a museum, it would be wonderful to loan the original survey map to exhibit.