Efforts to sanitise Crown Estate in Victoria, Oz

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sat Mar 14 19:14:40 GMT 2015

The slow strangle of homes and hearts as prime 
beachside cabin parks fight for survival
  February 20, 2015

  Kevin Marley and neighbour John McGregor who 
live at the Seaford beach Caravan Park enjoy a 
laugh at Kevin's cabin. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

"It's not the Taj Mahal," says businessman 
Michael Hibbert, co-owner with the Crown of the 
prime bayside land which is the Seaford Beach Cabin Park.

Yet, nor is it a slum. The problem is the section 
of Crown land. Frankston Council administers it 
for the state. After a complex saga lasting more 
than a decade – including an idea from Hibbert to 
swap some of his land for Crown land and council 
plans for a beach carpark – an uneasy accord has been reached.

Hibbert and a former co-owner have previously 
applied unsuccessfully to develop the private 
land but Hibbert now says his priority is "a home for marginalised people".

The place is basic, but safe. There are security 
patrols and CCTV. All the 80 people who live here 
are permanent and most are on welfare benefits 
and many are men taking stock after a family 
split. It costs $210 a week. The demountable 
cabins have a kitchen, bed, toilet and shower.

The truce means the park can stay – but only 
just. The council will administer it more 
strictly, change the lease to make it more 
expensive for the owner and slap a caveat on it 
to prevent development. The finer details of the 
new arrangement will be given to Hibbert next week.

The situation is not dramatic but it is 
instructive. All over Victoria and Australia – 
especially beside the sea – caravan and cabin 
parks which have become defacto emergency 
accommodation are being closed and sold. Three 
around Frankston have gone that way in two years, 
all to companies building "lifestyle" villages. 
There are 175 caravan, camping or cabin parks on Crown land in Victoria.

David Maloney from the Seaford Community 
Committee calls it a "slow strangle." Why make 
the owner pay, he says, for a "great act of generosity".

The Salvation Army's Major Brendan Nottle sees it 
as "gentrification" outside the gaze of the inner 
city where the widening urban sprawl and pressure 
on good land can mean the underclasses lose accommodation.

Former Liberal member for Carrum, Donna Bauer, 
who fought for the park's survival  in tandem 
with a community uprising, says the issue was 
considered "too hot" by local councillors and 
that generally councils don't like caravan or 
cabin parks because of a perception they lower the tone of a neighbourhood.

Deputy Frankston mayor Glenn Aitken says: "We 
have seen fit to give a new lease arrangement and 
we will be watching it carefully without wielding a big stick."

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 
homelessness rose 35 per cent in Frankston 
between 2006 and 2011, and 31 per cent of renters 
have trouble paying. The area is full of 
unregistered rooming houses. In 2013 around 700 
people lived in caravan or cabin parks near 
Frankston. Seaford gets 10 calls a day from 
people wanting to move in, according to manager 
Andrew Wilson. They are vetted and go on a waiting list.

Locals say homeless people sleep rough on the 
beach or in bush beside the Nepean Highway. There 
have been two known deaths: an alcoholic man who 
lived behind a church in Frankston and, at 
Christmas, the suicide of a homeless person.

The people who live in the Seaford cabins are not 
on their last legs but they do it tough in 
invisible ways like child custody issues, trying 
to get rental history (which the park provides) 
health problems and staying in work, if they have it.

For example Kevin Marley is 56 and has 
osteoporosis and walks with a stick; he's 
separated with two adult children in Adelaide.

Marley - 'Kev' - cooks lambsfry and shares it 
around. His cabin neighbour cuts his hair. He 
hangs out with John 'Pop' McGregor, 66, who has 
an OAM and often adds a string of bogus extra 
letters after his name. He was in the Australian 
army band corps for 20 years as saxophone player 
and drum major. He learnt to play the sax at 
Xavier College as a boy. After the army he played in the Victoria Police band.

False teeth are a tough burden for a woodwind 
player so he listens to records through 
headphones instead at his place just up the road 
in an old milkbar house, also part of Hibbert's 
property. He says he likes to write down a few 
things about an idea for "Forest Gump, The 
Musical" while he's listening to records because 
he likes Forest Gump. "He seems like a likeable 
person. I dunno. He reminds me of me."

McGregor has installed a "garden of peace" out 
the back of his cabin under a Peters Ice Cream 
milk bar umbrella. Marley has protective 
ornamental dragons on his cabin's doorstep, at 
Kev's Cave. He grows tomatoes and chillis on his 
small deck overlooking Kananook Creek. He has a barbecue on the deck.

Marley says the council backflip in letting them 
all stay for now was good because "obviously they 
realised 'where they are going to go?'" Community 
spirit is strong in the tiny village and "people 
call it a caravan park but it's not, it's your own peace, your own home".
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Twitter: @TonyGosling http://twitter.com/tonygosling
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"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend.

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