The imminent Port Phillip Council elections will witness the transformation of a progressive St Kilda action group “Unchain” into a shrewdly organised Liberal front-group, political insiders have explained to VEXNEWS.
The group ‘Unchained’ began as a group of local St Kilda voters opposed to what they argued was the over-development of the St Kilda Triangle site.
Amused Liberal whistle-blowers have told VEXNEWS that Peter de Groot and Richard Roberts were both very active within the Liberal party, only recently resigning their membership so they could contest Sandridge Ward and Emerald Hill Wards as anti-development “Unchained” candidates giving the impression they are lefty independents.
One of their candidates is a “spiritual healer,” no less, who promises to bring “soul singing” to her ward. In keeping with the values of free enterprise, Mary Gallic knows what the herbal hipsters of the St Kilda region want and is not afraid to – as it were – give it to them:
A June workshop, priced at $160, promised healing of “cellular tissue where memory is stored” and “deeper integration of your soul”, with a promotional flyer advising: “You may experience a truly spiritual orgasm.”
Despite this herbal connection with local orgasmic spiritualists of the enviro-kind, VEXNEWS has obtained photographs of cunning Unchain council candidates socialising and campaigning for the cause with Kevin Sven Ekendahl and upper house Kroger faction titan and stylish Irish baroness Andrea Coote. de Groot and Roberts were an imposing and impressive presence distributing HTVs for Kevin Sven Ekendahl and other Liberal candidates in past election.
The best part of the background of this sneaky story is that “Unchain” started out as a group organised by the friendly and frenetic photographer Serge Thomann to oppose the destruction of the Palace Night Club on the now-vacant St Kilda Triangle site (St Kilda Police had often identified the Palace as a downmarket entertainment site known for its distribution of a variety of illicit narcotics).
The Port Phillip Council’s plans for an extensive development on St Kilda Esplanade was opposed by many locals living in the Catani (seaside) ward of Port Philip and subsequent Council elections saw one or two key identities associated with the development, like Councillor Dick Gross, defeated. A number of the council staff involved with the development was replaced when the new Council was elected.
The Unchained group is directed by Peter Holland, who was, 10 years ago, a Labor member and supporter of barrister turned Labor minister and ski enthusiast John Thwaites. These days, he is a wealthy local property owner and developer in St Kilda and his political metamorphosis seems to have mirrored, indeed predated, the ‘Unchain’ group’s transformation from anti-development people power militant group to Liberal front-group.
Subsequently the ‘Unchain’ group put up Councillor Serge Thomann against Labor’s Martin Foley at the recent state elections. Thomann, polled 9%, an impressive number most would think but disappointed him as his group’s cunning plan was for Thomann to poll more than the Greensparty and potentially get in front of the Liberals to knock off Foley, aided by Lib preference flows. A clever plan, but didn’t quite come off.
In this election, the alliance with the Greensparty continues with the supposedly leftist environmentalist party delivering preferences to ‘Unchained’ despite its increasingly strong Liberal orientation. Some of Unchained candidates did not even supply the Victorian Electoral Commission or journalists with their own contact details. All contact is through the property developer Peter Holland.
The Liberal strategy in Port Phillip and Albert Park seems to be to use this anti-development group as a front as they know an openly Liberal Candidate would not be successful. Some believe Holland plans on running as a Liberal preference feeder in Melbourne Ports as well.