The 50-year property battle between 2,000 landowners and the state government at Ninety Mile Beach will be brought to a head through a class action taken by the local Ninety Mile Beach Property Rights Action Group (PRAG) against state Labor member for Richmond, Richard Wynne.
Under the leadership of new PRAG president Vassily Afcouliotis, action will be brought to the 50-year property rights battle between the state government and local Wellington Shire council, and landowners at Ninety Mile Beach. The class action will occur via two meetings in March that will bring the involved parties together for negotiation. The first will be held on March 22 at the Tooronga Village Community Centre and the second on March 29 at The Church of the Good Shepherd meeting room, 88 South Circular Drive Gladstone Park. Further meetings will also be considered in the following weeks at Altona and Cranbourne.
Half a century in Ninety Mile Beach should mark a milestone of existence for landowners. Instead, property owners, commonly migrants, who were lured into buying property on the stretch of beach under misinformed advertising, are facing constant battles for their land rights. Ange Kambouropoulos, the son of an 82-year-old Greek migrant and Ninety Mile Beach property owner, tells Neos Kosmos that “land at Ninety Mile Beach was sold to migrants in the ’60s as an opportunity, like the Gold Coast, with a beautiful land and beach environment.”
Now Kambouropoulos feels as if landowners are “being taking advantage of by bullying tactics of the local council”.
Furthermore, Mr Afcouliotis tells Neos Kosmos that the government has chosen, through local department Wellington Shire Council, “to put restrictions on building rights, usage of land, and have brought down the Greens to further support prevention of the clearing of land”. Wellington Shire Council is also charging residents rates, such as a $100 fire levy and additional costs, which landowners find outrageous on the basis of having to pay rates for land they have no claim of right on. According to PRAG, landowners are being continually tormented with land restrictions, overlays and more that has driven many owners to despair.
One of the most recent issues faced by Ninety Mile Beach landowners is the devaluation of their land, with the local council taking land valued between $70,000-$75,000 and deeming it worth $500. In order to further actualise its claim, local council has also introduced a buy-back scheme to buy owners out and claim back land for virtually nothing.
Whilst the ongoing issues may still be the same, PRAG president Mr Afcouliotis raises urgency for change to be brought to the situation, affirming fervently and with conviction that the issue will endure “no more waiting, no more nothing. We are either going to hang onto our land and tell everybody to go for a swim with the sharks or, [local council will] pay us a proper compensation and we will hand over our land. That’s it”.
Active hopes from PRAG and landowners are doused with realism, however, as Mr Afcouliotis affirms that whilst a call to action may not entirely solve the issue, the issue will be brought to a negotiation that will have the parties meet in the middle. “I anticipate that there will be negotiating for a settlement of compensation.”
Mr Kambouropolous further cites hopes for “fairness and fair rights for land owners”.
The negotiation will bring active status to a stagnant 50-year battle, where PRAG will fight its absolute best for the equal rights of all involved.
Any contact about the issue should be made directly to Vassily Afcouliotis on 5991 4961.