Signed, sealed and delivered ... it's ours!
At last, the Springvale Range is ours.
The purchase of one of SSAA Victoria’s most popular ranges was finalised on Monday afternoon.
SSAA Victoria Chief Executive Officer Jack Wegman said it was a “monumental win for our members”.
“It was a long and convoluted journey involving two State Governments, seven different government departments and changes to an Act of Parliament,” he said.
“But after years of uncertainty, we can finally say that the Springvale Range is here to stay.”
SSAA Victoria first began using the site in 1972, when it was owned by the City of Springvale. The following year, a 30-year lease was signed, followed by lease renewals. The last lease was due to expire in June 2017, with no provision for renewal.
“We were going to be kicked off the property,” Jack said.
Fast-forward to 2013, and the land was owned by the State Government, under the control of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT), after the amalgamated City of Greater Dandenong sold the 12,500 sq m of land.
“In 2003 SSAA Victoria tried to buy the land, but negotiations failed,” Jack said. “Ten years later, an August 2013 meeting between SSAA Victoria, the Health Minister, Minister for Sport and Recreation and the SMCT, resulted in agreement that we would buy the range, instead of pursuing a long-term lease.
“To buy ourselves time, we successfully negotiated a 21-year lease in October, 2014. Written into the lease was a commitment to purchase the range, and that is what sealed the deal for us.”
The arduous process involved:
- Three different valuations
- Governor-in-Council x 3
- Victorian Parliament
- Sport and Recreation Victoria
- Department of Health
- Treasury and Finance
- Valuer-General’s Department
- Solicitor-General’s Department
- Surveyor-General’s Department
- Government Land Monitor
- Melbourne Water
- Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
- City of Greater Dandenong
- Two Health Ministers
- Half a dozen senior bureaucrats and as many ministerial advisors
A change of State Government in 2014 had the potential to derail negotiations. “At that point we basically had to start again with a new Health Minister,” Jack said.
With dogged persistence by SSAA Victoria, and support from friends with influence, in April 2016 the Land Revocation Bill passed through Parliament. It was the last major hurdle stopping SSAA Victoria from purchasing the land.
Since that time, it’s been a bureaucratic process involving Sport and Recreation Victoria, Treasury and Finance, the Valuer-General, the Solicitor-General and the Governor-in-Council. And it all had to be gazetted. Finally, the contracts had to be drawn up and exchanged.
“On a positive note, the time taken to buy the land has allowed us to build up our financial position to the strongest it has been,” Jack said. “It meant we didn’t have to rely on grant funding or a loan from SSAA National.”