Racing launch for business lobby group

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A NEW business-based lobby group being formed on the Mornington Peninsula automatically includes its $21,000 a year “platinum” members on its strategy and policy committee.

The group’s $7000 “corporate gold” and $3000 “corporate” packages can nominate for membership of the key body that will steer the Committee for Mornington Peninsula.

A $1000 “small business package” buys the “ability” to join one or more “round tables”, while the $500 “not for profit” membership level comes with the “ability to join one round table”.

While the strategy and policy committee is described driving “hands on policy decisions” the round table discussion groups take “deep dives into sub topics that form a theme”.

The Committee for Mornington Peninsula wants a “membership base of local, national and international organisations and individuals”.

Among those behind the formation of the CfMP are former Liberal MP for Dunkley Bruce Billson, CEO of the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry service Matt McDonald and Mornington Regional Tourism Board chairman,  Tracey Cooper.

The committee publicly launched itself at Mornington Racing Club last month as “a visionary, strategic and forward-looking organisation” aiming to “establish itself as a respected and authoritative advocate with direct access to key policy and decision makers with the power to influence the Mornington Peninsula’s future”.

“Unashamedly, we believe sustained economic prosperity and long-term transformational government investment in key initiatives, consistent with sound environmental considerations, is the driver of the lifestyle we all wish to continue enjoying in this great region.

“The CfMP exists to provide the strategic leadership needed to ensure that all levels of government leverage the potential for out region and to ensure it’s a safe, prosperous and progressive place to live,” printed information handed out during the launch on Friday 28 March stated.

Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill, who did not attend the lunch said he had been briefed, along with other councillors, about the CfMP’s aims.

“I have no problem with business lobby groups, but I think anyone who claims to represent the whole peninsula should be elected.”

Council has not taken an official position towards the committee, but “if they’re not a business lobby group I don’t think they should be exclusive”, Cr Gill said.

Without stating sources or figures, the committee’s information package says the “greater MP region scores very poorly” in family violence, labour productivity and acceptance of multiculturalism.

It says some parts of the peninsula “are some of the most disadvantaged in the state”.

Examples of this disadvantage are “around” 1000 15-19 year olds not attending school, training or having jobs; more than 500 job vacancies “in hospitality alone … while unemployment in disadvantaged areas is extremely high”; and 40-50 people “sleeping rough” on Rosebud foreshore.

The committee says just half of Westernport Secondary College’s year seven students will complete year 12; youth unemployment in Tanti Park, Mornington is at 45 per cent; 45 per cent of Capel Sound residents did not complete year 10; and the Rosebud/Capel Sound “is top of the most dangerous callout places in the state for ambulances”.

The committee also has a map showing the number of “poor children” living in section of the peninsula.

The committee says the peninsula has received one per cent of government money received by similar regions. “A mere $22 million in contrast to Greater Geelong’s $2.2 billion!”

It says the percentage of the peninsula’s population with access to public transport is the lowest in the state.  

Kickstarting the committee’s launch lunch was entrepreneur, philanthropist, former Geelong Football Club president and founder of the Committee for Geelong, Frank Costa.

The fledgling peninsula committee is styling itself on the Geelong committee and a similar one in Ballarat. Its publicity material makes no mention of the Committee for Greater Frankston, which claims to be influential in attracting government money, and business growth, to the peninsula’s neighbour. 

First published in the Mornington News – 9 April 2019

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