Mayor, MP clash over mossie control

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AN angry buzz of uncertainty has arisen over how the state government intends to manage efforts to control potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes on the Mornington Peninsula.

Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill says a “public consultation” on the Engage Victoria website is evidence that the government wants “the power to spray insecticide without community consent”.

Cr Gill’s assertion follows widespread community concern about spraying, or “fogging”, mosquito-prone areas in a bid to lessen the chances of people contracting the flesh-eating Buruli ulcer (“No fogging in ‘mossie’ fight” The News 26/8/19).

Nepean MP Chris Brayne says there is no bill before parliament and has challenged Cr Gill to put a name to the proposed legislation.

Mr Brayne – who says he has received “rather forceful emails” from Cr Gill – says he is “glad the shire has put the Buruli spraying project on hold”.

In one of the emails seen by The News, Cr Gill states that he is “sure” Mr Brayne “can, if you wish, provide far more information than I can”.

Cr Gill says the public consultation through the Engage Victoria website “is normal before legislation is enacted”.

He said proposed legislative changes to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act included proposed changes to the control of “vector-borne diseases, mosquitoes in particular”.

Cr Gill said the public consultation was launched on 20 August with a 30 September deadline for submissions, “which left little time for the public to comment, especially when local MPs didn’t bother to let their electors or council know”.

“Also [the shire] is opposed to broad scale insecticidal mosquito fogging and spraying and believes that there are serious alternatives available that should be investigated,” Cr Gill’s email to Mr Brayne stated.

“The Buruli virus is a real danger to people, but the answer should not involve increasing health risks because of spraying or environmental risks to bees, other insects, birds and fish.

“The proposed legislation potentially takes away the right to object to spraying on private property and by those badly affected by insecticide spraying for health reasons.”

In an email to one of his constituents, Mr Brayne said the Engage Victoria public consultation process was “a common place review of the public health and wellbeing regulations [that] includes some aspects of mosquito control programs in Victoria”.

However, this was was separate from research into the role of mosquitoes in the Buruli ulcer project “which has been put on hold”.

“The proposed changes that have been submitted by some members of the community do not relate to routine activities of local government in managing mosquitoes and other disease vectors,” Mr Brayne stated.

“Like all emergency powers of the Chief Health Officer, all actions must be evidence-based, reasonable and proportionate as required under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

“This is nowhere near any sort of vote. I will try and see if I can get a department representative to provide the mayor with more information so he can be better informed moving forward.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 8 October 2019

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