THE impact of tougher COVID-19 restrictions is “having a dire impact” on Mornington Peninsula businesses”.
The doomsday scenario described by the mayor Cr Sam Hearn followed the state government’s inclusion of the shire in the greater Melbourne lockdown area.
Cr Hearn said the peninsula had lost up to 6000 jobs, seen a 21 per cent drop in gross regional product (compared with 6.9 per cent for Australia) and an 11 per cent fall in job prospects.
Statistics released over the weekend show that Victoria and New South Wales have only one job vacancy for every 10 people registered as unemployed. In Victoria there are 389,000 people on the dole and 28,700 available jobs.
The shire last month asked both the state and federal governments for help, providing a list of projects ranging from homeless housing to a technology park (“Shire seeks $320m rescue package” The News 22/6/20).
“A further six-week lockdown has the potential to send many local businesses to the wall,” Cr Hearn said.
“We feel that this is a disproportionate impost on peninsula businesses compared to other municipalities, such as Geelong.
“We would welcome a conversation with the state government about the rationale for our current classification as a metropolitan council when there are a number of compelling reasons to reinstate us as a regional municipality.”
Former mayor Cr David Gill said the state government was being “extremely short sighted” in not recognising the peninsula as a regional area from an economic and planning standpoint.
He said including the shire in the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme threatened the “essential” $1.2 billion green wedge food bowl mainly servicing the fast-growing Melbourne.
“What suits suburban planning is slowly ruining our much admired coastal and hinterland villages and making it more difficult for farmers to survive on the land,” Cr Gill said.
“The state government is putting all this in jeopardy.
“Without our farming community the temptation for non-productive housing in the green wedge and further sub-divisions becomes more likely in the future.”
Cr Gill said the benefits of being recognised as a region were important to businesses on the peninsula. He backed business lobby group the Committee for Mornington Peninsula in its push to have the state government change its mind and recategorise the peninsula.
“As a semi-rural shire some distance from Melbourne we do not belong in the suburban classification.”