Opinion, but no vote


FRENCH Islanders have reacted angrily to suggestions that their island home be “absorbed” into the Mornington Peninsula.

The French Island Community Association has urged voters in the upcoming Mornington Peninsula Shire Council elections to reject the suggestion by Watson Ward candidate Stefan Borzecki that the shire take over the island.

The islanders cannot vote in the election but want “peninsula residents to reject Mr Borzecki’s campaign on our behalf”.

The surprise suggestion by Mr Borzecki was made in an advertisement in The Western Port News on 29 July.

He said incorporating French Island into the shire would “double our green wedge/parklands and coastline”.

Community association president Noel Thompson said French Islanders did not share Mr Borzecki’s “interests”.

“Mr Borzecki did not seek to inform himself in any way whatsoever of community opinion and, as an ex-property owner on the island, should have been aware of community sentiment on this issue,” Mr Thompson said.

“French Islanders cherish and will fight to maintain their off-grid and unincorporated status.”

Mr Thompson said making the island part of the peninsula “may involve huge cost to council and current ratepayers for roads and waste services, with only 70 properties to collect rates from on the island.”

No stranger to the island, Mr Borzecki, last year sold his 200 hectare property there after being frustrated at not being able to develop a wind farm. The property was bought for $3.5 million by a Chinese company that he says has built similar projects in the Philippines and China (“Wind farm hope from China” The News 16/7/19).

Mr Borzecki said he had tried to develop the remote property as a 12-turbine wind farm “capable of supplying green energy to the whole Mornington Peninsula”.

When contacted by The News last week Mr Borzecki predicted the island would eventually be added to either the peninsula or Bass Coast Shire, which already includes Phillip Island.

“It’s only a matter of time and it’s a question of do we [the peninsula] want to get involved?” he said. It’s a wonderful green wedge area and would double the amount of national park on the peninsula.”

He said 11,000 of the island’s 17,000 hectares was already national park and would be attractive “for [the peninsula’s] marketing purposes”.

He said the islanders — who pay no car registration or licence fees — were being subsidised by the state.

Mr Borzecki lives alongside his Yaringa Boat Harbour at Somerville where he has planned a $95 million, 180-apartment development around an inland waterway and where Hart Marine owner Mal Hart plans to move his Mornington boat building business.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 20 October 2020


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