Author: Keith Platt

THE issue of whether or not to start Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meetings with a prayer or a pledge has received another setback. Councillors last week voted against giving the public a say on four options for starting meetings. The options suggested by Cr Antonella Celi included retaining the traditional prayer; rewording the prayer to delete any reference to “God”; replacing it with a pledge; or observing one minute’s silence. Both state and federal governments start sittings with a prayer that mentions God as well as an acknowledgement of country and traditional custodians. In December, council decided on saying a…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being asked to revoke Governance Rules they adopted last Tuesday (23 February) because some of them appeared not to understand what they were doing. Cr Anthony Marsh decided to try to reverse the decision just hours after councillors had spent 90 minutes debating changes to the Rules. The council meeting at the shire’s Rosebud offices finished at 11.30pm and Cr Marsh, who lives in Mount Martha, emailed his intention to revoke the decision to CEO John Baker at 1.40am Wednesday morning. The email inboxes of his fellow councillors and shire governance manager Amanda Sapolu would…

CELIA Furt has been “horrified” by the cast-offs being thrown to seagulls at Hastings. While on one of her regular trips “to say hi to the pelicans” near the boat ramp, Ms Furt’s attention was drawn to a group of seagulls feeding in the grass. She discovered they were eating loaves of mouldy bread. “People still think that feeding seagulls, pigeons and other birds, is good for them. They think that they are feeding them but, instead, they are killing them,” Ms Furt said. “If they want to feed birds, they must only feed them what’s right for them, what…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has been ordered to pay $32,000 to Peninsula Aero Club for costs incurred during an ongoing fight over permit conditions. The club had sought $53,000 during a two-day Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in July 2020, which saw both sides represented by lawyers and one witness called by the club. The ruling against the shire comes just months before it is again scheduled to come up against the PAC at VCAT in a hearing called to determine what activities can be carried out at the airfield at the corner of Mornington-Tyabb and Stuart roads, Tyabb (“Shire,…

THE Climate Guardian Angels were out on the mudflats at Crib Point on Monday (22 February) to highlight what an “environmental travesty” power company AGL’s gas import terminal would be for Western Port. The “performance collective” believes its direct action can “communicate important and sensitive information in non-threatening and yet enormously effective ways”. The “angels” have been around since early 2013 “holding powerful polluters and their enablers (such as politicians, media and financiers) responsible for the climate and biodiversity crisis to account”. This time, they have been joined in their criticism of AGL by the state Opposition and Flinders MP,…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is being urged to adopt “big picture thinking” and focus a larger proportion of its spending on the “rural hinterland” rather than built up areas. The suggestion by Cr David Gill to put the peninsula on the “international tourism map” follows the shire’s rejection of an application for $50,000 to investigate a “multi-purpose track” alongside Cape Schanck Road. The Friends of Cape Schanck group says no progress has been made on a reserve and playground at Cape Schanck in the four years since $100,000 was allocated by the shire. “Over the nearly 30 years this shire has…

AN online wine directory was launched last week to help consumers “find their perfect local wine based on their taste preferences”. Behind the Vines links lets wine buyers take a virtual tour of wineries throughout the state and then order straight from their chosen producer. The state is said to have more 21 wine regions, but for these online sales the Mornington Peninsula is classified as being part of Pinot Coast, one of “Victoria’s Five Wine Pillars”. Orders and information about wineries can be “filtered” by choosing type of wine (red, white, rose, sparkling, sweet or “any”); taste (delicate through…

THE beach at Safety Beach may have taken on a dark hue, but assurances have been given that the former pristine sands will soon return to normal. The dark grey sand was pumped from the entrance to the Martha Cove marina and spread for some hundreds of metres west of the yacht club. Russell Coleman of the Martha Cove Owners Corporation said the dredged “anaerobic” sand “quickly lightens to become normal beach sand on exposure to sunlight and wave action”. He said the sand taken from the marina entrance and the sand on Safety Beach had the same source -…

THE state government has been accused of ignoring aluminium composite cladding fire risks faced by people living in single and two-storey homes. Houses have been excluded from the government-ordered audit of buildings incorporating the flammable material. “The irony is that apartments are included in the audit, so there’s a line drawn to say it’s OK for home owners and residents to be housed in combustible buildings but not tenants or owners of apartments,” Ron Corcoran said. Alarm about the dangers of aluminium composite cladding was raised in June 2017 when 72 died when London’s 20-storey Grenfell Tower caught fire. In…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire last followed the state Opposition in reinforcing opposition to power company AGL’s plan for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. The Opposition’s resources spokesperson Ryan Smith on Monday last week said the decision was based on supporting “local residents”, “serious environmental concerns” about the route of a proposed pipeline to Pakenham and because “the legally recognised indigenous traditional owner group opposes the project” (“Opposition against AGL gas terminal” The News 10/2/21). One day later, Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a news release “welcoming” the Opposition’s stand. “With state Planning Minister Richard Wynne due to make a final…

TUESDAY 9 February was the first Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meeting open to the public since April, when COVID-19 forced them online. Just 50 members of the public were allowed to attend last week’s meeting at Mornington Community Theatre and strict safety measures applied: mandatory masks, QR codes, social distancing and “a symptom self-assessment” before leaving home. Councillors and staff were masked up, although the 1.5 metre distance seemed hard to achieve for some, especially when a rear shot showed the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor lean left and whisper in the ear of governance manager Amanda Sapolu. It is not…

MORNINGTON Peninsula ratepayers will not have to pay $10,000 to Rye CFA because of a “muck-up” by a “junior officer”. The CFA was told by the officer on behalf of the shire that it could not hold its annual tin rattle because of safety issues. CFA volunteers traditionally approach motorists for donations every January at the corner of Dundas Street and Nepean Highway. The shire, after “banning” the tin rattle, later admitted its traffic and transport team did not have the power to stop the collection (“Shire backs down on tun rattle ban” The News 1/2/21). It said there had…

A LACK of scientific evidence has seen all but one of the shire’s 11 councillors decline to call for a ban on the slaughter of kangaroos on the Mornington Peninsula. Cr David Gill said kangaroo shooting should be stopped because “we don’t know how many there are and how many are being killed”. His move failed to get the backing of even one councillor and lapsed without a vote being taken at the council’s Tuesday 9 February meeting. Cr Gill’s motion called for a ban of kangaroos shooting “until scientific research is undertaken justifying the need for this practice and…

THE words “Almighty God” were again recited before the most recent meeting of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Dropped from the list of agenda items in December, the prayer and its reference to God was resurrected on Tuesday 9 February because of moves by Crs Antonella Celi and Hugh Fraser to ask the public for guidance. Councillors agreed at the 8 December meeting that although still called The Prayer, the actual wording would be changed to a pledge by them to do the right thing by their community. In short, they were told by their in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu that as…

THE state Opposition has announced it opposes power company AGL’s plan for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. The Opposition’s resources spokesperson Ryan Smith said on Monday the decision was based on supporting “local residents”, “serious environmental concerns” about the route of a proposed pipeline to Pakenham and because “the legally recognised indigenous traditional owner group opposes the project”. The latest declaration follows concerns raised by the Opposition last year that the public was not being enough time to comment on an environmental effects statement prepared by AGL for the gas import terminal (“Libs in call to delay AGL…

RACISM has been raised as a reason by some Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors for not supporting the creation of a database of foreign owned land in the green wedge zone. Cr Sarah Race said moves to establish a database of foreign owned land within the peninsula’s green wedge areas “seems to have racist undertones”. “I’m very uncomfortable highlighting foreign ownership rather than generally,” she said. Cr David Gill said having a database made sense following revelations about the many millions of dollars in donations being made to political parties by land developers. “Finding out who makes donations and is putting…

ENVIRONMENTALISTS, animal protection groups and landowners are concerned that kangaroos may become extinct on the Mornington Peninsula. There are no reliable statistics of kangaroo numbers on the peninsula, but estimates range from 1500 to 3500. Fears for their survival have  grown since the state government announced it would lift the number of kangaroos that can be killed each year, along with allowing them to be “harvested” and sold for human consumption. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors were this week asked to seek a ban on killing kangaroos on the peninsula “until scientific research is undertaken justifying the need for this practice…

DOLPHINS have become victims of their own popularity when they come close to shore in Western Port. After years of becoming an attraction at Balnarring for appearing to swim alongside racehorses being exercised in the shallows, there are now concerns about dogs also joining the dolphins in the water. Dolphin Research Centre executive director Jeff Weir said he had received reports of “dogs, paddlers and swimmers pestering dolphins in Western Port”. He had also received “many calls” about vessels in Port Phillip doing the same. In December, the DRI launched a campaign to persuade boaters to keep their distance from…

DEFINITIONS of a prayer and a pledge have become part of the ongoing debate following the December decision by a majority of Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors to amend the wording of the prayer said before council meetings. While the word “prayer” remains as part of the council’s Governance Rules adopted in August 2020, the words recited at the start of each council meeting  begin with “We pledge that this council…”. The decision to not change the wording of the rules followed advice from the shire’s in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu, who said “the form of prayer is not prescribed” in the…

SECRECY surrounds the location and identities of nine Mornington Peninsula buildings with combustible aluminium cladding. In keeping with its long held policy, Mornington Peninsula Shire last week avoided identifying the buildings uncovered in a state-wide audit by the Victorian Building Authority. Instead of agreeing to call on its own staff to report on the progress of making the buildings safe, councillors at the year’s first Planning Services Committee meeting (27 January) agreed to the mayor telling the state government that its building surveyour, not the shire’s, should be responsible for ordering buildings to be repaired or even evacuated. The decision…

THE state government is giving $500,000 towards an educational centre where the old and the young can learn together. The intergenerational learning centre is being established at Andrew Kerr Care in Tanti Avenue, Mornington by The Herd ILC, run by sisters Anna and Fiona Glumac. The announcement was made by the government three days before the Andrew Kerr board said it was recommending that the aged care centre’s business and assets be transferred to Uniting AgeWell, which is owned by the Uniting Church. The Andrew Kerr board said the “difficult decision” followed significant changes which started about three years ago…

THE arts in all its various forms is acknowledged as being one of the hardest hit industries as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But the lockdown and fluid restrictions have not deterred Mount Eliza-based filmmaker Riley Sugars from embarking on a new project. Although not yet fully financed (hopes are pinned on GoFundMe), Sugars is  planning a March shoot around various Melbourne locations. Cast and crew are already signed up for the feature which has also been mentioned by industry websites Film Ink and Film Magazine. Sugars says the “black comedy” Hatchback, co-written by Chloe Graham, “could best be…

AN ORGANISED rave party, illegal campers and fireworks have highlighted the ease with which intruders can enter Point Nepean National Park. Although concerns about the rave, or “bush gath”, attended by “hundreds of local kids”, were raised on social media on New Year’s Day, two weeks later police said they were unaware of the incident. Parks Victoria last week said it was “working with Victoria Police to assist with their investigation of this incident”. The social media post said those who attended the “illegal rave” broke through a gate, made tracks into bushland, leaving behind “a disgusting trail of mess”…

ROSEBUD Australia Day Association has “reinvented” its annual Australia Day Day Fun Run and this year will hold an extended virtual event. The event will still start on Australia Day Tuesday 26 January and end Sunday 28t February. Those registering for the event will be emailed a race bib as a PDF. The first 1000 to register will be mailed a medal. A copy of the usual fun run course will accompany the email in the case that applicants choose to follow that course The association says anyone wanting to record their time should download a running app such as…

A DELIVERY van was knocked over onto its side in a crash with a car at Balnarring, on Monday (18 January). The two-vehicle crash was in the shopping area of Russell Street about 12pm. Paramedics assessed the driver of the van and a woman in her 70s who was taken to Frankston Hospital in a stable condition with upper body injuries. Police and Balnarring CFA crews attended. Captain Graeme Briggs said the woman possibly had a “medical episode” before the crash. A tow truck righted the van and towed both vehicles away.

WENDI Seymour lives by the sea and finds it as a great inspiration for her art. Appropriately, her exhibition which opened on Sunday (16 January) is titled At Sea and features her sometimes whimsical view of life in the waters that cover most of the planet. Before coming under the spell of the sea, Seymour was influenced by such artists as E H Shepard, Aubrey Beardsley and Ronald Searle. “After that, every artist I meet inspires me,” she said. “While looking out to sea, I love to scan the horizon, always hopeful of spotting a whale or a least a…

THE weekly mobile library service to 16 Mornington Peninsula towns may be taken off the road permanently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The service was stopped in March due to state government coronavirus restrictions and replaced by a home delivery service. Mornington Peninsula Shire says the alternative has been so popular that it had decided to review the future of the mobile service. Libraries, arts and culture manager Karina Lamb said the online “click and deliver” was used 1729 times during its first three weeks. “We’ve received exceptional feedback on this service, and it has prompted us to…

COVID-19 restrictions have forced Mornington Peninsula Shire to drastically cut back its Australia Day events. Among the events cancelled are the parade down Main Street, Mornington, a carnival and stalls at Mornington Park and fireworks over the harbour at night. However, there will be a low key fun run, flag raising ceremonies and the announcement of the citizen and young of the year and community event of the year (nominations closed 6 November 2020). The shire is also compiling a list of the community’s favourite songs to be played on Australia Day by radio station RPP FM (98.7FM). Billed by…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has apologised for “the harm suffered” by television and radio presenter, comedian, producer, author and screenwriter Steve Vizard and his wife Sarah for a “false statement” made by the council and planning compliance manager Paul Lewis. The statement, alleging that the Vizards “or any other person on their behalf, had undertaken earthworks which ‘effectively created a dam within Waterfall Creek’”, Arthurs Seat was published on 15 December by the Herald-Sun and the online Leader newspapers. The shire’s Christmas Eve retraction said it had told Mr Vizard, who is also a lawyer, that it would be making no…

CAMPING at Mornington Peninsula Shire-run foreshore reserves at Rye, Rosebud and Sorrento is continuing despite the latest COVID-19 outbreaks. The shire says it has not changed protocols announced in late November to allow limited numbers of campers. Campers were allowed in as from Saturday 2 January to avoid large gatherings over Christmas and New Year. The shire’s property and strategy manager Nathan Kearsley last week said camping on the foreshores was “operating at about 40 per cent capacity and extra cleaning of the amenity blocks is in place”. The shire was regularly reviewing its risk plan and making contact with…