Author: Keith Platt

LESS than six months before the official end of World War II headlines were made in Melbourne when thieves fatally fell out during a robbery at Mount Martha. The “mastermind” behind the robbery at the Maryport guest house in Lempriere Avenue, 18-year-old Kevin Albert Joiner, had outlined his plan to his two accomplices during an afternoon meeting in a Burke Street cafe. On 17 April 1945 – the war ended on 2 September – Joiner recruited Thomas Charles Clarke, 29, a soldier, and a 14-year-old youth (identified only as “Harris”, to rob his previous employers, James Eric Dowdle and family.…

THE Mornington offices of Centrelink and Medicare have received a second reprieve and will stay in the town at least until late September. Flinders MP Greg Hunt said the “further extension” would allow the offices to remain open “to support locals through COVID-19”. In August, then Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn welcomed the federal government’s backflip when it announced the offices would stay open an extra six months, but said the shire would “continue to advocate for Services Australia to permanently reinstate the Mornington Centrelink office” (“Reprieve for Centrelink” The News 3/8/20). Echoing comments he made in August…

A GOOD a reporter is one who can, metaphorically, be parachuted into any situation and come away with a good yarn. Tim Baker fits that category and, since making his way as a newspaper reporter, has been able to utilise his skills writing articles and books that allow him to follow a lifestyle that revolves around his passion, surfing. With his latest venture, The Rip Curl Story, Baker demonstrates his reportage skills, but also adopts a narrative that is both entertaining and factual. He knows his subject. The book is basically a biography of the two founders of what has…

WHILE social distancing will go down in history as one of life’s necessities in 2020, the principle is now being extended into the sea to protect dolphins. “After 30 years, we are trying to get smarter with an evidence-based approach to behaviour change. We call it dolphin distancing,” the Dolphin Research Institute’s executive director Jeff Weir said. Boaters are being urged to place a “Dolphin Distancing” sticker on their vessels to “create a new norm” in Port Phillip and Western Port waters. “Dolphin Distancing is not just a quirky twist on COVID,” Mr Weir said. “We saw some appalling harassment…

THE economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being felt at all levels of Australian government, with Mornington Peninsula Shire factoring in revenue losses of $9.4 million. In his introduction to the shire’s 2019-20 annual report CEO John Baker refers to “operational savings” of $3m, $1.4m saved by not filling staff vacancies and cuts of $1.7m to materials and services. “The shire itself has not been immune from the financial impacts of COVID. Modelling suggests non-rate income could be reduced by around $6 million,” Mr Baker states. Without providing actual figures, Mr Baker says that both he and the then…

GRANDMOTHERS were out in force in Mornington on Human Rights Day to bring attention to the plight of refugees being held in detention by the federal government. Grandmothers for Refugees and Friends of Grandmothers walked along Main Street on Wednesday 9 December in support of the Time for a Home Campaign aimed at freeing refugees held in Australia and overseas. “After seven long years of cruel politics it is time the government frees these men, women and children and quickly resettles them into our community, so they can be safe and have a place to call home,” Ann Renkin, of…

BEACH box owners at Mount Martha North Beach have missed out on what was planned as a sand-filled beach Christmas present courtesy of the federal government. Plans to move 10,000 cubic metres of sand from Mount Martha Beach South were abandoned on Thursday 3 December following concerns for public safety. WorkSafe Victoria wanted the beach closed while earth moving equipment was being used to shift the sand, but the Department of Land, Water and Planning said it had no intention “to fully close Mount Martha Beach to complete works during summer nor at any other time of year”. Storms also…

THERE is almost certain to be a revival of newly-elected councillor Anthony Marsh’s failed bid to drop the prayer that is said before each Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meeting. Cr Marsh was stopped from being able to introduce the move as “urgent business” at the first meeting of the new council last Monday (23 November). He has also been criticised for not including his plans to remove the prayer in his election campaign (see Letters Page 12). Cr Marsh was supported by Crs Paul Mercurio, Sarah Race, Kerri McCafferty and the mayor Despi O’Connor. Councillors against allowing him to move…

AWARDS are often made to those who offer hope and understanding in areas that are sometimes misrepresented in the public realm. The work by Kent Stannard over the past 18 years fits that description and has qualified him as  being the recipient of the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award in the inaugural Victorian Marine and Coastal Awards. Stannard’s award recognises the research and education he has spearheaded into the feared, but endangered, great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Not always the most popular of creatures, the great white plays a key role in the marine ecosystem and Stannard, through the Tag for…

GIVEN her scientific knowledge, underwater experience and background it takes something really special in the marine world to excite Sheree Marris. But what she saw during a dive off Blairgowrie a couple of weeks ago left her scrambling to find a comparison. “I was greeted by a sea of baby sea ponies. It was like a thick soup of these delicate little jewels,” Marris said of what she described as “one of the most spectacular events I’ve seen in all of my years exploring Port Phillip”. “These baby sea ponies – or fry – measuring a tiny two to three…

DESPITE the advice of experts to the contrary, Flinders MP Greg Hunt and members of the Mt Martha Beach Group Committee say an “engineering solution” can be used to stop sand erosion. Starting this week, 10,000 cubic metres of sand will be taken from Mount Martha South beach to its sand-depleted northern end. The work is being carried out by the state Department of Environment Land Water and Planning with $1.5 million provided by the federal government. However, both Mr Hunt and the Mt Martha Beach Group Committee want the money spent on providing sand and building a rock groyne…

THE president of Peninsula Aero Club Jack Vevers has questioned the existence of a report written following a legal investigation into the operations of Tyabb airfield. Calling it “the mythical QC report”, Mr Vevers said the report – commissioned by Mornington Peninsula Shire – did not seem to have “delivered any silver bullets” for the shire in two cases heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. He said the shire had been forced to “concede” the cases “at great expense to ratepayers”. Cases heard this year included a Sunday morning ban on aircraft using the airfield to protect parishioners…

ANTHONY Marsh this week seemed destined to make an early impression as a councillor by proposing that Mornington Peninsula Shire drop the prayer that has preceded meetings since the start of local government on the peninsula. Scrapping the prayer is not new to local government, with Mount Alexander Shire Council dispensing with it in 2013 and Kerang in 2016, but Cr Marsh’s decision to introduce the subject as urgent business at Monday’s council meeting was likely to be challenged. A prayer has been part of council meetings since local government was established on the peninsula with the formation of the…

PENINSULA Aero Club has asked Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 11 councillors to help find a “circuit-breaker” to resolve its ongoing dispute with the shire over operations at Tyabb Airfield. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is scheduled to begin a hearing in April, but the PAC’s president Jack Vevers has invited the just-elected councillors to a meeting at the airfield on Sunday (22 November). Mr Vevers issued a statement last week saying the shire has no evidence to support its claims “and is destined for another loss in VCAT [and] another waste of ratepayers’ money”. Cr Paul Mercurio has urged his…

ONE of the many empty offices and shops along Main Street, Mornington was previously occupied by Watsons, the self-proclaimed “leaders in the land development industry since 1946”. But Watsons is no more, instead of COVID-19, the company can be seen as a victim of a long running IBAC investigation into alleged land development scandals in the City of Casey. Central to the subsequent hearings surrounding Operation Sandon has been Watsons owner John Woodman, who has now sold the business to Marshal Melbourne Pty Ltd, owned by his son Heath Woodman, a former director of Watsons. Developments on the Mornington Peninsula,…

AN appeal has gone out in a bid to find enough “Moorooduc stone” to help restore an open air chapel at Shoreham. The chapel in Buxton Reserve off Marine Parade was built in 1951 and named after Cyril Young who along with his younger brother Ivan was a member and leader of the YMCA. The brothers died in World War II, and the chapel was dedicated to Cyril and the pulpit to Ivan. The YMCA’s Camp Buxton was established in 1925. However, the chapel has deteriorated in recent years and now the Cyril Young Memorial Chapel Association needs Moorooduc stone…

JUNE Alderslade, pictured, is precise in her art. Hours of research and a magnifying glass have always contributed to the realism she achieves in her paintings of insects and birds. Daughter Linda Mitchell says her mother, now 95, has always painted, with one of her paintings featuring in a Bacchus marsh newspaper when. She was 10. Ms Alderslade, who has spent half her life on the Mornington Peninsula, worked as a mechanical tracer before the introduction of computers when “everything they traced had to be precise”. “This showed in her art as she always used magnifying glass and often two…

THERE will be eight new faces among Mornington Peninsula’s Shire’s 11 councillors when they are sworn in on Monday 16 November. Six of the councillors are women, the reverse of the previous council which had six men and five women. Ten of the councillors elected from 43 candidates in this month’s postal poll attended last Friday’s election declaration ceremony at the Peninsula Community Theatre, Mornington. With the winning candidates at the theatre separated by a suitable social distance, the chair allocated for Watson Ward winner Paul Mercurio remained vacant. Other new councillors and their wards are: Briars: Steve Holland, Despi…

EXPERTS believe Mount Martha may have been the landing place of an invasive marine pest. A photograph of what is suspected as being an Asian shore crab has sparked a request from Agriculture Victoria for beachgoers to be on the lookout. Originally from waters around Japan, Russia, North China and Korea, the Asian shore crab is not known to be established in Australia, but it has the potential to become a major pest. Agriculture Victoria’s principal officer invasive marine species Dr Richard Stafford-Bell said Asian shore crabs could spread rapidly and consume and outcompete native species, including scallops, mussels and…

THE ocean car park at the end of King Street, Flinders has been closed due to a landslide. Part of the bitumen covered parking area collapsed after heavy rain on 9 October and Parks Victoria has hired geotechnical experts to assess the situation. Kris Rowe, chief ranger for the southern peninsula, said the collapse posed a “significant risk to the public” and the car park would be closed “until further notice”. “We are conscious of the value of this car park to the local community and will keep people updated as we determine the appropriate next steps,” Mr Rowe said.…

SOON after the Europeans arrived, they began to colonise territory that was already occupied and providing a living for its long time inhabitants. The original populations were overlooked as the fast-reproducing, more powerful hordes took over the lush valleys and fast-developing agricultural areas. But a growing number of enthusiasts are now coming to the plight of the originals, providing safety and shelter from the spreading hordes. The narrative of invasion and a struggle for survival might sound familiar, but it is one few people know about: the takeover of Australia by European bees. Introduced for their manufacturing and pollinating skills,…

FUTURE “development opportunities” of land now occupied by Mount Martha Public Golf Course will be reviewed by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. The shire has hired consultants @leisure Planners and WellPlayed to “develop a vision and long term plan” for the golf course. Described by the shire as an “exciting project”, the shire is inviting public comment until 5pm Wednesday 11 November. With easing of COVID-19 restrictions the 18-hole course off Forest Drive reopened for golfing on 21 October. “We will be reviewing all aspects of the site, including its role as a significant open space for the peninsula and undertaking…

DISTANCE can be a barrier to friendship but, with new technology, staying in touch has never been easier. Although Jo Cooper and Vi Fleming, both aged 103, live in aged care centres at Mornington and Frankston, the stay in touch on a regular basis. Friends since meeting at Baxter Village, Frankston some years ago, the pair are great supporters of Zoom, the videotelephony and online chat service that has become an integral part of daily life during the coronavirus pandemic. Ms Cooper’s daughter Joyce Curry says her mother and Ms Fleming are “tech savvy” and enjoy their “magical moments” on…

UNITED Energy has been working under and above ground to reduce the risk of power lines causing bushfires. Nearly 600 metres of power lines have been put underground along Valley Views Lane, Main Ridge where a pine tree fell onto the cables earlier this year leaving customers without power for 12 hours. It has also installed aerial bundled cable in high risk bushfire areas. The company says 55 large pine trees in the lane are leaning towards the power lines, “posing a risk of starting a fire or causing a power outage”. “This line is located on the north west…

STATE MPs from both the major parties have now become involved in campaigns being run by candidates in this week’s Mornington Peninsula Shire Council elections. Mornington Liberal MP David Morris has posted his personal how-to-vote card on his Facebook page, listing Briars Ward candidates Steve Holland, Bruce Ranken and Stephen Batty. In August, Nepean Labor MP Chris Brayne made an early entry in the campaign by providing Facebook space to Jared Tipping in Seawinds Ward, Melissa Goffin and Claire Thorn, Red Hill and Sarah Race, Nepean (“Anger over MP’s poll roll” The News 31/8/20). Mr Brayne also used the shire’s…

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…

VOTING in the election to fill 11 vacant seats on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council winds to a close on Friday (23 October). The results will not be announced until next month. Friday 13 November could be an ominous day to remember for those who miss out on a place around the decision-making table for the next four years. But for those who win, it will mark the start of a council faced with an enormous job of bringing everyone in the municipality back from the economic and social setbacks caused by COVID-19. Five of the sitting councillors are seeking re-election,…

THE days of spotting the small horse pulling a made to measure jinker along Mount Martha streets and footpaths have gone. Taffy the horse has died. On vet’s orders, his owner, Simone Kelly, had been exercising Taffy by getting him to pull the jinker. Taffy had become a bit overweight and unfit, grazing with his cow and goat mates in the paddock which forms part of the six-hectare Woodclyffe property off the Esplanade. The vet gave him his marching, or trotting orders, when checked for a hoof complaint. Ms Kelly and Taffy soon became popular regulars along the Esplanade and…

THE multi-award winning documentary “Can Art Stop a Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture” is having its final online screening on Thursday 29 October. Described as a peace documentary, the film follows Cheltenham-based artist William Kelly through various countries, recording his views on peace along with those of actor Martin Sheen, photographer Nick Ut (whose photo of a child fleeing napalm bombing is credited with adding impetus to ending the Vietnam War) and philosopher A C Grayling. The image of that young girl is also incorporated in Kelly’s 13-metre long “Peace and War/The Big Picture” banner, which hangs in the La…

VOTERS have just over one week to elect 11 councillors to run Mornington Peninsula Shire for the next four years. Social media has become an intense platform for debate in what is recognised as the most unusual municipal election ever because of the COVID-19 restrictions on campaigning. Ballot packs were mailed out to peninsula voters by the Victorian Electoral Commission last week and must be returned by 6pm Friday 23 October. Voting is compulsory for those listed on the state electoral role. Just five of the sitting councillors are seeking re-election and the results will be announced Friday 13 November.…