Author: Keith Platt

AFTER months of indecision and appeals for public suggestions, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was last week “thrilled” to announce it had decided on Yawa as the name of the $50 million aquatic centre being built at Rosebud. Describing it as “our milestone aquatic centre” the shire issued a news release saying the decision to call it the Yawa Aquatic centre was made after councillors took account of a community vote on five shortlisted names (“Yawa tops public pool poll” The News 28/7/20). The statement issued after the council’s Tuesday 28 July meeting made no reference to councillors in May rejecting…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire will go online next month to explain its position regarding AGL’s proposed floating gas terminal at Crib Point. Although the shire does not have any power to approve or reject the plan it will be making a submission on the environmental effects statement prepared by AGL and now pen for public comment. The final decision on the plan to process imported liquified natural gas at Crib Point before being piped to Pakenham will be made by the state and federal governments. A news release issued by the shire last week stated that the project posed “potential environmental,…

THE 90 cases (18 active) of COVID-19 recorded in the municipality by Monday (3 August), came three days after Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a statement that the peninsula was “winning the battle” against the coronavirus. The shire ranks 30 among the state’s 79 municipalities for the number of recorded coronavirus cases. Frankston, with 107 cases, is 25th. “Now that we’re at the half-way point of the current six-week lockdown, we can see how the responsible actions of local residents are paying off,” the mayor Cr Sam Hearn said. The statement was made two days before the state government declared a…

WITH 81 cases (14 active) of COVID-19 recorded in the municipality on Friday 31 July, Mornington Peninsula Shire made the statement that the peninsula is “winning the battle” against the coronavirus. “Now that we’re at the half-way point of the current six-week lockdown, we can see how the responsible actions of local residents are paying off,” the mayor Cr Sam Hearn said. The statement was made two days before the state government declared a state of disaster and stage four restrictions for six weeks from 6pm Sunday (2 August), including an 8pm-5am curfew. The new restrictions include exercising (one hour…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have “an opportunity to pay respect” to First Nations people by dropping the name Blacks Camp from a reserve and kindergarten at Somerville. An archaeological investigation in 2004 found more than 200 artefacts and four Aboriginal sites and concluded that with the existence of fresh water there it had once been a substantial Aboriginal camp. The shire has been told that Blacks Camp is a derogatory term and offensive to the Bunurong Land Council and People of Aboriginal heritage. Pam Vercoe, the shire’s head of governance and legal, said non-Aboriginal residents and users of the reserve…

ROCKS regarded as a vital to bringing sand back to Portsea’s badly eroded front beach have been removed. Their removal by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will ensure that “there’ll be no beach at Portsea” this summer, according to Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn. He said the shire was “deeply disappointed” the rocks had not been left at the beach to be used as the foundation for an offshore groyne (“Rock groyne ‘key’ to $20m Portsea beach plan” The News 29/6/20). “The shire had the concept scientifically modelled by coastal and ocean engineering consultancy…

AFTER treading water for months, Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors are expected to choose Yawa as the name of the $50 million aquatic centre being built at Rosebud. The Indigenous name meaning “to swim” came first in an online public poll run by the council. The decision to choose an Indigenous word follows months of debate and has cost an estimated $200,000 in delays and extra work for shire officers and consultants. Reacting to a vocal and seemingly powerful lobby group that wanted the name Rosebud Aquatic Centre, councillors in May deferred choosing an Indigenous name and instead sought further public…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has joined the chorus of calls for the state government to stop the exhibition of AGL’s plans for a floating gas import terminal at Crib Point until after the lifting of the stage three COVID-9 restrictions. It says that if Planning Minister Richard Wynne does not agree to postponing the exhibition of the environmental effects (EES) prepared by AGL for its gas plan he should “at the very least” extend the submission time by four weeks. Mr Wynne has already added 10 days to the scheduled exhibition of the EES relating to AGL gas terminal and a…

FOOTY fans are rallying to fly the flag even as the Victorian AFL teams and their families head north to hopefully complete the season. Carlton supporter Dianne Baxter, of Bittern, says her dog Georgia is also a great fan of the Blues. Although she is probably more of a mascot than active club member, Ms Baxter credits Georgia with having a fine Carlton pedigree. “Her ‘grandfather’ played in three winning Grand Finals, was the club’s leading goal kicker six times and was inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame. Georgia is definitely a true Blue,” she said. Ms Baxter’s father…

SAND has become a precious and fought over commodity, and no more so than near some of Australia’s most expensive and exclusive real estate: Portsea. At one end of the town, near the iconic pier, sand has disappeared several times over the past decade, starting in 2009 when dredging of the South Channel changed its shape, causing a new, damaging swell to erode a part of the beach near the Portsea Hotel. With sand trucked in at great expense to taxpayers, the beach was restored, but not to its former glory, or permanently. A couple of years later the imported…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors want the state government to rein in the power of municipal chief executive officers to prevent bonuses being secretly given to staff. Under the current rules CEOs can grant bonuses to staff without telling councillors, residents or ratepayers. Council CEOs are the only council officers appointed and controlled by councillors. All other council staff are under the jurisdiction of the CEO. Cr David Gill told The News that the shire’s current CEO, John Baker, had not awarded any bonuses to staff. However, a previous CEO who he declined to name, had provided bonuses to individual officers…

SCIENTISTS are trying to find out if there is a link between climate change and the food of choice for little penguins. With rookeries at Phillip Island and on a breakwater near St Kilda, the penguins are frequently seen in Port Phillip and Western Port. Although it is estimated the penguins eat more than 100 tonnes of sardine each breeding season, their popularity with tourists earns more money for Victoria than all its commercial fisheries. Their diet has proved to be more varied than previously known and researchers say future-proofing their prey is essential for the penguins’ long-term survival. The…

IT can be hard to keep track of hooded plovers as they flit around from one place to another, unrestrained by any travel bans. But, dedicated followers of the locally endangered birds can sometimes manage to build up a character study of individual birds. One such bird, UJ, was first tagged as a 28-day-old chick on 5 April 2013 at Hamers Haven, on the Bass Coast. Last week, she was near Mushroom Reef, Flinders a place that in some ways UJ has come to call home. Although a blood sample was taken from UJ seven years ago bird banders were…

POLICE checked and cleared all passengers for travel on the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry after stage three coronavirus restrictions came into force on Thursday 9 July. The ferry is classed as an essential service, linking the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas. Although the Mornington Peninsula is subject to the restrictions Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are not within the Melbourne metropolitan area. “During the next six weeks we expect that the only travellers on our service will be people that have a need to travel for one of the three permitted reasons,” Searoad Ferries’ operations general manager Wes Oswin said. “The…

YEARS of car stickers, protests and petitions are about to culminate with lengthy submissions against the floating gas import terminal planned at Crib Point by power company AGL. The state government has announced that the environment effects statement for the gas terminal and a 57 kilometre pipeline to Pakenham is open for public comment until 26 August. However, the process could be disrupted by Viva Energy’s announcement that it too wants to develop a gas import terminal at its Geelong refinery. A rival power supplier to AGL, Viva sees the refinery as establishing Geelong as a future “energy hub” for…

TOM Putt knows a thing or two about creating an image, and when he arrived at Balnarring beach early on a cold, misty morning he knew that all the right ingredients were available. Putt, of Mount Martha, had watched racehorses being exercised at the beach before but never had the conditions been so favourable. “With the forecast for near freezing temperatures overnight, I dragged out my winter woolies and prepared for the frosts and icy conditions the next day,” he said. The soft morning light revealed horses emerging from the mist. Used to the horses cantering up and down the…

IN Mid-May Frankston had recorded the third highest number of fines, 297, for breaking COVID-19 restrictions which came into force in mid-March. Only Melbourne, 590, and Greater Dandenong, 333, had a higher number of fines. Police on the Mornington Peninsula issued 203 fines in the same time frame, nearby Casey 249 and Kingston 113. The peninsula’s figures are sure to have grown since then with police handing the occupant of a house at St Andrews Beach, a $1652 fine on Sunday 28 June. Rye police said up to 18 guests were mingling at the Tiberius Road house when, acting on…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are expected this month to receive a report on planning approvals involving three Mornington-based companies, engineers, planners and developers Watsons, Schutz Consulting and Wolfdene Built. As well as involving its own officers, the shire hired an “external planning expert” to review permits going back 20 years relating to the $650 million Martha Cove development at Safety Beach. The investigations were ordered last December to make sure the shire has not made corrupt planning decisions similar to ones alleged at the City of Casey during the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s Operation Sandon. Shire councillors on 23 June…

THE Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal has been called in to determine what activities Peninsula Aero Club can undertake at the Tyabb airfield. Issues being investigated are use of the east-west runway, passenger charter services and night flying. Mornington Peninsula Shire and the aero club have long disputed some of the existing planning permit conditions and legislation requires that VCAT be called in to adjudicate. The shire last week issued a statement saying it would abide by VCAT’s decision and “then work with both the PAC and broader Tyabb community to understand any implications from the decision”. Aero club members were…

RESEARCHERS from the Dolphin Research Institute are worried about the welfare of a southern right whale mother and her calf after they were harassed by a vessel near Cape Schanck on Sunday. A volunteer citizen scientist with the institute’s Two Bays Whale Project was watching the whales as they appeared desperate to evade a harassing vessel. The normally slow-moving southern right whales were seen travelling fast and frequently changing direction as the boat manoeuvred in an apparent attempt to photograph the pair. There were so many reported incidents of whales being pursued by boats in Port Phillip and near Phillip…

ALL candidates in the October Mornington Peninsula Shire Council elections must complete a course on local government in August. The course requirement means candidates will be unable to keep their intentions secret until the last moment on nomination day, although the option of not lodging papers would remain. The elections are being held during an unprecedented time in local government caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Council meetings are being held online, the CEO John Baker has been granted emergency powers and shire income is under threat with an abnormal number of requests expected to defer rate payments. Councillors last week…

THE owners of beach boxes on Crown land managed by Mornington Peninsula Shire have succeeded in preventing their annual licence fees being increased to $1200. The shire has agreed to charge $990, with a further discount to $700 if the beach box is less than five square metres. In a submission to the council Mornington Peninsula Beach Box Association vice-president Mark A Davis said the proposed $1200 licence fee plus other shire-based fees meant that “in most cases” beach boxes were “higher than those applied to a resident’s residential property”. He said providing a weekly waste service to beach boxes…

SILHOUETTES along the Western Port shoreline on Saturday marked the shortest day the of year and underlined opposition to AGL’s plans for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. Save Westernport members saw the winter solstice as symbolic of the outcomes they fear from the gas plan. Socially distanced, many of those on beaches from Flinders to Hastings and on French and Phillip islands held lighted candles “in a show of appreciation for Western Port’s unique ecology and solidarity against AGL”, Julia Stockigt of Save Western Port said. Ms Stockigt said the beach vigil “symbolise their determination to stand by…

AS the time for voting on a name for the $50 million aquatic centre draws to a close Aboriginals and their supporters are making it clear that Yawa is their preferred title. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors last month rejected a recommendation that the aquatic centre be called Gunawarra and instead shortlisted five names for a public vote. However, the councillors gave no guarantee that the most popular name would be adopted. The five shortlisted names are: Gunawarra Aquatic Centre; Rosebud Aquatic Centre; Barbawar Aquatic Centre; Yawa Aquatic Centre; and Tides Aquatic Centre. Gunawarra means black swan, barbawar stingray and yawa…

DESPITE their admitted lack of the required scientific expertise, Mornington Peninsula Shire officers have been ordered to investigate alleged health issues surrounding the 5G telecommunications network. The councillors’ decision to investigate what is essentially a federal government responsibility was made in response to 700-signature petition expressing concerns that the introduction of the 5G technology could endanger health. Fears of health risks from 5G have sparked street protests in Australia, including Melbourne, where marches have often been combined with those opposing vaccines. Overseas, demonstrators have set fire to 5G telecommunications towers. The petition was received in January and at that stage…

Mornington Peninsula Shire has unveiled a plan for a 192-hectare industrial area on the outskirts of Hastings. The plan to provide enough industrial land for the next 15 years follows the steady loss of unoccupied industrial land across the peninsula. The Draft Mornington Peninsula Industrial Areas Land Use and Infrastructure Assessment and Rezoning Strategy will be on exhibition for comment for six weeks. The shire’s strategic projects manager Allan Cowley says that allowing a shortage of industrial land would lead to a “constrained” market, with high prices impeding the development of new businesses. Due to changes in uses allowed in…

BOTH state and federal governments are being asked to launch a life raft to ease economic and social hardship on the Mornington Peninsula in the wake of the coronavirus emergency. The shire’s $320 million recovery wish list ranges from housing for the homeless to a technology park. Estimated costs are just as variable, with the homeless “package” put at $2.5 million, a plan to use recycled water coming in at $27.3m and road safety $130m. In its approach to both governments the shire says the Mornington Peninsula has “suffered one of the heaviest hits to employment in the state”, with…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are again appealing for the public to help them decide on a name for the $50 million aquatic centre being built at Rosebud. The councillors deferred voting on a short list of names when they met on 26 May, and instead decided to again ask the community. The short list of five names is now being publicised and public comment sought, but the final decision will be made by councillors. In a widely circulated email Cr David Gill stated “the last minute change by council is now also an opportunity to firmly state that we are…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said seven homeless people were given permission last month to use the camping ground at Rosebud. The shire had been “trying to find places for them to stay” when a second group of four to six people arrived. Cr Hearn said the allotted area did not have the capacity to accommodate such large numbers and if allowed to continue could lead to a shanty town. Cr Hearn said homeless people had “year after year” used camping ground over summer with several always “staying on” after the end of the camping season. “It gets…

IT can be viewed as a sad commentary on humanity that children happily play where lives were brutally lost. Or perhaps the apparent incongruity of such a scene is testament to the human spirit of survival. Artist William Kelly describes Guernica in northern Spain as “a lovely city with children playing in parks”. But looming large in Kelly’s mindset is also the horror and brutality depicted in Pablo Picasso’s 1937 oil painting, Guernica. An optimist, Kelly’s own art is designed to create dialogue, peace talk, if you like. Kelly, who lives in Cheltenham, is known for his sweeping statement “art…