Author: Keith Platt

THE state opposition has waded into the debate over the time being given for the public to comment on an environmental effects statement prepared by AGL for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. “The potential consequences of a decision to locate this toxic industry at Crib Point, are too great to allow such an important part of the process to proceed at a time when our community is in the middle of dealing with a world wide virus pandemic,” Hastings MP Neale Burgess said. AGL’s environmental effects statement (EES) for its proposed floating gas terminal and a 56 kilometre pipeline…

TEN five-person teams are out disinfecting “communal touch points” throughout the Mornington Peninsula to lessen the spread of COVID-19. The teams are being paid for by the state government through Citywide, a “physical services company” and work in conjunction with the shire’s Clean Team. The teams are cleaning public seating, bike hoops, playground equipment, bins, pedestrian signal buttons, handrails, street furniture and bus shelters. “This was a quick turnaround initiative of the government to support our community in feeling safe and secure in public and provide some additional support to council and business as restrictions are eased,” the mayor Cr…

NEW regulations proposed for beach boxes will eventually see their ownership restricted to Mornington Peninsula residents or ratepayers. At present, licence renewals for 56 per cent of the 820 beach boxes managed by Mornington Peninsula Shire are sent to addresses outside of the municipality. New regulations proposed by the shire aim to bring beach box ownership back to the peninsula and also limit the number of licences to one a person. Cr David Gill said owning property on the peninsula was a requirement for beach box licences “until recent decades”, making the change “a renewal of a lapsed policy”. He…

ON National Sorry Day, Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors rejected adopting an Aboriginal name for the $50 million aquatic centre being built at Rosebud. Another public consultation process “targeted” at peninsula residents will now be undertaken with five suggested names, including three Aboriginal words. However, the final decision will be made by councillors with the delay costing ratepayers an estimated $200,000. The names on the list 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 to swim. Cr David Gill said council’s reluctance to vote…

Although they have been around the entertainment industry for most of their lives, Louine Shaw and Steve Myers were “thrilled” to watch as three of their songs took off on Triple J’s Unearthed charts. The Mornington-based duo started writing and recording under the name Aeon Volt about two years ago, but it was only with the release of their first album AxioMatic in February, and subsequently three singles on Unearthed, that things, as Myers says, “have really taken off”. Just as there is nothing simple about their music, the formula for crafting a song that races up the chart is…

THIRTEEN captive-bred orange-bellied parrots have been released in Western Port. This is the first time the critically endangered parrots have been released in the area and followed a two-month “training regime” in a large aviary. The training by Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park staff aimed to instil site-fidelity by daily calling the birds to a specially designed food station. The Pearcedale sanctuary’s director Michael Johnson said the release was made possible thanks to two environmentally dedicated landowners who allowed the aviary to be built on their property next to the parrot’s saltmarsh habitat. The release was part of the sanctuary’s…

A COLOURFUL sign woven into the fence at Crib Point clearly showed power company AGL is not welcomed by all at Crib Point. The company is awaiting a state government decision on its plan to establish a floating gas terminal in Western Port and a 56 kilometre pipeline to Pakenham (“Fairness call for AGL decision” The News 12/5/20). Although colourful and eye-catching the “No AGL” sign on the fence around the site of the proposed gas terminal and jetty was removed within one day. Don Juniper who photographed the sign before its removal, said he was “shocked to see the…

MORNINGTON’S Mr Movies has drawn the curtains for the last time on his three screens in Main Street. Mornington Cinemas has closed after 39 years. However, it’s more intermission than the end for Ian McCann, who plans to reopen in a smaller, more intimate way just around the corner. The new venue will sit alongside a restaurant, wine bar and cinema. “It will be like going back to the beginning for me,” McCann said last Thursday as he stood amid boxes of movie posters in the cinemas’ foyer off main Street. Other boxes placed just outside the entrance were being…

THE first whales of the 2020 season have been spotted off the Mornington Peninsula’s Number 16 beach. In between Blairgowrie and Rye back beaches, the humpback whales at Number 16 were recorded as travelling east by Mandy Robertson on Saturday 16 May. “It’s a wonderful coincidence that the first sighting of humpback whales in our region for 2020 aligned with the first relaxing of the COVID-19 rules,” Dolphin Research Institute executive director Jeff Weir said. “Our citizen scientists can now venture out, but this year need to keep a safe distance from each other – as well as from the…

ANGLERS could not resist the lure of the bay and golfers were destined to seek their fairway to scorecard heaven when social distancing bans were eased last Wednesday (13 May). Golf courses across the Mornington Peninsula were heavily booked for the first day on the greens for weeks and boat ramps were again back in use as anglers cast off in the hope that fish had become complacent. As well as those two major activities, the brakes of the coronavirus shutdown were also eased for religious groups which were given the go ahead for meetings of 10 people provided social…

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors last week held their first virtual council meeting. Like schoolchildren and businesses throughout the country, councillors and support staff have now adapted to going online to keep the shire on track. And, like schoolchildren, their online performances may count towards an end of the year judgement following the state government’s announcements late Friday that municipal elections will be held as planned on Saturday 24 October. Local Government Minister Adam said “safe and secure” postal voting would be held in all municipalities. He said the government would spend more money to achieve its aim of “gender equality…

LONG time environmental campaigner Chris Chandler died of cancer on 30 April. Articulate and well-researched, Mr Chandler, who lived on French Island, was especially concerned with the loss of habitat and need to preserve the biodiversity and sensitive environment of Western Port. In February 2019, after joining more than 90 other fee paying passengers for a twilight cruise celebrating World Wetlands Day on Western Port,  Mr Chandler told The News that the bay’s wetlands “easily fit” the criteria required for them to be protected under the international Ramsar agreement. Always ready with statistics and a formidable knowledge of natural history,…

THE state government is under pressure to “do the right thing” and delay making any decision on power company AGL’s request for a gas import jetty at Crib Point. Environment Victoria and Save Westernport say it would be unfair in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic to give the community just 30 days to respond to the “thousands of pages of documents” prepared by AGL. The adequacy of AGL’s environmental effects statement (EES) for its proposed floating gas terminal and a 56 kilometre pipeline to Pakenham is now being reviewed by the Department for Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP)…

ALTHOUGH there is no shortage of days dedicated to particular issues, some frivolous and many that draw attention to worthy causes, World Bee Day is one that lines up with the latter. World Bee Day is on 20 May and Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill does not want it to go unnoticed. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill has become something of an advocate and authority on bees. He says much of the world’s food production depends on the survival of healthy communities of bees and regularly speaks at schools and to community groups and clubs about the insects…

Correction (The News 13/5/2020) THE article “‘Green hydrogen’ nearly affordable” (The News 5/5/20) incorrectly stated that it was South Australia’s Labor government, rather than the Liberal government, that was backing the production of hydrogen from water. South Australia’s Liberal government is led by Premier Steven Marshall who was involved in a “ground breaking ceremony” at Hydrogen Park south of Adelaide on 1 December 2019. The Victorian (Labor) and the federal (Liberal National) governments have together given $100 million towards making hydrogen from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley. A SMALL processing plant nearing completion in Bayview Road, Hastings can be…

ANZAC Day 2020 was like no other. Gone were the mass marches and dawn gatherings at cenotaphs throughout Australia. There were no Anzac breakfasts, two-up or the camaraderie that is always shown at a much-anticipated football game. Instead, family groups, or individuals, stood holding small lights at the end of driveways. Largely silent, the memories of past family members who fought for Australia were no less meaningful than when crowds have gathered in the past. Family members proudly wore medals, their memories stirred by the quiet dignity of the day. The small observances outside innumerable houses throughout the land were…

AN assessment is being made of the financial hardship and wider effects COVID-19 is having on businesses on the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington Peninsula Shire acknowledges many businesses are “doing it tough” and says it will use the data to help with the “recovery process”. The move comes after the shire helped set up a system to deliver “care packages” to households throughout the peninsula. Cr Simon Brooks says statistics for casual workers on the peninsula “linked to hospitality and tourism who may have lost their jobs” could be given to state and federal politicians. “These are typically, but not always,…

MOST of Victoria’s 79 councils want to cancel the elections scheduled to be held in October. Mornington Peninsula Shire, while not having a specific point of view, says “primary considerations” should be the community’s health and safety as well as “upholding the core principles of local democracy”. The Municipal Association of Victoria has told the state government that the council’s favour deferring the elections until next year. The government is expected to decide in the next few weeks to go ahead or abandon the council elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “A delay should be considered if over the coming…

AN unknown number of the 1300 colourful beach boxes regarded as attractions on Mornington Peninsula beaches and foreshores could be death traps. Potentially deadly amounts of asbestos has been found in about 120 of the beach boxes on beaches controlled by Mornington Peninsula Shire and Dromana foreshore committee, but details of another 500 boxes is un-known. The owners of the Dromana beach boxes have been asked to remove asbestos from their buildings but no such request has been issued by the shire. The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said none of the asbestos in 89 of the 824 beach boxes on…

THE estimated cost of installing solar panels on the yet to be named Rosebud aquatic centre, above, has more than doubled. The original design called for a 231kW system of solar panels for the centre now being built in Boneo Road, but council last year called for “the maximum number of solar panels possible … whilst maintaining safe roof access and symmetry for aesthetic purposes”. A 375kW system has now been incorporated into the design, adding $321,450 to the $303,000 cost of solar panels. A quotation of $624,400 has now been accepted for the expansion of the rooftop solar panels…

AGILITY and the ability to pivot have become buzzwords to describe the ability of businesses to adapt to the emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The commercial reality is that most commercial enterprises are being forced to close their doors and face major profit losses. However, some businesses have been able to pivot by changing product seeking new ways of distributing their existing product. Jesse Leeworthy and his business partner Jonathon Byrt have been able to swing their trademark business of making plastic water bottles to home deliver bottles of hand sanitiser. The pair entered the commercial world some years…

LIFE in the time of COVID-19 is, for many, a time of prayer. But congregating in a church during the coronavirus pandemic is not possible because of government social distancing rules St Marks Anglican Church, Dromana has had to abandon its regular services because of the dangers of transmitting COVID-19, but the offer to the public for its members to say prayers on request has not been withdrawn. The Rev Paul Woodcock said prayer requests usually “trickle in” at a rate of three or four a month. The requests are left in a small steel letterbox – the prayer box…

HUNDREDS of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders and their families have being vaccinated against the flu and tested for COVID-19 at car park clinics in Frankston and Hastings. Those attending the clinics are met by medical staff wearing masks and, in some cases, gowns bought online from food industry suppliers. The clinics are run by First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing, whose CEO Karinda Taylor says the peninsula needs a health service controlled by the Aboriginal community “if we are ever going to make headway on closing the health gap in the area”. Thomastown-based First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing was earlier…

THE state government has told Mornington Peninsula Shire it can take an extra two months to adopt its 2020/21 budget. If the shire decides to accept the offer, the budget will now need to be adopted by 31 August instead of 30 June and the annual report by 30 November, instead of 30 September. Last week’s announcement of extended times for adopting budgets by Local Government Minister Adam Somyurek appears to have caught the shire and other municipalities by surprise. The new budget deadline came after the shire had released its draft budget for pubic comment by 23 April, with…

JOHN Zacek admits that he has been a bit short tempered when dealing with staff at the office of Flinders MP Greg Hunt. But he attributes his anger to the “purely political” responses he received from Mr Hunt’s office when expressing frustration at the lack of a testing site for COVID-19 on the Mornington Peninsula. The closest “respiratory clinic” is at Frankston Hospital, a distance Mr Zacek sees as being too far away for the peninsula’s population of more than 167,000, especially the nearly 40,000 aged over 65. When asked by The News for comment on Mr Zacek’s concerns, Mr…

THE day the music died for Erin Moore was also the day that she realised the precarious situation her family was facing. Ms Moore and her partner Nick Martin run the Soundbar in Rosebud which, like other venues, has had to close its doors in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The couple live in a residence attached to the venue. Ms Moore is waiting in “the virtual JobSeeker line” for Centrelink payments while Mr Martin, is ineligible for government help because he is a Canadian citizen on a 482 visa. The couple has been “saving every dollar…

IN the past week and a half, a small factory in Somerville has made 10,000 plastic face shields to protect workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Martyn Gittens said that his company, BerleyPro, which normally makes equipment for kayak fishing and visors for fish finders, could easily switch to making the medical shields. “It was really fun to ramp up and now we’re almost out of control,” he said on Monday. “I knew we had to run with it as so many people needed them.” Buying and sourcing materials was easy at first but had become problematic since the federal government…

INTERACTION between crews aboard overseas ships using the Port of Hastings and onshore workers are being kept to a minimum, but there is no physical barrier to crews coming ashore. The Victorian Regional Channels Authority says it has been assessing the potential impacts of COVID-19 since travel restrictions were placed on the movement of people from mainland-China in early February 2020. Hastings and other Australian are subjected to COVID-19 Australian Border Force protocols, but do not have ABF officers on duty at all times. Key trades at the Port of Hastings include the import and export of oil, liquid petroleum…

THE beach at Mount Martha north is quiet, even though there is no shortage of sand. Beach box owners and other users of the leash-free area would normally be rejoicing, but the beach – shown as Hawker Beach on Marine Safety Victoria charts – remains partially closed. The loss of sand of sand at the beach has long been a sore point of contention between beach users, Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Department of Land, Water and Planning. With the shire and the government agreeing to only barricade the base of the cliff to lessen the chance of a major…

Mornington Peninsula Shire CEO John Baker will be given emergency powers to make decisions normally made only by elected councillors. A special meeting on council (Tuesday 7 April) is expected to agree to hand the powers to Mr Baker if councillors are ill or unable to meet because of COVID-19. Under the suggested new rules, Mr Baker will be able to approve items of up to $1 million (if already in an adopted budget); $750,000 for works; $500,000 goods and services; and $200,000 for goods and services and works. While Mr Baker is certain to get some extra powers, some…