Author: Keith Platt

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…

ALTHOUGH caught in the midst of unprecedented economic uncertainty, Mornington Peninsula Shire has released its proposed 2020/21 budget for public comment. Property rates will rise by 2 per cent, in line with a cap imposed by the state government, providing the shire with $191.6 million towards an overall predicted  income of $244.9m, $8m less than the previous year. Rural living rates will drop by 6 per cent. The budget does not include any of the ongoing and extensive measures being taken by the shire to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (“Crisis backing for business” The News 31/3/20). The ultimate…

LAKESIDE Villas at Crittenden Estate, Dromana has won the silver award for self-contained accommodation in the 2019 Australian Tourism Awards. The award was presented in Canberra on 6 March and followed Lakeside Villas winning gold at the Victorian Tourism Awards. Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Pearcedale won bronze in the ecotourism category at the Australian Tourism Awards. Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages, Western Australia and Avalon Coastal Retreat, Tasmania won the gold and bronze awards in the self-contained accommodation while Margaret Island Walk, Tasmania won gold and Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Queensland silver in the ecotourism category. Lakeside Villas…

EASTER is usually the final fling for seasonal holidaymakers on the Mornington Peninsula – but this year there is no welcome mat out. The healthy injection of income businesses rely on to balance the books over winter has been replaced by closed doors and staff being stood down. Visitors are being asked to stay away. The peninsula was last week identified as having second highest number of recorded COVID-19 cases of any Victorian municipality. The statistics released by the Department of Health and Human Services showed the City of Stonnington had the highest number of cases, 61, with the peninsula…

BEACHES have been closed in Frankston and across the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said beaches were closed Saturday morning following advice from the Department of Environment Lands Water and Planning and senior police. The advice was issued after crowds gathered at St Kilda beach on Thursday, despite warnings of the need to lessen the spread of COVID-19 through close contact. The shire also received complaints about crowds at The Pillars cliff jumping site at Mount Martha. On Saturday, police were telling people to leave shire-controlled beaches “They [the government] told us they were going to…

BEACHES have been closed across the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said beaches were closed Saturday morning following requests from the Department of Environment Lands Water and Planning and senior police. The approach was made after news outlets showed pictures of crowded beaches at St Kilda, despite warnings of the need to lessen the spread of COVID-19 through close contact. The shire also received complaints about crowds gathering on Friday at The Pillars cliff jumping site at Mount Martha. “They [the government] told us they were going to close beaches and wanted our help with signs,”…

THE Eagle cable car ride at Arthurs Seat has been placed in the hands of administrators. The estimated $20 million ride that started carrying passengers in December 2016 has now ground to a halt. Lisa Macnamara, senior manager – corporate affairs at Pricewaterhouse Coopers said the closure was due to “the government’s advice on COVID-19, which coincided with the appointment of the voluntary administrators [Craig Crosbie and Robert Ditrich] the following day [23 March]”. “Due to the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 situation, a potential reopening date cannot be provided at this stage.” Ms Macnamara said all full time…

FREE parcels of food and personal care items are to be delivered to needy and socially isolated people across the Mornington Peninsula. The food parcel plan is part of the rollout of emergency measures by Mornington Peninsula Shire to help lessen the spread and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Caring for our Community program volunteers and staff left without jobs by the closing of shire services due to the coronavirus outbreak will be redeployed to deliver packages being put together with the help of health and welfare agencies, Red Cross, the Department of Health and Human Services and…

LINES of people stretching on to Main Street, Mornington on Monday morning would have been forced to join others queuing at Frankston if the latest COVID-19 emergency measures had come a week later. With phone lines backed up and the MyGov website offline across Australia, there were no answers from the federal government about whether it would proceed with the closure at the end of this month of Mornington Centrelink. A rally protesting about the closure slated for the end of this month was called off last week due the coronavirus. This week’s queues are likely to get longer as…

OPPONENTS of Hillview Quarries’ plan to open a new quarry on the Arthurs Seat escarpment at Dromana want the state government to buy the land and make it part of the state park. Hillview, owned by R E Ross Trust, wants to clear up to 38 hectares (93 acres) of untouched bushland in a block that borders two sides of the old Pioneer quarry. The block of 69 hectares (170 acres) at 115 Boundary Rd, Dromana, is between two sections of Arthurs Seat State Park. The Pioneer quarry at 121 Boundary Rd was closed in 1998 after it had been…

OLD habits die hard, but kissing babies and shaking hands may become a lost art for politicians. The advent of COVID-19 is seeing a rewriting of the rules when it comes to greetings. Bodily contact is out, and keeping a social distance is in. News that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton tested positive for novel coronavirus three days after attending a Cabinet meeting in Sydney on Tuesday 10 March, turned apprehensive eyes towards his ministerial colleagues. Had they been infected? The Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quick to say he wouldn’t be tested and had every intention of going to…

PUBLIC hearings being undertaken by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) into allegations of serious corrupt conduct concerning planning decisions at Casey Council, will be closed to the public because of COVID-19. The commissioner for IBAC, The Honourable Robert Redlich QC, has taken the decision to bar the public from tomorrow (Monday 16 March) “as a precautionary measure in consideration of public health”. The public can freely watch the hearings online as they are streamed each day on the IBAC website www.ibac.vic.gov.au. Transcripts will continue to be shared on the website. The hearings are being held at the Fair Work…

Organisers have called off next Wednesday’s rally to stop the closure of the Mornington Centrelink and Medibank offices because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rally was scheduled to be held outside the Centrelink offices in Main Street but an update issued by Mornington Community Information and Support Centre last Friday (13 March) stated: “Unfortunately, due to concerns about the Coronavirus, we have cancelled the public rally planned for Wednesday”. A petition on change.org to “Stop the closure of Mornington Centrelink Office” was by Saturday morning nearing the required 2500 signatures.

THE jury is still out on the precautions taken to make sure nearby residents were not disturbed by noise from a country music festival held last Sunday at The Briars, Mount Martha. Following complaints about over-amplification of electronic music at an event on 16 February, Mornington Peninsula Shire said it would make sure noise levels were kept under EPA levels (“Feedback a part of noise review” The News 26/2/20). Briars manager Rebecca Levy said the country music festival was “quite a different event [and] therefore we are not anticipating the same level of noise issues”. In a letter to Mount…

IT may sound a bit biblical, but a Mornington Peninsula wine is being turned into turtles. The wine is labelled “endangered” and some of its sales profits are helping turtles survive in North Queensland. However, while wine maker Garry Crittenden’s commitment to “saving” the endangered grape variety arneis has now been abandoned, its loss is the turtles’ saviour. Mr Crittenden’s grandson Oscar became concerned at the threat plastic posed to turtles after being inspired by Molly Steer, the “straws no more” campaign girl who lives in Cairns. When Mr Crittenden decided to stop making wine from the arneis grapes growing…

PROPERTY owners will be billed for safety works at the intersection of Pottery and Jones roads, Somerville. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors have authorised a special charge scheme to help pay the estimated $565,000 needed for the “high risk” works. The shire will pay 35 per cent of the cost with the rest being apportioned among property owners seen to benefit from the works. However, unlike most special charge schemes which are based on road frontages, the apportionment will be judged on properties seen to be receiving a “special benefit”. Peninsula Quarries, established by Bayport Industries in July 2017, operates a…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s declaration of a “climate emergency” may put it on a collision course with both state and federal governments over the Port of Hastings. Two significant moves made by the shire last month could lead to it opposing hydrogen gas produced in the Latrobe Valley and opposing a container port because of potential environmental, social and economic impacts on Hastings. A brown coal-to-hydrogen scheme involves a plant now being built at AGL’s Loy Yang power station site and a hydrogen liquefication and loading terminal in Bayview Road, Hastings. The project consortium is led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and…

A RANGE of measures are being proposed to protect endangered wildlife on the Mornington Peninsula. While the focus is on the welfare of the dwindling number of koalas on the peninsula, the state government and Parks Victoria are being asked to help establish a hospital for injured and ill wildlife. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors will be asked next week to seek backing for a wildlife hospital at Highfield Farm, part of the Greens Bush section of the Mornington Peninsula National Park near Cape Schanck. Cr David Gill said at hospital at Highfield would be a central location for the peninsula’s…

IT was 11 or 12 years ago that Ron Farnill was told he could expect to live “about another two and a half years”. Not one to give up on enjoying life so easily, Farnill decided to “paint, instead of spending time cutting grass or fixing up the house”. While still painting daily, he’s also spending time choosing 100 or so paintings for his upcoming exhibition, Sky, sea, sail and other things (93 years in the making). The exhibition at Oak Hill Gallery, Mornington is also a lead-in to his 93rd birthday. “People have talked about the need for me…

AN “external planning expert” is being hired to review all permits relating to the development of Martha Cove at Safety Beach. The audit of the $650 million housing and marina project will go back 20 years. The Martha Cove investigation will run parallel to Mornington Peninsula Shire’s review of all planning approvals involving three Mornington-based companies, engineers, planners and developers Watsons, Schutz Consulting and Wolfdene Built. Frankston and Kingston councils are also undertaking similar internal investigations in the wake of last year’s hearings by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) which last week led to the state government sacking of…

LITTLE did the judge know when sentencing a 19-year-old farm labourer to spend years in Britain’s Van Dieman’s land penal colony that his actions would have a profound effect on as yet unnamed town of Portsea. James Sandle Ford was transported to what was to become Tasmania aboard the Eliza in 1831, a convicted fellon because of his role in an uprising of agricultural workers. After being granted a free pardon in 1836, Ford went to Sydney in 1838, marrying Helen Sullivan in 1841. The Sullivan family had emigrated from Ireland two years earlier hoping to find employment in the…

Surfboard manufacturers Paul and Phil Trigger are riding a wave of nostalgia. Mostly used to designing and liaising with clients over the shape and size of a custom surfboard, the two brothers are increasingly involved in restoring boards that have historical or sentimental value. In some instances, surfboards have become family heirlooms. One of the more interesting restoration jobs to come the Triggers’ way in recent months was brought in by their long time friend, former Peninsula Surf Centre proprietor, Ted Bainbridge. When shown the board Bainbridge wanted to refurbish, both in looks and function, Phil Trigger’s advice was to…

IN what has become a battle of motions, toilets at four Mornington Peninsula Shire-controlled campgrounds may be open all year to the public. Councillors last month agreed to open the toilets exclusively to the family and friends of beach box licence holders at Sorrento, Rye, Rosebud and McCrae instead of closing them from May to September. However, Cr Hugh Fraser last week told The News it was ridiculous to reserve the toilets for a select few people, most of whom did not live in the shire. He said the motion by Cr David Gill adopted by council at its 28…