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A FORMER councillor has questioned the legality of rules under which Mornington Peninsula Shire Council now operates. The Governance Rules adopted by councillors at their 24 August meeting included last minute amendments introduced by Cr Sarah Race. Officers were provided with the amendments just before the meeting, but councillors were not sent a copy of what was proposed and only found out during the meeting when Cr Race introduced her proposed changes. The argument over the legality of the new rules revolves around whether the changes were significant or “one or two minor changes”, as described by in-house lawyer Amanda…

FOLLOWING a well-worn plot, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council appears to have arrived at a compromised, but happy, ending by continuing to run a mobile library service. The service, once back up and running in accord with COVID regulations, will be less frequent and with a smaller vehicle. The mobile library was taken off the road in March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and replaced with a home delivery service. The shire saw an opportunity to review the mobile service and save some money at the same time (“Mobile libraries may be shelved” The News 18/1/21). However, feedback…

WILDLIFE groups are frantically seeking to save a large mob of kangaroos from being slaughtered on a Cape Schanck property. Members of Mornington Peninsula Wildlife Action Group said the kangaroos appeared to be trapped behind wildlife exclusion fencing along all boundaries of the 70-hectare property on Patterson Road. They said up to 200 animals could not escape back to neighbouring Greens Bush wildlife reserve “even if they wanted to”. The group said neighbouring landholders had told them a kangaroo cull took place on the property last year and “their concern is another cull is imminent”. Neighbours had said no other…

The Mornington Peninsula was rocked by a wide ranging earthquake at 9.15am today (22 September 2021). The earthquake’s epicenter was in Mansfield and is reported to have been up to 6.0 on the Richter scale. It was felt through Metropolitan Melbourne, down the peninsula and in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, with reports of it being felt in Shepparton and Albury. On the peninsula, houses shops and factories shook for approximately 10 seconds. Office buildings in Melbourne’s CBD have been evacuated out of fear of aftershocks. There are reports on Vic Emergency of building damage across metropolitan Melbourne, but currently…

PARKS Victoria says that a scientific study has found that the effect on weedy seadragons by works to demolish part of Flinders pier “would be localised and temporary”. The report commissioned by Parks by environmental marine biology consultants CEE, examined the marine ecosystem at the pier, mapping habitat and marine life, and identifying potential impacts from removing the “unsafe” 180-metres of timber pier. Parks says the report shows removing the timber piles and deck “is unlikely to impact the population of weedy seadragons at a state, regional or local level and that any minor, temporary disturbances can be managed”. Parks…

THE deadline to bring former HMAS Otama submarine ashore has been pushed out to 2 October. Western Port Oberon Association says it has been given a two-week reprieve as it tries to find a way to haul the 1978 submarine out of Western Port and onto land near the Crib Point jetty as part of a marine tourist attraction. Association vice-president Keith Claughton said yesterday (Monday) that consultants were completing plans detailing the work required, timeframes and expected costs of bringing the sub ashore as part of applications for permits from Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Department of Environment Land…

A PROJECT seven years in the making and described as an “excellent example of the council, government and community coming together to deliver state-of-the-art facilities” in Mornington is awaiting state government approval. The Alexandra Park Pavilion redevelopment in Main Street will involve the co-location of allied health and medical suites from The Bays hospital into new buildings also housing existing cricket, football and netball clubs and recreation facilities. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council last week submitted a combined planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to Planning Minister Richard Wynne. “We’re looking forward to a prompt and positive response from the…

THE re-emergence of Matthew Guy as state Opposition Leader saw Mornington MP David Morris lose his position in the shadow cabinet and Eastern Victoria MP Edward O’Donohue bring forward his retirement from parliament. Mr Morris was the Coalition’s spokesperson for local government, housing and aged care and Mr O’Donohue – whose electorate includes Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula – had already signalled that he would not contest next year’s state election. A supporter of former leader Michael O’Brien (“you back your leader”), Mr Morris was one of 11 MPs who voted against the spill that saw Mr Guy appointed Opposition…

THE mental health and wellbeing of community gardeners on the Mornington Peninsula is being tested by the continuous COVID-19 lockdowns. Members of the 17 shire-run community gardens, who may also be socially isolated, like nothing better than to potter around picking vegetables, weeding, composting and pruning – all joys put on hold by the restrictions. Shire officers told members at the start of lockdown that, under state government COVID-19 restrictions, their gardens would be closed until further notice. Some even had their locks changed to stop entry. Several members, who asked not to be named, told The News it was…

HASTINGS has been named Australia’s most sustainable community in this year’s Australian Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards. Beginning in 1990 as a way of recognising pride, cohesion and action by members of the community, the awards now focus on sustainability to reflect the growing importance of community-led environmental action. As well as the top award, Hastings also won four of the nine individual categories in the awards held Friday 3 September. The Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention award went to two Hastings entries: The I Sea I Care Marine Ambassador Program and the A Team. Both programs empower young…

A PETITION presented to the Victorian Legislative Council on Tuesday 7 September by Victorian Greens leader Dr Samantha Ratnam aiming to protect eastern grey kangaroos coincided with National Threatened Species Day. Founder of the Peninsula Kangaroos group Craig Thompson said talking about potential local extinctions was “society’s best chance at stopping a species from becoming threatened”. “I know many people will not associate the eastern grey kangaroo with being threatened, but there are a number of points to consider,” Mr Thompson said, adding that all threatened species had one thing in common at one point: they were once common or…

A DROMANA school was last week declared a COVID-19 Tier 1 exposure site and closed for deep cleaning. It is believed a contractor who visited Peninsula Specialist College, in Old White Hill Road, introduced the virus, Wednesday 8 September. The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said schools – especially special schools – were always at risk: “These are vulnerable kids, and their teachers can’t always wear masks because of the [children’s] disabilities. Hopefully no other cases will erupt.” Other recent Tier 1 sites on the peninsula were BM Hall Kitchens and Cabinets, Progress Street, Mornington and Alpass and Associates in Suffolk…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has put off making any decision on its preferred role of the Port of Hastings at least until mid-2022. Councillors decided at their 24 August meeting that there was no “legal obligation or urgency” for it to decide about the future use of the port. In doing so, they rejected advice from strategic planning manager Claire Dougall that the shire continue to oppose any dredging in Port Phillip to “accommodate” the state government’s planned container port at Bay West, near Geelong. As part of its existing opposition to the Bay West plan the shire has asked…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has been praised, the state government “acknowledged” for its progress and the federal government criticised for its lack of action on climate change. The contrasting responses to the three levels of government were voiced last week (Tuesday 31 August) during an online climate forum organised by Mornington Peninsula Labor Environment Action Network (MP LEAN) – a “grassroots network of Labor members and supporters”. The forum was sponsored by Labor MP for Nepean Chris Brayne. Guest speakers included the mayor Cr Despi O ’Connor, Cr Sarah Race, Dr George Mihaly of Merricks winery Paradigm Hill, Stephen Todd of…

DINING out on the footpath and car park spaces turned into “parklets” will again be part of summer trading on the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington’s Main Street, from the Esplanade to Barkly Street, will be closed to traffic from 17 December to 1 February, with restaurants and cafes being able to extend outdoors. “Restaurants and cafes were [earlier this year] thrilled to be able to serve more people while still complying with regulations after months of being closed,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said. “We surveyed all businesses in Main Street and 67 per cent voted to close Main Street again,”…

ABOUT 30 anti-COVID vaccination protesters and one dog quietly stood outside Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Mornington offices on Tuesday last week. Mornington Police Senior Sergeant Paul Edwards described the gathering as being well-behaved and resembling a “group of middle-aged residents getting out for a coffee”. Senior Sergeant Edwards said members of the group disbanded after he warned that unless they moved on, they would be issued infringements for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s regulations. “About 95 per cent were wearing masks and, if they weren’t, they were offered one by police or allowed exemptions because of underlying health issues,” Senior Sergeant…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is contesting Ryman Healthcare’s Supreme Court appeal against aspects of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision to refuse a permit for an aged care centre in Mount Eliza. The appeal relates to whether VCAT correctly interpreted relevant sections of the shire’s planning scheme, including provisions of the special use zone and the inter-urban break, when assessing the development in Kunyung Road. Ryman last month said the appeal would review how a point of planning law was interpreted by VCAT (“Ryman redraws plans for second permit bid” The News 9/8/21). Victoria development manager David Laing said at…

The Committee for Mornington Peninsula has written an open letter to the Victorian Premier and Chief Health Officer to request the Mornington Peninsula be urgently included in regional Victorian-level restrictions in the new roadmap to reopening. Open Letter to the Victorian Premier and Chief Health Officer 1 September 2021 The Hon Daniel Andrews MPPremier of Victoria Dr Brett SuttonChief Health Officer of Victoria Dear Premier and Chief Health Officer, The Committee for Mornington Peninsula writes to request that you include the Mornington Peninsula as part of regional Victoria for the purposes of COVID-19 restrictions in the new roadmap to reopening, to be…

THE Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association can “dream bigger now” after Mornington Peninsula Shire Council last week adopted a $5.7 million master plan. The plan will see the Willum Warrain Gathering Place at Hastings transformed with a new entrance building, gathering place, community auditorium, dedicated elders’ area and a community hub with cafe. The shire is proposing to extend the Pound Road site to 2.4 hectares and commit to a 30-year lease. “We are absolutely thrilled – we’ve known it was coming, but to get this concession is a complete validation of everything we’ve been doing here for seven years”, men’s…

RYE resident Nikki Wood could relax and breathe a sigh of relief late last week after she received belated permission to bring her dad down from NSW on compassionate grounds as he recovers from surgery. Ms Wood had been frantic pandemic “red tape” would scuttle her attempts to relocate and care for Robert Wood, 77, who recently had his prostate and bladder removed and is anticipating further surgery on a bad hip. “We applied to get an exemption to Victoria for him so my sister and I could take care of him until he got back on his feet,” Nikki…

A MOUNT Eliza woman struggling to come to grips with the death of her dog after it ate contaminated meat is focused on “ensuring it never happens again”. Molly Patton, 28, lost her “best friend” Scarlett to the effects of the indospicine toxin in meat believed to have been sourced from the Northern Territory and bought locally. Ms Patton said she had been unaware that the “kangaroo” meat she had thought she was buying from her regular wholesaler had been mixed with beef and horse meat contaminated by indospicine, which is highly toxic to dogs. Scarlett and Ms Patton’s parents’…

LAWS to protect wildlife from getting caught up in backyard fruit tree netting come into effect on 1 September. The new regulations are “well overdue and would save native animals’ lives”, Wildlife Victoria CEO Lisa Palma said. The new regulations require the mesh size of tree netting, either used or sold, to be 5mm by 5mm or less at full stretch. They apply specifically to households – not commercial growers who are already compliant. The penalty for using fruit netting that does not fit the specification will be $3303 or $660 for advertising or offering it for sale for household…

THE rift between some Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors shows no sign of abating, with disagreements spilling out of the council chamber and onto social media. In the wake of last Tuesday’s (24 August) online council meeting Cr Steve Holland went on Facebook saying that “council is controlled by an exclusionary voting block that refuses to consider important community issues on their merits”. “Caucusing and a complete disregard for public sentiment has become the norm.” He later told The News that it was “disappointing that such a toxic culture has emerged”. Cr Holland said councillors often attacked other councillors’ characters rather…

A DECISION by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has tenant advocates worried more renters will become homeless now that the moratorium on evictions has ended. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis last year, the state government introduced emergency measures to protect renters, including bans on evictions where renters were unable to pay their rent because of the pandemic. These measures proved crucial not only in ensuring renters could keep a roof over their heads but in reducing the spread of the virus by limiting the movement of people. However, the protections ended in late March leaving many renters,…

RESIDENTS living near a 100-year-old Moreton Bay fig at Mount Martha are pleading to have it included in Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s maintenance program because they fear for its future. The owners’ committee at Martha Shores, on the corner of Bentons Road and The Esplanade, acknowledges the tree’s beauty and historic value but says it is beyond their capacity to maintain “both physically and financially”. “I would appreciate a response to help guide us as we seek to do our best as a community to protect and manage this beautiful tree,” committee chairperson Tony Moore said in a letter to…

FOUR people staying at an Airbnb at Rye last week were each fined $1860 for being outside their five-kilometre limit while the landlord was fined $10,900 for hosting them. The peninsula’s local area commander Inspector Terry Rowlands said the business fine was a “warning applicable to all Airbnbs” against hosting guests from outside their areas. “Local police … supported by other specialist areas are actively in the community ensuring that any blatant and obvious breaches of the CHO directions are enforced,” he said. “The fines for those breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions are severe for both individuals and businesses…

A NEW report by Infrastructure Victoria recommends improving bus services in Frankston rather than extending the electric train service to Baxter. Infrastructure Victoria released its updated 30-year strategy last week. The organisation is an independent body that advises the state government on its projects. Among the recommendations included in the report was to investigate the rollout of more bus services in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula in the next year “instead of progressing a rail extension to Baxter”. The report said a preliminary business case had considered rail and bus options to improve public transport between Frankston and Baxter, but…

AGRICULTURE Victoria is warning that more cases of pet-food poisoning – which killed two dogs at a Mornington Peninsula pet hospital in the past month – may reappear in coming weeks. The two dogs were among six taken by distressed owners to the Peninsula Vet Emergency Hospital with lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting and jaundice consistent with liver disease. The cases occurred from mid-July to mid-August. Testing found the toxin indospicine in the blood and liver of the sick dogs and in pet meat samples. The naturally occurring contaminant is found in the indigofera plant from the Northern Territory. Dogs…

URBAN areas of the Mornington Peninsula are dotted with nature strips and small plots of public land. However, efforts to use some of this land for recreation, growing vegetables or even flowers, can turn into a bureaucratic minefield. Efforts last month to persuade Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors to back a group of Balnarring residents, the Elisabeth Park Project Group, to turn a slice of public land into a “community space” fell on deaf ears. No councillor spoke against the notice of motion proposed by Cr David Gill to help the residents near Elisabeth Street but, when it came to the…

Centrelink and Medicare offices in Main Street, Mornington are set to stay open despite moves to close them last year. Strong community opposition and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic prompted the federal government to delay its decision to shut the offices on 27 March 2020 and replace them with a private, part-time agency to run over 15 hours three days a week. (“Mornington Centrelink wins extra time” The News 25/3/20). Now, Government Services Minister Senator Linda Reynolds says the federal government has “committed to maintaining a service centre in Mornington”. “Mornington residents will continue to have local access to…