FOR council watchers, the shire’s austerity drive is plain to see. It’s the biscuits. Now only a small jar accompanies the pre-meeting tea and coffee, a small jar bereft of cream treats.
The gallery arrives at an hour where dinner merely beckons from the distant other side of the meeting closure, to find entry barred. And, once inside, not a cream bikkie to sustain oneself.
One shivers in the cold, dark and rain, beating futilely with whitened knuckles on the locked armoured glass door (CW tends to gaudy prose when hypothermic), callously ignored by those inside luxuriating in the warmth, who at the 10 August meeting including Fred Crump of Mornington, world traveller and veteran inquisitor on the state of the Mornington clock on the Barkly St roundabout.
So there was Fred, on the other side of the glass, questions in one hand, gesturing with a shrug that he could not help us accomplish ingress. Was that a triumphant smirk? Was that a half-devoured biscuit he was hiding in his other hand? We discovered he was gloating over the English Ashes victory.
But CW is not one for lingering bitterness, unless deprived of a cream biscuit. (Did he mention the small, poorly stocked jar?) The size of the meeting agenda drove such matters from his mind. As did the prospect of Fred’s questions.
Meeting under way, CW decided that the prayer needs a rewrite. The “Thys” must go, as verily they have been banished from the New English Bible. And we need to know what the evacuation alarm sounds like, in case a speedy egress from the chamber becomes necessary. Perhaps we should have a practice evacuation once a year.
Briefings and petitions out of the way, we came to questions. Sure enough, Fred Crump weighed in, on the local government federal conference held in Canberra, which was attended by the mayor Cr Bev Colomb. What “good tidings” had she brought back to the peninsula, he asked, or had it been a “futile junket”?
It was a cornucopia, the mayor replied, comprising environmental, social and economic goodies, plus national broadband network tidings of great joy, and other bits and pieces including carbon neutrality initiatives and news on the arts, “which we were hoping to attract more funding to”. CW frowns on sentences that end in prepositions. Up with them he will not put.
Then the second Crump question, on the topic of war pigeons, 33 of which were awarded the Victoria Cross. Could a war memorial be built in Mornington at shire expense to commemorate them, he asked, as the RSL says it has no money. Two pigeons were Australian-bred. Cr Colomb said she would take the matter up with the RSL.
Would the pigeons prefer the “For Valour” medal – made from Crimean War cannon bronze and massively hindering their flight – to a bonus bushel of bespoke grain for the lads in the loft?
There was once a Melbourne broadsheet that had a loft atop its Collins St building to receive carrier pigeons that flew from ships arriving at Queenscliff with the latest news stowed in canisters attached to their legs – the new technology of the 19th century. They beat their rivals by a day with this system. Now news flies across the globe in milliseconds.
Four questions on the Skylift gondola project followed, on trees, explosives, emergency plans and loss of flora and fauna. This topic, and elements of these questions, appear in a report elsewhere in these pages. The shire played a straight bat, referring to VCAT’s approval of the Skylift plans in a solid defence invoking the “it’s all their doing” line.
The councillor arc was substantially depleted, with David Gibb and Anne Shaw missing from the conservative ranks and Lynn Bowden, absent from the progressive-ish side.
Meeting chair Cr Colomb used her casting vote once or twice during the meeting, which covered the shire’s carbon neutrality policy and, again, the never-ending and testily contested Skylift saga.
Hunger gripped CW’s vittles when Item 5, Councillors and Delegates Reports, was announced. He made no excuse and left; hot homemade soup and toast awaited.