Poll issues range from community to frogs


FOOTPATHS, foreshores … and frogs. There is seemingly no end – and some cases no relation – to the variety of issues and concerns listed by the 50 candidates for the 11 seats on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.

Easily added to the three mentioned above are “over development”, waste disposal, planning for coastal “villages” and, certainly an elephant in the room, how much councillors should be allowed to spend above their $29,000 a year stipend ($92,000 for the mayor).

The candidates’ buzz word for this election is community. Although not a definable issue, community will be a frequent persuader used by candidates in their search for votes.

With just four of the shire’s current councillors seeking re-election, the outcome is certain to be a game changer for voting patterns on the council.

Although it’s guaranteed that seven councillors will not have been re-elected from the current council, some of the “new” faces sitting in the council chamber after the 22 October election may be familiar, with several former councillors deciding it may be their time, again.

New alliances will eventually be formed within the council, but for now and at least a short time after the election, the shire’s newly-elected community representatives will be relatively free of old animosities.

Like it or hate it, Arthurs Seat is again about to be equipped with a chairlift, or rather a gondola ride called the Eagle. Candidates old and new are singing its praises and probably relieved that’s one battle they will not have to face.

Surprisingly, finding a site for a swimming pool at Rosebud may again soak up council time.

Rex Griffin, a former mayor and still current councillor of the City of Whittlesea, has nominated for Seawinds ward. Mr Griffin is moving to his former holiday home at Dromana and says he has been a regular in the public gallery at meetings of Mornington Peninsula council for the past five years.

He says the council has been “like a cesspool, with councillors arguing and fighting. Enough’s enough”.

Mr Griffin says disposing waste off the peninsula is expensive and notes that the Rye tip “can be kept open for another 18 years”.

He believes that with his help and experience the shire can get more money from state and federal governments.

Regarding a swimming pool at Rosebud, or SPA (Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre), Mr Griffin says “you can throw a pool anywhere” but enthuses about “how Lorne and other places have pools on the foreshore”.

“There’s room down there [on the Rosebud foreshore]. It’s accessible and I can’t see a problem with it going there.”

Former councillor and mayor (2011-12) Frank Martin, although living in Briars ward, is also seeking election in Seawinds.

Mr Martin wants to see the councillors’ code of conduct “revisited and enforced”; is wary of the increasing number of high density developments; and wants changes to the special charge schemes for constructing footpaths: “we don’t need concrete footpaths everywhere”.

Although previously a councillor in Red Hill ward, Mr Martin says he’s long had an affinity with Dromana, Rosebud and Rye.

While wanting some clearing along the foreshore to make way for more tables and chairs, he says “SPA is done and dusted, as long as the pool goes somewhere”.

Without “committing” to a preferred site Mr Martin said “SPA is gone off the foreshore at the moment. If it’s a no, no, no, [we should] go to the second best place”.

Numerically, the Briars ward is the most interesting with 15 candidates contesting three seats.

A plan to spend up to $825,000 on a skatepark is an issue, with the shire choosing to renege on a lease with Mt Martha Tennis Club to free up the chosen site. The site has been approved by Heritage Victoria, but it seems the shire overlooked the fact that it had leased the land to the tennis club until 2023.

There will be at least two new councillors in the ward after the October poll and plenty of time to force a backflip and moving the skatepark to Ferrero Oval if Heritage Victoria will not approve any other site on the former parade ground.

Among those seeking election to Briars ward is Kevin Murphy, secretary of the Mt Martha House management committee, which is opposed to the skatepark on the parade ground.

Another Briars ward candidate, Stewart Lockie, said the skatepark proposal was backed by many families but questions were being raised “over why it has taken so long”. One of his aims, if elected, is to hear people saying “the shire are doing a good job”.

Steering clear of the skatepark, Briars candidate Rebecca Taylor is perhaps the first person to seek public finance for a shire election campaign.

“Running for council is something I need to do in order to preserve the only stable frog population left in Mt Eliza. They live in a reservoir earmarked for redevelopment, but I believe natural habitats in suburban areas add value to communities,” she states in her pitch for support on the GoFundMe website.

Ms Taylor also mentions the need for better parking and desire for a system “that doesn’t see [pre-school] children travelling outside their communities or left with no place at all”.

The Briars ward has three councillor vacancies; five candidates are contesting the single-councillor Cerberus ward; eight in the two-councillor Nepean ward; six in Red Hill, which is also represented by one councillor; 10 in three-councillor Seawinds ward; and six candidates are after the single seat in Watson ward.

Councillors not seeking re-election are the mayor Graham Pittock, Anne Shaw, David Gibb, Andrew Dixon, Tim Rodgers and Tim Wood; Lynn Bowden resigned in May.

Fifteen of the 50 candidates are women.

At the start of the previous four-year council term four of the 11 councillors were women.

Candidates’ names are listed on the Victorian Electoral Commission website:


First published in the Mornington News – 27 September 2016


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