MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh sent an email on 10 March saying his appointment to the Bass Park Trust was “done and dusted”.
“I said I’d give it a year, and I’m happy to report that the Premier and Governor have signed off my appointment to the Bass Park Trust with a few months spare,” the triumphant mayor stated.
Councillors on 1 June 2021 voted 6:5 to replace Cr David Gill with Cr Marsh on the trust. His term is set to end on 30 June. The governor’s appointment is dated 1 March 2022.
“We officially have a shire trustee on the trust for the first time in several years,” Marsh said.
At their meeting on 8 February councillors voted 6:3 to reject a motion “that council appoints Cr Gill to the Bass Park Trust in order to return to the 100-year tradition of appointing the local councillor”. Gill represents Red Hill Ward while Marsh is a Briars Ward councillor.
In favor of overturning the June decision were Antonella Celi, Steve Holland and Cr Gill.
Against: Kerri McCafferty, Debra Mar, Susan Bissinger, Paul Mercurio, Lisa Dixon and Marsh.
However, Gill, who represented the council at trust meetings over the previous four years, still says the matter is not settled.
He says the letter under the official seal of Victorian Governor Linda Dessau is misleading “because it says I have resigned from the trust”.
“I was never officially recognised by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as being on the trust, so how could I resign and how could Anthony Marsh replace me?”
Dessau’s Deed of Appointment as Trustee starts by stating: “Whereas, Councillor David Gill, being a trustee of the land permanently reserved from sale in Crown Grant Volume 4703 Folio 406, has resigned” and goes on to say Marsh has been appointed in Gill’s place “on the advice of the premier”.
Gill said it had taken former councillor Tim Wood “two years to get [officially] on the trust and then two years, after he left council, to get off”. Although his place on the trust was filled last June by Marsh, Gill is still invited to attend meetings by the trust (“Trust says ‘no’ to council’s chosen delegate” The News 15/6/21).
In February Gill wrote to Dessau saying most people appointed to the trust had “waited years” for her approval (“Call for inquiry into trust ‘approvals’” The News 14/2/22).
“Could you please investigate, as this should have been a simple administrative procedure of DELWP forwarding names to you after finalising propriety checks?”
Gill said, “the department officials appear to have misled the premier and governor of Victoria”.