AN outspoken critic of the state government selling houses instead of renovating or replacing them, Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh has bought a house being sold from the public housing stock.
Marsh is a part owner of a house in Hastings sold at auction by the housing ministry in February this year.
The $595,200 sale was settled in April and ownership of a house in Hastings is included on Marsh’s registration of interests kept by the shire.
The Salmon Street house is opposite land earmarked for Nature Lovers in the Hastings foreshore master plan.
Under the plan, the Nature Lovers area will include “seating for gathering, nature education facilities and nature appreciation spaces”.
At the council’s Monday 4 October meeting Marsh voted in favour of exhibiting the plan for public comment from 7 October to 20 November.
The minutes of the meeting note Marsh “entered the chamber at 10.58am and was present for voting on this item”.
Asked by The News if he sought or received advice about having a conflict of interest when voting on the draft Hastings foreshore master plan at the 4 October Marsh responded: “Councillors declare personal interests and manage potential conflicts on a case-by-case basis. Guides are provided by the state government and other bodies such as the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) and the VLGA (Victorian Local Governance Association).”
“Hastings is a great place to live, and I hope one day a local family will be able to call this [Salmon Street] house their home,” Marsh said.
“The state government has run many properties across the peninsula into the ground and now they’re selling – leaving our community with no social housing and no crisis accommodation.
“What we know is that the community is sick of having inadequate social housing and no crisis accommodation while state government properties are left languishing and boarded up.”
Marsh was quoted by a Melbourne daily newspaper in September as saying the state government had been quietly selling off public housing stock on the peninsula, including a derelict property at Hastings. “Why wasn’t that house demolished and replaced with affordable housing?”
The three-bedroom, one bathroom house is on a 586 square metre block and is given a “liveability” rating of 3.8.
Marsh confirmed to The News that the house he described was the one that he and three others had bought in February. He had told the newspaper that he was one of the owners and had given it permission to enter the premises to take a photograph. A picture showing a room with holes in the floor and wall panels missing that ran with the article was credited as being “supplied”.
The newspaper article was published on Tuesday 6 September, the same day the shire issued a news release headed Is camping an acceptable solution to our housing crisis?
The release said there were 1000 homeless people on the peninsula and said that providing camping sites might be “our only solution”.
Other “damning statistics” included the peninsula having just three rental properties available for low income earners in the past year.
The peninsula was also seen as the sixth worse area for “rough sleeping” in Victoria, with many sleeping on the foreshore.
Marsh was quoted as saying the peninsula needed the government to spend “at least $100 million” on housing as “our community is in desperate need of crisis accommodation, social housing and affordable housing”.
He said tents should “remain a summer holiday tradition, not a make-shift solution to our housing crisis”.
The shire had found itself in a “forced position … due to an incomprehensible lack of support, interest and funding from the Victorian government to support thousands of our vulnerable community members”.