Inquiry should be into shire officers, not the councillors
There’s been much comment about the poor results for the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in a local government satisfaction survey (“Shire hits all time low in satisfaction” The News 3/10/22; “Ratepayers want inquiry into shire” The News 11/4/23).
The survey actually referred to the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s performance as a whole, rather than the council itself. Further, the results are historical, and most likely refer to perceptions of shire performance prior to the term of the current councillors.
At the last council elections, the people clearly demonstrated their opinions of council performance by throwing out nine of the 11 incumbents. And it was easy to see why – those councillors were not doing their job of keeping shire officers under control.
We need only recall the campaign by some shire officers, supported by the councillors of the day, to close down the Tyabb airport. Hundreds of people working in aviation related businesses were put out of work while the shire illegally enforced a shutdown of airport operations and businesses.
Is it any wonder that Peninsula Aero Club dragged the shire into VCAT, where the shire was unable to provide evidence to support its illegal actions. Fortunately, commonsense prevailed and the aero club was fully vindicated (“Aero club loses bid for $124,000 legal costs” The News 18/4/23).
The councillors installed at the last elections are not perfect. But, in my opinion, their performance far exceeds the performance of the previous council.
If there is to be an inquiry, it needs to be into the performance of the shire officers who were involved in the airport debacle.
Someone needs to be held accountable for the ratepayers’ money wasted by the shire and the former councillors in pursuing their pointless vendetta against the airport and the aero club.
Eric Collier, Somerville
Editor: The annual satisfaction survey referred to was conducted from January to June 2022, more than one year after the election of eight new councillors. Six members of the previous council did not seek re-election and three of the remaining five were re-elected.
No change for Hastings
Regarding the front page article where Hastings made the monumental score one out of 10 (“Data reveals towns of disadvantage” The News 2/5/23). It is surprising Hastings got any score at all as it seems there are those that are working to ensure the Hastings region does not progress above the minor score.
Many years ago Hastings was identified as a depressed area, so what has changed?
We never had these problems when we had the [Shire of] Hastings Council.
Amalgamation has failed the Hastings region miserably, so what does that tell you?
Max Bryant, Hastings
The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council caused havoc last year when it stopped delivering aged care services to older people. The council chose to transfer its aged care services to two private providers during the pandemic. This was the worst possible time to transfer services because Bolton Clarke and mecwacare were short staffed.
It was also disappointing that Anthony Marsh, the mayor at the time, failed to respond to my request for a meeting. I had many suggestions about how this transition could be managed without a disruption of home care services.
Unlike our local council, the federal government listened to the community’s concerns. In the recent budget, the federal government announced it will postpone the commencement of the Support at Home Program. Thankfully, it has extended grant arrangements (block funding) for the Commonwealth Home Support Program to 30 June 2025.
Unfortunately, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council jumped ship much too early. Rather than put in place services to allow a smooth transition, our council’s decision to abruptly end services caused many older people to suffer unnecessarily.
Sarah Russell, director Aged Care Matters, Mount Martha
I would like to thank the guys and lady who came to my rescue when my dog was attacked on Sunday 16 April by a Staffy-looking dog at the corner of George and Prince streets, Mornington.
Also, a thank you to the young man who came to our home to apologise. The dog, which he was minding for his father who lives in the country, had got out of a side gate. He offered to pay for all vet fees, which I am pleased to say he has.
Needless to say, it was an extremely frightening experience, and I was not hurt. I am happy to report my pooch Sandy is recovering well after several visits to a local vet.
Brenda Head, Mornington
Act of kindness
While standing in the checkout queue at the local Rye supermarket recently, I witnessed a wonderful act of kindness. A man ahead of me in the queue, having completed scanning his purchases, discovered that his chosen payment card was rejected. He was obviously embarrassed and clearly distressed by this and said he would have to leave his groceries and return home.
At that point, a young woman in the queue intervened and used her credit card to pay for the man’s groceries. The amount was in excess of $130 so, given that she clearly did not know the man, it was a very generous act.
I subsequently spoke to the young woman in question and ascertained that she was a school teacher from Flinders.
It is indeed heartwarming to know that such kindness to others is alive and well in our community.
Michael Forster, Blairgowrie
Today the constitution is the shape of a triangle, with three wheels of power. Wheel one – MPs (Parliament) have power to make laws. Wheel two – ministers (the executive) have power to implement the laws. Wheel three – judges (the courts) have power to ensure laws are correct and within the constitution. When all three wheels point in the same direction, the triangle moves ahead smoothly.
This [Voice to Parliament] referendum demands the constitution’s shape change to a square, with four wheels of power. Wheel four, “the Voice” will be a compliance advisory body, consisting of unelected people with Aboriginal heritage only. Its function will be to ensure proposed laws made by parliament, or actions of the executive, comply with their ambitions.
If compliance is denied, then the threat of court action is available. Should (activist) courts subsequently decide against parliament or the executive, our representative democracy is corrupted because it effectively means the judiciary will have decided against the ambition of 96 per cent of the population, based on the ambition of four per cent of the population.
Giving power to this fourth wheel in the constitution will have the unintended consequence of a gain in unelected judicial power, with a loss of elected democratic power (my voice). So, it is a firm No from me.
Sandy Robinson, Hastings
Listen to experts
Flinders MP Zoe Mc Kenzie should not take notice of a group of people that deal principly with fiction, the Sorrento Writers Festival Forum, and ignore the experts that are warning against the voice (“Yes campaign” Letters 9/5/23).
Not only did the four so-called constitutional experts on the Voice panel all argue against the final wording, including the attorney-general, but one of Australia’s leading jurists has warned it is “wrong in principle” and “will split the Australian people into two groups”. Terence Cole is a former judge of the Court of Appeal and has presided over two royal commissions.
He also wrote “That the Voice will be used to support the demands for recognition of coexisting sovereignty, a Makarrata commission designed to produce a treaty and monetary compensation”.
That’s fact, not writer’s fiction.
Michael G Free, Mount Martha
The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) is an Australian government agency and therefore cannot function as an alternative to an Indigenous Voice to parliament (“Questions unanswered” Letters 9/5/23). Furthermore, the majority of its staff (77 per cent as at December 2021) are non-Indigenous.
The proposed constitutionally enshrined Voice, on the other hand, will mean First Nations people themselves provide advice on the matters that affect them, directly to parliament.
The proposal has extensive support, from not only the majority of Indigenous people, but also many corporates, banking institutions, businesses, churches, faith-based charities, major sporting codes, university professors, former high court justices, even eminent Liberal members of parliament like Julian Leeser, Liberal spokesperson on the Voice and former shadow attorney-general, who has quit the front bench so that he can support the Voice.
Clearly this level of support reflects a widespread desire, through reconciliation, to unify our nation.
Maureen Donelly, Mornington
It is unfortunate to see any questioning of the Voice through a partisan political lens (“Baffled by political party and opinions from afar” Letters 2/5/23). Perceiving it must be from another political side, the writer judges it unworthy of inclusion in The News, especially when offered by anyone from outside her electorate.
I would indeed be troubled if the writer actually felt “hounded” by my thoughts expressed from outside her electorate but would respectfully remind her that the Voice is a national matter, not one defined by electorate boundaries.
In fact, questions are being raised by many within her electorate, and from many political persuasions. These are citizens looking beyond the politics who share the view that any proposal as significant as the Voice demands serious scrutiny.
The best outcomes are never achieved by stifling honest debate,
John Matthews, Heathmont
Voice not a wedge
It is generous and correct to effectively refrain from labelling the Voice proposal as racist (“Questions unanswered” Letters 9/5/23). It is not racist any more than are the foundations of the innumerable migrant organisations which enrich the multicultural tapestry of the Australian community.
Each of these organisations would comprise people who share a common cultural and historic background, like the 150 plus organisations of Indigenous Australians mentioned.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart spells out the need for the Voice.
The proposal is intended to overcome longstanding problems like the alienation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ children from their families and the proportionally high rate of imprisonment experienced by the people themselves.
There is no reason why the Voice should create a wedge in society. In fact, the long history of failed attempts at reconciliation without meaningful consultation with First Nations peoples is proof enough that this does not work.
John Gare, Kew East
State and federal governments and their supporters are not listening to what Jacinta Price, Warren Mundine and their contemporaries are saying about Aboriginals in the outback and cites. Indeed, their words for equality for all Australians and their want and need for better health services, education for our young and an end to domestic violence. Jacinta’s words cry out for deeds not words.
I keep wondering how many Yes supporters have been into the outback and visited towns like Alice Springs, Kununurra, Tennant Creek, Halls Creek, or heard of or know where Herman town or Cherbourg are located. If they have. did they listen and talk to the local people of all backgrounds?
Perhaps the $260 million budgeted for the referendum would be better spent on additional training for the current people employed to get the deeds done.
Bruce White, Safety Beach
Battle for beaches
As noble as Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s efforts may be to arrest damage to the peninsula’s beaches may be, the reality is it could simply be an exercise in futility (“Strategy ‘coming’ as beaches lost” The News 9/5/23).
The article recognises that climate change may well see a 24 centimetre rise in sea levels by 2050. This may not sound much but in beach areas like Mount Martha where the incline of the beach is very shallow, 24cm is a big deal.
Unless strong action is taken to slow down climate change then council’s efforts may well be like trying to hit a moving target.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
I appreciate the information provided and thank the Labor government for the $5 million for the Jetty Road, Rosebud roundabout to “improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow” (“Money provided” Letters 2/5/23).
Actually, I am adept at Google and found it quite difficult to find the information provided in the letter, but finally did and the letter left out a bit of info.
The Infrastructure Investment Program was a pre-election pork barrel slush fund of the highest degree where 71 per cent of funding went to Coalition marginal and safe seats and projects were left without adequate funding or resources. There were 160 projects worth less than $5m, which are not “nationally significant and nation-building”.
“[Liberal candidate for Nepean] Sam Groth announced a further $100 million in funding.” This in itself is a feat of herculean proportions. Was it state or federal funding?
So, we now have $175m? Was it too good to be true? Yes, because it is not true, it was a pre-election promise as confirmed by his office and, now he’s elected, where is it?
The problem is being solved with the $5m, maybe the Labor government will see the stupidity of “fixing” Jetty Road roundabout with “free flowing” traffic only to create another bottleneck at Boneo Road.
Joe Lenzo, Safety Beach
Confusion and distress
We are still having to call our federal government out on refugee issues.
In a recent decision the Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles extended the 2023 Resolution of Status process to many refugees, granting permanent protection and freedom to settle in Australia. There was much rejoicing; and for them this decision ended years of uncertainty.
But 9000 to 12,000 others were excluded from this process, even though their circumstances were similar. Having experienced slow processing, inconsistent decision making and lack of transparency over many years this latest decision has caused confusion and deep distress to this group.
There are also still 100 people who also came seeking asylum by boat, who remain in limbo in Papua New Guinea not officially recognised as Australia’s responsibility.
During the past few weeks members of the Grandmothers for Refugees group in the Flinders electorate have been collecting signatures for a petition to the House of Representatives which focuses on these groups of asylum seekers caught in limbo.
The petition urges the immigration minister to acknowledge and explain recent decisions directly affecting those seeking asylum in Australia.
We also urge the minister to affirm Australia’s duty of care to all of the about 30,000 people who came by boat seeking asylum, and to grant the opportunity of permanent protection to them.
Thank you to all those who took the time to read and sign our petition. Let’s hope it makes a difference.
Ann Renkin, Shoreham