Shame on councillors who backed Potter show
As the secretary and active member of the Mornington Peninsula Schools Environment Week for many years, I would like to add my expression of alarm and absolute amazement at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s recent deal with Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Show at The Briars. The current shire councillors have totally disregarded the claim to be an environmentally sensitive council and certainly lack credibility now when it comes to promoting the peninsula as an environmental model in Victoria.
What were they thinking when they signed this secret agreement? It has to be related to money grabbing or some grand idea that it would be promoting our shire. The Briars is a special asset for the peninsula and the natural setting as such should be preserved.
Our Environment Week teachers and many voluntary helpers were so pleased and proud to be able to run the activities at a special location like The Briars. Over the years we helped students from all schools on the peninsula who benefitted from the many experiences during Environment Week in such a setting. At the time our shire representatives were very involved in the program and appreciated our efforts to promote environmental awareness in the wider community.
Our councillors, as a whole, should be ashamed of themselves over this issue and let us hope that they will be more thoughtful when next confronted with an issue that involves a commercial venture conflicting with environmental issues.
Terry Boyce, Mount Martha
Move Potter show
The Greens Mornington Peninsula branch is aghast at the decision by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to engage with Warner Bros to use The Briars wildlife reserve, the only fenced sanctuary on the peninsula, and home to diverse habitat systems that support endangered species, as a venue for an inappropriate interactive Disney event, expected to have 3000 participants daily from April through to July.
There are two startling deviations from the council’s duty of care:
- This decision shows a lack of adherence by council to commitments articulated in the shire’s policies on protecting flora and fauna and ecologically sensitive sites. This event must be transferred to a different site to be in line with the shire’s biodiversity and conservation policies.
- Most importantly, we have significant concerns around the lack of consultation and transparency and the secrecy around contractual arrangements with Warner Bros. The non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) councillors were asked to sign during negotiations are an affront to residents. All but two councillors signed these and some information around the event is not on the record for residents to view. It shuts the door in the face of ratepayers, keeping them in the dark. Mitigation statements made by the council are ill-informed and a FoI request has been made to release the risk assessment and impact on environment reports to check the qualifications of those giving that advice.
The Greens will target those councillors who signed the NDAs and approved of the event at The Briars. We will join other groups and individuals to oppose this and garner community awareness and support to stop this event occurring at this venue.
The Greens Mornington Peninsula denounces this council for this decision that has been undertaken and will actively discourage residents and visitors from purchasing tickets.
Jamess Kilby, convenor, The Greens Mornington Peninsula branch
Review shire revenue
A few months ago, quite rightly, and with considerable community support, Mornington Peninsula Shire rejected an application to develop a theme park on private property in the hinterland near Cape Schanck on Boneo Road as being inappropriate.
In complete contrast, we find the shire, in sworn secrecy behind closed doors, last year agreed to multiple sound and light show night events in the wildlife sanctuary at The Briars. Apparently, it was thought pathways through a fenced off forest setting would be an ideal location.
This council-approved event will go on every night for two months from April with expected numbers of around 3000 a night.
Terrified wildlife which can die from fear, traffic jams at the dangerous Point Nepean/Uralla Road intersection, soil compaction which takes years to recover, are all inevitable – not to mention the nightly disturbance to locals living around The Briars and their equally traumatised pets.
Whether you are a rare powerful owl, a wallaby or an elderly retiree in the neighbourhood with a shitzu scared of thunderstorms – fancy having a New Year’s Eve fireworks and light show going off every night for 60 days?
The community and many volunteers worked for years in good faith to establish The Briars as a wildlife sanctuary. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of ratepayers’ money was spent on consultants for a management plan and a financial feasibility study – both presumably in operation but now disregarded. Understandably, this decision is a slap in the face.
If the shire is in financial trouble, a review of internal operations, pay rates commensurate with performance, contracts and decisions about spending our rates dollars is warranted – not a money grabbing, opportunistic fire sale of a unique and important wildlife sanctuary and community asset like The Briars.
Esther Gleixner, Flinders
Turn to safety
It has taken the Briars Potter show to again highlight the urgent need for improvement at the dangerous intersections of Nepean Highway with Uralla Road and Forest Drive, Mount Martha (Road risks warning over Potter shows. The News 23/1/24).
Where is the sensible thought or concern by the state government and or Mornington Peninsula Shire?
Do we need fatalities, statistics, to have something seriously done?
More than five to six years ago a survey was undertaken by the authorities asking for input to formulate a strategy to improve these intersections. Nothing has happened – maybe a few white lines were painted at the time. That was progress.
As for the Uralla Road and The Briars intersections, if only left turns out of these roads were implemented, with some nailed in place kerbs to prevent right turns, this would alleviate gross and dangerous incidents.
Still allow right turns from Nepean Highway into these roads. Some delineation with kerbing, as these intersections both ways are at the bottom of quite steep hills change the speed limit to 60kpm, and actively enforce it.
None of the above is hard to do or costs a lot of money.
I firmly believe it will make those area safer until a more permanent solution is implemented which, at the current authorities’ pace, could be light years away. Do it now.
The inconvenience of only being able to turn left is a very small imposition to making an intersection safe.
Gerard van de Ven, Mount Martha
Drivers ‘slow learners’
What an interesting article quoting Peninsula Community Legal Centre CEO Jackie Galloway on battlers struggling to pay fines (Unpaid fines add to ‘disadvantaged’ fines, The News 16/1/24).
The quoted “average fine debt” is $13,000. This equates to exceeding the speed limit on 34 occasions and, I believe, gives the lie to Ms Galloway’s claim that her clients “want to do the right thing”.
The time to do the right thing is when you’re behind the wheel. Doing the right thing is not endangering others, not putting lives at risk, not imperilling kids on bikes.
PCLC’s clients must be mighty slow learners if they don’t get the message after the first couple of fines. Do the crime, pay the fine.
Andrew Gibson OAM, Pt Leo
So now we have to pay to enjoy some time at Mornington Park and at the pier (Fines find their mark at foreshore car parks, The News 23/1/24).
Some people are paying but many are going elsewhere. The bus loads that came to the area for a day out and bring business to the Main Street shops won’t happen anymore as buses have to pay as well, and the driver will have to pay for that out of his own pocket.
Over the months of December and January, $178,000 in fees and $20,000 in fines have been collected. Where will this money go?
Here’s an idea: Put all this cash towards a set of traffic lights so
people can enter and exit The Briars without playing the dangerous game of Russian roulette from cars coming down the hill from both directions.
Greg Cooke, Hastings
After raising issues in your article about making Mornington Peninsula roads safer, there has been much public support and many reports to me about our most dangerous local roads (Don’t limit speed cuts – Gill, The News 16/1/24).
The answer to improving roads may be a community advocacy campaign to the state government and local MPs who ignore any discussion about speed limits and roadwork funding, especially when in government.
All public roads are controlled by the state government, even council designated roads. Council must have government approval for speed changes and all works.
This often takes years.
In the meantime, the state’s 2023 road death toll was the highest in 15 years.
David Gill, councillor Red Hill Ward, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
We have progressively moved away from a democracy that is rule by the consent of the governed to an elite administrative class that simply passes the baton back and forth; councillors to CEO, CEO to councillors, Liberal to Labor and Labor back to Liberal, with no real accountability.
All levels of government have insulated themselves from accountability by their politicised bureaucracies and agencies.
A New Left, evident by 1965, rebelled against the restrictions and order that flourished during the flush of manufacturing after WWII. This New Left championed social justice of a non-judgmental kind and acceptance of minorities, equal recognition and equal self-esteem. It ushered in a sexual cultural liberation accepted by the population, but which today has gone way too far taking fringe element ideology into our schools where it definitely doesn’t belong.
It was believed these changes would give freedoms leading to happiness. Instead, these changes have brought division in society of all kinds, insecurity causing anxiety and suicides, and generally great unhappiness.
All this indicates society needs a new direction.
It is time for a massive decentralisation of power and control. We are intelligent, by nature compassionate and perfectly capable of living together in harmony, accepting of one another’s differences and life choices.
The way forward is equal rights for all; special privileges for none.
If people think we are living in a democracy, we need to think again.
Looking at our council’s secret decision-making behind closed doors, which, until [former Premier Daniel] Andrews changed the rules, wasn’t allowed, is plain evidence we no longer are.
From our councils and governments we require impartial decisions for the good of the whole, proper representation, proper accountability with authority going back to consent of the governed.
Monica Martini, Mornington
I’ve seen this many times. Some dog walkers pick up their dog’s poo in a plastic bag. Considerate. Good.
But they drop the bag beside the path. Why?
Do they think there’s a dog poo fairy who picks it up later? I suggest they train the dog to put the bag in the bin.
Why do I write this? Dunno. Will they read it? Nope.
Warwick Spinaze, Tootgarook
Act on climate now
More and more Australians realise that biodiversity is being lost and climate change is putting life as we know it at risk.
In 2023, for example, 144 Australian animals, plants and ecological communities were added to the national endangered species list, five times more than the yearly average and double the previous record year (2009).
Eighty threatened species, 20 critically endangered, survive on the Mornington Peninsula.
The Australian Conservation Foundation puts the increase down primarily to habitat loss through ongoing land clearing that has escaped ineffective national environment laws. [Federal environment and water minister] Tanya Plibersek has committed to announce stronger laws this year.
Given the Mornington Peninsula’s near 200 kilometres of coastline, one correspondent’s concern about sea level rise is valid (Limit climate change, Letters 23/1/24). A new CSIRO report, the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment, has increased the estimated “upper-end projection” of sea level rise by the year 2100 from 0.8 metres in 2008 to 1.4 metres. The report shows that Dromana and Martha Cove are the most affected in the shire.
While some may dismiss the CSIRO report, arguing that 2100 is too far away, a more responsible option is to embrace the cautionary principle and act now. The best action is to stop dumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and oceans. The world, including us, must phase out fossil fuels and transition fast to clean renewables.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
Thank you, Des Berry
Unsung heroes go around their local communities and get up to all sorts of often dirty and even dangerous jobs such as cleaning off graffiti, removing roadkill, picking up rubbish or dropping discarded containers into recycling bins. I would like to bring readers’ attention to the president of Mount Eliza Association For Environmental Care, Des Berry, who recently resigned due to ill health.
His leadership and commitment to Australian flora and fauna in the Mount Eliza community has been outstanding.
Mount Eliza’s landscape would have been very much poorer without his stalwart, long-term leadership.
He has helped protect our threatened beaches and their approaches, replaced introduced European invasive weeds with Australian flora, and improved the general health of feeder creeks and water catchments.
His work with MEAFEC teams on our reserves has been outstanding, including in Ranelagh Estate as well as the Woodland and Kunyung areas.
As a member of Mount Eliza-based South Eastern Centre for Sustainability, the other active environmental group in our town, I also speak for the group and our chair, Steven Karakitsos, in recording our appreciation and respect for Des’s contribution to our community over many years.
With the stepping down of such an important member of our community, I hope more residents can give of their time and support the two hard-working committees and members to enhance our precious Mount Eliza for future generations.
Ian Morrison, convenor, Mount Eliza Community Alliance
It is good to see that Frankston mayor and now candidate for Dunkley has come clean that he is a Liberal.
When he runs in the Frankston Council elections he runs as an independent.
The Victorian government should have laws that if candidates run for council then they must state very clearly if they are members of political parties.
Interest rates will be an issue in the Dunkley by-election and will the Labor candidate Jodie Belyea tell us why Treasurer Jim Chalmers is revoking his power to override the Reserve Bank on interest rate hikes which gives the Reserve Bank and banks a free ride to stop cash and hike interest rates and also tell the Dunkley electorate the fact that Jim Chalmers was once a CEO of the ANZ Bank and that is why he is giving the away his power to intervene in Reserve Bank decisions.
Russell Morse, Karingal
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