Author: Keith Platt

THE state government’s tightening of land use and development controls within green wedge zones is unlikely to have any immediate effect on the Mornington Peninsula.Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Simon Brooks welcomed the government’s Green Wedge and Agricultural Land Action Plan as it “reinforces the non-urban purpose and character of the green wedge”. He said the government’s plans did not require any changes to the shire’s green wedge management plan adopted in December 2018 and updated the following year.The peninsula’s 520 square kilometres, or 70 per cent, green wedge is one of 12 that form an irregular ring around the…

NINE golfers lined up for the first all abilities Get Into Golf event at Mount Martha Golf Course last Friday (22 March).Following the One Club program initiated by PGA pro Sandy Jamieson, the all abilities session aims to teach golf fundamentals to participants in a relaxed and fun environment.The program was led by instructors from the club who underwent their own training last month (On course for all abilities at Mt Martha, The News 27/2/24). Accompanied by carers, friends and family, the nine golfers played on two holes which were divided to make four. Organiser John Bowers, of Mount Martha,…

THE Dolphin Research Institute last week celebrated 33 years of its achievements and efforts to “improve outcomes for dolphins, whales, and our precious marine environment”.Executive director Jeff Weir said the picture chosen to mark the institute’s one third of a century “shows something you don’t see every day — a dolphin riding on the head of a humpback whale”. The picture was taken in 2020 when the same humpback had spent a week feeding off Phillip Island, the first time such an event had been recorded.“Our role in capturing knowledge and filling these knowledge gaps is integral to our work…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council continues to move towards establishing a “transparency hub” on its website, with councillors last week agreeing to its cost being added to the 2024/25 budget. However, public satisfaction with the hub’s content may depend on its acceptance of a definition adopted by councillors in July 2022.Officially referred to as the Mornington Peninsula Shire Transparency and Integrity Hub, the latest step towards providing online information follows a decision in December to investigate “a low cost alternative” to the estimated $300,000 version recommended by officers.That decision followed on from a July 2022 “policy statement” committing the shire “to…

WORK has started to remove the fisherman’s jetty at Mornington.The demolition of the jetty is expected to take about two to three weeks. A barge is being used for the work and yellow buoys mark an exclusion zone for boats.Closed for safety reasons since November 2020, the wooden jetty will be replaced with a “like-for-like design” as part of a “local area plan” for Mornington harbour, according to Parks Victoria.Parks says the new jetty will preserve “the heritage values of the area” while providing boats with safe access channels. The design of the new jetty will be “shared with the…

A NEW method of assessing the need for making footpaths has seen a reshuffling of paths on Mornington Peninsula Shire’s priority list.The list of 118 footpaths also includes problems that may be faced in constructing each path, such as “constructability implications” and “biodiversity and/or cultural heritage impact”. Footpaths seen as potentially having these problems will require “more detailed investigation” as their construction may be more complicated or costly.Just three of the top 20 footpaths on the list are unaffected by these possible problems.Footpaths at the top of list are Nepean Highway and Boundary Road, Dromana, with Nepean Highway being subject…

MORNINGTON Peninsula beaches will be cleaned by hand instead of a mechanical rake for the next 12 months after July. The hand cleaning of peninsula beaches on Port Phillip will undergo a 12-month trial and cost about $733,000.Beaches will no longer have the groomed look created by a mechanical rake, but they will retain seaweed and other natural organisms that contribute to a healthy environment.Surveys have shown that mechanical cleaning, while being aesthetically pleasing, can leave behind broken bottles, shredded plastic and even hypodermic needles. The practice has also seen tonnes of seaweed taken to landfill instead of being left…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire staff are likely to be exchanged with their counterparts from Roper Gulf Regional Shire in the Northern Territory under a partnership agreement being drawn up by the two municipalities.Arrangements for the Friendly Council Partnership date back to early 2023 and involved a visit to the remote shire by then mayor Cr Anthony Marsh and CEO John Baker.The partnership was formally agreed to by peninsula councillors on 31 October last year, some weeks after plans for a formal announcement were dropped following the “last minute” cancellation of a visit to the peninsula by the mayor and CEO of…

RESIDENTS from the Calvary Bonbeach aged care centre will move to the company’s George Vowell centre, Mount Eliza and other Victorian centres. There are 49 residents at Bonbeach and the Mount Eliza centre has been expanded to include an extra 19 beds. “Clinically suitable” residents from Bonbeach will get priority to live in the new wing at Mount Eliza which has bedrooms with private bathrooms “among contemporary living spaces indoors and outdoors to support ageing in comfort”. The company says the Bonbeach building mostly had shared bathrooms and bedrooms and was “unable to meet the expectations of contemporary age care…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire wants an inquiry into services for ratepayers being “jeopardised” by state and federal governments finance cuts. A lengthy, but unattributed report tabled at the council’s Tuesday 20 February public meeting, says government cost shifting will add $38 million to shire expenses in 2023-24, blowing out to “a staggering” $234 million over the next five years. The increased costs and reduction of government grants is “jeopardising both the provision of essential services and the financial sustainability of local governments”. Shire CEO John Baker said the shire was considering arranging for a meeting of “a range of [Victorian] mayors”…

THE challenge was to play golf with closed eyes and using just one club held in the left hand for a right-handed person or the other way around for a left-hander. A partner or caddie would stand you close to the ball and describe the required putt or drive. The experienced golfers taking part in the game at Mount Martha Golf Course probably set their own personal bests for the most shots ever, both on the green and on the fairway. The idea of the golf session was to train golfers to help with an all abilities program being run…

CR SUSAN Bissinger has been suspended from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for 31 days after a state government-appointed arbiter found she had “engaged in misconduct”. Bissinger was told of the arbiter’s findings and her suspension 12 hours before it came into effect at midnight last Friday (23 February). However, she remains steadfast in claiming that she did nothing wrong and refuses to apologise, which was a direction made by the arbiter, Joel A Silver. “The apology requirements … make it impossible. I cannot apologise for things I didn’t do, and I find it offensive that I have been asked to…

A SURVEY of 8800 of people aged 15 to 19 has found that those concerned about climate change were more likely to have higher psychological distress and “low wellbeing”. Mission Australia, youth organisation Orygen and academics at the University of Melbourne rated their mental health as “poor or fair”. Youth mental health provider Headspace reported similar results after surveying more than 3000 18 to 25 year olds. The respondents were increasingly worried about their future, concerned that they would not have the same options that their parents had and would like to see more action taken on the challenge of…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is offering a prize for residents’ “ideas and aspirations” for its next budget. The inducement follows the unprecedented backlash the shire faced over its secret decision to allow the wildlife sanctuary at The Briars, Mount Martha, to be used for the sound and light show, Harry Potter: a Forbidden Forest Experience. Despite weeks of saying it was not possible, the shire last week moved the show out of the sanctuary and into the community forest, dog leash-free area (Sanctuary may be forbidden for Harry, The News 13/2/24). Suggestions for items to be included in the 2024-25…

NEW boundaries and nine new names have been announced for 11 single-councillor wards on the Mornington Peninsula. The changes will be used in the October council elections and replace the existing six wards, three of which have more than one councillor. The names of the shire’s 11 wards are Beek Beek, Benbenjie, Briars, Brokil, Coolart, Kackeraboite, Moorooduc, Nepean, Tanti, Tootgarook and Warringine. Briars and Nepean are the only existing wards to retain their names, although each will be reduced in size and represented by one councillor. Briars ward currently has three councillors and Nepean two. The panel rejected changing Briars…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is today (Tuesday) expected to back down on its insistence that the Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience event could not be moved from The Briars wildlife sanctuary. The move follows last Thursday’s announcement that Warner Bros and Fever were “re-evaluating the current location” of the event at the shire-owned Mount Martha property. This week’s meeting has one “Community Strengthening” item on its agenda: The Briars – Event Experience Trail Location. An accompanying report prepared by five council officers was not available Monday morning. The shire was continuing to defend the choice of the wildlife sanctuary…

IT IS an unfortunate and increasingly deadly fact that the koala breeding season coincides with the busiest times on Mornington Peninsula roads. Since last August 17 koalas have been killed on peninsula roads – half of those in January – although the number is almost certainly higher as not all such collisions are officially reported. Campaigns to protect koalas by the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation (MPKC) group are credited with reducing the number of road kills, although roadside warning signs were not installed until December, three months later than normal. “Our campaign is in its third season, and we have…

TENSIONS are again running high among users of the closed Beleura cliff path at Mornington because of “spy cameras” installed by Mornington Peninsula Shire. The CCTV cameras have been installed to catch anyone cutting or damaging the wire barricades across the path. The path was closed on 1 September 2022 after a “minor rock fall” but Save Our Cliff Path convenor Peter Nicholson said walkers would have noticed water flows that caused a “serious landslip” one month later. The repair bill for that incident has been put at $1.5 million. Nicholson said money spent on installing the “spy cameras” would…

WHILE Mornington Peninsula Shire might make box office money from allowing The Briars wildlife sanctuary to be used as a stage and backdrop for a Harry Potter show, it may cost councillors at the ballot box in October. With the Potter shows running from April to July, opponents of the shows are out for revenge and vowing to make sure the nightly shows remain fresh in voters’ memories. The Mornington Peninsula branch of The Greens is organising for protesters to attend the council’s Tuesday 6 February public meeting at Rosebud. The Greens also wants more information on the deal, reminding…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire had by the end of last week collected $178,000 in fees from the three foreshore parking areas included in its summer paid parking trial that started on 1 December. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors were told last week that fines of nearly $20,000 had been issued for infringements at the car parks at Flinders and Mornington piers and Sunnyside Beach, Mount Eliza. The $96 fines had been issued for each of 207 infringements. The summer trial is reported to have cost the shire $1 million. Peninsula residents can register up to five vehicles at one address to avoid…

A FIRST glance, some of those who volunteered for a beach clean at Flinders thought their efforts might not be needed. But, in line with what the effort’s organisers thought, the beach soon showed it had a flip side: among the 116 kilograms of rubbish collected were chairs, concrete blocks, star pickets, old machinery, fishing tackle and one surfboard. “What a day for a clean-up at Flinders. For a beach that several people thought was so clean,” Mary Iles, of Flinders Community Association, said. “The kids came to help, free beach hand bins got filled and the Sea Shepherd rubbish…

THE largest number of competitors participated in the 38th running of the Portsea Swim Classic on Saturday. Tragically, Simon Weatherill, the 67-year-old former head of the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, died of a suspected heart attack while participating in the classic. Portsea Surf Life Saving Club president Matt Mahon said “thoughts and prayers” were with Weatherill’s family and friends. Tommy Lane, 18, of Brighton, took line honours in the 1.5km classic and 2.5km gold events. Coming second and third in the 2.5km race were Sam Sheppard and Portsea life saver Logan Brandi. Four hours later Lane won the 1.5km…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being urged to overturn their policy of only asking the state government to reduce speed limits on five or six roads a year. Cr David Gill said council’s adoption of setting such low targets was “our worst road safety decision in my time as a councillor”. His move to have no limit on approaches to the government puts him on course for a head-on clash with council officers who have said making the requests were “too onerous with little recent reward”. Gill says Roads and Road Safety Minister Melissa Horne has used the peninsula as…

THE first quarterly community satisfaction survey for 2024 will be held across the Mornington Peninsula late this month and in early February. Residents will be phoned and visited door-to-door and asked to answer questions about Mornington Peninsula Council services by Metropolis Research. The outcome of the survey could influence the election campaigns and voters’ opinions of candidates in the October council elections. The elections will also be notable as the shire will be then have 11 single-councillor wards, with five new ward names being added to the existing six. The mayor Cr Simon Brooks said “feedback” from the survey was…

THREE decades of the Mornington Peninsula’s surfing history are being carried around in a mobile museum. The seven new surfboards in the museum represent the pointy end of surfing – the evolution of boards used and preferred by surfers. Dillon Milenkovic said it had “always been a dream” to order new surfboards from all local manufacturers “and see what eventuates”. His wish was granted through a $10,000 “creative arts” grant from Mornington Peninsula Shire and a decision to focus on the history of surfboard making and design. The craftmanship and innovation shown in the completed “new but old” boards is…

YOUNG people and the “wider community” will be able to choose one of three Aboriginal names for the yet to be completed $13 million southern peninsula youth hub at Rosebud. The name will be chosen from three suggested by the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation: Tounnin Wominjeka (warm welcome); Umarko Wominjeka (all, everyone welcome); and Kartnuk Bullito Wongonon (joy everywhere, all about). The hub is expected to open in November and the shire will later this month and in February seek the opinions of youth groups and schools. In a report to council’s 19 December public meeting, shire officers said…

IT is no exaggeration to say works by Rye artist Vicki Sullivan are out of this world. If all went to plan, digitised copies of her paintings were on Monday (8 January) scheduled to leave Earth aboard a rocket headed for the Moon. The Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission 1 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida carried an exhibition, Artists on the Moon or Annex 9, in a time capsule. The collection, organised by Canadian physicist, entrepreneur, and storyteller Dr Samuel Peralta with art publisher Didi Menendez, includes art magazines, art exhibition catalogues, anthologies of art and poetry, essays, short stories, scientific…

THREATS to the sustainability of Western Port’s ecosystem and its international importance as a destination for migratory birds have led to the federal government knocking back plans for a terminal to assemble wind turbines at Hastings. The announcement by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek on 18 December will be a blow to the state government which allocated $27 million in its 2023/24 budget for the offshore wind turbines to be built at Hastings. However, the state and the Port of Hastings Corporation had acknowledge the need for an environmental effects statement (EES) process before the terminal could be built. Plibersek said…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is pressing ahead with investigating a publicly accessible online “transparency and integrity hub” that could cost $200,000 to $350,000. The “selected council data, stories, reports, and curated information” available on the hub follows council’s below average results from last year’s community satisfaction survey. A report to councillors by customer and transformation manager Patrick Dillon said data on the transparency and integrity hub “may” also include “detailed financial records from the council and its stakeholders; asset management data (the shire’s capital works program); procurement data, and more”. “This online hub will allow visitors to explore and visualise data,…

MEMBERS of the Flinders community are gearing up for the Big Beach Clean Up in early January. The four-day “coastal crusade” will include Balnarring, Point Leo, Shoreham and Flinders beaches. “Our secret weapon is the beach hand bin, a nifty little bin designed by Josie Jones OAM,” Flinders Community Association president Mary Iles said. “Josie starts her day by collecting rubbish on her local beaches and has volunteered over 10,000 hours to improve the water quality in Mornington Peninsula’s bays and she is and is now helping to protect our Western Port beaches.” Iles said a pilot project by Jones…