Author: Keith Platt

SUBMARINES are designed to stay out of sight, but there is no way to hide the rusting hull of the Oberon class submarine Otama anchored off Crib Point. Having already missed one Parks Victoria order to move, the submarine lies tethered to four equally rusting anchor chains awaiting it fate off Crib Point. Politicians and the public are being encouraged to get involved in the ongoing wrangle over the Otama’s future. Two petitions have been lodged with the Legislative Council to be signed by the public and weighed for action by politicians. One petition lodged last month by the Western…

FEDERAL and state departments are being asked to reconsider earlier “informal” advice to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council officers that details of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula cannot be disclosed. The shire’s request for land ownership details also includes a suggestion that the state and federal governments consider establishing a database of foreign owned land. Chief financial officer Bulent Oz said the initial request for foreign owned land details in January had been “denied on the basis of sensitivity”. The information had been sought in case a notice of motion lodged by Cr David for discussion at the 27…

THE Bass Park Trust met last Thursday (29 July) but did not invite Mornington Peninsula Shire’s nominated representative, Cr Anthony Marsh. The online Zoom meeting was, however, attended by Cr David Gill, as he has done for the past four and a half years. Cr Marsh, a Briars Ward councillor (Mount Eliza, Mornington and Mount Martha), successfully nominated himself for the position in June, saying it was “important all councillors are active all over the municipality”. Cr Gill, whose Red Hill Ward includes Flinders Golf Course which is on land managed by the Bass Park Trust, told The News that…

MONEY and planning are behind the latest motivations to reassess the status of the Mornington Peninsula. Officially designated as part of metropolitan Melbourne, the peninsula is regarded as being regional when it comes to some services, such as fire protection from the Country Fire Authority. This split identification can also mean that Mornington Peninsula Shire is prohibited from applying for some federal and state government grants. However, if the shire is officially regarded as regional, it would lose the protection of green wedge planning restrictions. The solution being sought by the shire is for the peninsula to go half way…

DESPITE facing community calls for his appointment to be reversed, Cr Anthony Marsh was “excited” to inform his Mornington Peninsula Shire Council colleagues that his application to join the Bass Park trust “has progressed”. The minutes of the council’s Tuesday 13 July meeting state that Cr Marsh “is hoping at the [27 July] council meeting to be able to advise that the appointment has been ratified”. Cr Marsh successfully nominated himself for the position on the trust held by Cr David Gill for the past four and a half years (“Trust says ‘no’ to council’s chosen delegate” The News 15/6/21).…

THE centre of control for Victoria’s commercial ports, including Hastings, has moved from Melbourne to Geelong. The Port of Hastings’ harbourmaster Captain Shane Vedamuttu will remain based at Crib Point. The newly-formed Ports Victoria combines the Victorian Regional Channels Authority (VRCA) and Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) and will control the strategic management and operation of the state’s commercial ports and waterways. The change follows an independent review of the ports system which included 60 recommendations and was handed to the state government in November 2020. The management move to Geelong comes four years after the Victorian Regional Channels Authority took…

THE state and federal governments are being asked to consider establishing a database of land in Australia that is owned by overseas interests. The suggestion by Mornington Peninsula Shire is part of a request for information of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula, particularly in the green wedge and special use zones. Cr David Gill said he believed Australians had “a right to know about foreign ownership of our country”. “We have a right to know about land banking by foreign identities, especially by developers pushing to rezone and subdivide,” he said. “We should also know about lobby groups…

HAVING a federal government representative who is independent of the major political parties is seen as the key to bringing benefits to the Mornington Peninsula by the fledgling Voices of Mornington Peninsula. Launched in June, the group says the “mismanagement” of the COVID-19 crisis, including the vaccine rollout, has brought the federal government to “a critical point”. “As community angst about yet another lockdown and national concerns over rorts and other issues rise, Voices of Mornington Peninsula – a – is driving a movement to bring core values back into the democratic process by engaging locals in the political process,”…

FORMER Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Hugh Fraser has weighed into the accusations from sides sparked by Cr David Gill tracking Nepean MP Chris Brayne as he “meets and greets” at shopping centre. Mr Fraser provided a photograph which he says proves that contrary to what Cr Gill claims, Mr Brayne does have group meetings with councillors. He said it was “silly nonsense” for Cr Gill to allege Mr Brayne would not meet with the whole council. “It’s time these dysfunctional allegations are put to one side and responsible persons get on with making the shire a better place to live…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has been told that its delay in releasing a planning report had jeopardised the legally required role of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT member Michael Deidun said it took three requests “and a pointed reminder of the tribunal’s powers” before he was given the requested document. “The intent of the council to not release the panel report until the business day after the scheduled final day of the [seven-day] hearing, coupled with its request that it be able to make further written submissions after that time, would have the potential to cause a delay…

Council chooses to be run without a pledge or a prayer MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is set to drop the reading of a prayer or pledge before future public council meetings. A template for future agendas in a draft of proposed changes to rules under which the council operates makes no provision for any declaration. The draft was adopted by council on 18 May and exhibited for public comment on 25 May, along with a news release stating “in particular council seeks your input in relation to the [the removal from the agenda of the] prayer”. While the council wants…

UNDEMOCRATIC, manifestly inadequate, vague, ambiguous and absurdly long [time for lodging notices of motion] are just some of the words by former councillor Hugh Fraser to describe proposed changes to rules under which Mornington Peninsula Shire operates. Mr Fraser’s detailed critique of parts of the draft Governance Rules is made in one of the submissions now being collated by shire officers. Councillors will be briefed on the feedback from the public to the proposed changes on 3 August, and the Governance Rules will then be listed for discussion at the council’s 24 August public meeting. Mr Fraser’s main objections to…

Politicians are used to debating, but rarely do their sparring words spill over into the public realm as much as those traded last week by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill and Nepean MP Chris Brayne. Mr Brayne, by his own admission was a surprising winner for Labor in the 2018 state election, has accused Cr Gill of harassing him and “acting like a juvenile”. Cr Gill says he has “every right” to follow Mr Brayne from town to town as he “meets and greets at various local shopping outlets”. The constant presence of Cr Gill has led to Mr…

Joseph Misuraca and Keith Platt FORMER Liberal Dunkley MP Chris Crewther wants the chance to regain the seat he lost to Labor’s Peta Murphy at the 2019 election. Mr Crewther succeeded fellow Liberal Bruce Billson in 2016 but failed to hold onto the seat that had been held by Mr Billson for 20 years. Mr Crewther is now one of four Liberals seeking preselection for Dunkley. The other contenders are Donna Hope, Sharn Coombes and Chrestyna Kmetj. Ms Hope (formerly Mrs Bauer) was the state MP for Carrum until 2014, when she lost her seat to Labor’s Sonya…

CHANGES to state electoral boundaries see Labor as having a small winning margin in two of the Mornington Peninsula’s three seats. However, both major parties have reduced margins in seats they already hold on the peninsula. Hastings, held by Liberal Neale Burgess since 2006, has swung 1.5 per cent to Labor, changing Mr Burgess’s 1.1 per cent winning margin to a 0.4 per cent loss in Labor’s favour. Labor, which gained a foothold on the normally solid Liberal peninsula with the election in 2019 of Chris Brayne in Nepean, sees his margin clipped from 0.9 per cent to 0.6 per…

VOICES are being heard and issues being raised across the Mornington Peninsula in the search for an independent election candidate for the federal seat of Flinders. Members of the fledgling Voices for Mornington Peninsula say it is time for a change in Flinders, held by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Liberal Greg Hunt, for more than two decades. Since the group’s Saturday 19 June online launch, VMP volunteers have been seeking residents’ views of the peninsula, including “their concerns and ideas for the future”. “These conversations highlight concerns about the federal government’s failure to address significant issues such as…

STEVE Holland is the latest member of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to be appointed to a group involved in managing or advising local government in Victoria. Cr Holland’s election to the board of the Victorian Local Government Association board follows the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor’s appointment by the state government to the local government mayoral advisory panel and deputy mayor Cr Sarah Race to its gender equality advisory committee. Cr Holland was one of two councillors elected for a three-year term on the VLGA board. Cr Josh Fergeus, of Monash Council, was the other successful candidate. Cr Holland’s Briars Ward…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are ignoring requests for them to reverse their decision to appoint Cr Anthony Marsh to the Bass Park Trust. Councillors on 1 June voted 6/5 to replace Cr David Gill with Cr Marsh on the trust. Both the trust and Flinders Community Association say Cr Gill should be on the trust as property overseen by the trust, Flinders golf course and surrounds, lies within his Red Hill Ward. Cr Marsh represents Briars Ward, which covers Mount Martha, Mornington and Mount Eliza. The trust, which next meets on 29 July, was quick to write to councillors seeking…

THE fate of an old section of Flinders pier depends on whether it has any “significant heritage or environmental significance”, according to Nepean MP Chris Brayne. Parks Victoria will decide whether to demolish the pier based on assessments which are likely to be completed by the end of this month (June). “While the pier is not heritage listed at a federal or state level, the pier is listed on the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s heritage overlay,” Mr Brayne said. “If one, or both of these assessments come back with significant heritage or environmental significance, the department will not demolish it.”…

THE judgement of some Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors has been questioned over their different attitudes to the slaughter of kangaroos and spider crabs. In February, Cr David Gill failed to get any support for his call on the state government to kangaroos being shot on the peninsula until scientific evidence could justify the killing. However, last month Cr Sarah Race was able to get every councillor to agree to sign a letter calling on the government to stop spider crabs being harvested from May to July, during their annual aggregation (“Spider crabs stay on the menu” The News 31/5/21). Two…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has been asked to revoke its decision to make Cr Anthony Marsh its delegate to the Bass Park Trust. The near century old trust was established to protect land occupied by Flinders Golf Club from developers. Red Hill Ward councillor David Gill has attended the trust’s meetings for the past four and a half years, but on Tuesday 1 June Cr Marsh put his hand up for the position and was backed by five of his colleagues to make him the council-appointed delegate to the trust. The Bass Park Trust has since accused councillors of having…

FRIDAY is the deadline for public comments to be made about Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors beginning their meetings with a prayer or a pledge. Words of a pledge have been spoken since December last year (except for one meeting in February) but the agenda item is listed as The Prayer, even though there is no mention of a god, deity or any other supernatural being considered divine or sacred. The word prayer was retained to describe the pledge following the shire’s in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu advising that as long as what they were saying was called a prayer, there was…

ALTHOUGH no date has been announced for the next federal election, Steve Anger has already announced he will seek to win Flinders for The New Liberals. Mr Anger, of Rosebud, will need to defeat sitting Liberal MP Greg Hunt, who is the minister for health and aged in the Scott Morrison-led government. Mr Hunt has held Flinders since being elected in 2001 and managed to fend off eight other candidates to win the 2019 election. He now holds the seat with a two candidate preferred majority of 11.28 per cent, 1.37 per cent less than his win in the previous…

STUDIES into cliff stability, Aboriginal cultural values and a possible bill of $20 million are in the mix to find a “solution” to deal with problems at The Pillars cliff jumping site at Mount Martha. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors last week agreed to hire consultants to report by October after undertaking geotechnical survey and speaking to Traditional Owners about cultural values at the site. The report will include an assessment of what could be provided to improve safety at The Pillars, such as a boardwalk and viewing platforms, toilets, paths and signs. The council has also asked the Department of…

DESPITE using an increase in Aboriginal children enrolled in three-year-old kindergarten as an example of its “positive action towards reconciliation”, Mornington Peninsula Shire will not release actual statistics. The shire says there has been a 300 per cent increase in Aboriginal enrolments since 2016 but will not reveal how many children are involved. “We cannot provide the actual numbers … because it may allow individual members of the community to be identified and this is not culturally safe,” community services manager Jo Bradshaw said. The shire also chose to highlight higher rates in “Aboriginal business procurement, and work” as…

NINE out of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 11 councillors have voted in favour of their colleague Anthony Marsh being able to spend more than $8000 on a director’s course. The money will come from the $16,000 each councillor is allowed to spend on courses or conferences during their four-year term. Cr Steve Holland, the only dissenting councillor during debate at the council’s 1 June online meeting, said spending the money “doesn’t pass the pub test”. “I know councillors can spend $16,000 on conferences and training, but this needs to be linked to community benefit,” he said. “I don’t know how this…

POWER company AGL says it lost about $108 million because of its failed bid for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. In a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange last week AGL said it had estimated it would spend $130 million on the project, with $22 million being “expensed” so far. “As a result, AGL expects to recognise a pre-tax loss of up to $108 million as a significant item in its FY21 financial statements,” the statement said. “Engagement with the community and relevant parties has been integral to this process and AGL thanks those involved for their…

AN extra $400,000 is being spent on a business case to expand the Tyabb-Somerville recycled water irrigation scheme to Pearcedale. Flinders MP Greg Hunt says the new investigation is being paid for by the federal government, Mornington Peninsula Shire and South East Water. If proved economically viable and then built, the project will see class A recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant made available to farms in Tyabb, Somerville and Pearcedale. Statistics for 2019 on the National Outfall Database show that the south eastern outfall at Boags Rocks, near Gunnamatta, services the Eastern, Mount Martha, Somers, and Boneo treatment…

THREE Mornington Peninsula businesses have been added to the list of places visited by people confirmed to have COVID-19 while infectious. Visitors to all three premises who were there at the same time as the COVID positive person have been advised to get tested immediately and then quarantine for 14 days. The identification of the three sites and listing by the DHHS came as Greater Melbourne was plunged into a seven-day lockdown. The three businesses listed last week by the Department of Health and Human Services are the Enchanted Adventure Garden, Purves Road, Arthurs Seat; Peninsula Hot Springs (bathhouse reception…

DUCKS have just two weeks to lie low until the end of this year’s shortened duck hunting season. The season, which ends Wednesday 16 June, was limited to three weeks instead of the three months the state government could have declared. Nationals Leader Peter Walsh said the cutback was “a deliberate attempt to put another nail in the coffin of legal, legitimate recreational activities in regional Victoria”. Mr Walsh quoted a report commissioned and paid for by Field & Game Australia that found “the justification [for the shortened duck hunting season] masquerades as a science-based decision, when in reality it…