Author: Keith Platt

FOUR people have died so far this year on peninsula roads, but no deaths have been recorded on the 33 roads where speed limits have been set at 80kph. The speed cuts from 100kph and 90kph to 80kph were introduced in December 2019 on about 110 kilometres of selected Mornington Peninsula Shire-managed roads as part of a two-year trial. Now, half way into the trial, results of an online and phone survey into public acceptance of reducing speeds shows 59 per cent of the 1059 respondents in support and 21 per cent against. A further seven 7 per cent were…

THE coronavirus pandemic may have put a firm brake on international travel for many people, but it has had no effect on the flights of migratory birds. The birds continued their annual hazardous 25,000 kilometre round trips from the northern to the southern hemisphere. Western Port and Port Phillip bays are the favoured destinations for many species and more than 300 artists have contributed to an exhibition that highlights the tenuous existence faced by these intrepid international travellers. A family day was held at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington last weekend for World Migratory Bird Day and The Overwintering Project-Westernport…

PROJECTS and activities to improve or sustain the environment make up most of the nine projects entered by Hastings in this year’s Australian Sustainable Community – Tidy Town awards. Representatives from Mornington Peninsula Shire met with Keep Victoria Beautiful and Keep Australia Beautiful to present the projects as part of Hastings’ bid to win the tidy town award. The national winner, out of seven competing towns, will be announced at Beechworth in June. The nine projects in Hastings’ bid are: Devilbend-Hastings Landcare Group’s fox control program centred at Devilbend Natural Features Reserve, one of the cornerstones of the peninsula Landcare…

A PUBLIC meeting will be held on Saturday (8 May) in support of keeping the remaining 180 metre wooden section of Flinders pier. The pier was built in the mid-19th century and substantially reconstructed about 100 years later. A new concrete section was built in late 2011, and there is growing pressure for the remaining wooden section to be kept for pedestrians. News that the wooden section was under threat came in July 2020, when the Ports and Freight Minister Melissa Horne issued a media release headed Upgrading piers and jetties that included “the demolition of the inner section of…

RED Hill artist Michael Leeworthy is pleased to see his books “walking out the door”. A keen bushwalker, Leeworthy has self-published a book detaining 12 walking trails that he says have previously gone undocumented. Each of the tracks has a starting point at the Red Hill Post Office (based inside the red Hill Wine Cellars at the corner of Point Leo and Shoreham roads) and individual times and distances have been measured by Leeworthy. The book also includes 20 of his illustrations, including paintings of what has become known as the Mornington Peninsula’s hinterland area. “The book is already on…

SPOTTING birds and taking long walks to see the country close up are some of the activities on the “life list” of Greg Hunt, who has retired after two and a half years as executive officer of the Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation. His position at the biosphere will be filled by Mel Barker, who Mr Hunt describes as “a very well-credentialled local”. At the time of Mr Hunt’s appointment, the biosphere foundation’s chair Duncan Malcolm pointed out that he was “not the Flinders MP” of the same name, but the previous executive officer of the South East Councils Climate…

SATURDAY 1 May was a day of celebration for those opposed to the now-withdrawn plan by power company AGL to import liquified natural gas through a terminal at Crib Point. However, the more than 400 people gathered at Balnarring common to revel in their shared victory were also warned to be wary of governments and vested interests eyeing parts of the Mornington Peninsula’s green wedge for development. “Governments cannot be trusted to protect Western Port and the peninsula’s green wedge,” Cr David Gill said. He listed “concerning issues still being pushed by the state and federal governments” as including Kawasaki’s…

SOME business fees charged by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council are likely to be frozen for four years if the Liberal Nationals opposition wins the next state election. Although the election is not due until November 2022, Mornington MP David Morris said “freezing the cost of fees levied on local businesses is a practical and effective way to deliver that support”. Without giving any examples, Mr Morris, in a joint news release with Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien, said some councils had not been able to resist “the temptation to bolster their financial position by slugging local small businesses”. “Small traders who…

A 45-person “citizens panel” is a “key pillar” being used by Mornington Peninsula Shire to find a “community vision” of what the peninsula should “look like in 2040”. The “random” group will be chosen from residents and non-resident ratepayers who register their interest in being on the panel. Members of the panel will be chosen by an independent, specialist company hired by the shire to make sure they are “a completely representative cross section of the community”, according to Andrew Wood, the shire’s advocacy and innovation coordinator. Mr Wood told council’s Tuesday 20 April meeting that there were a number…

THE federal government has been spared the need to make a formal decision on power company AGL’s plans to import liquified natural gas through a floating terminal at Crib Point. Flinders MP Greg Hunt last week said that “neither an approval nor refusal” would need to be made as AGL had withdrawn its proposal from consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The withdrawal at the federal level by AGL comes one month after the state government knocked its plan back on environmental grounds (“State terminates AGL’s gas import plan” The News 31/3/21). In the following weeks…

Mornington Peninsula Shire’s deputy mayor Cr Sarah Race, pictured, has been appointed to the state government’s Gender Equality Advisory Committee. The committee was established to “drive” gender equality across Victoria’s 79 municipal councils and will advise Local Government Minister Shaun Leane and the Minister for Women, Gabrielle Williams, on how to achieve the government’s target of 50 per cent female mayors and councillors by 2025. Seven of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 11 councillors are women, about 63 per cent,  including the mayor, Cr Despi O’Connor. The appointment of Cr Race to the 16-member gender committee follows Cr O’Connor’s inclusion on the…

THERE is no shortage of descriptions or writings about the perceived benefits of humans interacting or moving about within nature, or the great outdoors. The term biophilia is used to describe the hypothesis that humans have an innate tendency to connect with nature, including other living creatures. Diversional therapist Michelle Lowe has no doubts about  these benefits and says she sees the positive effects on visitors to her “social and emotional wellbeing centre” in Balnarring. Visitors can stroll around the 2.6 hectare property, which has trees and flowers for the picking. Its paddocks can be very peaceful and calming. But…

NEW rules will be written for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to self-regulate against corruption among councillors and officers and ensure that the “highest standards” are followed when contractors are hired, and goods and services bought. In the first of two moves adopted by councillors last week, a “lobbying policy” will be drawn up to guide councillors and officers and “maintain transparency and accountability” when decisions are made. The second move was to ensure that contractors and consultants meet “the highest standards of social, ethical and sustainable business practices”. Changes to the existing procurement policy must also place “greater weight” on…

THE community is being urged to see the state government’s rejection of AGL’s gas import terminal at Crib Point as “the start and not the end” of action to protect Western Port. The Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Foundation chair, Jo McCoy, said AGL’s plan had created a “focal point and motivation” for municipal councils, traditional owners and the community “to frame conversations around population growth and development projects in a way sympathetic to our sensitive environment”. The biosphere foundation includes the five “member councils” whose boundaries fall wholly or partly within the biosphere: Mornington Peninsula, Frankston, Casey, Bass…

LARGE swells outside the Port Phillip Heads two weeks ago also saw surfable waves at Portsea front beach. While surfers enjoyed the rare chance to ride a wave near Portsea pier and within sight of its beachfront hotel, the incoming swells also revived concerns about the beach’s loss of sand and the increase of sand at nearby Point King beach. The sand loss at one of the peninsula’s if not most popular, certainly fashionable, beaches, first gained prominence in 2009; the year that saw completion of the  controversial channel deepening project in the southern end of the bay. The sand…

THE state government has given $4.3 million towards a ”youth hub” at Rosebud and is now inviting suggestions about what it should offer from young people. The federal government has also committed $1.5m towards the project. “We want feedback from young people up to 25 or 26 as to what they’d like,” Nepean MP Chris Brayne said. “The youth hub needs to be a place young people want to go to.” The announcement of the grant from the state’s Growing Suburbs Fund to Mornington Peninsula Shire was made jointly by Local Government and Suburban Development Minister Shaun Leane and Mr…

THERE are 145 families and 183 children affected by Mornington Peninsula Shire’s decision to stop administering family day care services. As well as finding “redeployment options” for its two children’s services officers, the shire says it is “committed to supporting each [of 25 educators] to find a preferred [commercial] provider to ensure a smooth transition for themselves and their families”. The shire says there has been a steady decline in demand for the service, which coincides with a rise in the number of commercial day care providers (“Shire closes door on family day care” The News 6/4/21). The shire’s family…

AN appetite for self-inflicted punishment appears to have no boundaries when it comes to mountain bike riding. Steep, winding trails, peppered with rocks and tree roots that quickly turn into slippery, muddy slides are more drawcard than deterrent. Recent years have seen an ever increasing number of mountain bikers descend (literally) from near the heights of Arthurs Seat State Park to Boundary Road, Dromana along a series of graded trails. Some riders make their own, slow-paced way up the steep hill while others carry their bikes to the park entrance off Arthurs Seat Road on car racks or aboard a…

THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning says methods of using 20,000 cubic metres of dredged sand to replenish McCrae beach are designed “to avoid impacting any marine values and coastal vegetation”. “Our marine biodiversity and natural environment team experts have confirmed there are no specific concerns relating to the project with regards to land-based coastal vegetation, the reef, or the plants and animals that inhabit it,” DELWP Port Phillip regional director Stephen Chapple said. However, long time beach users report that marine creatures are being “shredded” by the DELWP’s dredging machines. “Some stingrays miraculously made it through the…

SUSAN Bissinger is the replacement councillor for Hugh Fraser in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Nepean Ward. Ms Bissinger’s appointment follows Tuesday’s (13 April) recount of votes cast in the November 2020 election. Ms Bissinger, pictured, told The News that she was “looking forward to getting things done, or at least having a go at getting them done”. After being sworn in at this Tuesday’s (20 April) council meeting and with several meetings to go before council is scheduled to adopt the 2021/22 budget Ms Bissinger will have several opportunities to make known her preferences on council spending. In her candidate’s statement…

SUSAN Bissinger seems certain to be named as the replacement councillor for Hugh Fraser in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Nepean Ward. Ms Bissinger’s appointment – subject to her signing a declaration that she is still qualified to be a councillor – follows Tuesday’s (13 April) recount of votes cast in the November 2020 election. Ms Bissinger told The News that she was “looking forward to getting things done, or at least having a go at getting them done”. In her candidate’s statement before the November election Ms Bissinger said “my goal is to improve the look, feel and function of our…

MORE than 20 young Aboriginals were at the YMCA’s Camp Manyung, Mount Eliza last week to “reconnect with culture and country, as well as develop life-long physical skills”. The camp and Sport and Recreation Victoria joined forces with the Hastings-based Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association to provide the activities as well as teaching them about the yidaki (didgeridoo), jewellery crafts and boomerang throwing. The cost of the camp is part of a $300,000 federal government grant for active recreation programs for young Aboriginal people. “As an industry leader in recreation, the YMCA is excited to be partnering with Willum Warrain Aboriginal…

MICHAEL and Noelle Woolf, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on 8 April, met and were married at St Mark’s Anglican Church, East Brighton. The couple met at the church and regularly played tennis there but, before their relationship became official, Noelle left for an 11-month working holiday based in Toronto. She made the trip to and from Canada aboard the Orsova and was waved off and greeted by Michael, although she says that initially there was no romantic interest. They say their strong faith has sustained them throughout the years and they have always done things together. The Woolfs…

DESPITE oversight by government agencies, there are fears that kangaroos could quickly become extinct on the Mornington Peninsula. Landowners and property managers on the peninsula are being issued with licences to shoot kangaroos, but no checks are made to ensure that only the specified numbers are killed. Seven of the 16 kangaroo species found in Victoria 150 years ago are now extinct. Cr David Gill, who was able to persuade his fellow councillors to ask the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)for details about eastern grey kangaroo numbers on the peninsula, says he can remember a time when…

WHILE celebrations continue over state Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s rejection of AGL’s proposed import gas terminal at Crib Point, those opposed to the plan will feel more secure once the decision is also backed by the federal government. Mr Wynne’s decision was based on environmental grounds and to be set in motion must now be endorsed by several state departments and the federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley. “Minister Wynne’s assessment reflects the overwhelming and sustained opposition from a broad alliance of groups including scientists, residents, tourism and fishing businesses, and our clients,” Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Virginia Trescowthick said. “We…

TELSTRA says it has expanded its 5G coverage on the Mornington Peninsula to Shoreham, Red Hill South and parts of Point Leo and Main Ridge. Regional general manager Loretta Willaton customers in those areas with 5G devices “can get faster download speeds and enjoy greater capacity during those busy periods on the mobile network”. Ms Willaton said there were more than 30 5G sites “on-air” across the peninsula, including Portsea, Sorrento and Blairgowrie, up to Safety Beach, Mount Martha and Mornington. While Telstra regularly makes announcements about its expanding 5G coverage, there are continuing complaints about blackspots. Mornington Peninsula Shire…

THE art of self-parody works for Ben Ross. One of his first pitches for a commercial job was a caricature of himself doing some yoga poses. He didn’t get the job, but the character he drew, Bennie, became an inspiration that continued to evolve while Ross subsequently surfed in Mexico. “My vision really came alive. The soft palettes you see on my work today are all Mexican inspired: soft pastels, white beaches, blue and pink skies. Mexico was a true Inspiration,” Ross says. Now back on the Mornington Peninsula, the self-taught artist is two years into a graphics career and…

THE mayors of Mornington Peninsula and Frankston councils have been included in the state government’s Local Government Mayoral Advisory Panel. Cr Despi O’Connor (Mornington Peninsula) and Cr Kris Bolam (Frankston) are among 15 mayor’s on the panel which will meet with Local Government Minister Shaun Leane four times this year to “provide advice on a range of matters that impact local government” including “ideas and initiatives to benefit the local government sector and aid in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic”. The news release from the minister’s office incorrectly identified Cr O’Connor as “Mayor of Mornington”. The former Shire of Mornington…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has decided to stop providing family day care on the peninsula and in the Frankston area. The shire says “a steady decline in the service” has over the past five years  coincided with the rising number of family day care providers in the market. Families using the “home away from home” service have been given 12 weeks to find alternative care for their children. “We are confident these [alternate] services will provide a varied choice for all educators when selecting a new provider to transfer to with little to no disruption to them or the families…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is about to tackle waste and rubbish on several fronts. It has adopted a carrot and stick approach to recycling, with fines for recycled waste being “contaminated” and offering the chance to win a $100 voucher to households “doing the right thing”. Smoking is also being banned in some reserves and on popular foreshores and beaches, although no penalties will be imposed on anyone defying warning signs. Recycling bins will be randomly checked for non-recyclable materials, with households doing the right thing going into a monthly draw for a $100 voucher. Households with contaminated bins will be…