Author: Keith Platt

THE Liberal Party will next week choose its candidates for November 2022 state election for the seats of Hastings and Mornington. David Morris, who has safely held Mornington since November 2006, is being challenged by Chris Crewther, who lost the federal seat of Dunkley to Labor’s Peta Murphy in 2019. Dunkley, which Mr Crewther lost after one term, had previously been held until 2016 for 20 years by Liberal Bruce Billson. In July, Mr Crewther failed to get his party’s endorsement for Dunkley in next year’s federal election and in September lost to Sarah Henderson in a bid to fill…

IT may seem hard to imagine now, but 100 years ago on Thursday 2 December crowds gathered at Red Hill to welcome the arrival of dignitary-packed passenger train. After the official ceremony, the dignitaries were looked after in newly-built cool stores near the station and picnics were held nearby by the crowd of an estimated 1000 people. The train eventually pulled out to take the passengers back to Melbourne along the recently-completed tracks from Bittern to Red Hill, but the celebrations by the public continued into the night. The reign of the train as a major means of getting to…

IT traces its origins to a mistaken identity and is acknowledged by its maker as being “quite a challenging style”, but there is no doubting the success of Crittenden Estate’s 2016 Cri de Coeur Savagnin. The wine produced by the Dromana-based estate has been named Australia’s Best Overall Drink in the 2021 Drink Easy Awards. Unlike most wine awards, the annual Drink Easy competition is open to all beverages, including spirits and non-alcoholic. The early “mistake” made by today’s savagnin producers dates back to several years before 2009, when they thought they were growing and harvesting Spanish albarino grapes. Doubts…

THOUSANDS of tonnes of sand are being spread at Mount Martha Beach North with the knowledge that in time they will be swept away by tides and storm surges. The sand will be in place for summer, providing extra space for beach users and protecting beach boxes. However, it is a foregone conclusion that the sand, and taxpayers’ money used to deliver it, are doomed to disappear. In recent years sand has been poured onto the beach and rocks placed behind beach boxes to prevented further erosion of the cliffs which ultimately threatens the stability of The Esplanade between Alice…

CONTENDERS have entered the final straight in this year’s race to be mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire. The betting among shire officers continues to strongly favour Anthony Marsh being elected to the top job, although the odds are now 3:1 as opposed to 1:1 last week and 2:1 the week before that. Cr Marsh is being backed as mayor with the same 3:1 odds with either Cr Lisa Dixon or Cr Susan Bissinger as deputy mayor. Still close to the front is Cr Sarah Race 5:1 with Cr Dixon as her deputy (6:1 last week and 2:1 when the betting…

ALLEGIANCES and alliances appear to be changing along with the odds on who will be the next mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire. The shire’s 11 councillors will vote for their next leader on Tuesday 16 November. Last week’s favourite 2:1 combination of Cr Anthony Marsh for mayor with Cr Lisa Dixon as deputy has firmed to 1:1 (“Favourites pushed aside in race to the front” The News 26/10/21). Since last week, the duo of Cr Sarah Race (mayor) and Cr Dixon (deputy) has slipped from 4:1 to 6:1. Next on the list is Cr Marsh (mayor) and Cr Race (deputy)…

ONCE free of lockdown and allowed out to gather as a group, the Sybil Disobedients wasted no time in arranging a performance to emphasise their belief that Australia needs a “properly articulated” plan to cope with the “climate crisis”. Dressed in their signature hooped dresses, hats and signs, the troupe walked slowly along a section of The Pines beach at Shoreham last Tuesday morning (26 October) before assembling in front of a sign in the sand marked Code Red – Climate Crisis. More specifically, the Sybils were calling for an end to gas exploration in Bass Strait. “We are forced…

STORM chaser photographer Yanni was in his element on Thursday, although the biggest decision was where would be the best vantage point. Drawn to the darkness of wild windswept Cape Schanck, Yanni knew the possibilities of lightning and clouds creating an awe-inspiring silhouette and background for the both the lighthouse and cliff-clinging vegetation. He was not disappointed. Yanni has published a book, Beautiful Storm, which not only records many storms to have hit the Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip and Melbourne, but also acts a diary for storm-chasing travels. The storm of Thursday 28 October shows there will always be no…

FEARS have again been raised over the future of 150-year-old blue gums growing along the Pioneer Woodland section of a historic track in Sorrento. Members of the Tuckey Track Friends Group say the “majestic trees” are threatened by the building of a 2.5 metre high paling fence. Mornington Peninsula Shire has confirmed work on the fence was stopped after being inspected by a local laws officer. However, the property owner has applied for a permit which has yet to be assessed by the shire. In 2016, the shire rejected an application for a permit to have them cut down by…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Despi O’Connor left five of the 11 councillors out of an email discussion because she knew they would not support changes she wanted to council’s operating rules. “I knew I wouldn’t get their support,” Cr Despi O’Connor said last Friday. Cr O’Connor said she had also chosen not to mention the amendments to the Governance Rules during a confidential councillor briefing before the public 14 August online council meeting. “Yes, we could have [mentioned the amendments], but not all stuff – lots of amendments as a matter of fact, amendments from the last two meetings…

ANTHONY Marsh has taken the lead in betting by Mornington Peninsula Shire officers on which councillor will be the next mayor. Picture: Yanni FAVOURITES have again been pushed aside in the scramble to be frontrunners in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Mayoral Stakes. Last week’s 3:1 combination of Cr Sarah Race for mayor with Cr Lisa Dixon as deputy has been overtaken by the 2:1 duo of Cr Anthony Marsh with Cr Dixon deputy (“Race is ‘on’ for mayor” The News 19/10/21). Cr Marsh’s strong run (he was 10:1 last week) appears to have been enabled by the shire’s officer punters switching…

LABOR’S spokesperson on climate change and energy Chris Bowen says the Prime Minister Scott Morrison should assure next month’s United Nations’ COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow that his government will legislate “a 2050 net zero emissions target and a more ambitious target for 2030”. “Anything less would be a cop out at COP,” Mr Bowen said. Mr Bowen was speaking to an online audience of more than 60 people from the peninsula on Thursday 14 October at an event organised by the Mornington Peninsula Labor Environmental Action Network (MPLEAN). Surbhi Snowball, Labor candidate for Flinders held for the past…

PARKING permits will be issued to residents in streets near The Pillars cliff jumping site at Mount Martha. The move is hoped to lessen the problems caused by the thousands of mainly young people drawn to The Pillars over summer. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors made the decision last week following a survey that found most residents preferred permits over a complete ban on parking in their streets. Parking officers will still make regular patrols to book illegally parked cars and residents will be asked for feedback on the November to March permit trail. Although the survey showed residents wanted permits,…

ALTHOUGH debate continues over whether the Mornington Peninsula is part of metropolitan Melbourne or a region, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has approved two projects under the federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF). Mr Joyce attributes $188,000 for an environmental and education centre at Red Hill and $300,000 for a “recovery event” at Balnarring as being “a testament to the dedication of [Flinders MP] Greg Hunt”. The joint news release from Mr Joyce and Mr Hunt announcing the grants quoted Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Despi O’Connor as saying the shire was being “thrilled to receive this funding…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillor Steve Holland is believed to be one of four Liberal Party candidates seeking to take over the Upper House seat of Eastern Victoria about to be vacated by Edward O’Donohue. Mr O’Donohue announced last month that he would retire by Christmas, less than one year out from the next state election. Other Liberals in the running to fill the vacancy are Renee Heath, a member of the City Builders Church and a member of the party’s administration committee; journalist and author Sue Smethurst; and Yarra Ranges councillor, Catherine Burnett-Wake. The successful candidate will be chosen by…

SARAH Race (pictured), this year’s deputy mayor, remains favourite to be the next mayor in a sweep being run by a group of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council officers. However, the race to next month’s prestigious finish saw the odds on Cr Race ease over the week from 2:1 to 3:1, with Cr Lisa Dixon as her deputy (“Lining up for mayoral stakes” The News 12/10/21). With punters backing just five starters out of the council’s 11 members, Cr Race is also second and third favourite at 6:1 with the current mayor Cr Despi O’Connor as her deputy and 10:1 with…

A SELECT group of councillors were given the opportunity to discuss amendments to rules under which Mornington Peninsula Shire operates at least 12 days before they became a last minute addition to the council agenda on Tuesday 24 August. Six councillors knew about the amendments which were not revealed to their five council colleagues until well after the public online meeting had started. Although the changes had been the subject of a series of emails going back at least 11 days, they were not raised at the pre-meeting councillor briefing. The five councillors were not informed of the amendments proposed…

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors elect a new mayor early in November and lobbying for votes is already reportedly underway. The prestigious $100,000 plus position comes with a car – the mayor mobile, an electric BMW hatch – as well as the demands of representing the shire in different forums and publicly. While councillors usually keep their intentions inside the tent, that does not mean that other “insiders” cannot speculate. Council officers are running a book on the likelihood of who will be the next mayor and who will be that person’s deputy. Betting odds late last week show the smart…

POLICE have been given details of a jet-ski rider using a mobile to record chasing down a dolphin in the bay off Mornington. Unknown to the jet-ski rider one of the Dolphin Research Institute’s dolphin watchers was watching from the cliffs off the Esplanade near the Royal Hotel. The volunteer took photos of the jet-ski both in the water and later when it was loaded on a trailer at the Fishermans Beach boat ramp. The incident happened about 5.15pm on Tuesday 28 September. Regulations stipulate that jet-skis must stay at least 300 metres away from dolphins. The DRI volunteer said…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Beach Box Association, which lost a Supreme Court challenge against Mornington Peninsula Shire, now wants the shire to pay its own legal bills. The action taken by the association is understood to have cost each side at least $80,000, an amount that is believed to be being sought by the shire from the association. The shire will not disclose how much it wants the association to pay. Legal and governance manager Amanda Sapolu said it was “not appropriate to disclose” details about the negotiations” as the issue was “still before the court”. “Councillors have been briefed throughout the…

THE company awaiting the go ahead to build a battery storage system at Tyabb says advanced safety precautions have been included in its design. Risks have been reduced by using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries and having 24/7 fire detection and suppression systems. Maoneng co-founder and CEO Morris Zhou said that safety was the company’s “top priority”, and it was important for people to understand how battery technology varied and risks were mitigated. “Batteries will play an increasingly important and necessary role as Australia transitions from traditional energy sources to renewable energy,” he said. “LFP technology has a very good…

REPORTS that an early federal election may be under consideration by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has seen the two major parties and two non-aligned groups preparing to campaign. The Liberal and Labor parties have already selected their candidates but two non-aligned groups are yet to announce a candidate. Liberal Greg Hunt, who has held Flinders for a record 20 years, will seek re-election and Surbhi Snowball will stand for Labor. Voices for Mornington Peninsula has yet to announce its choice for an independent candidate but seems certain to join forces with the C200 climate change group led by Simon…

SOME welcome relief from last week’s mounting numbers of COVID-19 cases was provided on social media by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Deviating from the roads, rates and rubbish topics, the shire was confronted by mixed reactions after it entered the realm of sexual relations on its Facebook page. The shire said its promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Week had “reached” just under 17,000 people, making it the second “top performing” post. The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said the shire was committed to gender equality and women’s health. “Open and honest discussions about sexual health, consent and respectful relationships are…

“HIDDEN” political donations and the high number of lobbyists given access to federal parliament were high on the list of topics covered by an online Q&A organised by Voices for Mornington Peninsula. VMP says it will choose an independent candidate to contest the seat of Flinders at the next federal election. In November, the seat will have been held for the past 20 years by Liberal Greg Hunt. VMP says it “seeks to restore and promote a participatory democracy where community voices are represented, and elected members act with honesty, integrity, and accountability”. The group’s chair Louise Page said about…

FRANKSTON Civic Centre was evacuated and a member of Mount Eliza Bowling Club was injured during last week’s earthquake. The epicentre of the 5.9-magnitude earthquake was about 10km below Mansfield, 81km from Melbourne. It was the largest recorded in Victoria and was felt in Tasmania and New South Wales. On the Mornington Peninsula houses, shops and factories shook for about 10 seconds. Two smaller quakes were recorded at 9.30am and 9.54am and there were no other reports of injury or property damage on the peninsula. The Mount Eliza man, in his 70s, was treated at the scene for upper body…

A FORMER councillor has questioned the legality of rules under which Mornington Peninsula Shire Council now operates. The Governance Rules adopted by councillors at their 24 August meeting included last minute amendments introduced by Cr Sarah Race. Officers were provided with the amendments just before the meeting, but councillors were not sent a copy of what was proposed and only found out during the meeting when Cr Race introduced her proposed changes. The argument over the legality of the new rules revolves around whether the changes were significant or “one or two minor changes”, as described by in-house lawyer Amanda…

SNAKES are starting to emerge from their winter hibernation and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has issued a warning to walkers to wear long pants and stick to paths, particularly near long grass or water. “Most snake bites occur when people try to capture or kill a snake,” senior wildlife management officer, Rebecca Dixon said. Snake most often sought the fastest escape route but, if cornered and feeling threatened, would defend themselves. The most common species found on the Mornington Peninsula and around Frankston were the eastern brown snake, followed by red-bellied black snakes and tiger…

FOLLOWING a well-worn plot, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council appears to have arrived at a compromised, but happy, ending by continuing to run a mobile library service. The service, once back up and running in accord with COVID regulations, will be less frequent and with a smaller vehicle. The mobile library was taken off the road in March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and replaced with a home delivery service. The shire saw an opportunity to review the mobile service and save some money at the same time (“Mobile libraries may be shelved” The News 18/1/21). However, feedback…

PARKS Victoria says that a scientific study has found that the effect on weedy seadragons by works to demolish part of Flinders pier “would be localised and temporary”. The report commissioned by Parks by environmental marine biology consultants CEE, examined the marine ecosystem at the pier, mapping habitat and marine life, and identifying potential impacts from removing the “unsafe” 180-metres of timber pier. Parks says the report shows removing the timber piles and deck “is unlikely to impact the population of weedy seadragons at a state, regional or local level and that any minor, temporary disturbances can be managed”. Parks…

KOALAS and other native animals were treated to specially prepared meals last week to celebrate Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park’s 20th anniversary. The dreams of a young Michael Johnston were able to turn into reality when the sanctuary was established by the Johnson family on 10-hectares of what was a farm and pony club at Pearcedale. Now it is home to more than 400 animals representing 70 species. However, while the koalas at the sanctuary always receive special treatment there are fears for the safety and survival of those in the wild across the Mornington Peninsula. Loss of habitat and…