Author: Keith Platt

SOME of the Mornington Peninsula most idyllic beaches have become an unlikely battleground between beach box owners and shire councillors. The councillors want to increase annual licence fees for beach boxes, while their owners say the increases are too steep and they should also not be billed for waste charges. The mayor Cr David Gill says the beach box owners should understand their occupation of publicly owned land is a privilege that also gives them a chance to make “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. “Beach boxes are luxury items,” he said. Without any mention of past values, size and condition…

MANY words have been spoken in McCrae on Sunday nights between March and November over the past three years. The words, strung together in rhyme to create a rhythm, belong to a group of people collectively known as a lamb, obscurity or rhyme. They are, of course poets. And these poets who meet so regularly at Poets’ Corner at the BBC Cafe, have now published their first anthology: “Gatherings By The Lighthouse”. The masters of verse were first brought to Poets’ Corner by its convener Heather Forbes-McKeon who, at the end of 2018, invited poets who had presented at least…

THE 21,000-tonne gas rig Ocean Monarch is anchored for maintenance between Cowes and Observation Point, Phillip Island. The 107-metre-long rig was towed into Western Port last Tuesday (21 May) afternoon by two 4000 tonne, 87 metre offshore tug and supply vessels, the Far Saracen and Far Senator. Michael Harvey, chief executive officer of the Victorian Regional Channels Authority, said the Ocean Monarch needed “sheltered waters” so divers could work on “some issues” that had been found with its lower hull trim tanks. The rig is likely to stay in Western Port for three to four weeks before being towed back…

PENINSULA Aero Club is blaming “a small noisy anti-airport lobby group” for making it observe a “holy hour” ban on flying. The 9.30am-10.30am restriction on Sunday take-offs and landings from the Tyabb airfield has been ignored for more than 40 years. The All Saints Church, which the flying ban was supposed to protect from noise, ended its Sunday services in the 1970s. But an unholy row lit up last week when the aero club suddenly withdrew its request for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to delete the restriction from its permit. Aero club president Jack Vevers said  planes were now “forced…

A QUICK fix solution is being offered to property owners annoyed by straying cats. Mornington Peninsula Shire has a new four-step system to reduce the number of cats prowling outside their owners’ properties. The cat traps supplied by the shire can also be used to get rid of unwanted stray cats. The “start-to-end service cat trapping program” is designed to remove cats “safely and humanely”. The four steps start with asking the shire for a cat trap. If approved, a cage will be delivered “at a time suitable for the resident” (stage 2). If successfully deployed, the cage containing a…

FORMER Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors Tim Rodgers and Graham Pittock have been taking lessons in how to repair and fit spectacles. Rather than looking for a new career, the pair are part of a team heading off for 10 days in July to improve the sight of people in Lospalos, Timor Leste. The team will be led by optometrist Colleen Hammond, of Rosebud Specsavers, who will carry out eye examinations and measure and fit spectacles. Mr Rodgers and Mr Pittock will act as Ms Hammond’s assistants. The project team will pay its own way, although an appeal has been started…

THE Arctic Circle may be a long way from Western Port, but activities this far south have an important role to play fort birds that annually fly between these two areas. Boats and other watercraft in Western Port can have a dramatic effect on the capability of birds to survive the arduous seasonal trip. The wetlands that line Western Port are a major food source and place of protection for the birds before they take off for the Northern Hemisphere. However, their wetland feeding areas are also the hunting ground for people wanting to catch fish. The wester Port Biosphere…

LIBERAL Greg Hunt easily retained his seat of Flinders in Saturday’s federal election. Mr Hunt’s seventh win in a row helped the Scott Morrison-led Liberal National Coalition regain government for a third term. A senior cabinet minister in the previous government, Mr Hunt is expected to retain his position as health minister. In the nine-candidate contest for Flinders, Mr Hunt, by late Monday morning, had received more than 46 per cent of primary votes, well ahead of his nearest rival, Labor’s Josh Sinclair, who was sitting on 25 per cent. Coming third in the vote was now independent former Liberal…

TWO little penguins are having a short stay at Melbourne Zoo before being returned to their Phillip Island home. The two birds were collected from a Greenvale house north of Melbourne Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) officers. “The Greenvale man alleged he rescued the penguins from Phillip Island because he believed they were sick,” DELWP wildlife officer Abby Smith said. Ms Smith said the penguins were “significantly underweight” and vets believed they had not been fed adequately for the two weeks. “The birds are making good progress and are eating well, swimming and preening normally. However, the…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is calling on all Flinders electorate candidates in Saturday’s federal election to commit to spending more money in the shire. The mayor Cr David Gill says the electorate will benefit if Flinders is seen as a swinging seat. He says the peninsula has suffered because the seat has been regarded for years as “safe” for the Liberal Party, and consequently ignored by all political parties. The shire’s involvement in the election (including a full page advertisement in this issue of The News) comes at the same time as a phone poll of 440 voters indicating that Liberal…

In the shadow of Flinders: Historian Diane White, “town crier” Ian Morrison, Allan Day, Mornington MP David Morris, Flinders MP Greg Hunt, Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor David Gill and former Shire of Mornington shire president Paul Kelly at the Matthew Flinders ceremony in Mornington Park. Picture: Derek Smith THE finding of Matthew Flinders’ grave during excavations for the London railway inspired historians to hold a small ceremony in Mornington to mark the navigator and cartographer’s links to the Mornington Peninsula. His remains were officially identified in January by archaeologists excavating a former burial ground near Euston railway station. Captain Matthew…

CHARLES Wilcox credits the sea with providing inspiration for all his art, whether it be painted or sculpted. Picture: Tory Wilcox IT is fair to say that to some extent the finished works by artist Charles Wilcox are predetermined by events that happened many years before and well beyond his knowledge or control. A painter and sculptor, Wilcox is an avid collector of driftwood and a fan of old advertisements, in newspapers and on billboards. He attributes some of his “sculptural creativity” to his engineering studies. His approach to painting to his art studies throughout his schooling and, later, graphic…

Staged setting: Flinders candidates, above, who expressed their opposition to a floating gas import terminal at Crib Point sign a pledge during a public meeting at Balnarring are, from left, Joshua Sinclair, Susie Beveridge, Reade Smith, Nathan Lesslie and Julia Banks. Below, an effigy of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was prominent in a GetUp protest outside the Somerville office of Flinders MP, Greg Hunt. A COMMUNITY group and several political pressure groups are out to grab the spotlight to influence voting in the Flinders electorate before the Saturday 18 May federal election. While lines outside pre-polling booths throughout Flinders…

WHILE apartments, top left, and a new boat storage shed, bottom right, are nearing completion at Martha Cove, Safety Beach, the marina estate’s body corporate is arranging maintenance works and new camera equipment for the Marina Drive underpass. MAINTENANCE works are scheduled later this year for the underpass that takes traffic below the entrance to the Martha Cove marina at safety Beach. Once a relatively small opening to Tassells Creek, the much deeper channel now leads to the berths and launching ramp within the marina, which is flanked by houses. CCTV cameras monitor traffic in the underpass and pedestrians using…

RED Hill-based artist Michael Leeworthy finds inspiration while bushwalking and, while he has no problems walking alone, has now formed a club to explore the many trails around the Mornington Peninsula. Picture: Gary Sissons RED Hill-based artist Michael Leeworthy regularly abandons his pallette and easel in favour of donning a pair of shorts and hiking boots. Instead of heading off to paint plein air, he’s seeking fresh air and the type of inspiration that only walking through the bush can provide. It’s now 40 years since he joined the Peninsula Bushwalking Club, inspired by his parents-in-law who had just walked…

Signs of discontent: Flinders MP, Greg Hunt, above, at the corner of Loders and Godings roads, Moorooduc, is seeking re-election while the left-wing lobby group GetUp has him in its sights, centre, and independent Julia Banks can see herself up a tree in Purves Road, Arthurs Seat. LOOK at me, look at me. Vote for me. Posters with pictures of would be members of parliament (or those already elected and wanting to keep their jobs) are popping up all over the place. They’re on fences, trees, shop windows, front yards and on trailers pulled through busy shopping centres. There’s nothing…

TWO sitting MPs are among the nine candidates contesting the seat of Flinders in Saturday 18 May federal election. Liberal Greg Hunt, who has held the seat for 18 years, is being opposed by former Liberal colleague now independent Julia Banks, the MP for Chisholm, as well as two other independents and five party-aligned candidates. Two candidates, Susie Beveridge and Reade Smith, are former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors. Candidates as they appear on the ballot paper: Harry Dreger, independent; James Persson, Animal Justice Party; Greg Hunt, Liberal; Reade Smith, Sustainable Australia; Josh Sinclair, Australian Labor Party; Nathan Lesslie, The Greens;…

MORNINGTON Peninsula mayor David Gill, third from right, out shopping at Mornington’s Wednesday market with a Chinese film crew. Picture: Supplied Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill wore his gold chain to go shopping at Mornington’s Wednesday street market. But it wasn’t just the gold adornment that made Cr Gill stand out among the crowd, it was also the small party of fellow shoppers he was leading, followed all the time by a film crew. The mayor’s shopper “reward” came later when the market’s fresh produce was used by a three-star Michelin chef to make Chinese meals for a…

CANDIDATES for the federal seat of Flinders will again have their chance to explain their views on power company AGL’s plans to import natural gas through a floating terminal at Crib Point at a public meeting on 1 May. They were grilled on their views about importing the gas and the building of a pipeline to Pakenham at a public meeting in Dromana last Wednesday (17 April), although the May meeting is being held by Save Westernport, which was formed specifically to fight the AGL proposal. Save Westernport spokesperson Julia Stockigt said most of the candidates for Flinders had accepted…

Lining up for votes: Candidates for the federal seat of Flinders at a meeting in Dromana on Wednesday 17 April are, from left, are Julia Banks (independent), Joshua Sinclair (Labor), Greg Hunt (Liberal), Susie Beveridge (independent) and Nathan Lesslie (Australia Greens). Picture: Julia Stockigt FIVE candidates contesting the seat of Flinders in next month’s federal election faced a crowd of about 100 at a meeting last Wednesday (17 April) in Dromana. Organiser Robyn Coughlin said the top five areas of interest in questions to candidates submitted by those at the meeting were the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS); housing affordability;…

The fence along the Esplanade at Mt Martha designed to cut off access to The Pillars cliff-jumping site will be pulled down after Easter. Although not entirely effective, the fence did lead to a large drop in numbers of people gathering on the cliffs, but it also saw police refusing to cross it in pursuit of anyone drinking alcohol in breach of the shire’s local laws. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors will decide whether the fence is reinstalled in time for next summer after receiving a report from council officers. The 400-metre long fence effectively blocked a walking track along the…

Mornington Peninsula and Frankston councils want to meet with the Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan to discuss extending the electric train service to Hastings. The two councils have written to the state government “clarifying their combined support for the electrification of the existing rail line from the Frankston city centre to Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula”, according to a news release from the municipalities. Frankston mayor Cr Michael O’Reilly said the councils would support “Frankston-Langwarrin as stage one and Langwarrin-Hastings as stage two”. While acknowledging “the complex consideration for the future metropolitan…

Parks Victoria is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) to operate the hop on hop off visitor shuttle service within the 560 hectare Point Nepean National Park. The shuttle is part of the state government’s master plan for the park and the latest chance for a private operator to run the shuttle comes 16 years after the John Howard-led federal government first announced plans for 90 hectares of the former Defence land to be subdivided and sold for housing. The announcement that the prime coastal land near Portsea could pass from public to private hands sparked a wave of protests that…

CAMPAIGNING for the Saturday 18 May federal election has begun in Flinders with a backward look at still unresolved issues. Despite the drip-feed of “good news” from the incumbent, Liberal Greg Hunt, whose health portfolio provides a seemingly endless supply, it’s his time as environment minister that is being targeted by his opponents. The federal government’s approval last week of the massive Adani coal mine in Queensland revived memories, and criticism, of Mr Hunt’s role the first time the Indian company received the all-clear from the government. Mr Hunt approved Adani’s plans for its Carmichael mine one month after he…

Disappearing Banks: Independent candidate for Flinders Julia Banks may not have been invited to hear the Health Minister, Flinders MP Greg Hunt promise taxpayers’ money for The Bays Hospital, Mornington on Friday 29 March, but her picture on a sign outside the venue made her presence felt. However, that reminder of someone wanting to take Mr Hunt’s position in parliament was nowhere to be seen after the announcement was made. Picture: Cameron McCullough The right-wing political lobby group Advance Australia will be trying to influence the outcome of the Flinders electorate in the lead-up to the May federal election. Held…

Candidates for the seat of Flinders at the May federal election are being invited to state their policies and answer questions from the public at a forum in Dromana on 17 April. Robyn Coughlin said she was organising the “meet your candidates” event for residents of the Flinders electorate “to get to know their potential representatives”. Candidates who had agreed to attend by last week were sitting MP Liberal Greg Hunt, Labor’s Joshua Sinclair and independent Julia Banks. Ms Coughlin said she had also invited independent Susie Beveridge, a former Mornington Peninsula councillor. Ms Banks was elected MP for Chisholm…

A NEW business-based lobby group being formed on the Mornington Peninsula automatically includes its $21,000 a year “platinum” members on its strategy and policy committee. The group’s $7000 “corporate gold” and $3000 “corporate” packages can nominate for membership of the key body that will steer the Committee for Mornington Peninsula. A $1000 “small business package” buys the “ability” to join one or more “round tables”, while the $500 “not for profit” membership level comes with the “ability to join one round table”. While the strategy and policy committee is described driving “hands on policy decisions” the round table discussion groups…

Despite their rather precarious positioning under eroding cliffs and washed by waves, owners of these beach boxes at Mt Martha Beach North can still ask high prices if selling, and must pay increased licence fees if approved in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 2019/20 budget. Owners of those cute, colourful bathing boxes scattered around Mornington Peninsula beaches are facing massive licence fee increases. Visitors take pictures of the beach boxes that also regularly attract the eye of the metropolitan-based media because of their escalating values. Their values are compared to those of family houses elsewhere. But this year Mornington Peninsula Shire is…

Mornington Peninsula Shire has given the all clear for its officers to sign a $120,000 two-year lease for an office in central Melbourne. Called a “satellite office”, a trial of the Collins Street premises was originally proposed to “provide a better customer service and improve efficiency for lost travel time”. That trial, according to Lisa Sturgess, the acting executive manage in the shire’s planning department, has proved so successful that she has recommended entering a new two-year lease. She says a review of the benefits of the city office since July 2017 has shown it is responsible for the planning…

Picture: Duade Paton The declining numbers of a bird once frequently seen in Western Port are being used as an example to persuade political parties to do more to protect native birds. BirdLife Australia president, John Barkla says the critically endangered eastern curlew was once a drawcard for visitors to Western Port but its numbers had now dropped to “a handful”. “I’ve been visiting the Ramsar wetlands in Western Port for decades. Once it was the perfect site to see and hear the calls of flocks of hundreds of these glorious birds, but now you are lucky to see more…