Author: Keith Platt

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…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is inviting comments on its $252 million budget for 2021/22. A state government-imposed rate cap of 1.5% has encouraged the shire to define a four-year rating and revenue “envelope” within which it can “deliver on the council plan, programs and services”. The proposed budget agreed to at council’s Tuesday 30 March meeting will be open for written submissions until Tuesday 29 April. Anyone who wants to speak in support of their submission can do so at council’s 12 May meeting. Submissions may be published on the shire’s website before the meeting, although the shire has cautioned that…

THE state government has knocked back power company AGL’s plans for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the project, which also included a 55 kilometre gas pipeline to Pakenham, was refused because of the “unacceptable effects” it would have on Western Port’s environment. In a statement on Tuesday 30 March Mr Wynne said his decision was based on a review of AGL’s environmental effects statement, which attracted more than 6000 submissions and encouraged protests either organised by or attended by community group Save Westernport, Environment Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire and the state Opposition. “It’s…

HYDROGEN made from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley is now being liquified at Hastings before being shipped to Japan. The production is an essential part of the hydrogen energy supply chain (HESC) and is described as “a great leap forward for [Australia’s] ambition to be a key player in the emerging global hydrogen economy”. The brown coal-to-hydrogen project’s commercial partners, led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, are being backed by the federal and state governments, who each provided $50 million towards the $500m pilot, as well as the Japanese government. While carbon emissions are being released into the atmosphere during…

THE latest performance protest against AGL’s plans for a gas import terminal at Crib Point was staged on Monday last week (22 March) with a troupe dressed as sybils, or female prophets from ancient Greece. Demonstrating their opposition to the plan now in the hands of the state government, the Sybil Disobedients caught a bus from Bittern to Docklands, Melbourne saying they represented “thousands of concerned ordinary people living on the Mornington Peninsula and Victorian regional towns who want our governments to recognise that we are in a climate emergency”. The 12 Sybils (men and women) acted out a rehearsed…

HUNDREDS of signatures have already been added to a petition that accuses the government of “over-inflating” the number of kangaroos and allowing them to be “harvested” on the Mornington Peninsula. The petition, introduced into the Upper House by the leader of the Victorian Greens and the party’s spokesperson for animals, Dr Samantha Ratnam, follows Mornington Peninsula Shire asking the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for details and scientific research about the peninsula’s eastern grey kangaroos. The petition now available online, calls on the government to suspend kangaroo culls and improve methods used to count kangaroo populations as…

THE fate of a 180 metre wooden section of the historic Finders pier will be decided by Parks Victoria later this year. Parks has told Mornington Peninsula Shire Council that it will “engage with stakeholders and the community in June” following an “independent heritage assessment” of the 250m long pier. The original wooden pier was built in 1864, with a concrete section added in 2011, parallel to the 180m inner portion which has been cordoned off for months due to structural defects. Parks Victoria is considering demolishing this 180m section. The pier is heritage listed and is recognised under the…

ADVERSARIES and adjudicators were on the same path last Tuesday (16 March) as they toured the site of Ryman Healthcare’s proposed retirement village in Mount Eliza. The tour was part of the ongoing hearing by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as the New Zealand-based company tries to overturn the refusal of its development by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. The Save Reg’s Wedge community group sees itself as fighting a David and Goliath battle against Ryman who, it claims, is using a planning loophole that allows for retirement villages “in conjunction with a place of worship” (“Grassroots bid to block…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council dropped a bombshell last week by walking away from a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, part of a lead-in to determine what activities can be carried out Peninsula Aero Club’s Tyabb airfield. The unexpected withdrawal opens the shire up to claims for legal expenses by the PAC on top of $32,000 it has already been ordered to pay (“Shire’s $32,000 payout to aero club” The News 23/2/21). The PAC response to the shire move was to immediately declare it had “all required permits to operate” its Tyabb airfield and suggests it could lead…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s deputy mayor Cr Sarah Race brought cheers and tears to some of the hundreds of participants in last week’s March 4 Justice rally at Rosebud (Monday 15 March). As the marchers set off from Rosebud pier a coordinated sit-in was held outside the Somerville office of Flinders MP Greg Hunt and thousands of women and men gathered outside Parliament House in Canberra. Mr Hunt was inside the building, as was the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been heavily criticised for not venturing outside to hear speakers at the rally. The Minister for Women Marise Payne, also…

DRESS codes and parliamentary protocols were wiped out last Wednesday when a wave of demonstrators took their complaints about AGL’s plan for an import gas terminal at Crib Point to Spring Street. It was beachgoers and surfers in wetsuits and board shorts rather than suits and uniformed chauffeurs arriving in government cars that drew attention outside Parliament House. The protest included the handing over of 3000 postcards addressed to Planning Minister Richard Wynne who is weighing up the power company’s plans which also include a 55-kilometre long gas pipeline to Pakenham. The Wetsuits for Westernport protest follows arguments against the…

ALTHOUGH it has been 30 years since an organisation was formed to investigate and improve the lives of dolphins in Port Phillip and Western Port, many questions remain unanswered. Solutions to some lifestyle problems have been found, but recent events have again highlighted the mysteries that remain. A sperm whale washed ashore at Phillip Island over the Labor Day long weekend and researchers have been unable to explain why so few dolphins live in Western Port compared to Port Phillip. Executive director of the Dolphin Research Institute Jeff Weir, said dead whale and dolphin numbers were just two examples of…

Point of difference: Painters’ interpretations of what photographers captured through the lens at Gunnamatta, above, and a restaurant at Sorrento are among the works at Sorrento Studio over Easter. Pictures: Supplied . . . . ARTISTS gain ideas and inspiration from many sources, but for an exhibition being run over Easter at Sorrento, all the works are based on photographs. Photographers and artists from Studio Sorrento collaborated throughout the coronavirus lockdown, with the photography group posted about 80 photos online from which the artists could create artworks in their own style. The coming together of the two genres led to…