Author: Keith Platt

SATURDAY dawned like no other for Zoe McKenzie. The Liberal Party’s candidate for Flinders was facing the test of her career: could she get voter endorsement to fill the role occupied by retiring MP Greg Hunt for the past 21 years? She need not have had any fears, within two hours of voting closing at 6pm, McKenzie was being declared the new MP for Flinders. The result flashed on-screen by ABC TV just before 8pm initially gave her 58.2% of the vote and, although that total slipped as counting continued, the result was never in doubt. However, the win was…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has come under fire for publicising federal election candidates’ promises on its website and using a photograph of Liberal Party candidates on Facebook to promote a fast-charging outlet for electric vehicles. A photograph featuring the Liberals’ candidate for Flinders Zoe McKenzie and Senator Jane Hume was placed on the shire’s Facebook after last Tuesday’s promotion of a fast-charging outlet for electric vehicles at Sorrento. The picture was quickly taken down in the face of online criticism. “The launch of electric vehicle chargers at Sorrento was an external event and was not organised by the shire,” advocacy, communications…

FISHING trawlers licensed by the federal government are threatening the numbers of King George whiting in Port Phillip and Western Port bays, according to the Futurefish Foundation. The foundation’s chairman Michael Buxton says the trawlers’ catch breeding-sized whiting off Wilsons Promontory could lead to fewer fish available to recreational fishers in the bays and 18 commercial fishers at Corner Inlet. Buxton says he twice wrote to Flinders MP Greg Hunt who passed on his concerns to federal Fisheries Minister Jonathon Duniam “who replied he was not prepared to change anything”. Buxton says he has also expressed his concerns to the…

IT may have taken 10 years of lobbying, but Mornington MP David Morris is pleased the state budget included a commitment to rebuild Mornington Special Development School. “In a welcome departure from its usual habit of ignoring the Mornington electorate in the state budget, the Victorian government has finally funded two desperately needed local projects,” Morris said. He said the government had committed to spending “at least $6.769 million” but warned the project was no expected to be completed until December 2025. “Students, parents and teachers shouldn’t be expecting immediate action as only a fraction of the money allocated to…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council’s online federal election candidates’ “pledge tracker” was made by a “councillor consultative group” consisting of five councillors and several council officers. Two weeks ago, the tracker showed seven promises made by Liberal Party candidate for Flinders Zoe McKenzie and none for Labor, which had made an election promise (“Shire following the money” The News 10/5/22). The tracker is supposed to be listing campaign promises and pledges by candidates in Flinders and Dunkley electorates, but only mentions Liberal and Labor candidates. Flinders has 10 candidates and Dunkley nine. Under the heading “Flinders electorate election pledge tracker” and…

LIBERAL Party candidate for Flinders Zoe McKenzie says she had an “exceptional evening” discussing “Australia’s national security and intelligence landscape” at the same time that 400 people gathered in Mount Martha expecting to hear from all 10 candidates. McKenzie told organisers during the morning before that evening’s town hall meeting that she would not be attending as Senator James Paterson was available to attend a meeting at Portsea Sorrento RSL. Animal Justice Party candidate Pamela Engelander was also absent from the meeting on Wednesday 11 May organised by the non-political community group Peninsula Voice and radio station RPP FM. The…

THE past three federal elections have seen the Liberal Party vote in the Flinders electorate drop from a high of 59.14% in 2013 to 55.64% in 2019. Each election was won for the Liberals by Greg Hunt, who had held the seat since 2001, but is now retiring. The same three elections have seen the proportion of the vote for independent candidates jump from less than 1% to nearly 16%, a figure that could be eclipsed this year with the greater emphasis being placed on independents across Australia. The 2013 election saw 10 candidates contest the seat, with Hunt increasing…

AN audience of about 400 last Wednesday heard the policies of eight of the 10 candidates standing for the seat of Flinders in Saturday’s federal election. Not represented at the “town hall” meeting organised by the non-political Peninsula Voice and radio station RPP FM were Pamela Engelander of the Animal Justice Party and the Liberal Party’s Zoe McKenzie. McKenzie bowed out on the morning of the evening meeting at Mount Martha to attend a meeting she had arranged at Portsea Sorrento RSL with Senator James Paterson (“Security takes precedence”). Labor candidate Surbhi Snowball was ill, but her campaign manager Marg…

HIGH profile independent Despi O’Connor will continue her campaign for the federal seat of Flinders despite acknowledging a constitutional “roadblock” if she wins. The Australian Electoral Commission says that if O’Connor is successful “her eligibility to serve as the Member for Flinders must be determined by the Court of Disputed Returns”. The dramas in O’Connor’s campaign became apparent early last week when she issued a statement that her employment as a teacher by the state education department may breach section 44(iv) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. Following advice from “barristers, lawyers, and constitutional experts” O’Connor issued a statement…

POLITICAL candidates have long endured the ignominy of having their vote-for-me signs adorned with moustaches or blackened teeth, but this year’s crop of such political comment has been particularly nasty in the Finders electorate. Ten candidates are competing for the long-held Liberal seat and signs spruiking Zoe McKenzie, the party’s choice to replace retiring MP Greg Hunt, have been particularly hard hit, with sexist swear words painted across her signs and car. (“Candidates unite against sign vandals” The News 26/4/22). McKenzie posted a message on her Facebook page saying she was not surprised at the vandalism: “Women in politics cop…

POLITICAL activist group GetUp! sees Flinders as one of seven “marginal” Victorian seats where it will try to influence the federal election outcome on 21 May. The organisation says its how-to-vote cards preference candidates with strong policies on climate action, First Nations justice and economic inequality. Other Coalition seats targeted by GetUp! are Higgins, Casey, Chisholm, Deakin, Goldstein and Kooyong. “From seats where so-called moderate Liberals are under pressure from independents, to disaster-affected seats where communities have been left behind by the Morrison government’s shameful lack of assistance, our how-to-vote cards ask voters to cast their vote for climate leadership…

COPIES of The Record are being handed out at footy games across the Mornington Peninsula. But instead of listings football statistics and player profiles, The record is all about the “blockbuster” Battle for Flinders on Saturday 21 May – the federal election. With 10 players on the field for this year’s biggest political game, independent candidate Sarah Russell says the publication is one of the “innovative ways” being used to steer votes her way. “The Liberal/Nationals combo is only just holding on to the coveted top spot, but we suspect the ladder may look quite different after the final round,”…

LIBERAL Democrats candidate for Flinders Chrysten Abraham is hoping to increase the party’s relevance in a post COVID environment and sway voters who are disillusioned with government control. The 25-year-old, pictured, who says she has lived on the Mornington Peninsula most of her “adult life”, is a first-time candidate in a federal election and says her party is about “small government”. Aligning with the Reignite Democracy group told a political launch on Saturday 30 April that her party wanted “freedom, less government control and end to government overreach”, especially in regard to vaccine mandates and lockdowns. “I believe the best…

SURBHI Snowball has outlined her vision for the Flinders electorate and the policies that an Anthony Albanese-led Labor government would deliver. Snowball’s campaign launch was made on Sunday 1 May at Mount Martha Community House, the venue where Bob Chynoweth, the last Labor MP for Flinders celebrated his historic win in 1983. Flinders has been held for the Liberals for all but one of the past the past 50 years, with retiring MP Greg Hunt succeeding fellow Liberal Peter Reith in 2001. “From the many meet and greets, the door knocks and forums, I appreciate the issues which are foremost…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has set up an “election pledge tracker” to monitor pledges made by the major political parties as they approach the Saturday 21 May election. The shire’s website mentions only the Liberal and Labor parties and as of last weekend was showing the Liberals as having pledged $16.75 million and Labor with nothing. Two weeks ago, the mayor Cr Anthony Marsh and deputy mayor Lisa Dixon posed for photographs alongside Liberal candidates Zoe McKenzie (Flinders) and Sharn Coombes (Dunkley) when they announced more money for the Peninsula Trail, a shire project. Marg D’Arcy, campaign manager for Labor’s Flinders…

THEATRE entered the Flinders electorate campaign last Tuesday with members of the Western Port Sybil Disobedients group delivering “reading material” to candidates of the two major parties. Labor’s Surbhi Snowball met the Sybils troupe at Mornington for the handover, but Liberal Zoe McKenzie was not available. Organiser Talei Kenyon said she had “popped” in to McKenzie’s Rosebud campaign office four days earlier and been told while the candidate “may not be available” on 3 May, but the delivery could be dropped off at the office between 10am and 4pm. The office was closed when the Sybils arrived at 1pm but…

POSSIBLY in the hope of converting Cash into votes, Liberal federal election candidates Zoe McKenzie (Flinders) and Sharn Coombes (Dunkley) were last month photographed in shops with the Attorney General Senator Michaelia Cash. Faced with the highest cost-of-living inflation for two decades and stagnant wages growth, the candidates praised small business and the positive effects of the federal government’s JobKeeper program. For McKenzie, on Facebook, her time with Cash on Thursday 21 April was “a day full of terrific stories of optimism, positivity, small and family businesses into which local families have thrown their lives to create places we all…

ALL 10 candidates for the seat of Flinders in this month’s federal election have been invited to attend and speak at a “town hall meeting” at Mount Martha. The meeting is being organised by the non-political community group Peninsula Voice and radio station 3RPP FM. The meeting will be live streamed on the websites of both organisations. Peninsula Voice chairperson Peter Orton said little was known about some of the 10 candidates and the seat had been held by retiring Liberal MP Greg Hunt for more than 20 years. “This is a problem because we need to know what they…

SOME of the many signs dotting the Mornington Peninsula urging a vote for Liberal Party candidate Zoe McKenzie are attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. Vandals have daubed signs with swear words and drawn black crosses across Ms McKenzie’s eyes, while Mornington Peninsula Shire has ordered others to be removed for violating local laws. The vandalism also led to opposing candidates to agree on at least one issue: signs should be shown unhindered. McKenzie posted a message on her Facebook page saying she was not surprised at the vandalism: “Women in politics cop vile abuse all too often, especially…

FOUR Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors attended a $200 a head tour and hospitality event at the Continental Hotel, Sorrento 17 days before voting to reduce the rent on the hotel’s use of public land for outdoor dining. Billed as a “tour of the Hotel Continental with canapes and drinks”, the Saturday 19 March event was attended by the mayor, Cr Anthony Marsh and Crs Lisa Dixon, Debra Mar and Susan Bissinger. A check of the shire’s register of “gifts presented to a councillor” last week, showed Mar as the only councillor to have listed the event. The shire’s advocacy, communication…

PEACE talks are being held between the campaign teams of the two independent candidates standing for Flinders in next month’s federal election. The two candidates – Despi O’Connor and Sarah Russell – have been at odds ever since O’Connor decided to seek election on her own terms after failing to get the backing of the Voices for Mornington Peninsula (VMP) group. O’Connor was one of three shortlisted candidates for endorsement by the VMP but announced she would stand as an independent just days before the VMP publicly revealed its candidate. The move split the vote for independents in Flinders which…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh sent an email on 10 March saying his appointment to the Bass Park Trust was “done and dusted”. “I said I’d give it a year, and I’m happy to report that the Premier and Governor have signed off my appointment to the Bass Park Trust with a few months spare,” the triumphant mayor stated. Councillors on 1 June 2021 voted 6:5 to replace Cr David Gill with Cr Marsh on the trust. His term is set to end on 30 June. The governor’s appointment is dated 1 March 2022. “We officially have a…

RYE, Mount Martha and Rosebud have been listed as the top three Melbourne towns or suburbs for rising house prices in the March quarter by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. Rye led the house price growth with a 48 per cent annual increase, bringing the median cost of a homes there to $1.195 million. Mount Martha followed with a 34 per cent annual increase, taking its median house price to $1.87m, while its near neighbour Rosebud grew 32 per cent to $851,121. Units in inner-city suburbs such as Docklands ($555,000) and Melbourne CBD ($580,000) are in the top 20…

THE painters were keen to get a job and the cost, including paint, was agreed. “Can you start Monday?” the house owner asked. “Sure, although if it’s a northerly we might be here in the afternoon, or Tuesday.” The house owner was pleased with the price and the can-do attitude but baffled by the reference to the wind – it was an inside job. New to the Mornington Peninsula she later discovered the painters were serious – about surf. Surrounded on three sides by sea, including unpredictable Bass Strait, the peninsula is an ideal base for surfers. The type and…

CR KERRI McCafferty has been cleared by her Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor colleagues to undertake a $3900 councillor group coaching program. The money is within her annual allowance, of which she has so far spent $1540, but required council approval as it was more than $2000. Cr McCafferty, who was absent from the Tuesday 5 April public council meeting, has been cleared to do the course run by Ruth McGowan OAM. Ms McGowan, author of Get Elected (the Australian guide on how to campaign for political office) and Best Practice Guide for in Gender Equity in Local Government, for the…

A “NEGOTIATED” settlement will see the owners of Sorrento’s Continental Hotel save $19,000 over three years to use a public footpath for outdoor dining. The agreement adopted by Mornington Peninsula Shire on Tuesday 5 April comes five months after councillors voted to charge the hotel $133,000 for the first three years of its use of the footpath. But the hotel refused and, after negotiations with shire CEO John Baker last month, has now agreed to pay $114,000 for the same time span. The agreement means the hotel will pay $38,000 rent for each of the first three years of its…

STUDENTS are being encouraged to consider following a career path into the Mornington Peninsula’s $200 million a year wine industry. The industry group Mornington Peninsula Wine is working with members of a learning and employment network on “active vocational pathways” for students from the region’s 29 schools to work in the peninsula’s wine industry. The move is designed to help overcome labour shortages in the wine industry. Partnering with the Frankston and peninsula local learning and employment network (FMPLLEN), schools and students can take Vocational Education and Training Certificate (VET) courses in horticulture, viticulture or winemaking. The courses include “hands-on”…

THE Voices of Mornington Peninsula-backed independent candidate Dr Sarah Russell is putting “hope” at the centre of her campaign to win Flinders at the federal election. Dr Russell will have Hope Trucks, “fuelled by transparency and accountability” following her on the campaign trail. “My hope is for action on climate, aged care, mental health and housing affordability, which is what people on the Mornington Peninsula have told me they are concerned about,” Dr Russell said. “I also hope that Independents hold the balance of power in our next government, because they are critical to improving our democracy. “Political processes have…

ALTHOUGH billed as destined to be one of “the great walking and cycling trails of the world”, the Peninsula Trail remains years and at least $35 million away from of being completed. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council says work will start in March 2023 and end in April 2024 on the Somerville-Baxter section, but no date has been set to complete other “missing links”. About half of the trail is in place. Meanwhile, the peninsula’s “cluster” of eight Rotary clubs has decided to get involved as part of their Australian Centenary Project. Each club will be involved by installing benches, picnic…

AN investigation is under way into a fire aboard the hydrogen gas ship Suiso Frontier less than one day after arriving at Hastings. A flame was spotted from the exhaust of a gas combustion unit on the ship’s deck after the ship had been loaded with a cargo of liquefied hydrogen. Hastings is an essential part of the $500 million brown coal-to-hydrogen project being conducted by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and partly underwritten with $50m each from the state and federal governments. The Suiso Frontier was purpose built for the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project and its delivery of…