Author: Keith Platt

THE Liberal Party is expected to announce its candidate for the seat of Nepean, held by Labor’s Chris Brayne, in late February. Nominations to be the Liberal candidate closed on Monday (31 January) and the Nepean State Electorate Conference is holding a $45 a head “meet the candidates” function at Safety Beach Sailing Club on Wednesday 9 February. The night is billed as “an important event to attend, to meet the contenders who will be responsible for the Mornington Peninsula”. Elsewhere on the peninsula, Briony Hutton (Liberal) and Paul Mercurio (Labor) will be contesting the seat of Hastings now held…

THE regular shipment of liquid hydrogen from Hastings has come one step closer to reality with the arrival last Thursday of the purpose built tanker Suiso Frontier. The ship’s arrival coincided with the state government announcing an agreement with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to support research into storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground, a key part of the commercial success of commercial hydrogen-from-brown-coal production in the Latrobe Valley. However, even if the viability of CCS (carbon capture and storage) research is proved, experts, including the CSIRO, have suggested the cost of making hydrogen through renewable electricity powered…

COVID has curtailed this week’s (Wednesday 26 January) Australia Day events on the Mornington Peninsula for the second year running. However, a festival atmosphere will be created in Main Street, Mornington with live music and “family friendly” events organised by Mornington Chamber of Commerce. The traditional street parade and activities at Mornington Park have again been placed on hold. The regular community-organised Australia Day events at Rye, Dromana and Rosebud have also been cancelled, although they will go ahead at Mount Eliza, Hastings and Sorrento. The Briars historic property at Mount Martha will host Our Survival Day 2022 – Reconnection,…

THE three remaining “official” candidates for the federal seat of Finders, from left, Surbhi Snowball (Labor), Despi O’Connor (independent) and Zoe McKenzie (Liberal). THE Voices of Mornington Peninsula group is again searching for a candidate to contest the seat of Flinders in the coming federal election. Outdoor meetings will be held this week in Balnarring, Dromana and Rye to replace Claire Boardman who has resigned as the group’s chosen candidate. Ms Boardman said that staying in her job as the state government’s deputy public health commander for COVID was “the strongest contribution I can make to community”. Her choice to…

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help ensure the safe transfer of about 600 kangaroos from a private property at Cape Schanck into the neighbouring Greens Bush section of Mornington Peninsula National Park. Campaigners to save the kangaroos have praised the property’s manager for relinquishing the permit he had been given to shoot the kangaroos. “The hard work … has paid off and the newly formed Save the Kangaroos of the Mornington Peninsula (SKOMP) thoroughly welcome the recent development of the manager of the Cape Schanck property deciding on 13 January to withdraw the kangaroo shooting permit,” group spokesperson Mary Waterman…

THE former HMAS Otama may soon be heading for the scrapyard. Picture: Gary Sissons THE movement of vessels in and out of Western Port is again attracting attention and raising concerns. Long time backers of the plan to bring the submarine Otama ashore as the centrepiece of a tourist attraction fear it is about to be towed away and scrapped. Several sources have told The News that a semi-submersible ship will be used to take the submarine to Navy dockyards in South Australia. The cost of taking the Otama to South Australia has been put at $5 million while Parks…

ALL federal election candidates will be under pressure to agree to work towards adopting policies to tackle climate change, including opposing heavy industry around Western Port. Community groups, businesses and other organisations throughout Victoria are being asked by Environment Victoria to sign an open letter calling for action on climate change. The Western Port Climate Alliance (WPCA) is one of five groups in the state seeking signatures on letters worded specifically for their region. Carmen Bush, spokesperson for the WPCA, said the signed letters would be delivered to all federal candidates, including current MPs. The open letter calls for “faster…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has corrected information released about CEO John Baker’s $425,000 salary package. The new figures do not change the total of Mr Baker’s remuneration but correct an “administrative error”. Council’s 14 December meeting was told that his new, increased base salary was $386,363.64, not the $382,500 as stated in an official news release following a council decision that his salary was not confidential. The corrected figures show his superannuation to be $38,636.36, not $42,500 as previously stated. Council agreed to give Mr Baker a rise at its 15 November meeting and ordered a news release on 7 December.…

THE illegal appropriation and locking up of public land could be costing Mornington Peninsula Shire millions of dollars. The shire’s “encroachment task force” is compiling a list of known breaches by private property owners and also appealing to the public to provide details of other instances. Some residents of Kilburn Grove, Glenisla Drive and Elmie Terrace, Mount Martha are upset about a wire fence and “land grabbing” along an access lane in the Sir Walter Burley Griffin-designed subdivision. Other breaches have been identified throughout the shire, often where private properties adjoin reserves. Cr David Gill said the appropriation of public…

THE Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane has been asked to investigate events leading up to the adoption last year of amended governance rules by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors. The Nepean Ratepayers Association has told Mr Leane that differences among shire councillors had led to “a complete breakdown in the democratic process”. It wants Mr Leane to “ascertain if this council and its executive officers have exercised sound judgement and good governance practices and are fit and proper people to continue in their respective roles”. The association has told Mr Leane that some councillors were deliberately not told about the proposed…

HUNDREDS of kangaroos remain fenced in on a farm property at Cape Schanck, unable to return to the neighbouring national park. The kangaroos have been on the property for more than three months and although a moratorium has been declared, a permit still exists for the landowner to shoot them. Craig Thomson, of the Save Mornington Peninsual Kangaroos group, said being trapped for so long appeared to have changed the kangaroos’ normal behaviours “and they are demonstrating what could be interpreted as significant stress”. He said the situation had not changed despite media attention and negotiations between Mornington Peninsula Shire,…

MORNINGTON Peninsula councillors have rejected the “divisive” suggestion that the Aboriginal flag be flown at half-mast on Australia Day. In doing so, they chose not to show the courage urged by Cr Sarah Race to “symbolise that this is a day of mourning of our First Nations people”. Cr Race said she will “walk as an ally” with Aboriginal people following a “mourning ceremony” on Wednesday 26 January. She said Indigenous Australians had regarded 26 January as a day of mourning since 1938 and would never consider it a celebration. “And here we are in 2021, still not recognising this…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors seeking election to either state of federal parliament do not have to stand down until after their nominations are lodged with the electoral office. In the year since being elected (November 2020), three of the shire’s 11 councillors have shown ambitions to stand for either state or federal government. Two are now candidates and one tried but missed out on getting a seat in state parliament. Rules for councillors wanting to be MPs have been highlighted by Cr Despi O’Connor announcing her intention to stand as an independent in next year’s federal election and Cr Paul…

FEARS are held overt the export of hydrogen from Western Port leading to the import of marine pests. Kawasaki Heavy Industries has agreed to conduct surveys to monitor Western Port for marine pests already introduced into Port Phillip by ships from Japan. The hydrogen being transported from western Port to Japan is being produced from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley, a process that depends for success on carbon being stored underground through CCS (carbon capture and storage). The hydrogen from brown coal project began more than a decade ago and the state and federal governments each gave $50 million…

ONE of the differences at next year’s Australia Day celebrations on the Mornington Peninsula could see the Aboriginal flag flown at half-mast. MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being asked to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast on shire buildings on Australia Day next year, 26 January. Cr Sarah Race says the gesture would “recognise our First Nations people and their sorrow on this day [26 January was declared a day of mourning by Aboriginal Australians in 1938]”. Flag protocols set out by the Commonwealth and followed by the shire prevent the Australian national flag being flown at half-mast on Australia…

Despi O’ConnorClaire BoardmanSurbhi SnowballZoe McKenzie THE Mornington Peninsula is facing possibly the biggest ever change to its political landscape. None of the familiar faces of multiple past elections will be contesting next year’s federal or state polls. Chris Brayne, first-term Labor MP for Nepean, is the only current MP on the peninsula who will be contesting the election. First-up for voters (possibly as early as March) to decide will be the federal seat of Flinders, left vacant by the retirement of Greg Hunt, who has held it for the Liberal Party for 20 years. The Liberal candidate will not be…

SOMERS residents fear that people fishing for sharks are endangering swimmers. Baited lines are being carried out to deeper water off the beach by kayaks or dropped from drones. Mornington Peninsula Shire is helpless to stop the practice and the fisheries department says it is not illegal. Cr David Gill said luring sharks towards the swimming beach was a “dangerous practice” that the public needed to know about. “It is of great concern if shark-attracting baiting is occurring off Somers beach. It increases the chances of lives being put in danger,” he said. “Apparently there are no state government rules…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh laid down new rules five days before running this Tuesday night’s council meeting at Rosebud. In an email to councillors on Thursday 2 December – three weeks after being elected mayor – Cr Marsh outlined his changes to meeting procedures. He said the new “approach” stemmed from his desire to “encourage much better transparency of councillor decisions and improve the level of debate”. The changes prevent councillors from questioning council officers during public council meetings without permission from Cr Marsh. As well as reducing the number of officers attending council meetings, Cr Marsh…

AFTER more than 20 years representing the people of the Flinders electorate in federal parliament, Liberal Greg Hunt is looking forward to spending more time at home with his family. When announcing his retirement from federal politics last week, Mr Hunt told parliament “it’s time to turn to focus on another family: Paula, Poppy, James, Elsa and Charlie the cavoodle”. “But for all the time that we have spent together, and as fond as I am of the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] and the Treasurer [Josh Frydenberg], my card is ultimately elsewhere – sorry, Josh,” he said. “It is with…

A PERMIT is being sought to “humanely” remove kangaroos from a Cape Schanck property, instead of killing them. The land manager has agreed to wait an extra eight-weeks before the cull was about to start and, in the meantime, seek a permit under the Wildlife Act to move the kangaroos back through a fence into Mornington Peninsula National Park. The reprieve for the “several hundred” kangaroos was due to “determined work” by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors and “tireless negotiation” by CEO John Baker, according to Paul Saunders of the Mornington Peninsula Greens. The first stay of execution was due to…

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…