Author: Keith Platt

HOW easy is it on a hot day to go for a swim or lie on a surfboard? Not very, if you happen to have a physical disability. On Saturday 18 January, close to 300 people at Pt Leo Beach were given an insight into each other’s lives when Disabled Surfers Association Mornington Peninsula held its first event for 2014. More than 230 volunteers made it possible for 41 disabled surfers to know the feeling of being on a board pushed along by the natural energy of a wave. The simple joy of being hit by a wave can be…

RESIDENTS have been watching the slow march of nature reclaiming habitat in what was once an explosive industrial site – the Mt Martha quarry. Peregrine falcons use the exposed rock faces as nesting sites while white-faced herons prowl among puddles for tadpoles and frogs. However, the fenced-off quarry is seen as an “asset” by Mornington Peninsula Shire, land that can be sold and developed. Until a few months ago, the shire had allowed the quarry on the Esplanade between Mt Martha and Safety Beach to be used as storage for rocks and soil destined to combat erosion at McCrae. But…

ASBESTOS has been removed from vacant land in central Mornington, leaving a neighbour fearing that fragments of the deadly substance have been carried from the site by truck tyres. The former industrial land at 73-75 Barkly St is being prepared for townhouses. The land is next to Mornington Primary School and Josh Dawson, assistant manager of the Gillon Group development company, said asbestos removal was timed to coincide with school holidays. In a “courtesy” letter to nearby residents, Mr Dawson said asbestos on the vacant land was “limited to sheet fragments” and was classified as “non-fibrous and does not present…

SELLING recycled water from Melbourne Water’s Eastern Treatment Plant near Carrum could raise at least $240 million a year. Clean Ocean Foundation president Peter Smith says South East Water is failing to adequately market the Class A quality water being poured daily into the sea at Gunnamatta on the Mornington Peninsula. Mr Smith for years led the battle that last year finally saw Melbourne Water lift the quality of water being discharged from the outfall. But with that battle won, Mr Smith says Clean Ocean is now concerned at the environmental effects of billions of litres of fresh water going…

THE announcement that publication of the Frankston Weekly and Peninsula Weekly will end this month will see a narrowing of dissemination of news and events in the region. Five sister publications across the eastern and southern suburbs are also being killed off. The Dandenong Journal is the only paper in the group’s former eastern division to survive the cull of mastheads by the 50 per cent Fairfax-owned MMP Media Publications. It appears just one of the 10 part-time and full-time staff at the company’s Mornington office will have a job with the company after the papers’ final editions on 18…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire denies any responsibility for delays and costs associated with a $6 million affordable housing project on contaminated land at Hastings. The shire issued a planning permit for 20 houses to be built at the corner of Marine Parade and Church St but says it was up to the applicant, Low Cost Housing Pty Ltd, to say if there were any problems with the site. “It is incumbent on the permit applicant to submit all information relative to the proposed development including information about the existing conditions of the land in order to allow a full and proper assessment…

CONTROLLED burns to reduce the risk of bushfires on French Island created a spectacular cloud formation late Saturday afternoon. From Rosebud the cloud appeared to be hovering over the top of Arthurs Seat and alarmed some people travelling across the peninsula toward Hastings until they saw it was emanating from fires on the island. The Department of Sustainability and Environment has earmarked 671 hectares on the island to be burned and locations including Clump Lagoon (70ha), near the airstrip (101ha), the cemetery (138ha) and McLeod West (362ha). Other burns are planned at Devilbend Natural Feature Reserve near Moorooduc (50ha), Arthurs…

THE balance of power in state parliament might be different today if Ted Baillieu had resigned as premier nine hours earlier on Wednesday 6 March. Frankston MP Geoff Shaw says he would not have quit the Parliamentary Liberal Party to become an independent if Mr Baillieu had been first out the door. Mr Shaw, under investigation by police and the parliament’s privileges committee over the alleged misuse of his taxpayer-funded vehicle and fuel card, handed his letter of resignation to the Deputy Premier Louise Asher nine hours before Mr Baillieu announced he would step down as Premier. “I was surprised,…

DRIVERS of electric scooters and people with walking frames are being forced onto the road by building works at the corner of Marine Parade and Church St in Hastings. The footpath is blocked by safety fences erected around the $6 million “affordable” homes project. Work stopped on the 20 homes last year after builders unearthed a disused fuel tank, forcing project owners Community Housing Ltd to have soil tested to gauge the extent of contamination from the tank left over from an old service station. However, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, with the state…

THE state government is being lobbied to improve roads around the Inghams Enterprises chicken processing plant near Baxter. The factory, which rose out of the ashes of a major fire in January 2010, has a staff of 600 processing more than 500,000 birds a week. Following this week’s announcement of the loss of 170 jobs at BlueScope, Inghams is now the largest private employer in the area. General manager Alan Wilson said projected increases in production meant that Inghams would increasingly use the larger B-double trucks that were hard to manoevre around the six-way intersection near Baxter Primary School. However,…

THE future viability of taxi services in Frankston and on the Mornington Peninsula could depend on the state government’s reaction to recommendations in the taxi industry inquiry report. The creation of an outer urban zone and certainty given to wheelchair taxi services provided by Frankston Radio Cabs has been welcomed by manager Kevin Dunn. However, Mr Dunn believes cheaper taxi licences proposed in the Customers First: Service, Safety. Choice report could lead to some operators “going broke”. “I’m not saying that would mean the world coming to an end, but we have a good rapport with the community and believe…

HASTINGS Rotary Club has stepped in to save the weekly market in High St. Stallholders feared the market would close following the collapse of Western Port Lions Club, which had run it for some years. The club closed late last year due to lack of members (‘Limited Lions call it a day’, The News, 18/12/12), and the market permit issued by Mornington Peninsula Shire ran out on Tuesday 9 January. Signatures were quickly being added to a “save the market” petition when the Rotary club offered to take over its management. “There were all sorts of rumours and conspiracy theories…

ROADWORKS to repair a landslide on the Esplanade between Mt Martha and Safety Beach are unlikely to be finished until February. VicRoads originally announced the road would reopen in time for Christmas, but now says the contractor “struck rock” leading to a “minor change in the scope of work”. The landslide occurred in July last year, but repairs were delayed for some months because the affected area required preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan to protect Aboriginal artefacts. Two other landslides on the Esplanade in recent years were fixed without the need for a CHMP, despite the entire coast…

THE Lions Club of Western Port has disbanded after 44 years. The club was down to seven members, well short of the 40 on the books almost 16 years ago when current pre­si­dent Bert Harrison joined. Ages of the seven members range from 51 to 82. Mr Harrison and three other Western Port members will be joining neighbouring branches to continue their work in the community. “At the height of the club, membership reached into to 50s, but due to retirement, transfers and the unfortunate deaths of some members, it hasn’t been so easy over the past few years,” Mr…

HASTINGS police are searching for a man aged in his late 30s who is alleged to have grabbed an 11-year-old girl by the arm as she was walking to school. The girl told police she was in William St at about 8.10am on Monday when approached by the man who asked her to go with him. The girl says that after refusing him she was grabbed by the arm but managed to break free and run to the Kmart shopping centre. The girl reported the incident to principal Richard Mucha when she later arrived at St Mary’s Primary School. Senior…

MT Martha residents have started a campaign to stop the former quarry in the town being sold for commercial development. They fear Mornington Peninsula Shire is about to start moves to rezone and sell the quarry, which operated off the Esplanade at the corner of Stanley Cres and Fairbairn Ave from 1958 to 1985. It is fenced off and used to store rocks earmarked as fill for erosion works at The Eyrie in McCrae. In an arrangement that would be welcomed by community groups paying rent for using council property, Maw Civil was given free use of the quarry as…

FRANKSTON Council is about to again embark on a search for investors in the $300 million marina earmarked for development between Olivers Hill and Daveys Bay. Impetus for reviving the search abandoned in 2010 follows advice from council’s investment attraction facilitator Jason Sharp that Tourism Victoria’s offer to help finance the re-tendering the project runs out at the end of the 2012-13 financial year. Mr Sharp’s report on this week’s council agenda says that despite abandoning the tender process in 2010, council officers continued working to gain extra time for the marina from Planning Minister Matthew Guy. “The Cultural Heritage…

THE quality of water being discharged through the sewage outfall at Gunnamatta will drop this week while Melbourne Water works on its latest treatment equipment. The 350 million litres a day discharge will be Class C, below the purity that has been pumped into the ocean since new processes came on line in July. “A three- to four-day shutdown of the new advanced tertiary treatment stage at ETP [Eastern Treatment Plant, near Carrum] is required in November to undertake important works on site,” general manager of asset planning Paul Pretto said. He said the plant’s $418 million upgrade was “nearing…

DELIBERATELY lit fires wrecked two cars and damaged a third in Hastings early Saturday morning. The cars were torched within two hours of each other, although police have been unable to link the crimes. In the first blaze a Toyota Camry station wagon was burnt out on a nature strip in Villawood Drive, Hastings. Heat from the burning vehicle seriously damaged a Land Rover Discovery that was parked alongside the Camry. Detective Leading Senior Constable Nick Sweetman, of Hastings CIU, said the owner of the Discovery, a volunteer Hastings CFA firefighter, was awakened by his pager calling him to the…

SHIRE council officers last Thursday brought an enterprising extractive industry at Balnarring Beach to an abrupt halt. The first site to come to a standstill was the foreshore and later a small reserve at the corner of Campbell and Highview courts. Not known as a mining area, the two reserves were nevertheless giving up buckets of saleable items – earthworms. “It’s amazing how many worms there are in the ground, they were everywhere,” a resident who did not want to be identified told The News. “I’m sure removing this many worms from one spot can’t be good for the environment.…

TOP chef Max Paganoni is heartbroken. While he was making sure customers left his restaurant at Red Hill Estate satisfied with their meals, something dark and sini­ster was happening just kilometres away at his home. Each day when Mr Paganoni leaves the house, he first lets out his miniature daschund dogs, Levi and Zucker. The dogs are in at night, but enjoy time together in the garden by day. On Sunday, four-year-old Levi was shot dead. Her still-warm body was found by a shocked Mr Paganoni at about 8pm. “I had just come home from the restaurant and went outside…

FRANKSTON MP Geoff Shaw is likely to keep his seat despite allegations of rorting the use of his parliamentary vehicle. Mr Shaw will be hoping his offer to repay any costs involving the commercial use of the vehicle and the fairly mild results of an Ombudsman’s report will be enough to allow him to keep his job. The loss of Mr Shaw’s seat would force a byelection that could threaten the future of the state government, which holds power with a one-seat majority. Liberal Party insiders have told The News that Mr Shaw would have been forced out by his…

FEDERAL politicians are about to get a colourful reminder that polio survivors still exist. The disease was declared eradicated in Australia in 2000, but it has left a legacy of complex health issues for an ageing population of survivors. Hastings resident Fran Henke is one of 46 people with post-polio syndrome going to Canberra next week to lobby politicians for more money to support Polio Australia. They will be dressed in orange and have appointments to meet with MPs from their respective areas, in Mrs Henke’s case Flinders MP Greg Hunt and Dunkley MP Bruce Billson. “There are hundreds of…

THE $6 million “affordable” homes project in Marine Pde, Hastings, will not be finished until next year. A halt was called on work to complete the 20 homes earlier this year when builders unearthed a disused fuel tank. Since then the land has been extensively tested to gauge the extent of contamination from the tank left over from a former service station. “It’s really sad this has happened,” state manager for Community Housing Ltd Brett Wake said on Monday. “We’re very confident we’ll be able to finish the project, but it won’t be until the next calendar year.” Mr Wake…

A TRACK leads down to rocky ledges below the site of the latest landslide on the Esplanade between Mt Martha and Safety Beach. The jagged rocks are partly covered by bright orange lichen and the clear water gurgles up and down as a westerly wind chops up Port Phillip. The landslide itself has uncovered what appear to be the remains of a rock retaining wall built into the cliff as well as undermining the bitumen road. It may have also revealed, or swept away, traces of people who lived here long before Europeans set foot on the shores of a…

A WOMAN found with severe head injuries in thick scrub next to Hodgins Rd in Hastings has been placed in an induced coma. A man and his wife found the Hastings woman after hearing cries for help at about 12.30 Monday morning. Detective Leading Senior Constable Darren Sherren, of Hastings CIU, said the woman, aged in her 50s, had been taken by ambulance to the Monash Medical Centre. After undergoing surgery she had been placed in an induced coma and was now in the intensive care unit. “We believe she was walking home from doing some shopping,” Detective Sherren said.…

SOUTH East Water is paying $4 million for the site of its new Frankston headquarters. The land facing Kananook Creek stretches from Beach St in the north to Playne St and is owned by Frankston Council. A South East Water spokesperson said the price was market value and that moving to a new building there would “save us and our customers at least $20 million over the next 20 years”. Council has agreed to ignore its own building height regulations to speed up approval for the building on land now used for a car park. A South East Water sewage…