Author: Neil Walker

TONY Abbott was ousted as prime minister last week by his Liberal Party colleagues but local federal MPs Bruce Billson and Greg Hunt remained loyal to Mr Abbott until the end. Both confirmed they voted for the former prime minister in the party room ballot won by challenger Malcolm Turnbull 55-44 last Monday evening (14 September). Bruce Billson, the member for Dunkley and until Sunday, the Small Business Minister, said last week the Abbott government was “getting plenty of good things done but there wasn’t a sense that was being conveyed well and clearly to the electorate”. “We’re two years…

DRIVERS’ pain could be train commuters’ gain when eight new X’Trapolis trains take to Melbourne’s rail tracks later this year. Metro Trains plans to lower boom gates at several level crossings for longer times, including “the majority” of those on the Frankston line, to maintain safety at road and rail intersections since the X’Trapolis trains have quicker acceleration than existing trains. Boom gates could be lowered for up to 15 seconds longer before any train approaches a level crossing on the Frankston line for safety reasons. Metro spokeswoman Pauline O’Connor said level crossing timings on the Frankston, Werribee and Williamstown…

THE Point Nepean quarantine station will not be reopened to provide sanctuary for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria despite suggestions last week it could be a suitable base for asylum seekers. Liberal state opposition leader Matthew Guy had urged Labor Premier Daniel Andrews to consider housing some Syrian refugees at the Point Nepean station “at the end of the Mornington Peninsula” early last week. “In 1998-99, the Kennett government and the Howard government managed to bring many hundreds of Kosovar refugees to that site,” Mr Guy said. “If Daniel Andrews won’t do anything with that site then we should…

ITS very name means those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can face criticism and families can also be stigmatised. The word ‘borderline’ tends to make many think there is not really anything wrong with someone diagnosed with BPD and an individual’s ‘personality’ is often judged by others. In fact, the ‘borderline’ aspect refers to the disorder being on the borderline of psychosis and neurosis and the causes of BPD are not yet fully understood. For those facing life with the mental disorder the road to recovery can be paved with criticism and others not taking the condition seriously. BPD…

THE Andrews government has been accused of putting public safety at risk during the upcoming trial of all-night public transports on weekends. Earlier this month the Labor state government announced a one-year trial of 24-hour Friday and Saturday train services, called “Homesafe”, across the state including the Frankston line. Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy visited Seaford train station last Monday (24 August) and slammed the government for failing to budget for protective services officers at all stations all night. “That leaves quite a number of stations like Seaford exposed to no security after 11pm,” Mr Guy said. PSOs will be…

“I would love to be Doctor Who!” Actor and musician John Waters’ declaration has been prompted by mint magazine’s suggestion the 66-year-old would be a perfect choice to play the Time Lord in BBC TV’s long-running sci-fi show now the Beeb has seen sense and is skewing older in its casting of the good Doctor in the form of current incarnation Peter Capaldi. While mint hopes the Scotsman does not immediately vacate the TARDIS there will come a time – as for all 11 of his Doctor Who predecessors – for the 57-year-old Capaldi to regenerate. “Of course, the body…

A HIGH-PROFILE federal government appointee with family links to the Mornington Peninsula is set to address a Liberal Party event in Mt Martha early next month. Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who makes regular media appearances on shows such as the ABC’s Q&A and Channel Ten’s The Project, will be guest speaker at the Briars Historic Homestead in Mt Martha and it is a homecoming of sorts for the man dubbed the “Freedom Commissioner” by federal Attorney-General George Brandis. Mr Wilson lived in Mt Martha before heading for the bright lights of Melbourne and is a former student of…

ONGOING tensions within the Liberal Party over the legalisation of same-sex marriage have been downplayed by federal MP for Flinders Greg Hunt. A passionate Mr Hunt told The News last Friday he believed media claims of internal party divisions in the aftermath of a Liberal party room meeting earlier this month to discuss same-sex marriage legalisation have been overblown. Workplace Minister Eric Abetz slammed cabinet leakers as “gutless” as differences of opinion on same-sex marriage emerged publicly after the meeting held behind closed doors in the Liberal party room on Tuesday 11 August. Mr Hunt revealed he spoke in favour…

COUNCILS have decided there is strength in numbers with the launch of a South East Melbourne Group of Councils regional plan to push the region’s case for business investment, jobs and more education opportunities. The SEM Group of Councils includes Frankston, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Kingston, Casey, Bass Coast, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong councils. Frankston mayor Cr Sandra Mayer has been elected chair of the SEM Group of Councils for a 12-month term until November on a rotational basis. She said the four-year regional plan brings together seven municipalities to find common ground to collectively lobby federal and state governments and…

FRANKSTON and Mornington residents have been receiving automated phone calls from an electrician in the past week but the sparky hasn’t been getting in touch about a home electrical wiring job. The call is part of a campaign by the Electrical Trades Union to “stop the China Free Trade Agreement” amid union fears electricians’ jobs are at risk. A pre-recorded message urges recipients to contact federal Dunkley Liberal MP Bruce Billson to make any concerns about the free trade agreement known to the Abbott government’s Small Business Minister. ETU state secretary Troy Gray said the “robo-calls” to Dunkley electorate voters…

DEEP divisions within the Liberal Party over the legalisation of same-sex marriage have been mirrored in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula with local federal Liberal MPs Bruce Billson and Greg Hunt at odds on the contentious subject. Flinders MP and Environment Minister Greg Hunt declined to be publicly outed as a supporter of same-sex marriage when asked by The News whether he supports its legalisation. Mr Hunt was coy last week about his stance on the issue despite being named as “a same-sex marriage supporter” in recent months by the The Australian and The Age newspapers and the ABC. Rather…

WEEKEND train services will run all night on Friday and Saturday nights on the Frankston line from January next year as part of a public transport trial announced by the Labor state government. On Thursday last week Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced a one-year trial, starting on New Year’s Eve, to gauge demand for weekend night-time services across Victoria’s rail network including the Frankston line. “A world-class city deserves 24-hour public transport. It’s good for our economy, for shift workers and for people who want to get home safe after a night out,” Ms Allan said. “People who live…

FRANKSTON line commuters face short-term travel pain for long-term gain with sections of the railway tracks set to be closed for weeks on end while level crossings are removed. Eleven level crossings along the Frankston line are earmarked to have their intersection between road and rail separated to stop traffic delays and allow Metro Trains to eventually run more train services. The Bentleigh, Ormond and McKinnon stations will be demolished and rebuilt from November next year and are expected to reopen in February 2017. Trains will run between Frankston and Moorabbin stations during a planned 34-day line shutdown near the…

A LABOR Party vote to support asylum seeker boat turnbacks if it wins back government has been slammed by Amnesty International. Amnesty International peninsula branch spokesman Kevin Bain criticised Labor and opposition leader Bill Shorten’s move at the party’s annual national conference last month to fall into line with the Abbott government’s boats turnback policy. Mr Bain has presented several petitions in recent months to Liberal federal government ministers Bruce Billson and Greg Hunt in Dunkley and Flinders respectively protesting against the Abbott government’s “inhumane treatment” of asylum seekers. “Boat turnbacks are a recipe to violate rights and endanger lives,”…

RIDE-SHARING business Uber has highlighted a lack of public transport options across the Mornington Peninsula in a submission to the state government asking for its controversial uberX service to be legalised. US based Uber, backed by corporate giants such as Google and investment bank Goldman Sachs, launched its unregulated uberX service across Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula late last year (‘Uber’s arrival challenges taxi operators’, The News 20/1/15). Licenced taxi operators and drivers are angry that authorities have failed to stop Uber operating illegally in Victoria although the Taxi Services Commission has charged 11 Uber drivers with allegedly driving “a…

VOTERS could be forgiven for thinking the state election campaign between the major parties has not ended eight months after the Andrews Labor government defeated the previous Napthine Coalition government to win power. Labor and Liberal politicians were out in force last week along the Frankston line pushing opposing messages about the separation of level crossings from roadways. Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke joined Acting Premier James Merlino at the Overton Rd, Frankston crossing last Friday morning to blast the Liberals and Greens “who opposed getting rid of these level crossings once and for all”. A crowd of partisan protesters,…

THE debate around legalising same-sex marriage in Australia gathered pace last week after the United States Supreme Court ruled that nation’s Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. The US is the latest in a series of western countries – including the UK and Ireland – to legalise marriage for gays and lesbians. Federal politicians are facing increased pressure to follow suit in Australia but the possibility has deeply divided politicians within both the Liberal and Labor parties. It is no different in Frankston and on the Mornington Peninsula. Flinders MP and Environment Minister Greg Hunt supports a ‘conscience vote’…

THE removal of the Tree of Life sculpture from the Cranbourne Rd exit of Peninsula Link has sparked a social media backlash. Drivers, including many who do not usually regard themselves as art lovers, have gone out on a limb and expressed their love for the huge sculpture which has towered over the Cranbourne Rd exit section of the freeway for the past two years. Passers-by noticed workmen pulling the Tree of Life down last week. Thousands took to Facebook to publicly declare their fondness for the sculpture. The unusual looking sculpture was repeatedly described as “beautiful” and many are…

THREE Mornington Peninsula Shire representatives headed to Canberra this month for the National General Assembly hosted by the Australian Local Government Association. Mayor Cr Bev Colomb, deputy mayor Cr Graham Pittock and Cr Hugh Fraser attended the three-day annual conference for council delegates from across the nation on 14-17 June. Cr Colomb described the yearly meeting as “a great opportunity” for council to meet federal government ministers and their staff to highlight challenges faced by the Mornington Peninsula community. “It is also a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of potential funding sources for local government going forward, to…

FORMER Frankston MP Geoff Shaw has re-emerged in a job after politics. The ex-politician, who became embroiled in numerous high-profile incidents during his at times controversial four-year term as Frankston’s state member of Parliament, has a new role encouraging cover ups. Mr Shaw is now general manager at Medihair Hair Transplant Clinics in Melbourne. When contacted by The News a relaxed sounding Mr Shaw said he is “off the public scene now” but has “a few things in the pipeline with some quite credible people”. He said he is using business contacts to promote the hair transplant specialist’s operations. When…

STARDATE 2015. These are the voyages of the Small Business Minister Bruce Billson. His mission: to explore strange new business tax deductions, to seek out new cost savings and new Liberal Party policies, to boldly go where no man has gone before? If this mission statement sounds a bit “out there” beyond the higher-profile stars of the Abbott cabinet, then allow The News to explain. The federal MP for Dunkley has been out and about spruiking the Abbott government’s second budget and its focus on small business has seen Mr Billson elevated to the command deck of government. The irrepressible Minister…

FORMER police officer turned business and life coach Ruth Cyster-Stuettgen wants women to know they can have a bright future no matter how dark the present can be. The mother-of-three has turned her life around after leaving an abusive situation and has written a book called From Misery to Mastery: Journey to Freedom and Empowerment as a guide for anyone who has “ever felt lost, helpless or scared of what your life has become”. She hopes the book can find an audience with “women who are suffering in silence behind closed doors” and give women tips and strategies to empower…

THE Big O has survived the Big C. Entertainer-at-large John Wells, who regularly performs at venues around the peninsula as Roy Orbison in a tribute show, was stopped in his tracks by a throat cancer diagnosis four years ago. The singer, guitarist and drummer said when he was told he was not expected to live more than three months when diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. “I was told I’d never sing again … and I’ve kind of beaten the odds a bit.” After spending about a year recuperating after surgery, radiotherapy and chemo Wells decided to get back on…

WHEN Christian protesters and staff at Greg Hunt’s electorate office in Hastings faced off last Wednesday one man had a foot in both opposing camps. Chairman of the Liberal Party’s Flinders electorate Peter Rawlings is a members and former treasurer of the New Peninsula Baptist Church. He told The News he knew several of those involved in last Wednesday’s “gathering”, as he put it. “I had friends on one side of the fence as it were, and friends on Greg’s staff on the other side.” Mr Rawlings authored the National Schools Chaplaincy Program for the Howard government in 2006 and…

DIESEL trains will not return to the Stony Point rail line as a quick fix to get passenger services back up and running. Metro Trains had said diesels could have been a short-term solution while work continues to install axle counters along the Stony Point line to stop boom gates malfunctioning (‘Line here to stay: Metro’, The News 28/4/15). The track was originally designed for diesel trains and in recent months boom gates at level crossings have failed to open in some instances when trains approach level crossings. “We were unable to find suitable [diesel trains] rolling stock for the…

THE Frankston City Motorcycle Track remains closed after a motocross rider’s death at the venue last month. Frankston Council ordered the Frankston Motorcycle Club to close the Seaford venue after a 20-year-old man died after a collision with a fellow racer on Saturday 4 April. Council has set up a transition committee, chaired by Cr Glenn Aitken, to hand over management of the track to Motorcycling Victoria. Members of the Frankston Motorcycle Club are angry at council’s decision to effectively oust the club and some voiced their displeasure at this month’s public council meeting. A barrage of questions was submitted…

View photos of the arrests here POLICE have evicted the leaders of a Christian group who staged a sit-in protest today (Wednesday 6 May) at the electorate office of Flinders Liberal MP Greg Hunt. Shortly before seven Christian leaders who had refused to leave the Hastings premises were arrested at 5.40pm, Mr Hunt released a statement criticising the Love Makes A Way group who were protesting against the federal government’s asylum seeker policies. A Christian coalition of Uniting Church, Baptist Church, Church of Christ and Peninsula City Church members grouped under the Love Makes A Way umbrella arrived at Mr Hunt’s…

CHRISTIAN leaders have occupied the Hastings office of Flinders Liberal MP Greg Hunt and are refusing to leave until the Federal Environment Minister gives a commitment “to release all children” from the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres. A Christian coalition of Uniting Church, Baptist Church, Church of Christ and Peninsula City Church members grouped under the Love Makes A Way banner turned up unannounced at Mr Hunt’s electorate office at 11am this morning to protest against the federal government’s asylum seekers policies. Love Makes A Way describes itself as “a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker…

THE race is on to save the Frankston City Motorcycle Park as an affordable venue for motocross riders after Frankston Council decided not to renew its lease with the Frankston Motorcycle Club in the wake of a fatality at the Seaford track last month. A 20-year-old man died after a collision with a fellow motocross rider and council asked the club to close the Seaford facilities in the short term (‘Fatality closes motorcycle track’, The Times 13/4/15). Last Friday council issued a statement headed “Safety first priority at Frankston Motorcycle Park” and advised the Frankston Motorcycle Club’s tenancy would end on…

PASSERSBY copped an eyeful in Frankston on Thursday afternoon when a naked man casually strolled along Cranbourne Rd towards Karingal. The nude dude did not appear agitated as he took a solo brisk naked walk at 2.50pm on Thursday (30 April). The News contacted police late on Friday to ask whether the reason behind the naked walk had been investigated but there were apparently no complaints lodged with police. Anyone with further information about this naked man of mystery can contact The News at team@mpnews.com.au. Please: no bum steers. UPDATE: Frankston police have now confirmed there were numerous calls to report the naked…