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Council Watch

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.…

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…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council last week adopted its 2022-32 Financial Plan as a framework for services and spending over the next 10 years. The Local Government Act 2020 requires councils to develop and adopt a financial plan for that period. Chief Financial Officer Bulent Oz said financial planning was the process of aligning financial capacity with long-term service objectives. “This financial plan is our key financial planning document and establishes a sound financial framework for council’s decisions,” he said. “It is instrumental in ensuring we can deliver enhanced services now and in the future. “The purpose of this … plan…

By Geraldine Bilston* IN a world where politics and leadership are so often characterised by misogyny, power over and patriarchy I am so happy to tell you that my mayor is my hero. I have nothing but appreciation and admiration for Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Cr Despi O’Connor. Five years ago I escaped an abusive relationship. The Mornington Peninsula is my home. It is part of my past; it’s where my daughter and I were abused. But this place is also our future and I want a future where women are respected and safe. Since that time in my life I…

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…

IN the lead up to last week’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow Mornington Peninsula Shire and other members of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance called on the federal government to “commit to an ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target underpinned by a clear plan to achieve the target”. The council welcomed the federal government’s commitment to a 2050 emissions reduction target but said the need for a 2030 emissions reduction target, aligned with the other developed countries’ commitments, was more pressing. “It is essential Australia makes an equitable contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order…

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)…

VOTERS in four Mornington Peninsula towns have been moved from one state electoral district to another. The Electoral Boundaries Commission last week released a map showing that Merricks Beach, Balnarring, Balnarring Breach and Somers from the next state election will be included in the Hastings district, now held by Liberal MP Neale Burgess. The four towns are now in Nepean, held my Labor’s Chris Brayne. Cranbourne South, Devon Meadows Pearcedale, Canons Creek and Warneet in the northern section of the Hastings district have been moved into Bass. Boundaries for the seat of Mornington held by Liberal David Morris are unchanged.…

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…

ANTHONY Marsh has taken the lead in betting by Mornington Peninsula Shire officers on which councillor will be the next mayor. Picture: Yanni FAVOURITES have again been pushed aside in the scramble to be frontrunners in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Mayoral Stakes. Last week’s 3:1 combination of Cr Sarah Race for mayor with Cr Lisa Dixon as deputy has been overtaken by the 2:1 duo of Cr Anthony Marsh with Cr Dixon deputy (“Race is ‘on’ for mayor” The News 19/10/21). Cr Marsh’s strong run (he was 10:1 last week) appears to have been enabled by the shire’s officer punters switching…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is one 13 Australian municipalities certified as a carbon neutral business after meeting the requirements of the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations. The shire’s carbon neutral policy adopted in 2016 confirmed a commitment to operate with zero net emissions by 2021 and become certified as carbon neutral. Since introducing the policy, the shire’s total emissions have been reduced by about 16,679 tonnes CO2-e, 36 per cent of the previous emissions. “I could not be happier and prouder to share the news that the shire is now operating with zero net emissions, fulfilling our commitment to…

SARAH Race (pictured), this year’s deputy mayor, remains favourite to be the next mayor in a sweep being run by a group of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council officers. However, the race to next month’s prestigious finish saw the odds on Cr Race ease over the week from 2:1 to 3:1, with Cr Lisa Dixon as her deputy (“Lining up for mayoral stakes” The News 12/10/21). With punters backing just five starters out of the council’s 11 members, Cr Race is also second and third favourite at 6:1 with the current mayor Cr Despi O’Connor as her deputy and 10:1 with…

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors elect a new mayor early in November and lobbying for votes is already reportedly underway. The prestigious $100,000 plus position comes with a car – the mayor mobile, an electric BMW hatch – as well as the demands of representing the shire in different forums and publicly. While councillors usually keep their intentions inside the tent, that does not mean that other “insiders” cannot speculate. Council officers are running a book on the likelihood of who will be the next mayor and who will be that person’s deputy. Betting odds late last week show the smart…

SOME welcome relief from last week’s mounting numbers of COVID-19 cases was provided on social media by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Deviating from the roads, rates and rubbish topics, the shire was confronted by mixed reactions after it entered the realm of sexual relations on its Facebook page. The shire said its promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Week had “reached” just under 17,000 people, making it the second “top performing” post. The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said the shire was committed to gender equality and women’s health. “Open and honest discussions about sexual health, consent and respectful relationships are…

TWO COVID-19 education officers have been hired by Mornington Peninsula Shire for six months to help businesses, community groups and event organisers establish COVIDSafe plans and practices. The shire has also partnered with the state government to provide extra resources to help protect customers, staff and members of the public in the pandemic. The officers will help their clients put in place or update COVIDSafe plans as well as provide resources and templates to help with plans and practices. They will also promote safe practices among those in the hospitality industry, at community venues and in small retail settings. Details:…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has invited community feedback on its approach to planning and managing water in the face of climate change and population growth. With the green wedge covering 70 per cent of its land area and 192 kilometres of coastline, water and land management plays an important role in the peninsula’s community, economy and environment. The draft integrated water management plan aims to enhance the peninsula’s water supplies by using alternative water resources, such as rainwater and stormwater, to irrigate and drought proof green open spaces; protect the health of waterways, wetlands and bays; reduce flood risks; increase sewerage…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council will extend its financial hardship policy until at least 28 February 2022. The policy, moved at its 7 September meeting, will apply to all rateable properties and debtors who apply for relief. The council also agreed not to raise interest on any outstanding balances for ratepayers and debtors until that date. Officers will then report back to council which will decide whether or not to extend the relief period. Revenue business support coordinator Ros Humphrey told councillors that having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Victorian Ombudsman’s report, the rates hardship policy had been reviewed…

THE decision to drop saying a prayer before Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meetings was made despite 33 public submissions for it to be kept (plus a further 24 after the comment deadline) and 11 supporting a pledge suggested by Cr Anthony Marsh. Despite easily attracting the most feedback of any issue concerning the revised Governance Rules, in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu told councillors “as a result of the community feedback, it is not considered that there are any changes required to be made to the substantive Governance Rules [which do not include the prayer]”. Ms Sapolu, who is the legal and…

AFTER months of debate, meetings behind closed doors, advice from experts and calling for public comments, Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors are again facing delays in adopting rules under which the shire operates. The Governance Rules adopted at last Tuesday’s (24 August) meeting must again be voted on following a late night move by Cr Steve Holland. With just minutes to spare before the new Governance Rules would have come into force (11.59pm), Cr Steve Holland lodged a notice of motion to revoke them “entirely, including and all parts as they relate to this item [3.2]”. The meeting ended at 11.30pm.…

COMMUNITY consultation on Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 2021 draft Domestic Animal Management Plan closes Wednesday 22 September. The plan outlines the shire’s approach to animal management services, programs and strategies across the peninsula over the next four years. Victorian councils are required to produce a Domestic Animal Management Plan every four years. The focus of the plan will be on communication around responsible pet ownership; promoting compliance and enhancing education and improving animal welfare outcomes. It will focus on supporting a consistent approach to leash-free and dog prohibited areas; increasing pet registration and opportunities for lost pets to be reunited with…

By Joseph Misuraca MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council wants to buy a small section of private land in Shoreham that was originally part of the outdoor Cyril Young Memorial Chapel. The land at 39 Marine Parade was erroneously included in the private block when subdivided in the 1960s, according to Cr David Gill. “Nobody, I believe, went and looked and saw what was there,” he said. If the land sale negotiations are successful, a heritage overlay will be adopted to protect the reserve on which the chapel lies. “I can’t reveal sums [needed to buy the land] because that’s in negotiation,”…

THE state opposition has told the government to “stop pretending” the Mornington Peninsula is part of metropolitan Melbourne. Mornington MP David Morris criticised the Premier Daniel Andrews in parliament for avoiding repeated demands to reclassify the peninsula as regional. “The fact that the premier was not prepared to address the issue directly makes it clear that there is no justification for the current situation,” Mr Morris said. “The response confirms that this is nothing more than a bureaucratic convenience. “The peninsula is not an extension of the metropolitan area. The standard of government services on the Mornington Peninsula is not…

AT LEAST six of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 11 councillors have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, while another two are waiting for their age group to be cleared for the jab. In doing so, the councillors are backing up the shire’s online request for residents to “help stop the pandemic by getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you”. People and culture manager Kelly Gillies said the shire’s urging for vaccinations followed advice from the Chief Health Officer and supported the state government’s efforts to encourage community vaccination. There was no requirement for staff – many of whom interact…

FEDERAL and state departments are being asked to reconsider earlier “informal” advice to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council officers that details of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula cannot be disclosed. The shire’s request for land ownership details also includes a suggestion that the state and federal governments consider establishing a database of foreign owned land. Chief financial officer Bulent Oz said the initial request for foreign owned land details in January had been “denied on the basis of sensitivity”. The information had been sought in case a notice of motion lodged by Cr David for discussion at the 27…

THE Bass Park Trust met last Thursday (29 July) but did not invite Mornington Peninsula Shire’s nominated representative, Cr Anthony Marsh. The online Zoom meeting was, however, attended by Cr David Gill, as he has done for the past four and a half years. Cr Marsh, a Briars Ward councillor (Mount Eliza, Mornington and Mount Martha), successfully nominated himself for the position in June, saying it was “important all councillors are active all over the municipality”. Cr Gill, whose Red Hill Ward includes Flinders Golf Course which is on land managed by the Bass Park Trust, told The News that…

DESPITE facing community calls for his appointment to be reversed, Cr Anthony Marsh was “excited” to inform his Mornington Peninsula Shire Council colleagues that his application to join the Bass Park trust “has progressed”. The minutes of the council’s Tuesday 13 July meeting state that Cr Marsh “is hoping at the [27 July] council meeting to be able to advise that the appointment has been ratified”. Cr Marsh successfully nominated himself for the position on the trust held by Cr David Gill for the past four and a half years (“Trust says ‘no’ to council’s chosen delegate” The News 15/6/21).…

UNDEMOCRATIC, manifestly inadequate, vague, ambiguous and absurdly long [time for lodging notices of motion] are just some of the words by former councillor Hugh Fraser to describe proposed changes to rules under which Mornington Peninsula Shire operates. Mr Fraser’s detailed critique of parts of the draft Governance Rules is made in one of the submissions now being collated by shire officers. Councillors will be briefed on the feedback from the public to the proposed changes on 3 August, and the Governance Rules will then be listed for discussion at the council’s 24 August public meeting. Mr Fraser’s main objections to…

STEVE Holland is the latest member of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to be appointed to a group involved in managing or advising local government in Victoria. Cr Holland’s election to the board of the Victorian Local Government Association board follows the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor’s appointment by the state government to the local government mayoral advisory panel and deputy mayor Cr Sarah Race to its gender equality advisory committee. Cr Holland was one of two councillors elected for a three-year term on the VLGA board. Cr Josh Fergeus, of Monash Council, was the other successful candidate. Cr Holland’s Briars Ward…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are ignoring requests for them to reverse their decision to appoint Cr Anthony Marsh to the Bass Park Trust. Councillors on 1 June voted 6/5 to replace Cr David Gill with Cr Marsh on the trust. Both the trust and Flinders Community Association say Cr Gill should be on the trust as property overseen by the trust, Flinders golf course and surrounds, lies within his Red Hill Ward. Cr Marsh represents Briars Ward, which covers Mount Martha, Mornington and Mount Eliza. The trust, which next meets on 29 July, was quick to write to councillors seeking…

DATA in last week’s council budget papers revealed the greatest increase in valuations across the Mornington Peninsula occurred in the townships of St Andrews Beach, Merricks Beach, Boneo, Blairgowrie, Point Leo, Merricks and Cape Schanck. Valuations team leader Lauren Ashley, speaking to the General Valuation Return and Valuers’ Report on Tuesday 22 June, said this had come about as residents “sought out lifestyle properties and lower density housing and took the opportunity to work from home in the popular holiday areas”. “They were among many regional areas to experience a surge in housing prices as demand outweighed supply,” she said.…