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Council Watch

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Citizen of the Year Josie Jones opened last week’s waste forum with presentations from community groups, waste industry representatives and shire officers sharing ideas on making their own beeswax wraps, joining a Beach Patrol Group, composting at home, and the upcoming electronic waste ban. This second Waste Forum, held on Saturday 11 May, attracted more than 400 participants to Peninsula Community Theatre to hear what’s happening in the waste industry and how the council was working to address and improve current waste issues. They heard how they could connect with local community groups and how they could…

A PUBLIC meeting in Mornington late last month to discuss the “tightening of controls to better protect Melbourne’s green wedges against overdevelopment” may have had more sinister overtones, according to a Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor. The meeting, held at Currawong Community Hall, Currawong Street, on 28 March, and attended by 66 people, was promoted by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes as being part of strategic review of future land use. Those invited to attend were residents, councillors, farmers and representatives of agricultural industries. The context of the meeting – one of five held in regional areas…

Mornington Peninsula Shire has given the all clear for its officers to sign a $120,000 two-year lease for an office in central Melbourne. Called a “satellite office”, a trial of the Collins Street premises was originally proposed to “provide a better customer service and improve efficiency for lost travel time”. That trial, according to Lisa Sturgess, the acting executive manage in the shire’s planning department, has proved so successful that she has recommended entering a new two-year lease. She says a review of the benefits of the city office since July 2017 has shown it is responsible for the planning…

Mornington Peninsula Shire has agreed to a developer paying $5000 for a thin strip of land overhung by a first-floor balcony. The balcony is part of a three-storey building on the Esplanade, Mornington that has been built next to the shire-owned car park in Vancouver Street. Senior property officer Jonathan Chivers told council’s Tuesday 12 March meeting that it “is not possible” to remove the offending tensioned steel reinforced concrete balcony. He said the solution to the overhanging balcony was to sell the developer a 25-centimetre-wide strip of the shire’s land. The development at 786 Esplanade has shops on the…

Mornington Peninsula Shire is lining up to congratulate a Dromana supermarket for winning several in-house industry awards. Ritchies Supa IGA Dromana was last month named IGA International Retailer of the Year. The award was presented to CEO Fred Harrison and Jarrod Swaine at the international IGA conference in San Diego, US. Not to be outdone by the hype, shire councillors are arranging some publicity around the store’s awards. In a flurry of emails between councillors, the mayor Cr David Gill said he supported “the idea of official shire recognition for IGA”. “Great news indeed for Ritchies Supa IGA Dromana to…

AN inspection of hi-tech waste facilities in China in 2017 by officers and councillors was indicative of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s commitment to better waste management, it is claimed. Shire infrastructure services manager Jessica Wingad said the visit aimed to progress the use of advanced waste and resource recovery technologies to reduce the need for more landfill sites. The technology also improved resource recovery from municipal, construction and commercial residual waste, she said. “Mornington Peninsula Shire was committed to best practice waste management and resource recovery, taking an active role in transitioning the state to waste-to-energy technology,” Ms Wingad said. “We…

Mornington Peninsula Shire has been told it must immediately adopt strategies to tackle climate change. Minter Ellison special counsel Sarah Barker has told shire councillors and senior officers that climate change action and mitigation is a serious financial consideration for industries and communities across the globe. Ms Barker said strategies must immediately be integrated into all council activities to address climate change risks. She spoke on the approaches being taken by organisations worldwide, including the World Economic Forum, global banks, ratings agencies and insurance agencies to cope with its impacts. The mayor Cr David Gill said the council wanted to…

Mornington Peninsula Shire’s infrastructure services manager Jessica Wingad says recycled waste from the peninsula is still going to China and other global markets. She said extra processing here was ensuring “compliance with these markets”. New recycling markets are expected to open in Victoria in the future. “While the [Chinese] policy shift hasn’t banned recycling, it has limited the level of contaminated accepted in recycling sent to China,” Ms Wingad said. “Clean, sorted recycling is still being accepted, so it is extremely important we continue to separate our waste from recycling and place only accepted recyclable items into our recycling bins,”…

Guided tour: The Western Port Biosphere Foundation’s Lance Lloyd and Jo McCoy presenting their “report card” while touring Western Port on World Wetlands Day. Picture: Supplied MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire marked World Wetlands Day (Saturday 2 February) with a boat trip in Western Port for “key decision makers across local government, industry, and environmental advocates”. The trip enabled the passengers to “explore one of the peninsula’s most internationally significant regions”. The Western Port Ramsar wetlands near Hastings is part of the United Nations (UNESCO) declared special biosphere reserve of the Western Port catchment and is one of only nine biospheres in…

Power to the people: The 99.73 kW solar system at Civic Reserve Recreation Centre, Mornington, is part of the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Solar PV project. Picture: Supplied SOLAR power to be installed on some of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s largest buildings is aimed at cutting carbon emissions and saving on power bills. In the second stage of the shire’s Solar PV project 584 panels will be installed at Rosebud Library, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and Pelican Park. This is tipped to provide annual savings of more than $30,000 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 250 tonnes. In stage 1 of the…

Mornington Peninsula Shire is seeking public feedback on a new plan to help manage, protect and enhance biodiversity on the peninsula. The draft Biodiversity Conservation Plan outlines strategies and actions to help achieve “best practice environmental stewardship” and draws on the Shire’s State of Biodiversity Report. Biodiversity is regarded as being the variety of plants and animals in a particular area, with high levels seen as important for a healthy habitat. The draft biodiversity conservation plan details data from scientific, government and community sources – essential reading for anyone interested in the peninsula’s natural environment. The mayor Cr David Gill…

NEW meeting procedure rules adopted by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council set “a new benchmark for local government”, according to a lawyer. Terry Bramham, of Macquarie Local Government Lawyers, who helped write the new rules, said “the protocol establishes a new benchmark for local government, with [the shire] leading the way”. Adopted at the shire’s Tuesday 11 December public meeting, the Meeting Procedures Protocol 2018 is described by the mayor, Cr David Gill, as being “a more transparent and accountable decision making process”. “I believe that the reforms will make MPSC the leader of municipalities in Victoria regarding open, fair and…

THE outcome of a Mornington Peninsula Shire Council decision on Tuesday 11 December was a foregone conclusion. The agenda item to agree to spend close to $1100 to send Cr Rosie Clark to Canberra was purely for the record and the bureaucratic process. The conference Cr Clark was to attend was held on 27 and 28 November, nearly two weeks before her colleagues were asked to retrospectively agree to the cost. Unsurprisingly they signed off on the expense. Cr Clark’s meals and accommodation came in at just under $500 while her return flights from Melbourne to Canberra cost $573. In…

STATE government decisions have been identified in a shire planning scheme review as the major threat to the effectiveness of the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme. The scheme, which began in May 1999 – two years after the amalgamation of the shires of Flinders, Hastings and Mornington – aims to allow Mornington Peninsula Shire to be more strategic and streamlined in responding to the peninsula’s special planning needs. It was described by new mayor Cr David Gill as “one of the most important documents developed by the council as it provides the foundation for the preservation of the unique environment of…

VICTORIAN Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp was the guest speaker at a dinner for local fire brigades at the Safety Beach Sailing Club, Thursday 8 November. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council hosted the event at what was Cr Bryan Payne’s last official occasion as mayor. He said the meeting provided an opportunity for councillors and staff involved in fire prevention to meet in the lead up to this year’s fire season. “The efforts and commitment of all emergency service personnel involved in protecting our community is extremely important in providing a safe environment across the Mornington Peninsula,” Cr Payne said. “Council…

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors have given themselves the right to stay in five-star accommodation. An amendment to the Councillor Expenses Reimbursement, Resources and Facilities Policy adopted at the Tuesday 23 October council meeting allows councillors to be reimbursed for “accommodation at a five star venue when they are also attending a conference or event in their official capacity at the same five star venue”. A report by senior policy advisor Anthea Hastie said it was “important that the councillor role attracts and retains a wide cross section of people and the policy recognises individual needs and circumstance”. The policy being…

Contract managers at Mornington Peninsula Shire have been banned from accepting “gifts, benefits or hospitality” from companies or individuals supplying the tens of millions of dollars in goods or services bought each year by the shire. The shire has tightened up the rules to avoid conflicts of interest between staff and suppliers following internal audits and receipt of a probity report of its buying and contract procedures. Gifts that have been offered and declined must be recorded in the staff gift register. Staff and advisors directly involved with any tender evaluation panel will need to declare “any relationships or connections…

A MAN with “extensive local government experience in the UK combined with commercial expertise developed as lead partner at both Ernst and Young and KPMG in the UK and Australia” is Mornington Peninsula Shire’s new CEO. John Baker was last week named to succeed Carl Cowie who left Friday 30 August after almost four years at the helm to take up the vacant CEO’s position at Nillumbik, in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne. The new CEO will pocket a yearly $380,000 over his four-year term with annual salary reviews. Likewise, his performance will be reviewed annually by the council…

The Labor Party has finally announced its candidate for the seat of Nepean being vacated by retiring MP, Martin Dixon. The choice of Chris Brayne, above, comes months after the Liberals’ Russell Joseph hit the campaign trail and some weeks after the Greens Paul Saunders said he too would be wooing voters in Nepean. Mr Bayne said if Labor was returned to office and also won Nepean it would ensure the seat became marginal and “have the attention of everyone including myself as the local MP, the Premier [presumably Daniel Andrews] and the government itself”. “Imagine the opportunity our electorate…

CAMPAIGNING for the 24 November state election is already underway, although just one of the major parties seems to have acknowledged the existence of the Mornington Peninsula. With the peninsula’s three state seats – Nepean, Mornington and Hastings – solidly held by the Liberals, Labor could be seen as already accepting there will be no change. The Premier Daniel Andrews and even newly-anointed Prime Minister Scott Morrison have been active in neighbouring marginal Frankston, but neither has seen fit to wander any further south. Frankston is held for Labor with a slim majority by Paul Edbrooke. He is being opposed…

HASTINGS Liberal MP Neale Burgess is ramping up the law-and-order debate while campaigning for the November state election. He said a Liberal Nationals Government would focus on having “more police on the beat, tougher sentencing and $24 million for more local community safety measures, like CCTV cameras in at-risk areas across the Hastings electorate”. This would include funding a police mobile CCTV camera rollout. Mr Burgess said grants of up to $250,000 would be made available to “local councils to develop public safety and security infrastructure like CCTV systems, improved lighting and creating local solutions to local crime”. “Councils will…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has adopted the Dromana Township Plan and Residential Investigation Area Report. This follows a review of the township and surrounding residential areas that was presented to the 20 August planning meeting. The review identified built form objectives and controls to aid in the protection of Dromana’s “coastal” character. Major provisions of the plan are to reinforce the prevailing coastal township streetscapes, maintain the suburb’s low scale built form character, and protect key views from the foreshore and across the town centre towards Arthurs Seat. Other provisions are the strengthening of Pier Street as the “heart” of…

A BRUTAL week in Canberra as the Liberal Party bickered over its leadership has seen local federal MPs support different potential leaders. Dunkley MP Chris Crewther nailed his vote publicly to incoming prime minister Scott Morrison who defeated Peter Dutton 45-40 in Friday’s second Liberal party room leadership spill. Flinders MP Greg Hunt kept a lower profile but it was widely reported he was positioning himself to run as deputy to Mr Dutton. Mr Hunt started the week as both Health Minister and “a supporter” of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ended the week outside of cabinet losing a bid…

PROVIDING crisis accommodation to young people unable to live at home in Rosebud and Frankston has been identified as a priority by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. A campaign launched last week calls on the state government to provide two new crisis accommodation homes on the southern peninsula. The shire recently brought together industry experts in its campaign to advocate for safer access to emergency housing “where it’s needed most”. The resulting Youth2 campaign, in which the shire works with young people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, has come about through a partnership with community organisations and service providers across…

THE main speaker might be there to talk about waste, but the threats of climate change and erosion of beaches are also certain to feature in next month’s “community coastal forum”. Orgainsed by Mornington Peninsula Shire, the forum is open to those “with a passion for the protection, future development and enhancement of our coastal areas”. Guest speakers include ABC TV’s documentary War On Waste host Craig Reucassel looking at future challenges for councils in dealing with waste mitigation and reduction. With more than 190 kilometres of coastline, including along Port Phillip and Western Port bays, the shire sees itself…

STATE politicians and some business leaders were given a tasteful look at the Mornington Peninsula last week by the mayor Cr Bryan Payne, councillors and farmers. The team from the peninsula arrived at Parliament House bearing gifts of the types of produce available on the peninsula. Named A Taste of Mornington Peninsula, the shire-sponsored promotion is based on tourism and farming being the “key … that underpins the employment of thousands of Victorians”. Along for the ride with councillors were vegetable growers, wine and cheese makers, brewers, tourism operators and apprentice chefs. The peninsula’s key food producing industries are vegetables,…

NEPEAN MP Martin Dixon has scoffed at claims by deputy premier James Merlino that he was among 18 state Liberal Party MPs to break parliamentary rules by using electorate staff for political campaigning during business hours. Mr Merlino’s allegations come after Victoria Police last week raided the offices of state Labor MPs in the so-called “Red Shirts Affair” in relation to the actions of their staff before the 2014 state election. Fallout from the affair rocked the state Labor government and sent ministers into hiding last week. Mr Merlino said he had provided evidence to police that he alleges proves…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have been reassured they can claim child care costs for more than one child and child care agency fees. Councillors last week voted to amend the Councillor Expenses Reimbursement, Resources and Facilities Policy to make it clear that these costs can be claimed for children up to 16 years. The policy was adopted by council on 12 December 2017 and will be reviewed before the next municipal election in October 2020. Shire senior policy advisor Anthea Hastie said councillors can be reimbursed for child care costs while “discharging their official duties”. “Councillors are eligible for reimbursement…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s Planning Services department is patting itself on the back about being the busiest in the state. Data released by the shire shows the department processes about 2100 planning applications and receives more than 37,000 phone calls a year. Last financial year the department completed 77 per cent of the 2187 planning decisions within the statutory time frame. On top of this, the unit determined a total of 581 amendments to planning permits, 536 secondary consents and 408 extensions-of-time requests. “This is a total of 3712 statutory decisions made for a wide range of planning permit matters,” planning…

SOLAR panels have been installed at 19 buildings operated by Mornington Peninsula Shire, with a further 27 to go. By 2020, there will be 2440 solar panels on shire buildings. Dubbed “the rooftop solar PV rollout”, the next two months will see solar panels installed at the shire’s Rosebud offices (99.73 kW), Hastings library (50.4 kW) and Civic Reserve Recreation Centre, Mornington (99.73 kW). When completed, the program’s panels will generate 707 kW, estimated to annually shave $132,000 of the shire’s power bills and reducing its carbon footprint by three per cent. The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said the use…