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Council Watch

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s draft 2018 Green Wedge Management Plan is open for public comment. The draft plan aims to identify the long-term vision, objectives and actions for the sustainable use and development of green wedge-zoned areas. It also outlines key issues, opportunities and likely future pressures. The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said community responses already received showed a “high level of support for protecting our green wedge”. “We must protect and manage the green wedge to ensure it remains an area where the natural environment and biodiversity is preserved,” he said. “The green wedge is renowned for its rural charm…

A SPORTING group criticised by federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther in Parliament earlier this year wants electorate boundaries changed in a move that would put the seat within reach of a Labor Party win at the next federal election. The Frankston & District Basketball Association (FDBA) wrote to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 14 May to support a proposed Dunkley electorate boundaries redistribution that would see Dunkley lose Mornington and the north of Baxter in the south to the Flinders electorate but gain Sandhurst in the north from the Isaacs electorate. The FDBA’s stadium is located at council-owned…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire council has lodged objections to boundary changes to the Dunkley electorate that would see Mornington and the northern part of Baxter move into the Flinders electorate. Shire mayor Cr Bryan Payne wrote to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 4 May to voice concerns about proposed electorate boundary changes to both Dunkley and Flinders. “In particular, we are concerned about the separation of Mount Eliza from the neighbouring township of Mornington,” Cr Payne stated in a letter to the AEC. “Mount Eliza benefits from being part of the same federal electorate as the township of Mornington, which…

FEDERAL Liberal MP Chris Crewther is lobbying the Australian Electoral Commission to prevent boundary changes to his electorate of Dunkley. Mr Crewther, who won the seat at the 2016 federal election with a slim majority, would face a tight fight to hold the seat if proposed AEC electorate boundary changes are made later this year. The Dunkley electorate will lose Mornington and the northern part of Baxter in its south to the seat of Flinders, held by Liberal MP Greg Hunt, and gain Carrum Downs, Sandhurst and Skye to the north from the Isaacs electorate, held by Labor MP Mark…

THE entry made by CEO Carl Cowie on Mornington Peninsula Shire’s gifts register is by far the most valuable yet recorded. Mr Cowie’s estimated value of a Mediterranean cruise undertaken by he and his wife at the invitation of businessman Lindsay Fox is recorded as being $8400. The next highest is $1202 for return airfares to Sydney, dinner and accommodation for the shire’s chief information officer to attend a Dell EMC forum in August 2017. The lowest amount recorded on 10 pages of the register from 4 September 2015 to 19 December 2017 is $2, for a cloth glasses case…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s new communications executive manager Randal Mathieson has a background in marketing and promotion. During his time at the Australian Broadcasting Commission Mr Mathieson also “led a major organisational change project … as the head of change management, stakeholder liaison and communications”, according to information compiled and distributed by the shire. Mr Mathieson sits on several boards in the not-for-profit sector (The Big Issue and its offshoot Homes for Homes) and is involved in the arts, co-founding and co-chairing the Southbank Arts Precinct Group. His profile on the online jobs networking site LinkedIn begins with his four years…

CR HUGH Fraser will be one of several observers from the Mornington Peninsula at next month’s parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste. Along with members of the shire-backed Friends of Lospalos Community Committee Cr Fraser will be part of the Australia Timor-Leste Election Observer Mission 2018. The elections are being held less than a year after the July 2017 poll which failed to provide the country with a workable parliamentary majority. The estimated $4236 cost of sending Cr Fraser to Timor-Leste (East Timor) will come out of his $16,000 four-year term Conferences, Training and Seminars account of which he has already used…

EXTRA spending on capital works and community services are features of the proposed Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s 2018-19 budget released last week. The document, which is on public exhibition until Thursday 26 April, reflects the priorities identified by members of the community, the mayor Cr Bryan Payne said. “It provides ongoing service improvements and infrastructure enhancements within the current financial environment”. The state government has again capped rate rises at 2.25 per cent. The mayor said the waste service charge, based on full cost recovery, was proposed to increase by 10 per cent – to $217 – driven by an…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is opening a “satellite” office for its planners in central Melbourne. Councillors last week approved spending up to $60,000 to rent an office in the city for 12 months. They have called for a report on the “positives and negatives” after the office has been operating for nine months. Planning services executive manager David Bergin said the chance of working at a city location would enable the shire to retain “high performing staff”. “A number of staff resignations last year have identified a concern with distance from home, social life and family,” Mr Bergin said in a…

GIFTS over the past three years to Mornington Peninsula Shire staff revealed in the much debated and now public gifts register range from a $1200 trip to Sydney to items valued at $2. Ten pages of the register from 4 September 2015 to 19 December 2017 show 69 gifts, three of which were declined. The register identifies the positions but not the names of staff declaring gifts or receiving offers of gifts. The $1200 “gift” was made by the US-owned Dell EMC information technology company for the shire’s chief information officer to attend an August 2017 forum in Sydney. The…

ONE result of the Sufferfest triathlon in Mt Martha earlier this month is that councillors may take over deciding which events can be held. Permit applications are now determined by council officers. Cr Sam Hearn is expected to move at the next meeting that councillors develop an evaluation policy “as a matter of urgency”. The most obvious date-clash over the 3-4 March weekend was with the annual Clean-up Australia Day which has been running 19 years. The clash – which saw a six-hour closure of the Esplanade from Mornington to beyond Mt Martha – was described as “highly disappointing” by…

STATE opposition MPs have been told that the Mornington Peninsula needs an overall roads strategy. A delegation from Mornington Peninsula Shire last week met with Liberal Party MPS, including roads and infrastructure spokesman David Hodgett. Cr David Gill said the shire also intended to meet with members of the Labor government to press the need for safer roads. “We had a good hearing [from the opposition] and they basically said they were interested and would look into it,” Cr Gill told The News. “They’re local MPs and want to do something and they could possibly be part of the next…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has established its own legal services team. Its search for team members now includes a job for an “in-house planning and building lawyer”. The shire’s advertisement says the role is “rare” and the successful applicant will join a legal services team that aims to integrate a “best practice local government legal department comprising the functions of legal, risk, insurance and claims across the shire’s operations”. The appointee will report to David Carrington, the shire’s “corporate counsel, legal counsel – planning” and provide legal opinions and advice on building and planning activities; drafting court documents and VCAT and…

WHILE it remains off the agenda before, during and after council meetings, alcohol can again be served at special events held by Mornington Peninsula Shire. The mayor, Cr Bryan Payne has been given the power to authorise the serving of alcohol on council premises at occasions like the annual council meeting (when new mayors are elected) and the councillors’ Christmas party. “No alcohol is to be provided before, during or after council meetings or briefings on council premises,” an amendment to the Councillor Expenses Reimbursement, Resources and Facilities Policy adopted by council on 12 December 2017 states. “Alcohol may be…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is choosing five “key actions” after joining the Australia-wide Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership. The shire’s membership was announced at a ceremony in Lismore, NSW making it one of 70 municipalities networking to tackle climate change. While there were no shire representatives at Lismore, the mayor Cr Bryan Payne said “we are excited to be a part of such an important initiative and to be working in collaboration with other local councils to take the next step towards a sustainable, non-polluting energy future”. Councillors agreed to join the climate council last October. “Cities Power Partnership offers the…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has knocked back an offer from the state government to take over responsibility for property valuations. The shire has taken the opt-out option under the State Taxation Further Amendment Act until 2022, the “sunset date” when the state takes over valuations. However, legislation passed in December requires the shire to conduct annual valuations rather than every two years. The valuations are used for setting council rates, land tax and fire services levies. Councillors last week agreed to delay state-run valuations until 2022. In a report, they were told by shire financial controller Bulent Oz the state government…

IF you’re unhappy with decisions made by the state planning minister, try to get him sacked through the ballot box. At least that’s the thinking of Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill. Cr Gill has outlined a plan to seek public funding for an assault on Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s seat of Richmond at the November state election. “I’m not too familiar with crowdfunding, but I’ll find someone who knows the technical parts of setting up an online way of raising money to make sure he’s not re-elected,” Cr Gill told The News. He said trying to influence the outcome…

A “TEAM” from Mornington Peninsula Shire has returned from overseas with “invaluable information” to help the shire “address and respond to climate change”. Cr Simon Brooks, CEO Carl Cowie and project delivery manager Derek Rotter attended a conference in Germany, while Mr Cowie also went to Sweden and Malta.    The latest overseas by council representatives comes as the shire moves towards meeting its target of being carbon neutral by 2021. Cr Brooks and Mr Rotter went first to a conference in Essen, Germany and then were joined by Mr Cowie for a United Nations conference in Bonn. “Our team…

RETIRING mayor Cr Bev Colomb, above, said at the Tuesday 14 November special meeting that it had been “an honour to guide the council and to serve the peninsula as mayor”. Cr Colomb – who received the Mayor Emeritus award for serving three terms – thanked the shire’s CEO Carl Cowie as well as volunteers, local government ministers and the community “for their support”. (Mr Cowie was not present as he is overseas on a $30,000 study tour.) “There have been many highlights throughout the year,” Cr Colomb said, citing the transition to LED street lighting, continuing work on Destination…

A REPORT released by the Victorian Ombudsman this month revealed 107 complaints about Mornington Peninsula Shire were made to the watchdog over a 12-month period but council and the Ombudsman’s office will not reveal how many of the complaints were investigated or substantiated. The Ombudsman’s annual report released on Monday 16 October listed the number of complaints about each of Victoria’s 79 councils it received during the 2016-17 financial year. Mornington Peninsula Shire was listed as the 9th most complained about council – up from 22nd in 2015-16 with 62 complaints – to the state watchdog that has the power…

CUTTING power costs and cleaning up the marine environment are on the agenda of the Mornington Peninsula branch of the Australian Greens. “So many residents on the peninsula are struggling to make ends meet with increased power prices,” co-convenor of the peninsula branch Paul Saunders said after a public meeting at Dromana Community Hall on Saturday (7 October). “It was refreshing to hear [MP for Melbourne] Adam [Bandt] speak about the future vision of the Greens to solve this crisis through decreasing costs by using an effective mix of renewables and storage.” About 60 people were at the meeting to…

A SHAKE-up of the state opposition’s shadow cabinet has seen Mornington MP David Morris take on the role of local government spokesperson. Mr Morris’s new role is in addition to being the opposition’s spokesperson for finance and cabinet secretary. Hastings MP Neale Burgess remains opposition spokesperson for small and medium sized enterprises. Nepean MP Martin Dixon – a former education minister and the third Liberal Party MP on the Mornington Peninsula – has announced his retirement at the next election and holds no shadow cabinet position. Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the Liberal Nationals coalition would over the next 14…

CERBERUS ward councillor Kate Roper says she believes Crib Point residents were not fully consulted about the possibility of the Mornington Peninsula Shire-owned outdoor pool being handed over to a commercial operator, Belgravia Leisure. Cr Roper said she understood the process to outsource sports centres to a commercial operator had been “going on for over a year” before her election as a councillor at council elections in October last year. She said she could not speak to locals to ask for feedback about the plan due to “confidentiality clauses” while a tender was being discussed. “I was really disappointed because…

SOME of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s planning staff and senior executives may soon be operating out of an office in central Melbourne. The shire’s CEO Carl Cowie told The News on 31 August that “there is nothing to report regarding a Shire office in central Melbourne”. But one day later (1 September), in his regular Friday email to shire staff, Mr Cowie described sitting in an Uber “waiting to get on the Monash [Freeway]” on his way to a meeting in the Melbourne CBD with “the exec team”. (He also praised the benefits of having a tablet, or hand held computer,…

MOVES to change “foreshore” to “coastal” when it comes to naming volunteer groups on the Mornington Peninsula involved with foreshore management are designed to iron out misunderstandings over the groups’ roles and powers. A review ordered by council in 2014 conducted by consultant Janine Haddow recommends asking foreshore advisory groups what they think of adopting “a less formal foreshore consultative group model”. Changes suggested in Ms Haddow’s report also take away the requirement for a council officer to attend up to 30 meetings of the various groups each year. Ms Haddow says the changes would provide the groups with greater…

FIVE years ago Mornington Peninsula Shire paid $5.1 million for a block of shops in Wannaeue Place, Rosebud. Rosebud Central Shopping Centre was promoted as an alternative site to the foreshore for an aquatic centre which the shire had been struggling to build in the face of state government restrictions and technical problems. A nearby shop housing a dry cleaners was also bought for $770,000. The face-saving entry into the commercial property market was made in late September 2012, just weeks before the shire would have moved into the pre-election caretaker mode. The shire has now been told it will…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has a new Alcohol Management Policy, but it reads the same as the one adopted this time last year. Just three submissions from members of the public were received before the shire made its annual review of the alcohol policy. One submitter was unhappy about not being able to take a bottle of red wine to the beach for a barbecue without breaking a shire local law, one complained about cigarettes at licensed outlets, and one wanted footpaths improved. The wine drinker stated: “I would like us to act as a mature community – I do not…

CONFUSION over which parts of the peninsula are subject to new rules allowing three-storey houses followed the first of three community meetings about state government planning changes. The shire has organised the meetings to explain the changes to residents. The first was held in Rosebud last Thursday night and was attended by an estimated 150-180 people. A second meeting, at Peninsula Community Theatre in Mornington, will be held tomorrow (6-8pm, Wednesday 26 July) with the third at Tyabb Community Hall at 6-8pm on Wednesday 2 August. The government’s changes will permit three-storey house of up to 11 metres high in…

THREE public meetings are being held to explain changes to state government planning regulations that allow 11 metre high three storey buildings in residential areas across the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors are concerned about the changes which will affect those living in Rosebud, Dromana, Capel Sound, Bittern, Hastings, Tyabb, Somerville and Baxter. “My fellow councillors and I believe these information sessions are a great opportunity for those in affected townships and surroundings to hear about the planning changes and what the shire is doing to save their character,” the mayor Cr Bev Colomb said. At a recent planning…

A NEW era of “cooperation” between the state government and councils across Melbourne’s suburbs has been heralded with the formation of six metropolitan partnerships by the government. The groups are “a new platform for cooperative engagement between governments, business and communities” according to Labor Suburban Development Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. A Southern Partnership representing Kingston, Frankston, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Casey, Dandenong and Greater Dandenong councils appointed Dr Elizabeth Deveny as chair this month. Dr Deveny is CEO of the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network. South East Local Learning and Employment Network CEO Andrew Simmons has been appointed deputy chair. Council…