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REAL estate agents are expressing surprise, and joy, at the strength of the property market in Mount Martha. While it seemed mid-2020 that a downturn was on the cards thanks to a COVID-induced melancholy, that feeling was quickly replaced by a rising sense of optimism, and then delight, as buyers came knocking and sales began to exceed expectations. But one of the biggest surprises is the number of buyers moving from Sorrento and Portsea to Mount Martha. The convenience of being 40 minutes or so closer to Melbourne and nightmare-inducing summer traffic flows on the southern peninsula are some of…

ADVERSARIES and adjudicators were on the same path last Tuesday (16 March) as they toured the site of Ryman Healthcare’s proposed retirement village in Mount Eliza. The tour was part of the ongoing hearing by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as the New Zealand-based company tries to overturn the refusal of its development by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. The Save Reg’s Wedge community group sees itself as fighting a David and Goliath battle against Ryman who, it claims, is using a planning loophole that allows for retirement villages “in conjunction with a place of worship” (“Grassroots bid to block…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council dropped a bombshell last week by walking away from a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, part of a lead-in to determine what activities can be carried out Peninsula Aero Club’s Tyabb airfield. The unexpected withdrawal opens the shire up to claims for legal expenses by the PAC on top of $32,000 it has already been ordered to pay (“Shire’s $32,000 payout to aero club” The News 23/2/21). The PAC response to the shire move was to immediately declare it had “all required permits to operate” its Tyabb airfield and suggests it could lead…

AN ALLIANCE of environmental, business and philanthropic groups has been formed to stop the Ross Trust opening a new quarry on Arthurs Seat. More than 70 organisations and individuals signed an open letter calling on the trust, which has more than $60 million in assets and investments, to abandon its application. Signatories included businessmen Brian McNamee AO and Australian Davos Connection founder Michael Roux, former Greens leader Bob Brown, Professor Will Steffen of the Climate Council, Professor Jeff Floyd, the immediate past chair of Parks Victoria, and philanthropists Samantha and Charlie Baillieu and Professor Andrew Vizard, chair of the Vizard…

THE RACV is compiling a list of the Mornington Peninsula’s most dangerous roads so it can lobby governments at all levels to make roads safer and look at lowering speed limits to match conditions. The motoring organisation’s online My Country Road survey aims to find out which roads motorists and residents regard as being the most dangerous. A map on the RACV website shows the peninsula peppered with sites of serious and fatal accidents recorded between 2014 and 2018. The red (fatalities) and yellow (serious injury) dots on the peninsula are among the most thickly clustered of any comparable-sized part…

SIX areas on the Mornington Peninsula suffer housing stress 33 per cent higher than the national average. They are Bittern/Crib Point, Dromana/Safety Beach, Hastings, Rosebud and surrounding district, Rye/Tootgarook/St Andrews Beach and Portsea/Sorrento/Blairgowrie. A household under stress is defined as being one that spends more than 30 per cent of its gross income on rent or housing costs. Data from the latest census (2016) shows the peninsula has the sixth highest number of rough sleepers of Victoria’s 79 municipalities. Their plight is compounded by an under-supply of affordable and social housing, particularly one or two-bedroom dwellings, and that there is…

A SEVEN metre long humpback whale found dead on a Mount Martha beach last Thursday (11 March) is unlikely to have died of natural causes. However, the cause of its death may never be known as  authorities were unable to arrange a necropsy, or post mortem examination. To avoid contamination of popular beaches the whale’s carcass was towed to Safety Beach from where it was taken to a tip. “Samples, measurements and photographs taken from the whale before it was removed from the beach will help assess possible causal factors and support scientific research,” Department of Environment, Land, Water and…

THE state government is being urged to hurry up its takeover of managing Mornington Peninsula’s boat launching ramps. It is believed the state of the boat ramps was high on the agenda during a recent meeting between Fishing and Boating Minister Melissa Horne and shire CEO John Baker. In the lead-up to the 2018 election the state government promised to “embark on the biggest reforms to the way that boating infrastructure is managed that Victoria has ever seen [by] fixing boat ramps, abolishing boat ramp parking and launching fees, and reforming boat ramp management in Port Phillip and Western Port”.…

SAVE Reg’s Wedge campaigners have been letterboxing, handing out flyers, and “donating time and money in grassroots, community campaign” to stop the proposed Ryman Healthcare development at Mount Eliza. The volunteers have joined Mornington Peninsula Shire, Mornington MP David Morris, and more than 1000 objectors in the fight to stop the New Zealand company’s bid for a retirement village on the former Ansett Estate in Kunyung Road. The proposal is for a series of three-and-four-storey buildings, 272 apartments, 362 car spaces, 115 nursing beds and a place of worship on more than 23,000 square metres. A major case hearing will…

PREPARATION of a COVID-safe plan was part of the requirements of a permit issued for a two-day music concert held last month at The Briars, Mount Martha. Mornington Peninsula Shire charged promoters $10,000 for the use of the council-owned property and says it only gave the concert the go ahead after an assessment by the state government. Held over the 20-21 February weekend to audiences of 8000 each day, the SummerSalt concert was accused of overcrowding and lack of social distancing on social media. “People bought their tickets and went along … If they were worried about transmission, perhaps it…

HUGH Fraser has resigned from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. First elected to represent Nepean Ward in 2012, Cr Fraser’s resignation letter – effective 9am today, Tuesday 9 March – cites “irreconcilable points of difference” with shire CEO John Baker. Mr Fraser stresses how much he enjoyed working with other councillors and community represenatives during the two four-year terms 2012-16 and 2016-20. A barrister, Mr Fraser makes no mention of the current council, which includes eight first term councillors. Here is a letter Mr Fraser has sent to “Dear Nepean Ward friends”: “I have decided to resign as councillor. This is…

THE pending sale of the Mornington Village Shopping Centre will “test the market as the first core Victorian neighbourhood shopping centre offering of 2021”. Agent Stonebridge Property Group says the centre has “long been an investor favourite based on recession proof and non-discretionary tenancy profiles, especially in booming areas like Mornington”. The sale price is expected to be around $40 million. It last sold in 2018 for $39 million. The Main Street centre at the corner of Cromwell Street is anchored by Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets as well as The Reject Shop, Pharmasave, medical centre and 14 retailers over 7963…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being asked to revoke Governance Rules they adopted last Tuesday (23 February) because some of them appeared not to understand what they were doing. Cr Anthony Marsh decided to try to reverse the decision just hours after councillors had spent 90 minutes debating changes to the Rules. The council meeting at the shire’s Rosebud offices finished at 11.30pm and Cr Marsh, who lives in Mount Martha, emailed his intention to revoke the decision to CEO John Baker at 1.40am Wednesday morning. The email inboxes of his fellow councillors and shire governance manager Amanda Sapolu would…

ANTI-vaccination protesters have abused and hassled police for two days outside the Somerville office of Health Minister and Flinders MP Greg Hunt. Their action came just days after the first vaccinations against coronavirus being administered across Australia. The number of Victorians vaccinated by Sunday was nearing 4000. While urging people to get vaccinated, Mr Hunt has said getting the jab will not be compulsory. On both Friday and Saturday (26 and 27 February) police outnumbered the protesters outside his office by almost two to one. No one was inside as staff had been told to work from home. Police said…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has been ordered to pay $32,000 to Peninsula Aero Club for costs incurred during an ongoing fight over permit conditions. The club had sought $53,000 during a two-day Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in July 2020, which saw both sides represented by lawyers and one witness called by the club. The ruling against the shire comes just months before it is again scheduled to come up against the PAC at VCAT in a hearing called to determine what activities can be carried out at the airfield at the corner of Mornington-Tyabb and Stuart roads, Tyabb (“Shire,…

THE beach at Safety Beach may have taken on a dark hue, but assurances have been given that the former pristine sands will soon return to normal. The dark grey sand was pumped from the entrance to the Martha Cove marina and spread for some hundreds of metres west of the yacht club. Russell Coleman of the Martha Cove Owners Corporation said the dredged “anaerobic” sand “quickly lightens to become normal beach sand on exposure to sunlight and wave action”. He said the sand taken from the marina entrance and the sand on Safety Beach had the same source -…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is looking to recruit 500 households in Blairgowrie and Rye as part of a research study into the Buruli ulcer. The study involving mosquito surveillance, trapping and control activities is being run with advice from public health physicians, medical entomologists, council staff and research partners from the Doherty Institute. The aim is to disrupt the transmission of the ulcer and lead to evidence-based policies and guidelines to help stop its spread. About 250 households will become intervention zones with 10 Gravitraps placed strategically and inspected regularly. The other 250 houses will be control zones where no activities…

THE state government has been accused of ignoring aluminium composite cladding fire risks faced by people living in single and two-storey homes. Houses have been excluded from the government-ordered audit of buildings incorporating the flammable material. “The irony is that apartments are included in the audit, so there’s a line drawn to say it’s OK for home owners and residents to be housed in combustible buildings but not tenants or owners of apartments,” Ron Corcoran said. Alarm about the dangers of aluminium composite cladding was raised in June 2017 when 72 died when London’s 20-storey Grenfell Tower caught fire. In…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire last followed the state Opposition in reinforcing opposition to power company AGL’s plan for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. The Opposition’s resources spokesperson Ryan Smith on Monday last week said the decision was based on supporting “local residents”, “serious environmental concerns” about the route of a proposed pipeline to Pakenham and because “the legally recognised indigenous traditional owner group opposes the project” (“Opposition against AGL gas terminal” The News 10/2/21). One day later, Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a news release “welcoming” the Opposition’s stand. “With state Planning Minister Richard Wynne due to make a final…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has ordered the owner of this Hastings property to clean it up. Rats scurrying inside and outside the house were filmed by a television current affairs crew. Pictures: Yanni A HASTINGS house is so rat-infested that the rodents can be seen running along inside window ledges and climbing plants in the overgrown garden. Neighbours say the property is a health risk. Mornington Peninsula Shire has warned it will clean the property tomorrow (Wednesday 17 February) if it has not been done by the owner. Old clothing and newspaper are among the piles of rubbish outside the owner-occupied…

A MOVE to prioritise Indigenous language place names on the Mornington Peninsula was defeated at last week’s council meeting, but the shire is at pains to confirm that this does not mean it will forego its “commitment to reconciliation and to celebrating Aboriginal heritage and culture wherever possible”. Cr David Gill moved at the 9 February meeting that the shire “make it a priority” to use Indigenous language place names at every opportunity and review opportunities to use dual names “with an aim to have every cultural heritage site recognised with an historic cultural name within two years”. He urged…

THE words “Almighty God” were again recited before the most recent meeting of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Dropped from the list of agenda items in December, the prayer and its reference to God was resurrected on Tuesday 9 February because of moves by Crs Antonella Celi and Hugh Fraser to ask the public for guidance. Councillors agreed at the 8 December meeting that although still called The Prayer, the actual wording would be changed to a pledge by them to do the right thing by their community. In short, they were told by their in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu that as…

TRADERS and shoppers are being warned to beware of counterfeit $100 notes being circulated, especially in Mornington. Detective Senior Constable Jason Hocking, of Somerville CIU, said a Caucasian man, aged 30-40, unshaven and wearing a COVID-19 mask, had been passing the “high quality” notes in the town: one on 31 January, one on 3 February, five on 9 February and three on 11 February. He said the notes had been used to buy items at shops in Main Street; at the IGA Supermarket at Mount Martha, at Woolworths, Mornington, and at the Homemaker Centre on Nepean Highway. The man, said…

THE state Opposition has announced it opposes power company AGL’s plan for a gas import terminal at Crib Point. The Opposition’s resources spokesperson Ryan Smith said on Monday the decision was based on supporting “local residents”, “serious environmental concerns” about the route of a proposed pipeline to Pakenham and because “the legally recognised indigenous traditional owner group opposes the project”. The latest declaration follows concerns raised by the Opposition last year that the public was not being enough time to comment on an environmental effects statement prepared by AGL for the gas import terminal (“Libs in call to delay AGL…

RACISM has been raised as a reason by some Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors for not supporting the creation of a database of foreign owned land in the green wedge zone. Cr Sarah Race said moves to establish a database of foreign owned land within the peninsula’s green wedge areas “seems to have racist undertones”. “I’m very uncomfortable highlighting foreign ownership rather than generally,” she said. Cr David Gill said having a database made sense following revelations about the many millions of dollars in donations being made to political parties by land developers. “Finding out who makes donations and is putting…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is making a submission to the Melbourne Green Wedges and Agricultural Land Consultation (MGWAL) paper despite wanting the public exhibition time extended to at least the end of the month. The shire is concerned it will not have enough time to “consult with the community” over the plan which had a deadline for public comment of 5 February. It will also arrange a poll to “ask if the public agrees with the council’s response”. The state government’s Planning for Melbourne’s Green Wedges and Agricultural Land website says, “robust planning controls are needed to maintain the benefits provided…

ORGANISERS were pleased to see a large crowd of supporters at the Changing the Date Yarning Circle event at Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association on Australia Day, 26 January. “Many of our mob are feeling that, at last, our voices are being heard regarding the date,” executive officer Peter Aldenhoven said. “We thank all our non-Indigenous allies and supporters for attending in such large numbers.” Mr Aldenhoven said from the gathering place in Pound Road, Hastings: “It is always a sombre day for our local mob when we least feel part of Team Australia.” He said the group was “especially heartened…

DEFINITIONS of a prayer and a pledge have become part of the ongoing debate following the December decision by a majority of Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors to amend the wording of the prayer said before council meetings. While the word “prayer” remains as part of the council’s Governance Rules adopted in August 2020, the words recited at the start of each council meeting  begin with “We pledge that this council…”. The decision to not change the wording of the rules followed advice from the shire’s in-house lawyer Amanda Sapolu, who said “the form of prayer is not prescribed” in the…

SECRECY surrounds the location and identities of nine Mornington Peninsula buildings with combustible aluminium cladding. In keeping with its long held policy, Mornington Peninsula Shire last week avoided identifying the buildings uncovered in a state-wide audit by the Victorian Building Authority. Instead of agreeing to call on its own staff to report on the progress of making the buildings safe, councillors at the year’s first Planning Services Committee meeting (27 January) agreed to the mayor telling the state government that its building surveyour, not the shire’s, should be responsible for ordering buildings to be repaired or even evacuated. The decision…

A man has died after his vehicle lost control and rolled in Mornington overnight. Police believe the vehicle, which was travelling south on Nepean Highway, lost control near Webber Street and struck two light poles before it rolled about 12.15am. The male driver, believed aged in his 20s, was ejected from the vehicle and sadly died at the scene. Nepean Highway was closed between Strachans and Bentons Roads, both north and south bound, while police processed and rehabilitated the scene. Police are investigating whether speed was a factor in the crash. A report will also be prepared for consideration of…