Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : December 30th 2015 Contents PAGE 10 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2015
CUTS to services, new capital projects and
possible council job losses are on the cards if
Bass Coast Shire Council (BCSC) adheres to
the rate cap announced by the State Govern-
ment last week.
After months of speculation, Minister for Lo-
cal Government, Natalie Hutchins, confirmed
local council rate increases for 2016/17 would
be capped 2.5 per cent, the projected Mel-
bourne Consumer Price Index (CPI).
While many councils have prepared for this
inevitability, Bass Coast Council has already
forged ahead with an updated 10-year finan-
cial plan – one which forecasts a 2016/17 rate
rise of 4.7 per cent, almost double the cap.
Earlier this month, councillors voted in fa-
vour of notifying the Essential Services Com-
mission (ESC) that the council intends to ap-
ply for a variation to the rate cap next financial
year ‘to retain flexibility’.
Staying cautious, council officers have de-
vised two different financial plans going for-
ward – one that adheres to the rate cap and
one that doesn’t.
Adding to the workload of council officers in
the finance department, two different council
budgets will also be prepared.
Council’s CEO, Paul Buckley, stressed that
the decision to apply for a variation is yet to
be set in stone because the community’s input
“We’ve got a series of community consulta-
tions happening in late January/early February
and no decision will be made by council until
March,” Mr Buckley said.
“The end of March is the latest an applica-
tion for a variation can be sent.”
Mr Buckley said it was time for the commu-
nity to “make some tough decisions” pertain-
ing to where expenditure is targeted.
“The question is, do we cut services so we
can maintain capacity to invest in new assets?”
As for what services face the axe, Mr Buckley
was unable to confirm anything at this time,
but assured that a list would be made avail-
able to ratepayers at consultation sessions
He said this list would also include a list of
capital projects which also may need to be
“One thing we’re looking at, though, is the
types of services where council makes a contri-
bution rather than delivering the service our-
selves,” he continued.
“Surf lifesaving would be one example.
“We estimate there are a range of services to-
talling $2m per annum to which council con-
As has been noted ad nauseam in recent
council reports and newsletters, BCSC has
managed to funnel $2.5m out of operational
costs directly into the capital program, and
several service reviews are yet to be completed.
“Even at (a rate increase) of 4.7 per cent,
we would still need to deliver $1.5m in opera-
tional efficiencies over the next three years,”
Mr Buckley added.
“If (the increase) was 2.5 per cent and main-
tained the capital program, we’d need to de-
liver $3.5m [in efficiencies].”
The State Government has advised that
councils such as Bass Coast who seek a higher
cap will be expected to demonstrate ‘extensive
consultation with their local communities’.
Mr Buckley believes Bass Coast has done
“We had a fairly comprehensive consulta-
tion around the development of our Long
Term Financial Plan (LTFP) during the past 12
months, and we’ve continued to do additional
consultation through workshops,” he said.
“That will obviously keep occurring and as
well as promoting the upcoming drop-in ses-
sions, we will be sending out invitations to lots
of people, particularly those who have made
a submission to either the LTFP or council
budgets in recent years.
“We want as many people to participate as
By Gav Ross
Bass Coast tries to buck rate cap
WILDLIFE Coast Cruis-
es photographer Renee
de Bondt was fortunate
enough to capture a magi-
cal moment on Sunday
when she photographed a
pod of Orcas off the coast
of Phillip Island.
Renee was tipped off by
a friend who spotted the
whales at Pyramid Rock
and raced to the location.
She managed to snap of
a number of photos from
the cliffs and followed the
magnificent killer whales
Renee said it was an awe-
“It’s the first time I’ve
seen them up close so it
was pretty exciting,” she
“Orcas are pretty rare to
see down here.
“They’ve been down here
a couple of times recently
and this was the same pod
that was seen in Port Phil-
lip Bay recently.”
One of the Orcas at the
Island on Sunday was the
‘Split Fin’ from the pod
The mammal has a dam-
aged dorsal fin – believed to
be caused by a propeller –
which allows her to be eas-
She was first catalogued
by the Australian Orca Da-
tabase in 1996, and has
been sighted at Phillip Is-
land before, as well as in
Port Phillip Bay, Jarvis Bay,
Narooma, Eden and Tas-
She was sighted in the
Derwent River in Tasmania
on December 8 this year,
and she was seen in that
exact location on exactly
the same day in 2010.
Split Fin is thought to be
over 30 years old and has
been with the same alpha
male for around 18 years.
Her pod is believed to
number from six to 15 in-
Wildlife Coast Cruises
have had a record break-
ing year, spotting over 150
humpback whales and
about five orcas.
Whale numbers have
continued to increase since
commercial whaling ended
in the 1970s, and Wildlife
Coast Cruises are preparing
for another bumper whale
watching season this winter.
Follow Wildlife Coast
Cruises on Facebook for
regular updates, visit www.
au or call 1300 763 739 to
book a cruise.
Magnificent orca whales spotted at Island
THE last place anyone would want to be in the
run up to Christmas is in the Wonthaggi Magistrates’
Court arguing over a Family Violence Intervention
Order or Personal Safety Order.
But that’s exactly where a number of people found
themselves just a week from the big day.
Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to the Christ-
mas festivities and the courts are a place where the
outcomes are often played out.
Magistrate Lou Hill wasn’t about to put up with
any nonsense from opposing parties.
At one stage during the court session he warned
the respondent to a family violence intervention ap-
plication, the person allegedly at fault in the case,
not to glare at him while he spoke to the affected
And he also admonished the applicant for not tak-
ing evidence of a breach of an interim protection or-
der to the police.
“If you’ve got evidence of breach, the proper place
to go and report it is to the police, ” Mr Hill said.
Some of the matters before the court were resolved
by agreement between the parties but others were
booked off for a contest where both parties need to
be represented and witnesses brought to support
It’s an expensive and often messy process, but for
some people in difficult relationships, this is Christ-
So this is
THE South Gippsland
Shire Council should ad-
vocate for the cancelation
of the mining leases held
by Mantle Mining in the
Mirboo North area.
That’s the request made
in a petition presented
to the council, signed by
1940 people who are very
fearful about the estab -
lishment of some sort of
coal mining industry in
The petition was pre -
sented to council by Cr
Don Hill but it will not be
until February that coun-
cil will make a response
to the request for action.
Must reopen rail,
INCREASES in freight
traffic out of South
Gippsland and the ex-
pected growth in the area
over the next decade or
so are strong reasons for
the return of passenger
and freight rail services
A total of 2420 people
have signed a petition
supporting the return of
rail, from Cranbourne to
Leongatha, and they’ve
called on the South
Gippsland Shire Coun-
cil to formally commit to
the return of rail services,
closed here on July 24,
“Seventy per cent of the
people who signed it are
from South Gippsland,
Bass Coast and areas east
of Koo Wee Rup,” Cr An-
drew McEwen said.
He said traffic was
going up by four per
cent per annum and it
wouldn’t be long before
there would be gridlock
on the Monash. He said
the development of the
Port of Hastings would
also be well served by an
extension of the Cran-
CR Kieran Kennedy is
back in harness at the
South Gippsland Council
after undergoing a seri-
ous operation recently.
Cr Kennedy told coun-
cil that he was now fully
recovered from a triple
by-pass and he wished to
thank all those who had
sent messages of support.
Merit in Mossvale
DESPITE the traffic
chaos caused by the re -
cent market at Mossvale
Park, Cr Don Hill told
council last week that the
event deserved its sup-
He said the plan had
been to use a neighbour-
ing farmer’s paddock but
it was not available on the
Plans have been made
to deal with the parking
at subsequent events, he
Carols at the
CR NIGEL Hutchin-
son-Brooks has given
a glowing review about
Leongatha’s Carols in the
Drome, saying they were
rated as the best ever, and
not just because he was
performing in the band.
He said Russell Hem-
ming did a fine job of
hosting and singing at
the event and there were
plenty of other fine so -
loists, bands and per-
formers who boosted the
standard of a great com-
“It was all local talent
and all the better for it, ”
Relaunch for Long
DESPITE the disap-
pointment about missing
out on a regional develop-
ment grant for the resto -
ration and development
of the Long Jetty at Port
Welshpool; the shire in-
tends to battle on.
Cr Jeanette Harding
said she would like to see
a local community meet-
ing called to “get people
back on board again”
and take the issue to the
Federal Parliament once
“We have confirmed
that the State Govern-
ment’s promise of $5 mil-
lion is still on the table
and we have $1 million
set aside. ”
She said it was a shame
the government didn’t
listen to the 1000-plus
people who signed the
petition but they intended
“to get up and fight again”
after the disappointment.
across the region use
the jetty, including from
the Latrobe Valley and I
would like to see us raise
more of the money our-
selves,” she said.
Cr Mohya Davies said
the jetty project could be
a candidate for “crowd
funding” and it was worth
looking at other options.
A pod of Orcas were spotted off the coast of Phillip Island on Sunday, led by
well-known orca matriarch ‘Split Fin’, centre, and the alpha male to her left,
which are believed to have been together for around 18 years. Photo courtesy:
Renee de Bondt - Wildlife Coast Cruises photographer.
WONTHAGGI Magistrate Steven Raleigh que-
ried the decision by police to downgrade charg-
es against the man responsible for a serious
collision at a notorious intersection at Lance
Creek in October last year, to one of careless
He asked police prosecutor, Senior Consta-
ble Ange Wilken-Eilers, how it could be that
the higher-level charge of ‘driving in a manner
dangerous causing serious injury’ could be
dropped, based on the report of the incident,
the injuries and the victim’s statements.
The prosecutor said the incident had oc-
curred at a “dangerous intersection well
known in the area as the location of numer-
ous serious accidents”, saying police did not
think the alleged offender was entirely to
But, in accepting the reduced charge, Mr
Raleigh said it would be up to police to ex-
plain to the victims why they had adjusted the
Sr Const Wilken-Eilers told the court that
Anthony Bristow, 34 of East Malvern, a wine
company salesman, was travelling from Ko-
rumburra in the direction of Dalyston when
he went straight through the intersection of
Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road and Glen Alvie
Road without stopping at the stop sign and af-
ter crossing ripple strips warning of the near-
Here he collided, at about 12.10pm on Mon-
day, October 13 last year, with the car of a well-
known Glen Alvie couple, writing off both cars
and causing serious injuries to the couple who
were subsequently airlifted to Melbourne.
Bristow was generally not injured in the ac-
cident and went immediately to render assist-
ance. He expressed immediate and written re-
morse for causing the accident.
After hearing the summary, Mr Raleigh said
he was strongly inclined to cancel Bristow’s li-
cence but on a plea from the man’s legal coun-
sel, Mr Turner, agreed on an unusual course
He was told the man would almost certainly
lose his job as a travelling salesman, a situa-
tion that would cause hardship to his young
Mr Raleigh instructed Mr Tuner to contact
the victims by phone and ask if they would be
agreeable to Bristow keeping his licence, de-
spite the trauma they suffered in the collision.
The response from the victims was not sup-
portive, however, and Mr Raleigh handed down
his penalty, suspending the man’s licence for
three months and fining him $500.
Wine salesman’s ‘careless driving’
A RATE cap of 2.5 per cent came as “no
surprise” to South Gippsland Shire Council
CEO Tim Tamlin.
He said a rate cap was a clear direction the
state government was taking, after calling for
submissions on the policy late this year.
SGSC made submissions to the committee
through Cr Don Hill who attended a hearing,
the Rural Councils of Victoria, and the Mu-
nicipal Association of Victoria.
“The 2.5 per cent wasn’t a surprise,” Mr
Tamlin said, “the level at 2.5 per cent is lower
than what we modelled though.
“The Andrews Government has been very
definitive in that it won’t go back on its prom-
ises, so it wasn’t a surprise.
“There’s not much point going back to the
state government to try and get them to re-
verse its decision, the arguments have all
“It’s highly unlikely they will go back on its
Mr Tamlin said SGSC modelled its 15
year Long Term Financial Plan (released 12
months ago) using a rates cap set on 3.05 per
cent from 2016/17 to 2022/23 and thereafter
at 4 per cent.
The 3.05 per cent cap was based on the
Essential Services Commission report – and
rate revenue losses were expected at $57.8
Mr Tamlin said the lower 2.5 per cent rate
cap could reduce council’s rate revenue by
$90 million over the next 15 years.
Mr Tamlin said the loss of $90 million was
“a huge amount”, but said council was on
track to accommodate a 3.05 per cent rate
cap and will find savings and revenue else-
“If we can keep managing efficiency gains,
which we are in good shape to do, that’ll
mean we won’t have to impact on service de-
livery,” he said.
“We’re prepared for the next three to five
years, but after that, it will be interesting to
see if more cost reductions can be found
without impacting on services.
“Rate capping can be a good thing in the
short term, in that it shakes everything up
and brings in new ideas, but in the long term
it could be damaging.”
He said those ‘damages’ would likely in-
volve councils becoming reactive to issues:
including maintenance, or well-received serv-
ices being cut back to minimal service levels.
He said in the short term it was unlikely the
rates cap would have an immediate effect on
service levels as SGSC tried to find savings
However, he did note there are a number
of reviews due soon – the Home and Com-
munity Care (HACC) program, for which Fed-
eral Government funding has been reduced;
Fleet management; and, Visitor Information
Mr Tamlin said in these reviews and oth-
ers scheduled, SGSC would be looking even
more closely at its services, especially those
that attract fees and charges.
“We’ll be looking very carefully at those
services that have a fee associated with it and
asking, should it be a full cost recovery, or
should the community continue to subsidise
it,” he said.
“We will be seeking input from the commu-
nity when these reviews come up.”
Another challenge for council will be its
Community Budgeting exercise where the
communities of Korumburra, Foster, Venus
Bay and Mirboo North were to decide how
$1.6 million ($400,000 each) was to be spent
in their districts.
The allocated and budgeted money has
been rolled over to the 2016/17 year – the
same year the 2.5 per cent rate cap will be
“No surprise”: SGSC
ready for challenge
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