Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : March 28, 2017 Edition Contents PAGE 18 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017
In last week’s South Gippsland Sen-
tinel-Times, Cr Les Larke, Bunurong
Ward stated “It has become apparent
since the new council assumed office,
that council has incurred operating
deficits as follows:
• Year ended June 30 2015 $1.98
• Year ended June 30 2016 $5.29
• Year ended June 30 2017 also pro-
jected to be in deficit.”
Mr Larke does not state where these
numbers come from!
The Audited Financial Statements
from the Bass Coast Shire Council tells
• For the year ending June 30 2014 a
surplus of $2.389 million
• For the year ending June 30 2015 a
surplus of $6.793 million
• For the year ending June 30 2016 a
deficit of $1.225 million
These are huge discrepancies that Mr
Larke needs to explain why and if he
can’t explain he should resign from the
The people of Bass Coast deserve bet-
ter that this!
At June 30, 2016 the Bass Coast had
a cash and cash equivalents of $26.342
million, 2015 $24.320 million and
2014 $17.076 million.
At June 30, 2016, Bass Coast had
equity of $576,795 million, 2015
$577,881 million and 2014 $530,525
Anybody to suggest that the Bass
Coast is in financial difficulty is just
I have suggested that the councillors
call for a 12 month rolling cash flow
forecast that reveals monthly income
and expenses and forecast monthly
closing cash and cash equivalent bal-
ance. I have also suggested that the
councillors call for the Council’s bor-
The Bass Coast needs to grow be-
cause if you don’t grow you wither and
Think the City of Bass Coast and how
we are going to get there.
Frank W Schooneveldt, Wonthaggi.
Pain before gain
I wish to confirm that Bass Coast
Shire Council has incurred and is pro-
jected to incur substantial deficits (ex-
cess of operating expenses over operat-
ing income) for a sustained period of
five years as follows:
Year ended June 30, 2013 $3.448m
Year ended June 30, 2014 $8.542m
Year ended June 30, 2015 $2.432m
Year ended June 30, 2016 $5.730m
Year ended June 30, 2017 $4.233m
Total deficits (five years) $24.385m.
In other words, in excess of $24m
in deficits over five years, highlighting
council’s lack of capability to deliver
new projects and renew, upgrade or ex-
pand its existing assets.
It also means that council has fore-
gone opportunities to obtain govern-
ment grants due to its lack of resources
to provide funds to complement grant
For a moment, just reflect on what
could have been done for our commu-
nity with an extra $24m in resources,
and more so, in the event matching
grants were obtained from Federal and
Perhaps, an extra $50m could have
been channelled into capital projects in
the past five years.
We are working diligently with the
CEO and administration to turnaround
this parlous state of affairs in order to
place council on the path of financial
sustainability so that we can take a
much more positive approach to capi-
tal project proposals going forward.
Council has both a revenue and ex-
penditure challenge, and significant
financial transformation and change
is required to enable delivery of major
and minor capital projects and continu-
ation of essential services.
I am confident we can effect this quan-
tum turnaround and deliver surpluses
and financial sustainability from 2018
to 2021 and in the longer term with the
assistance and support of councillor
colleagues, CEO and administration.
We pledged to provide strong finan-
cial leadership, and hopefully this dem-
onstrates our commitment to deliver a
high level of governance and financial
In the meantime, I ask the communi-
ty to be patient, whilst we work through
significant Council Plan and Strategic
Resource issues for mutual benefit.
Cr Les Larke, Bunurong Ward.
Right decision on
I feel compelled to respond to the let-
ter of Robbie Viglietti of Phillip Island
on March 7.
I strongly resent your suggestion that
I, as a member of the Bass Coast Rate-
payers and Residents Association, fol-
low Kevin Griffin blindly as a Messiah.
At least he has got off the couch to en-
courage others to be involved in their
community rather than just complain
about issues and do nothing. I com-
mend Kevin and his committee for their
commitment to our shire.
With respect to our transfer station, it
is not a tip. It was sealed off many years
ago. We went to the council meetings
and there was no environmental as-
sessment or business case put forward
by the previous council.
To my knowledge the EPA has not in-
spected the site so the cost of any pos-
sible upgrade, if necessary, is purely
It is highly emotive and misleading
at this stage to suggest that it is a toxic
time-bomb. Those of us who live out-
side the town boundary do not have a
rubbish collection and take all our rub-
bish to the transfer station.
Inverloch is more than a few minutes
away from Wonthaggi and imagine all
the additional traffic, with trailers, driv-
ing through the main streets of Wont-
The petition you mention that was
signed by over 600 people did not re-
fer only to the Inverloch transfer station
but also to the reopening of one at Phil-
lip Island which is why 32 per cent of
the petitioners were from Phillip Island.
You mention that the site is bounded
by the Screw Creek Conservation and
Reserve Zone and borders on residen-
The rezoning of that area into resi-
dential only happened in the last de-
cade whereas the transfer station has
been there for many more years.
In closing, I would like to commend
our current councillors for being cau-
tious, informed and thorough when
considering all the issues put before
Glenys Dale, Inverloch.
I was thrilled to read about eminent
art historian Robert Smith coming to
As the leading authority on a Wont-
haggi hero, Noel Counihan, Mr Smith
will bring great value to the people of
He was the founder of Art Historical
Studies at Flinders University, South
Australia, and a senior lecturer for 23
years. Over his long lifetime he accrued
immense knowledge about all facets of
art, including its political and social sig-
But he is not just a noted art histo-
rian; he is also a Shakespearean.
His phenomenal memory was en-
hanced, he told me, by experience as
a Shakespearean actor and by years of
immersion in the text of the plays.
His wicked sense of humour and
sprightly mind have often caused to
him to erupt into a recitation of a
speech from a Shakespearean play,
thus entertaining many a fascinated
It is not just his gift of art works that
I celebrate, but also his gift of a unique
personality and lifetime study of the
He is a legend, this man, a friend of
Noel Counihan who became a distin-
guished art historian and writer.
Congratulations shire council for
bringing Robert Smith, his collection
and his knowledge to the shire.
Jan Richardson, Eltham.
Return rail and
In preparation for my Australia Day
address at Kernot I reflected on the
men and women who shaped our coun-
try and weighed the problems of the
past against those we face in the future.
Having had the good fortune to spend
my formative years in the Bass Coast
region I am acutely aware that the op-
portunities for education or the acquisi-
tion of a career of choice were limited to
a fortunate few in the 1950s and 60s.
Has anything changed?
Of course, other criteria must be con-
sidered and some, like transport, are
synergistic in that the opportunity to
do something may rely entirely on the
means to travel.
For instance tertiary education is
available in the Latrobe Valley and the
city but remains inaccessible to the
people of South Gippsland or Bass
Coast. Is there reason to think there
will be change?
In 2011 the Victorian Government
prepared a Gippsland Regional Growth
Plan, a copy of which is available by
telephoning 1300 366 356.
The plan offers a useful overview of
what we know is a beautiful region with
much potential but is underwhelming
in its forecast of an ageing population
in which the proportion of people over
65 is expected to exceed 30 per cent as
Bass Coast grows by 895 people per
year until 2020.
The Growth Plan makes no men-
tion of a Government Policy to increase
decentralisation of residential, com-
mercial or industrial development and
blithely lists the obvious and worsening
challenges for growth and employment
in all Gippsland regions.
The question arises of what comes
first, the infrastructure necessary to re-
vitalise opportunities across the board
or are we to accept the role of quietly
catering for the ageing population while
other opportunities pass by.
Despite the headwinds of rising elec-
tricity charges and unemployment
there have been a number of enter-
prises prospering and they are to be
But growth generally along the cor-
ridors to Geelong, Bendigo and Pak-
enham continue to outstrip those of
South Gippsland and Bass Coast al-
though all lie within the same 100km
radius of Melbourne.
The advantage? The interconnection
of rail to the city.
The City of Casey is calling for the ex-
tension of the Cranbourne rail line to
Clyde and lists this as the council’s key
transport advocacy priority.
I propose that this affords an ex-
cellent opportunity for the people of
the South Gippsland and Bass Coast
shires to demand the reinstatement of
the rail service as a means of restoring
access to and from the city as is their
right to equal opportunity.
The efficient and reliable restoration
of transport between the villages and
towns of South Gippsland, Bass Coast
and the city would give immediate im-
petus to residential growth around the
existing infrastructure of schools and
services while preserving the arable
land for vital food production; hopeful-
ly, with similar success to those Euro-
pean countries who have long managed
the balance of rural land versus urban
Peter Cliff, Mount Eliza.
It is very disappointing to read that a
lawyer with all the intelligence he pre-
sumes he has, can justify violence by
saying “the bruise was barely visible”
and “she does not want action”.
Is it a joke or are we serious about
making people responsible for their
action? I wonder if this lawyer was in
her situation whether he would have
noticed the bruises and wanted to take
It is an absolute insult to anyone that
has been through and come through
the hard journey of domestic violence to
hear lawyers speak this way in favour of
the perpetrator and to go even further
to ask for the case to be reviewed for a
When are we as an intelligent society
going to get it?
Violence is violence. It does not mat-
ter what degree it is and if members in
the community like friends, family, the
police force and organisations work to-
wards eradicating this behaviour, it is a
shame that lawyers and the justice sys-
tem will not take this seriously.
Picking up a woman by the hair,
throwing her to the ground and in front
of an eight year old - how is this not ex-
treme violence and not to mention the
damage that eight year old would sus-
This is extreme ignorance and is the
reason why we will not stop offenders
because we are circling the problem.
Get a grip, get it - any form of abuse is
not OK and to get serious we all need to
work together, otherwise it is a waste of
taxpayers’ money and an insult to indi-
viduals that have fought for respect and
organisations that are invested in “No
violence against women”.
This is truly disappointing and a
discredit to the lawyer for the abuser.
However, Magistrate Walsh’s comments
are commendable, but is that going to
I do want to be reading articles like
this especially when as a country we
are investing so much money into get-
ting the message through - is it getting
through at all?
Dilene Hinton, Inverloch.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
8 Radovick Street
PHONE: (03) 5655 1422
(03) 5672 1888
(03) 5655 2658
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and town location will appear.
Who are you calling ‘duplicitous’? Cr Hill
HYPOCRISY is alive and well on
the South Gippsland Shire Council.
At last week’s council meeting,
Cr Don Hill appeared to be stand-
ing up for “open and transparent”
local government when he called
for more of council’s decisions to
be open to the public.
“I make the point, if we keep
making these meetings confiden-
tial, we won’t be able to talk to the
community about anything. On
the ‘My Council’ website it said we
had increased our closed meetings
by 35 per cent since council came
to office. We are already way over
what others are doing. We need to
make sure that while some meet-
ings are confidential, the rest are
open so we can talk about things,”
he said last Wednesday.
It’s a commendable sentiment
and it’s a subject about which he
regularly beats the drum.
At the same meeting, council
agreed to move on another mea-
sure Cr Hill has called for, live-
streaming of meetings.
“It’s been a long time coming,”
That’s true. The Wellington Shire
Council at Sale has live-streamed
its meetings on the Internet for
more than a decade.
But, oh dear, Cr Hill wasn’t telling
the community everything.
At the same time as he was call-
ing on council to be open and
transparent, he was also taking ac-
tion to ensure that exactly the op-
posite was the case.
Still smarting from the pub-
lic release of an ‘Open Letter to
Councillors’, issued by him to his
colleagues on November 8, 2016,
brow-beating them about their in-
tention to vote in Ray Argento as
the new mayor, and shock-horror, a
woman as deputy mayor; he fired in
a Freedom of Information request.
He wanted to find out which
councillor had forwarded the email
on to a third party.
The result of the FOI came back
last week, revealing that Cr Lor-
raine Brunt had forwarded his
nasty email on to two former South
Gippsland Mayors, James Fawcett
and Jim Forbes, seeking their guid-
There’s no indication that either
one of those people did anything
further about it, much less send
the ‘Open Letter’ on to the Senti-
nel-Times where it was published
in part on page 3 (November 15,
2016), and in full on the SGST
website, where it can still be read.
It is understood that several pri-
vate individuals also had copies of
the email before the Sentinel-Times
went to press. And there’s been no
attempt to find out if any of the
other councillors gave hard copies
of the email to anyone else.
So what does the FOI prove? Not
But the obvious question to ask is
why is Cr Hill so concerned that the
email was released to the media in
the first place?
It’s equally obvious that he would
rather not had the ‘Open Letter’
made so “open and transparent” in
the local paper.
In it he accused the new council-
lors of not being as good as their
word, that they’d already broken
the “spirit of the agreement”, that
their decision to vote for Cr Argen-
to as mayor and a woman as deputy
was “factional decision making” at
its worst, leading “to dysfunctional
“Anyone who behaves in any way
duplicitous,” he warned, “will be
found out by others”.
He went on to assert that either
Cr Andrew McEwen or himself
would make a better choice for the
$70,000 a year mayoral gig, than
someone without prior council ex-
perience, presumably including
Cr Argento and the other six new
All Cr Hill has succeeded in do-
ing by bringing up this whole grub-
by episode again, is to remind his
fellow councillors what he really
thinks about them.
It’s time to move on Cr Hill and
as the self-appointed champion of
open and transparent local govern-
ment, you might like to start with
Oh yes and by the way, the rea-
son why the number of decisions
made at closed meetings is up 35
per cent in South Gippsland is that
most of the decisions made lately
related to contracts and tenders,
details of which will be released
Mind you, at 15 per cent, South
Gippsland is on the high side for
secrecy when compared to all coun-
cils (11.57%) and similar councils
At Bass Coast, only 6.16 per cent
of decisions are listed as having
been made in closed council.
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