Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : April 4, 2017 Edition Contents PAGE 14 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017
had to have
Open letter to Mr Schooneveldt:
Firstly, let me thank Mr Schooneveldt
for his various emails and articles,
insights and contribution to a very
public debate on the Bass Coast Shire
Council’s finances which has been long
overdue for the benefit of our commu-
However, as indicated, operating def-
icits of more than $20 million over the
financial years ended June 30, 2013,
to June 30, 2016 inclusive were in-
curred by council.
Council incurred more on operating
expenditure than it received by way of
operating income, and this has had
two main consequences:
1. Underperforming capital expen-
diture for new assets/infrastructure
because of insufficient funds available
from operations due to the deficits;
2. Underperforming renewal and up-
grade capital expenditure for existing
assets/infrastructure, again, because
of insufficient funds available from op-
erations due to the deficits.
In other words, if you incur a trend
of deficits (where expenditure exceeds
income), there is insufficient funds
available from operations to fund as-
sets/infrastructure at the appropriate
Our community understands these
matters from a non-accounting and
less complicated perspective, and that
• A continuing trend of operating
deficits (in this instance, more than
$20 million over several financial
years in a row) equals insufficient
funds available for new assets/infra-
structure projects; plus
• Insufficient funds available for re-
newal of existing assets such as roads,
footpaths and bridges etc.
I fully respect Mr Schooneveldt when
he says he a numbers man, and refer
him to the Victorian Auditor-General’s
Report Local Government: 2015–16
Audit snapshot (November 2016),
where he can confirm the underperfor-
mance of council in the critical areas of
capital replacement and asset renewal.
Les Larke, FCPA, Fellow Certified
Practicing Accountant – CPA Aus-
tralia, Bass Coast Shire councillor,
Plans to halve
South Gippsland Action Group
(SGAG) has been trying to obtain infor-
mation from the shire administration
about the proposed Waste Strategy.
Amongst all the work the new coun-
cillors were doing on the Budget and
Council Plan, the administration re-
leased a Waste Strategy.
SGAG attempted to assist the coun-
cillors to assess this strategy but felt we
could not make a reasoned judgement
as there was insufficient information
available, so we put some questions to
We also suggested that perhaps coun-
cil could hold some public information
meetings to inform the ratepayers.
Please note, the administration only
gave you until the end of March to lodge
a submission and did not make it clear
they would only collect your garbage
(red lid bin), once every two weeks.
We are sorry to say that the council
administration did not want us to cast
any light upon the Waste Strategy.
Instead, they have referred our ques-
tions to when submissions will be con-
Remember we felt we could not make
a submission as there was a critical
lack of information.
Will our new Waste Strategy mean
we have two-week old nappies rolling
down the street on windy days when
the bin blows over?
Unfortunately SGAG was unsuccess-
ful in getting you further information
before the deadline for submissions.
However, to help SGAG be more suc-
cessful, come along to our inaugural
meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 7.30pm
at the Leongatha RSL.
Lindsay Love, Leongatha.
Relay raised more
On behalf of Cancer Council Victoria,
I would like to sincerely thank the com-
munity of Fish Creek for supporting the
recent South Gippsland Relay for Life.
More than 436 relayed on Saturday
and Sunday, March 18 and 19 in 20
teams, walking overnight to show that
Hope Lives in South Gippsland for
those experiencing cancer.
During the Relay, there was laughter,
tears and no doubt, a few sore feet.
But the strength shown by local
South Gippsland community members
was a public display of support for any-
one in South Gippsland with a cancer
experience. So far, more than $66,000
has been raised by South Gippsland
Relayers, which will help fund Cancer
Council Victoria’s support, prevention
and research programs.
The money raised at South Gippsland
Relay for Life will help Cancer Council
Victoria continue to provide programs
• Funding some of Victoria’s bright-
est researchers and their cutting-edge
projects each year to help detect, treat
and beat cancer.
* Important prevention programs
like PapScreen Victoria, Quit and Sun-
Smart to make sure people have all the
information they need to cut their risk
of cancer. A particular focus this year
is on improving bowel screening rates,
with the latest statistic showing that
only 44.8 per cent of eligible people in
the South Gippsland Shire participate.
We recommend bowel screening ev-
ery two years between the ages of 50
• Support services including a pro-
bono legal assistance service to help
those affected by cancer who may be
struggling with issues such as wills,
early access to superannuation, debt
matters, or returning to work.
• Our information and support line,
Cancer Council 13 11 20, where quali-
fied cancer nurses give people informa-
tion and support.
• Our Living with Cancer Education
Program, which provides information
for people experiencing cancer, facili-
tated by trained health professionals.
There is a Living with Cancer Educa-
tion Program happening in Ringwood
on Wednesday, April 5.
Thank you again to everyone who
Relayed and helped continue the fight
Todd Harper, CEO, Cancer Council
Gave so much
to so many
It is with great sadness that the Bass
Coast Community Foundation fare-
wells our founder, Dr Peter Brooks,
who passed away unexpectedly last
Peter had an extraordinary and en-
during commitment to the foundation,
attending his final board meeting on
Monday, March 20.
As a loved, respected and trusted
member of the Bass Coast region, Pe-
ter’s selection as our founder was uni-
The foundation will forever be grate-
ful for his contribution and presence,
and the credibility he brought to the es-
tablishment of a charity that has given
so much to so many across the Bass
The instalment of a founder is part
of the legal process required to estab-
lish organisations such as ours, but in
taking on the role Peter was steadfast
in his dedication to working to improve
the opportunities of people in the com-
munity he loved.
He maintained this even when his
health was deteriorating.
I would like to join with all support-
ers of the Bass Coast Community Foun-
dation in sincerely thanking both Peter
and his wife Alison for the wonderful
support, leadership and counsel that
was always gratefully accepted.
On behalf of the board we wish Ali-
son, Stephen and Mark and family ev-
ery condolence on Peter’s passing.
Martin Keogh, Chair, Bass Coast
During my term as a South Gippsland
Shire councillor between 2002 and
2005, I was so proud to be part of an in-
credibly visionary, innovative and moti-
vated community campaign, concerned
with the sustainable development of
South Gippsland’s power supply.
In the end our community decided
they did not want the industrialisation
of our beautiful and productive rural
landscape, with hundreds of obtrusive,
120m wind towers.
Subsequently, many residents have
chosen passive, unobtrusive, sustain-
able and cost effective solar power gen-
I have had the security and pleasure
of standalone solar power genera-
tion since 2010. So during the recent
blackouts, with so much opportunistic
posturing about who is to blame for the
inevitable rise in power costs, I have my
lights on and my energy costs have re-
duced by thousands of dollars, as I be-
come more self-reliant, sustainable and
confident in the future.
Don't be over-reliant on a privatised,
shareholder driven power provider
where profit drives their business.
Solar offers you choice, indepen-
dence, cost control and security.
Keep your lights on for a sustainable
future. Go solar!
Dick Lester, Mardan.
The South Gippsland Action Group
expresses its deep dissatisfaction with
the governance of the South Gippsland
Shire Council, including the imposition
of extremely high council rates.
The CEO reportedly claimed that the
council did not have $9 million in re-
serves but council’s records as at June
30, 2016 show more than $18 million
in cash reserves, including $15 million
in term deposits.
This is the result of a heavy rates
impost on ratepayers over a number
of years. Net Cash from operations for
2016/17 is forecast to be $17.55 mil-
lion, a whopping $4.04 million increase
over the previous year.
Such an obnoxious money grab con-
tinues to affect ratepayers badly.
In this case an increased burden of
30 per cent! These money reserves
must be returned to ratepayers in full
and not be wasted on bureaucratic in-
dulgences and dubious projects.
We are deeply concerned by the coun-
cil’s governance and lack of transpar-
ency. The latest annual report details an
increase, in one year, in senior officer
numbers of 22 per cent while salaries
in this area increased by 21 per cent.
Further management employee num-
bers are kept secret.
Related questions to council received
a negative response. Where is the trans-
parency? Much of the published mate-
rial in the annual budget papers lacks
detailed financial information.
When asked for Profit and Loss State-
ments relating to the Coal Creek Com-
munity Park and Museum, Yanakie,
Long Jetty Foreshore and Waratah Bay
Caravan Parks, council’s answer was:
“A Profit and Loss statement is pre-
pared for Council’s consolidated op-
erations each year... Detailed profit
and loss statements are not prepared
for each individual council operation
or more than 100 services.....Page 21
of the Annual Budget provides a sum-
mary of the operational budget for the
Economic Development, Tourism &
Customer Service, of which both Coal
Creek and the two caravan parks are a
These answers display a lack or re-
cords, control and financial manage-
ment. If this is representative of how
millions of dollars in losses are ac-
counted for, we have good reason to
question the whole of council’s gover-
nance and all aspects of their service
We regard the recent SGSC promo-
tional advertisements in the Star and
Sentinel as blatant self-aggrandise-
ments designed to influence residents
just before they are due to undertake
the Council Satisfaction Survey. They
are direct attempts to artificially shore
up the status of those delivering ser-
vices without actually doing anything to
improve poor service – a blatant waste
of ratepayers’ money! A comprehensive
scrutiny of the Propaganda Unit is long
As ratepayers and residents we no
longer accept the high rates, poor per-
formance and substandard delivery of
Gus Blaauw, treasurer, South
Gippsland Action Group Incorpo-
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
8 Radovick Street
PHONE: (03) 5655 1422
(03) 5672 1888
(03) 5655 2658
to write with issues
of interest or concern
but letters that have a
local reference point
will be given priority. Writers are also urged
to be brief where possible. Letters may be
edited for space and legal reasons, and
must be submitted with the author’s name
and contact details of which only the name
and town location will appear.
Teach your parents well
ONE of the best things about this
business is being able to share,
even in some small way, the impor-
tant events that take place in our
community, week after week and
year after year.
To witness, for example, the
elation on the faces of those who
worked so hard to bring the Kar-
mai Community Children’s Centre
to fruition, at their grand opening
To see family members celebrate
with their champions after a sport-
ing victory, knowing the years
of commitment that went into
achieving the ultimate goal.
Appreciating the efforts of our
volunteers, especially the fire
fighters who willingly drop every-
thing to answer the call, but also
others like our junior sporting
coaches, who are making good citi-
zens of our kids.
It’s an absolute privilege to be
able to share those moments with
the people much more closely in-
volved than we are.
One such occasion, last week,
was the farewell to Leongatha Pri-
mary School Principal, Rob Hig-
gins, after 41 years in primary
education, many of those years as
a principal of a number of schools
across the region.
There may not be, in the history of
that school, a person who will have
more of an impact on the education
of our kids now, and into the future,
than Rob Higgins, having played
such a pivotal role in the building
of one of the best resourced primary
schools in the state.
The new school might be high
the list of achievements others as-
cribe to Rob Higgins on his retire-
ment, but as he underscored at an
emotional farewell in Mesley Hall
last Wednesday, it’s all about the
Empowering staff, finding a vari-
ety of ways to engage the students,
not only in the hard work of class-
room learning, but also in their
own personal development as peo-
ple... that’s what it’s all about and
it’s clear that Rob Higgins gets it.
A former student, Ally Martin,
who came back for the event, said
as much when she spoke of the life
skills she’d learned from a pet proj-
ect of Rob’s, the annual HPV cam-
paign: “None of this would have
been possible without your selfless
approach to your students.”
Although Rob officially retired
last Friday, he is still leading the
visit by 18 LPS students and their
family members to Changshu Ex-
perimental School in China over
It’s obvious that a motivated and
talented principal, or teacher for
that matter, can play a key role in
equipping our kids to reach their
full potential. It’s why they are
held in such high esteem.
And Rob Higgins is just one of
many we have in our schools lo-
But if we, as parents, think we
can simply leave the task of teach-
ing our kids to the schools and the
teachers we’re fooling ourselves.
Such is the incredibly broad
scope of what schools are expected
to deliver today that it’s inevitable
their efforts will be spread thinly
in some areas, even vital areas.
As parents we need to have a
plan for our kids’ education that
Where do we want to support
their learning in vital areas? What
opportunities do we want to give
them in language, music, dance,
sport or whatever? Are we equip-
ping them with the life skills and
experiences they need to survive
and thrive? Are we, for example,
allowing our youngsters unsuper-
vised and unfettered access to the
Are we even equipped to provide
the learning support that our kids
Maybe it’s time we went back to
school to learn what it takes to be
a good parent. For goodness sake,
we are required to do 120 hours
behind the wheel and pass an ex-
acting test before we get a licence
to drive a car!
Maybe, given the complex de-
mands on schools and the edu-
cation system today, it’s time the
government rolled out a six-week
‘good parenting’ course for us all
to complete, focusing on educa-
tion planning and support for our
Do you know what you should be
doing to support your kid’s learn-
ing? You could start by asking a
Leongatha Primary School
Principal Rob Higgins is fare-
welled by the school community
last Wednesday. m351417
Links Archive March 28, 2017 Edition April 11, 2017 Edition Navigation Previous Page Next Page