Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : April 4, 2017 Edition Contents Call (03) 5674 2691
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TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017
20 page Easter feature inside
South Gippsland & Bass Coast
20 page feature on what to do and where to go in South Gippsland
and Bass Coast during Autumn and over the Easter holidays.
THE elephant in the room, as far as the com-
munity of Leongatha and district is concerned, at
a Murray Goulburn suppliers meeting in the town
last Wednesday night, wasn’t even mentioned.
What’s the future of the Leongatha factory? we’d
like to have asked. But the general public was
barred from attending.
Instead, the new CEO of Murray Goulburn,
Ari Mervis, told the Sentinel-Times while visiting
Farm World last Thursday, that the issue wasn’t
He said the big co -op is awaiting the results of
a ‘footprint review’ and until that report is com-
pleted and presented to the new-look MG board
soon, there can be no comment made about the
future for any of the firm’s Gippsland plants, at
Maffra or at Leongatha.
But with upwards of 20 per cent of MG’s milk
supply syphoned off by other processors or fail-
ing to materialise this season in the face of poor
returns, something has got to give.
Local dairy farmers, in turn, say they were im-
pressed with Mr Mervis, while also welcoming
John Spark as the firm’s first non-dairy farmer
chairman, replacing Yanakie’s Phil Tracy, who
stepped down last Saturday.
“We had a constructive, open, direct and engag-
ing discussion. It was honest, and polite,” Mr Mer-
vis said of last week’s meeting.
Those who attended the meeting said decisions
about the future of the Gippsland plants would
come down to maximising returns from best-value
products, with Leongatha’s UHT and spreads pro-
cessing operations likely to hold it in good stead.
An announcement is expected to be made before
June 30, 2017. See story page 3.
THE week after Rob Higgins got
the job as new principal of the Le-
ongatha Primary School, back in
2006, he got another phone call
from the Regional Office of the
Department of Education.
The new position came with an
offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I got the job and the very next
week, Don Paproth called me and
said to me: ‘I’ve got another little
job for you to do’.”
It wasn’t so little.
As well as leading a school
of some 600 kids and a large
complement of staff, he was also
tasked with relocating to a new
site and building a whole new
And as it turned out, he was
just the man for the job.
Last Wednesday, March 29,
the wonderful contribution that
Mr Higgins has made to the Le-
ongatha Primary School was ac-
knowledged at a special school
assembly and while there were a
couple of ‘well done’ awards as
usual and some news about the
upcoming trip to China, it was all
about Mr Higgins.
Appropriately the event started
with the school choir signing a
reworked version of Paul Kelly’s
‘From Little Things Big Things
accompanied by Marty
Box on guitar, containing some
choice references to Mr Higgins’
style as principal such as “...you
won’t get too far in my school, if
you play the fool...”
While Rob Higgins started his
working life as a teacher 41 years
ago, including stints at Carrajung,
Gormandale, Yinnar, Hazelwood
North and Churchill along the
way, he noted that he has actually
been at school continuously since
1963, so it’s understandable that
last Friday’s final day was eagerly
Although, that said, he is still
leading one final student trip to
China, for 18 students and their
parents, to Leongatha’s sister
school, Changshu Experimental
School, before officially heading
The final assembly consisted of
a series of ‘roasts’ and well-wish-
es by students, staff, former staff
members and his daughter, Jac-
quie, who is also a teacher.
Continued page 5
Goodbye Mr Higgins
All the winter sport inside
One of retiring Leongatha Primary School Principal, Rob Higgins’ initiatives has been the regular trips to China and their sister
school, the Changshu Experimental School, which has been acknowledged with a stone and plaque in the school’s Chinese Garden.
Mr Higgins is pictured with some of his students, including top right, Dakota Kemp who is one of 18 students who headed off to China
with Mr Higgins and family members last week. m321417
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