Home' The Great Southern Star : May 24th 2016 Contents “THE STAR”, Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - PAGE 5
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By Brad Lester
THE rift between South Gippsland Shire
councillors continues to deepen, with
some councillors claiming other council-
lors are urging supporters to criticise coun-
cil policy at public council meetings.
Vincent Morfuni QC, a ratepayer in Venus Bay,
last Wednesday used a budget feedback session to
object to council saving for new offices, attack the
budget submission process and reprimand CEO Tim
Tamlin for releasing a statement in February that
rejected some councillors’ views they were being
gagged by council officers.
“In the commercial world, if a CEO criticised
members of his board he would be disciplined on
the spot. However in this case no sanction appears to
have been imposed on the CEO,” Mr Morfuni said,
adding council’s media unit produced propaganda.
Cr Jim Fawcett objected, saying Mr Morfuni’s
comments were inappropriate for the budget session
and his language was offensive.
Cr Kieran Kennedy called for Mr Morfuni to be
allowed to speak and when mayor Cr Bob Newton
would not allow Cr Don Hill to ask questions of Mr
Morfuni, Cr Kennedy said, “We are gagged!”
That prompted Cr Lorraine Brunt to chime in
with “It’s a setup!”, suggesting some councillors
were a party to Mr Morfuni’s presentation.
Cr Brunt later told The Star, “I find it bemus-
ing that a Melbourne based QC, who is a non resident
ratepayer, has dedicated so much personal time to
present to council in person a long detailed submis-
sion on South Gippsland Shire 2016-2017 Budget
and 15 Year Long Term Financial Plan.
“I question how a non resident ratepayer would
know what the future requirements of our communi-
ties are, having the infrastructure he questions, read-
ily available to him in metro Melbourne.”
Mr Morfuni later told The Star he was not en-
couraged to present by other councillors.
Some councillors, including mayor Cr Bob New-
ton, have told The Star they believe Cr Andrew McE-
wen is urging candidates to stand at the council elec-
tion in October in a bid to gain control of council, but
Cr McEwen denied that was his intention.
“We need to have strong independent councillors
who are prepared to be judged on their merits,” he
Cr McEwen confirmed he would recontest
Strzelecki Ward and said he would support Cr Hill
at the October election and also Cr Kennedy if he
chose to run.
Between them, they would cover each of the three
wards – Cr Hill in Tarwin Valley and Cr Kennedy in
Coastal Promontory - but Cr McEwen said “we don’t
want to run a ticket across the shire”.
“We will encourage people to run as genuine in-
Councillors suspect rivals using stooges
dependents,” he said.
Asked if he supported Mr Tamlin, Cr McEwen
said the CEO still had another four years on his cur-
“If there is a new council and they set up perfor-
mance criteria and he meets them, he has a right to
continue,” Cr McEwen said.
Mr Tamlin restructured council soon after tak-
ing the lead role. Cr McEwen was then director of
sustainability and his position was made redundant
during the restructure.
Cr Fawcett told The Star “it is difficult to judge”
if stooges or plants by other councillors were be-
ing urged to address council at public presentation
“But when you have a group of people that reg-
ularly present to council on the same matters, we
have some suspicion that there is a coordinated cam-
paign,” he said.
“It’s straight out of the textbook, under Politics
101: create conflict, gain attention, create publicity,
Cr Fawcett continued, “There is a concerted
campaign by some councillors to disrupt the opera-
tion of council business and to give the impression
of dysfunction but there is no such thing.”
Cr Fawcett said the community should have faith
in the ability of the current council.
Cr Hill said councillors in opposition to him and
Cr McEwen were spreading rumours about the pair,
including “accusing ratepayers of being in cahoots
“If a ratepayer contacts me about an issue I
try to assist them. Just because a ratepayer writes
something that is either supportive of me or
Andrew, or the ideas I promote, does not mean I am
encouraging them to write letters,” he said.
“I think there is a groundswell of anger against
the current council and individuals are expressing
that themselves. I do not know many of the letter
writers in any event.”
Cr Hill said Cr McEwen and himself were
running a group ticket between themselves and not
external parties, in the council election.
“Andrew and I do plan to put actual policies
to the ratepayers that are fully detailed and costed.
Ratepayers will have a real choice this time between
the same old type of council and a new one that has
major differences to current practice. We support
openness, transparency, low rates, no municipal
office project,” he said.
By Sarah Vella
WHILE some still intend to fight on,
many annual permit holders have decid-
ed enough is enough and are vacating the
Long Jetty and Yanakie caravan parks.
South Gippsland Shire Council manages the
parks and in April, issued eviction notices to those it
said “were occupying sites without a permit”.
Stan Crossley and his wife Paula from Port
Franklin purchased a cabin at the Long Jetty Cara-
van Park in June 2013, unaware the caravan park
was on Crown Land. The cabin cost them $30,000.
The Crossleys are being evicted by council, as
their cabin does not meet regulations for Crown
Land caravan parks. It will cost them around
$20,000 to remove.
“We were going to be kicked out of the cabin in
September anyway, but the reason we are being evict-
ed is because I refused to sign the permit,” he said.
“We can’t afford to fight them and we refuse to
have our ratepayer money spent to have them fight
us. No matter which way we look, we are out.”
Mr Crossley said when he brought the cabin, no
documentation said it was Crown Land.
“On all paperwork it implied former managers
Glendale Glen P/L actually owned the land. I would
have shown more diligence if that wasn’t the case,”
“Why wasn’t the previous management pros-
ecuted for selling us the cabin in the first place?”
All those being evicted have until the end of
May to remove their uncompliant vans or cabins.
“Council is in the process of removing all peo-
ple occupying sites at the Long Jetty Foreshore and
Yanakie caravan parks who do not have any legal
entitlement to do so,” council told The Star.
One of the reasons the Crossleys purchased a
cabin and not a caravan is because Mrs Crossley is
in a wheelchair.
“At Port Welshpool we are included in the social
life, we have many friends at the park,” Mr Crossley
“The cabin is open plan and has a ramp. Cur-
rently there are no cabins with disabled access in
the park. The only facility in the park with disabled
access is the common room, which is basically an
Mr Crossley said being forced to give up the
cabin is heartbreaking.
“This is our dream, our weekend home and when
it is gone, we will have lost everything. We want to
see council held to account,” he said.
“They used to have a vibrant, profitable park
here and they killed it.”
Annual permit holder and Yanakie and Long
Jetty Caravan Park Annuals Committee chairperson
Damian Lindau failed to hold back his emotions last
Thursday, when talking to The Star about the issue.
He said the amount of emotional and financial
strain he and other annual permit holders was under
is becoming too much.
The committee launched Supreme Court action
over six months ago, yet council has so far avoided
mediation with the group.
“While they have been stalling, they hit us all
with eviction notices,” Mr Lindau said.
“Some of the annuals have had enough. I think
what council wanted was to bleed us all dry, finan-
cially and emotionally but we are going to fight on.”
For some annual permit holders, it has all be-
come too much and they have made the tough deci-
sion to leave the parks.
“Last Wednesday I spoke to one of our older an-
nuals who is a real rock and a genuine gentleman,”
Mr Lindau said.
“He is a retiree and war veteran who has had an
annual site at Yanakie Caravan Park for 33 years.
“It has been his place to escape, often in soli-
tude, enjoying his time there and the company of
Mr Lindau said the gentleman has finally suc-
cumbed to stress council had caused him and with
“reluctance and a heavy heart”, is pulling down and
“We are the victims of bureaucratic bullying
and gross mismanagement. It should never come to
this,” he said.
A spokesperson for council’s lawyers confirmed
there is a proceeding on foot in the Supreme Court
of Victoria in relation to a dispute between council
and certain siteholders at the Yanakie and Long Jetty
“Council is defending that proceeding. Assum-
ing the matter does not resolve, the court will pro-
ceed to hear and determine the issues in dispute,”
the spokesperson said.
Council has confirmed its legal expenses are be-
ing funded from the adopted 2015-16 budget.
Campers get the boot
High and dry: Stan Crossley and his wife Paula purchased a cabin in the Long Jetty Caravan
Park in 2013, unaware that three years later they would be forced to give it up.
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