Home' The Great Southern Star : June 7th 2016 Contents “THE STAR”, Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - PAGE 9
By Brad Lester
MAYOR Cr Bob Newton came under
fire for allegedly trying to stifle debate at
a South Gippsland Shire Council budget
submission hearing last Wednesday.
Cr Don Hill attempted to move an amendment
to remove $32 million allocated to the possible
future municipal precinct from the 15 year pro-
posed budget. He also called for council’s media
unit budget to be reduced by $90,000.
But before the amendment was displayed on a
large screen for all to see, Cr Jim Fawcett called
a point of order.
He labelled the amendment invalid given it
was a direct negative, saying council’s local law
states an amendment must improve a motion, not
destroy it. The mayor then ruled the amendment
out of order.
Cr Hill was furious, saying, “My amendment
is not on the screen. No one knows what the
amendment is and you have ruled a point of order
on it. How can you do that?”
He and Cr Fawcett exchanged fire with vari-
ous points of order. The mayor asked Cr Hill
for the local law clause he based his point of
order on, but did not always ask the same of
Cr Hill eventually lost out and during one fi-
ery point in debate, Cr Lorraine Brunt chimed in
Cr Hill’s amendment was in response to a mo-
tion that council consider three budget submis-
sions by Venus Bay ratepayer Vincent Morfuni
QC, Meg Knight of Foster and Chris Chapman.
Between them, the trio urged council to recon-
sider the municipal project proposal; reduce ex-
penditure, staff and rates; and not be involved in
private enterprise such as Coal Creek Community
Park and Museum, and caravan parks.
Mr Morfuni said the municipal precinct was
unjustifiable and a “Taj Mahal for the CEO and
the employees”, and claimed council’s media unit
was duplicating other council work. The media
unit budget of $450,000 includes three staff and
Cr Andrew McEwen, an ally of Cr Hill, said
the mayor and Cr Fawcett were engaging in “cute
use” of governance procedures to avoid proper
“It is interesting when procedural gimmicks
are used and some people might think they are
smart but they are retrograde to local democra-
cy,” he said.
Cr Hill said submitters expected their con-
cerns to be debated in open council and not be
discussed behind closed doors, referring to dis-
cussions held by councillors in private earlier that
That prompted Cr Fawcett to call another
point of order, claiming Cr Hill was discussing
Cr Fawcett said councillors Hill and McEwen
were simply trying to obscure matters because
they lacked sound arguments for their bid to
abandon the municipal precinct and whittle down
the media unit.
Susan Hanson of Leongatha supported the
new municipal precinct that would include a prin-
cipal library for South Gippsland, as well as the
revitalisation of the entry to Leongatha and Bair
None of the submissions calling for changes
to council’s proposed budget were incorporated.
In other submissions:
Ken O’Neill and Neil Breeden urged council
to support the sealing of the gravel section of
Hudsons Road from Korumburra South Road
to Leongatha South-Outtrim Road. Council
proposes to spend $1.3 million on doing so
next financial year;
Michael Lester, of Prom Coast Arts Council
and South Gippsland Art Alliance, praised the
allocation of $20,000 to undertake a detailed
arts strategy in the proposed budget and urged
council to consider ongoing financial support
to a select group of events;
Lillian Brittain, of Spring is South Gippsland,
suggested council recognise the floral festival
as a priority project and consider a second offi-
cial council website to promote it. Council was
willing to promote the festival on its website
but not create a second website and noted the
group would lodge an application for a council
community grant; and
Gus Blaauw of Venus Bay asked for more de-
tailed financial information that Cr Fawcett
said council was unable to supply “for a whole
variety of reasons”.
Council will make a final decision about the
budget on June 22.
Signed, sealed: South Gippsland Shire Councillor Don Hill (right) signs the amended
Councillor Code of Conduct recently, watched by, from left, acting CEO Bryan Sword,
mayor Cr Bob Newton and Cr Andrew McEwen.
Councillors McEwen and Hill clashed with the mayor at last Wednesday’s meeting to
consider budget submissions.
The revised code clarifies the roles of mayors and councillors, including principles of
good governance and promoting good working relations between councillors, which the
council chamber has not seen for some time.
Blocs battle over budget
Walkerville wins, loses
SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has
ruled out funding a walking path at
Promontory Views Estate in next year’s
Paul Katsieris, Walkerville Ratepayers and
Residents Association, asked council to consider
funding the path along Acacia Road at the estate,
also known as Walkerville.
He also sought council support for a feasibility
study for the proposed path, but council advised
he should apply for a council community grant.
Council will consider the path when review-
ing its Paths and Trails Strategy in 2016-17.
Cr Andrew McEwen felt council should con-
sider the project within the budget, saying there
was a risk to council should pedestrians walking
on Acacia Road collide with passing traffic.
Cr Jim Fawcett said council risked no liability
and said even if the path was built, people could
not walk to the beach in safety as the current
beach road was busy with traffic.
Also at Walkerville, council voted to proceed
with roadworks and increasing the height of the
sea wall at Walkerville North, despite resident
Don Atkins objecting, citing lack of community
consultation and reducing parking.
Council plans to allocate $130,650 to the proj-
ect in the budget.
Cr McEwen opposed it, agreeing with Mr At-
“I believe the beach will become the preserve
of a small elite because most people will not have
access to parking,” Cr McEwen said.
BASS Coast Shire Council
recently underwent an ex-
ecutive and management
team review, which led to
the reduction of two major
In an attempt to become a more
efficient council to retain the State
Government’s 2.5 per cent rate cap,
general manager governance and
organisational development Mark
Brady will only be required part time,
while council’s manager information
services Brian Olden will retire.
As a result of this review – on top
of several other operational reviews in
the past few months – the Wonthaggi
Visitor Information Centre was the
only Bass Coast service affected by
the 2.5 per cent rate cap.
“With the introduction of rate
capping and a commitment to a sus-
tainable long term financial plan, our
program of service reviews has been
crucial in identifying opportunities
for improvements and cost savings
that have now totalled $3 million in
the last two years,” CEO Paul Buck-
The draft budget still aligns with
council’s long term financial plan,
with council able to curb its expendi-
ture by cutting its operational costs.
In total, 21 per cent of rates in-
come will fund capital works. By
delivering $1.9 million in operating
efficiencies, council will deliver a
higher level of capital projects than
The $76 million draft budget pro-
poses a $15.8 million capital works
program, which includes the Bass
Valley children’s centre, Cowes re-
vitalisation projects, the Wonthaggi
netball court upgrade, the priority
bike network, the Thompson Reserve
lighting and the black spot program.
Mayor Cr Jordan Crugnale said
council had worked hard to discover
ways of finding efficiencies to pro-
vide the best outcome for the shire.
“Council was given a clear man-
date at the start of our term to pick up
that magnifying glass and take a long
hard look at the internal operations
and organisational structure, find effi-
ciencies, review business models and
get more projects – major projects at
that – delivered on the ground,” she
“We have been systematically
going through service by service and
with over 100 services, it does not
“In the last two years we have
reduced staff by 23 full time equiva-
lent, and total savings since employ-
ing the CEO are at $2.68 million,
with the majority of those savings
Service reviews across the organ-
isation are continuing, with reviews
in cemetery management, building
approvals, valuations, local laws,
emergency management and fire
prevention, visitor services and en-
vironmental health services already
Reviews in caravan parks, recre-
ation services and waste management
are currently in the draft report stage,
whilst upcoming reviews include
fleet management and funding to
Budget submissions closed on
Wednesday, May 25. These submis-
sions will be considered by a panel of
councillors this Wednesday (June 8).
In progress: Bass Coast Shire Council mayor Cr Jordan
Crugnale said council had worked to deliver the best pos-
sible outcomes for the shire.
Council staff take
hit in budget
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