Home' The Great Southern Star : October 18th 2016 Contents PAGE 12 - “THE STAR” Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Post: PO Box 84 Leongatha 3953
Fax: 03 5662 4350
Post: PO Box 84 Leongatha 3953
Fax: 03 5662 4350
OPINIONS Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
ALL letters should be kept to 400 words or less.
The Star reserves the right to edit all letters for length and style.
Writer ’s details, including full name, address and phone number
(not for publication), must be included.
the current election that is in breach of
the Electoral Act.
Whilst masquerading as humour
the contents of the page are in fact an
expression of support for some of the
Not only is the dissemination of
such materials without the name and
address of the author being displayed
illegal, but it also highlights the hy-
pocrisy and cowardice of the persons
The Old Guard on the council has
apparently criticised those who have
issued how to vote cards yet they have
participated in an attempt to achieve
the same result under another guise.
Section 83 of the Electoral Act
requires that the name and address of
the person who authorised the mate-
rial needs to be contained in the mate-
rial. Section 84 prohibits the dissemi-
nation of material that is misleading
Neither the Facebook page nor
the parts of it published in another
newspaper complied with the require-
ments of the act.
I have lodged a complaint with
the Victorian Electoral Commission.
It will be interesting to see the out-
come of the investigation.
I believe that some candidates
displayed the material on their office
windows and that they have been told
to remove it.
Another candidate has apparently
been seen distributing the material to
office premises. It is inconceivable
that those candidates, who have been
on the council for some time, did not
know that they were breaching the
Their conduct reflects their cyni-
cism and contempt for the system and
the lengths to which they are prepared
to go in order to be re-elected.
That conduct also explains the
failure of council over the last four
years and highlights the choice that
has to be made by the voters: either
vote for a continuation of such con-
duct or bring in change.
Vincent A. Morfuni,
Why our rates go up
CANDIDATES for council receive
many requests from pressure groups
to fill in questionnaires and surveys
through the election period. I respond
to as many as possible.
I completed a survey from Music
Victoria. Responses are published on
its website. Many candidates across
Victoria also responded.
Two questions were:
(Q6) If elected, would you be
willing to undertake a music audit to
identify your music community.
(Q7) Would you then support the
development of a music strategy for
Most candidates naturally said
yes to both questions.
I was just one of three candidates
for the whole of Victoria who an-
swered no to these questions. Here’s
Firstly, I am not opposed to mu-
candidate in Northcote or St.Kilda, I
might have answered differently. But
we are a farming shire and our local
economy is struggling. That is our
The easy option for our shire
when officially asked, is do a music
audit, create a strategy and appease a
We start off with say a $20,000
audit. It doesn’t sound much. It gets
buried in the council agenda and
councillors vote for it.
Money is spent on consultants to
make a report. They traverse Victoria
making audits and it’s good business
- for them! In their report, they cross
out the words Southern Grampians or
Golden Plains and replace with South
Human nature dictates the consul-
tant feels silly writing a report telling
our shire to do nothing at all. They
must come up with a spending plan.
Invariably, they recommend we add
another staff member to payroll.
Of course as we add each extra
staff member, over time we need a
bigger personnel, accounts, IT and
We need more managers to over-
see all this progress. We get more
council cars, more telephones, more
iPads. The spending manifests and
up go the silent majority’s rates.
I told Music Victoria that our shire
already has music venues established
in our shire. We have Moss Vale Park.
Come and use it. We have a multi-
tude of country halls from Nerrena to
Dumbalk to Mount Best. Hire them
out and use them.
Fifty years ago people and com-
munities didn’t need the shire to or-
ganise a music event or an old time
A decade ago we had two music
shops in Leongatha. Today there are
none. We need an economic develop-
ment taskforce investigating why we
are losing so many of our shopkeep-
ers. We have to get our commercial
centres going again.
Enough is enough. The silent ma-
jority is telling me it wants our money
spent on our local roads.
They want the basics done. Peo-
ple are fed up with rate rises going
through the roof. People want a more
caring bureaucracy. The culture of in-
difference has to stop.
When we get our local businesses
vibrant, then perhaps we can look at
music. But not before.
candidate for Tarwin Valley Ward,
Trust is key
TRUST is the tissue that binds people
If trust is lost it leads to discon-
tent and scepticism and underlines the
need to look for change.
This community has lost trust
in a broken system called the South
Gippsland Shire and its councillors.
How could I disagree with such
a sentiment? I was a victim of such a
bureaucracy and disinterested coun-
Ratepayers are entitled to feel that
their representatives have their best
interests at heart.
But I also believe the communi-
ties in the South Gippsland Shire must
have trust in a bureaucracy that serves
them. It is broken; however, it can be
repaired as long as the elected coun-
cillors undertake a programmed strat-
egy of reform to address the present
and future needs of its people.
Council is about services to the
community it also has a fundamental
responsibility to ensure the physical
and mental health of its citizens.
People are worried about the lack
of vision but look for a methodology
of change that will result in a prosper-
ous future for you, for your children
and their children.
I am suggesting short, medium
and long term strategies with tangible
I cannot begin to understand the
total concerns of every community in
the shire, however the answers nor-
mally rest within those communities.
They have the answers, what council-
lors and the bureaucracy need to do is
to listen and work together to fix it.
Some of the short term fixers are:
to give rate relief, distribute the rates
income equitably, streamline and flat-
ten out the staff structures in council
and work with the CEO to establish
real priorities and fix them.
Remove any notion of a new
council precinct and look at better
ways to operate within the shire.
The medium strategy is to change
the ‘them and us’ culture and to pro-
vide effective long term service pro-
vision without the waste. Council
needs to address the future and plan
for it with outcomes that matter and
take into account the communities it
Sound progressive thought is
required. Sell our shire as a place to
come and visit to stay and live.
Long term outcomes are always
difficult to predict. The age of glo-
balisation, digitisation, and the future
strains on the earth’s resources with
overpopulation and the ever increas-
ing world social issues including
transmigration must all be consid-
We must not rely on state and
federal agencies to do our thinking
We must be progressive, use our
wonderful resources and develop
structural building blocks that ensure
We have a great climate, produc-
tive soils, energetic and capable peo-
ple, inquisitive intelligence and the
know-how. We just need to funnel it
to achieve the best outcomes.
So it does not matter who you
vote for but please remember your
vote at this election will be the begin-
ning of something great unless you
decide to vote for the same old crew
that got you into trouble this time.
Vote wisely and I leave you with
my message: To do nothing is social
negligence, so do something and vote
for vision, prosperity and a future for
You must leave a message that
makes you the catalyst, that will
change our shire to be the best place
candidate for Coastal Promontory
Too many chiefs at shire
THE September meeting of South
Gippsland Shire Council lasted 17
minutes and was a perfect example
of the incompetence, dysfunction and
contempt for ratepayers I have noticed
at the many meetings attended.
The mayor was told to stop Cr
Davies from electioneering and Cr
Fawcett ‘self-congratulated’ the coun-
cil on the financial results for the year,
which I thought was yet another ex-
ample of the rubbish displayed over
last four years.
I think the financial results for the
year ended June 30, 2016 say much
about the incompetence and abandon-
ment of management of this outgoing
council to a bunch of bureaucratic fat
cats who, to me, had a ball with rate-
The number of senior officers
other than the CEO increased from
nine to 11 and salaries in this area
alone increased by $279,000, which
is 21 percent.
If I add payroll on-costs and other
‘inducements’, this could well double
or more but of course that is kept se-
The rest of the fat cat population
numbers is kept secret but the total
may well be an astronomical high of
The newly elected council will
have to deal with the fact that out of
an income from rates and charges of
$38.6 million, the employee costs of
$24.1 million must be accounted for.
With a rate cap of 2.5 percent on
this income and a future a blow-out in
these employee costs, money must be
found in other areas.
Unfortunately other areas are not
going well either with, for instance,
consultants, projects and legal fees
increasing from $671,000 in 2015 to
$1,264,000 in 2016, an increase of
$593,000 or 88.4 percent in one year.
With one of the lowest satisfac-
tion ratings and one of the highest
council rates, this council is the worst
I have ever come across.
And I hold the ‘voting bloc’ firm-
ly responsible for that in every aspect.
Every time councillors McEwen and
Hill proposed lower rates, better ac-
countability, less secrecy, better man-
agement, no $32 million wastage on
new offices – amongst others - they
I am delighted to notice many of
the new candidates for council have
recommended members of this ‘vot-
ing bloc’ are put last. I hope that rate-
payers will agree.
“I do dancing and I like it be-
cause it’s a lot of fun.”
Wonthaggi Primary School.
What do you do to keep fit during the week?
“I go surfing. I try to go twice
Wonthaggi Primary School.
“I go bike riding to Harmers
Haven, through the wetlands or
along the rail trail.”
Wonthaggi Primary School.
“I do little aths at the high school,
as well as dancing and netball. I
enjoy little aths because it gives
me freedom in what I do.”
Wonthaggi Primary School.
ONE does wonder why schools have to fight so long
and hard to get funding.
Then again, it’s the same with hospitals.
Yet education and health would have to rank the two most es-
sential services people need, regardless of whether they live in the
country or city.
The Star today reports that Gippsland South MLA Danny
O’Brien is lobbying the State Government for funding to rebuild
Foster Primary School.
This follows his successful campaigns for money to rebuild part
of Korumburra Secondary College, where works are now under-
way, and Yarram Primary School.
At Foster, the school is falling apart, with buildings containing
asbestos and roofs leaking.
With the Federal Government willing to spend $170 million on
a plebiscite to determine if the Australian public wants marriage
equality, one does wonder why those communities dependent on
quality education and health infrastructure have to wait or lobby
for funding when the money is obviously in government coffers.
The plebiscite, while tackling a significant social issue, may not
necessarily result in changes to government policy given it would
be non-binding, so what is the point.
As The Star reports today, some members of the gay com-
munity believe politicians should vote on the issue in parliament
rather than undertaking a costly public vote that could cause gays
The Leongatha community, and particularly the dedicated board
and management of Gippsland Southern Health Service, had to deal
with broken pipes and other deteriorating infrastructure for years
before the government finally funded a new hospital.
Now urgent care centres at the region’s hospitals are in need of
more funding to meet community demand.
Shortcuts can’t be made with education and health, and let’s
hope Foster Primary School receives money for planning for a re-
build in the next state budget and funding for urgent care centres is
No room for shortcuts
I’m not a “stooge”
IT seems that some sitting councillors
believe there is a conspiracy or ‘sub-
text going on below the surface’ in this
council election, with “single-issue
candidates” having been “encour-
aged” to be “dummies” in order to get
other councillors re-elected.
I am unaware of any conspiracy.
The reason why South Gippsland has
a record number of candidates nomi-
nating in the forthcoming election is
because many care deeply about the
community, and many have perceived
a culture of complacency, a lack of
transparency and openness, a waste-
fulness, and a lack of both respect and
real forward thinking occurring over
the last four years of this out going
This is the reason I nominated.
I, like many, have also sadly expe-
rienced council employees’ inflexibil-
ity and lack of consideration amount-
ing to serious unprofessionalism, that
has caused anger, frustration and even
Many in the community also per-
ceive a majority of councillors who
simply want to preserve the status
quo, and who have repeatedly voted
down others with more progressive
and genuinely caring concerns.
While councillors cannot directly
impact council employees’ actions,
they have a duty to direct and influ-
ence the CEO as to the overall culture
and behaviour of council employees
to ensure council serves the commu-
nity’s best interest.
However, from the Foster and
Korumburra candidate forums it’s
heartening to see so many excellent
council candidates who are genuinely
concerned that we as a community
can do better.
I do most sincerely hope the wider
community reads these progressive
and genuinely disinterested candi-
dates’ 200 word statements that will
by now have arrived in mail boxes all
over the shire, and vote accordingly.
For the record, before nominat-
ing for the Tarwin Valley Ward, I
knew none of the sitting council
members personally (though had met
Cr Hutchinson-Brooks and Cr McE-
wen each once).
After nominating, I was ap-
proached by two sitting council mem-
bers and invited to share a mail-out of
preferences in order to save time and
In talking with them, I realised we
share many common goals and aspi-
rations and have directed my prefer-
CLEARLY Andrew McEwen does
not think he can get elected on his
own merits and has organised a group
of candidates to all give him their next
I received a ‘how to vote’ card
from Andrew which showed how to
vote by him plus four other candi-
Another candidate sent a separate
how to vote which again gave Andrew
his next preference.
All six of them put the two current
serving councillors last on their cards.
For my part I will be voting using
the exact reverse of Andrew McE-
My research also indicates Don
Hill has behaved in the exact same
manner in the Tarwin Valley Ward.
I HAVE been informed that someone
created a Facebook page in relation to
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