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By Brad Lester
FORMER South Gippsland Shire coun-
cillor Bob Newton believes preference
deals resulted in him losing at the recent
The immediate past mayor and councillor of
24 years said he was “pretty devastated” by the
loss but conceded there was little he could do.
The Korumburra resident, who has served
with South Gippsland and the former Korum-
burra shires, received 1192 primary votes – the
second highest total of such votes in Strzelecki
Ward – but was knocked out of the race based on
“I feel it is totally wrong that it can be done
that way. That’s the system and it’s unfortunate
they take advantage of that,” Mr Newton said.
He is now writing resignation letters to the
nine committees he served on as a council repre-
sentative, including the board of West Gippsland
Regional Library Corporation, where he had been
chair in the past.
“I love reading and it’s important people read
books. Local history is my passion,” he said.
Mr Newton is an author himself, having writ-
ten a history of Korumburra Golf Club and is
about to release his second book about the history
of road names in the former shires of Korumbur-
ra, Poowong, Jeetho and part of Buln Buln.
He leaves council service with many memo-
ries, and pride in campaigning for cemetery car-
parks to be sealed and being part of lobbying for
Karmai Community Children’s Centre at Korum-
burra, which will provide childcare and kinder-
garten services from next year.
“Council is in a better financial position than
it has been in a long time. Eleven years ago we
had $14 million in debt. Now we’re just about
down to zero,” Mr Newton said.
With an interest in helping people and looking
after the community, serving as a councillor was
an ideal fit for Mr Newton.
“I will miss it because it was part of my life
for 24 years,” he said.
Mr Newton will now fire up the motorhome.
Moving on: outgoing South Gippsland Shire councillor Bob Newton reflects on his 24
years’ service in local government.
Deals cost my seat, says Newton
By Brad Lester
SOUTH Gippsland police are crying
out for more officers to join them on the
That is the word of Gippsland South MLA Dan-
ny O’Brien, who has been told by the region’s offi-
cers they do not have the officers to cope with rising
population growth and increasing crime.
The Nationals MP said police have also dropped
shifts to cope with the State Government’s policy
that officers work two-up as they do not have extra
police to adhere to the new rule.
“They are under stress and they do a great job,
but they are not getting the support from the State
Government,” Mr O’Brien said.
In the past 12 months, crime has risen by 8.2 per
cent in South Gippsland and by 12.5 percent since
Labor came to power in 2014, according to figures
released by the Crime Statistics Agency.
“Police numbers have not been keeping pace
with population growth across the state and the
State Government has been closing or reducing the
number of hours (worked by police) across the state,
and that’s why crime has increased by 13.4 percent
across the state,” Mr O’Brien said.
He said the State Government had also pressured
country police stations to give up officers to meet
increasing demand in Melbourne.
“I’m not saying they’re specifically coming from
South Gippsland but from country Victoria gener-
ally,” Mr O’Brien said.
Bass Coast Acting Inspector Damian Whitford
said officer numbers had remained the same this
“We would not say no to more police. We are com-
peting with other areas and we understand the demands,
but we would always welcome more,” he said.
“Our objective is to make sure all the stations can
maintain service delivery that meets local demands.”
Acting Inspector Whitford said crime levels had
fallen in South Gippsland Shire and crime levels
were low compared to other areas.
“That is not to say we are not busy but when you
compare us to other areas we are fortunate,” he said.
Minister for Police Lisa Neville said more
frontline police were patrolling Bass Coast and South
Gippsland shires now than in November 2014.
“The current crime rate reflects a six-year trend
and that’s why we are giving police the resources
they need and the powers,” she said.
“We have also brought the forward the training
and recruitment of 406 new frontline police, who
will be sworn in by the end of June next year.”
THE Nationals’ Eastern Victoria Region
MLC Melina Bath said crimes against
the person, assault and related offences
have increased by 25.8 percent in South
Stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour
rose by 47.6 per cent.
In Bass Coast deception, theft and property dam-
age increased the most, with deception at 72 percent,
theft 56.6 per cent and property damage 28.1 per-
“Behind all of these statistics are the victims suf-
fering these crimes and also the police trying to as-
sist victims and apprehend offenders. The effect on
the wellbeing and mental health of both would be
significant,” Ms Bath said.
“I know a lot of police in and around the district
of my electorate and they are great people who
embed themselves in the community and do their
best to keep the community safe, but sometimes it
must feel like they are fighting a losing battle.”
The State Government said in South Gippsland,
total recorded offences remained low, with property
and deception offences falling by 3.2 percent.
In Bass Coast Shire, the government said justice
procedure offences were also highly represented
in the crime statistics, which the government said
shows police were detecting more offences.
MPs calls for more police to beat crime
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