Home' The Great Southern Star : November 22nd 2016 Contents “THE STAR” Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - PAGE 5
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THANK YOU TO THIS YEAR’S SPONSORS:
By Brad Lester
THE new mayor of South Gippsland Shire
Council is urging the community to unite
behind the new look council after the past
council was fraught with in-fighting.
Cr Ray Argento, of Toora and Inverloch, was elected
mayor unopposed last Wednesday and will be joined by
Cr Maxine Kiel of Mirboo North as deputy, who also was
“I believe council’s critics will become its allies,” Cr
Argento said shortly after his election.
The mayor later told The Star, “I want to bring coun-
cil and the community together in portraying the shire in a
“There has been a lot of negativity in the past but by
moving forward, we can promote the region as the best
place in Australia.”
Cr Argento said the new council was “moving for-
ward” and having “frank and open discussions” where all
councillors were urged to express their views.
“They are passionate councillors who are passionate
about their communities and passionate about our shire,
and they need to be heard,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to what the future holds. The sun
will come out and the clouds will go away.”
Cr Kiel told The Star she came to council with only one
agenda: to bring unity to the council.
“We need to be financially responsible and build on
the excellent work done by previous councils. We are in a
strong financial position and we need to continue to devel-
op new projects and maintain the existing infrastructure,”
“Roads are a constant concern to ratepayers and our
commitment to improvements should be paramount. We
are a large rural shire with 28 individual towns, each re-
quiring specific needs. We must listen to those needs and
plan for the future accordingly.”
Cr Kiel said council had an “excellent staff base” and
called for “strong and decisive leadership which will en-
courage a stable workforce with good governance and staff
that want to be part of the solution”.
Cr Kiel said fostering prosperity was essential for the
region to grow.
“But a region that does not know its destination will
never know its journey. I will work with the people of
South Gippsland to realise that destination, plan the jour-
ney and bring everyone along for the ride,” she said.
Cr Argento is now living at Inverloch while he builds a
new home at Toora, where his family formerly ran a dairy
By Sarah Vella
THE Mirboo North community rejoiced
last Wednesday, after learning Mantle
Mining was no longer pursuing licence
renewals for black and brown coal ex-
ploration in the region.
Marg Thomas from Coal and CSG Free Mirboo
North said many Gippsland communities would have
been impacted by the abandoned licences including
Boolarra and Mirboo North.
“Our communities have proved time and time again
that our farming enterprises, tourism and all their ‘spin off ’
industries outweigh a potential coal industry in our region,”
“We have protected our way of life and vibrant busi-
nesses from a polluting industry that has little benefit
for our communities.”
Ms Thomas said the three affected councils - Baw
Baw, Latrobe City and South Gippsland - came out
strongly against Mantle Mining’s brown coal develop-
“This, combined with huge community opposition
has no doubt been a factor in the company’s decision,”
Phil Piper from Mirboo North said the cancellation
of the licences was a great win, not only for the Mirboo
North district, but the whole region.
“Mantle Mining made a good business decision
knowing that any mining activities would be quite diffi-
cult to execute thanks to the local community and Coal
and CSG Free Mirboo North who have persistently
fought the mining company,” he said.
“There is a feeling of relief, especially from the
farmers. That is their livelihood and a lot of them didn’t
know what to do and now they have certainty.”
Berrys Creek beef farmer Fergus O’Connor said agri-
culture was the backbone of the local economy and com-
munities should not have to constantly compete with ‘pie
in the sky’ mining proposals.
“Having no further coal licences hanging over our
heads gives us great certainty to move forward with our
Ecstatic: Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North members were thrilled with the news Mantle Min-
ing will not be pursuing renewal of six brown coal mining exploration licences, several of which
were near Mirboo North. Back, from left, Helen Groen, Suzanne Wightman, Gayle Margaret
and Jessie the dog, Braydon Groen, Phil Piper, Fergus O’Connor, David Arnault, Joy Downs and
Olivia O’Connor, and front, from left, Anna Hall, Marg Thomas and Denyse Menzies.
Mining anxiety lifts
Proud, passionate: the new mayor of South
Gippsland Shire Council, Cr Ray Argento, and
deputy mayor Cr Maxine Kiel are looking for-
ward to promoting the virtues of the region.
Mayor urges public to support council
A previous captain of the Toora CFA, he continues to
serve as a fire investigator.
He has also served as a branch and district president
of the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, and on the Toora
Primary School Council and Toora Cemetery Trust, and
enjoys restoring vehicles and metalwork.
Married to Fiona, the couple has three children: Sasha,
23, a hairdresser in Melbourne; Katrina, 21, an apprentice
chef at The Coffee Collective in Wonthaggi; and Scott, 19,
an apprentice welder at Hulls Engineering, Leongatha.
Cr Kiel is a well known Mirboo North businesswoman
and the current shire citizen of the year, president of Mir-
boo Country Development Inc and vice-president of the
Mirboo North RSL.
Married to Colin, the couple has a daughter Jacqueline,
who is a pharmacist in Noosa, Queensland. Cr Kiel also
has two sons from a previous marriage, Matthew, 42, of
Trafalgar and Simon, 40, of Yeppoon, Queensland.
Cr Kiel enjoys reading, sewing, and knitting, and
shares a passion for vintage/veteran motor vehicles with
Other council committee appointments included Cr
Jeremy Rich to the Chief Executive Officer Review Com-
mittee, along with the mayor and deputy mayor; Cr Lor-
raine Brunt to the Audit Committee, along with the mayor;
and Cr Meg Edwards to the West Gippsland Regional Li-
brary Board and Cr Alyson Skinner as her substitute.
The mayoral allowance was set at $74,655 and coun-
cillor allowances at $24,127, with both positions attracting
an extra 9.5 percent superannuation.
Crs Argento and Kiel will serve in their roles for one
farming operations,” he said.
“We really feel like Christmas has come early and
we can now look forward to a coal and gas field free
Gayle Margaret from Mirboo North said because
people took an interest in the issue and got involved
early on, which helped the campaign.
“There was a groundswell of people prepared to
take action and talk to politicians and to the companies
involved, which is how we got into this position,” she
“First came the ban on CSG mining and now Mantle
Mining has decided there is no social licence for those
sorts of developments.”
Ms Thomas said Mantle Mining’s decision proves
beyond a doubt that people power does work.
“One person can make a difference,” she said.
Mantle Mining was contacted for comment.
Lone runner in mayoral race
JUST two weeks ago, Cr Andrew McE-
wen told The Star he was seriously con-
sidering nominating for mayor.
Cr Don Hill also told this newspaper he would nom-
inate for deputy mayor.
When the time came to vote last Wednesday, Cr
McEwen instead nominated Cr Ray Argento for the role
and the council backed him unanimously, electing first
time councillor Argento to the top role, unopposed.
Cr Hill nominated Cr Maxine Kiel for the deputy
role and she was elected to the position, also unop-
In the previous council, councillors Hill and McE-
wen had often vied with some other councillors, whom
they dubbed the “majority bloc”.
Whether councillors McEwen and Hill did not have
the support of their fellow councillors or had a change
of heart, Cr McEwen was quick out of his chair to con-
gratulate Cr Argento, a public display that seemed to in-
dicate he was willing to work with his new councillors
and move on.
“The election has indicated the community wanted
constructive change,” Cr McEwen said.
“We will look at working together in a collaborative
and mutually respectful way.”
Cr Hill recently wrote a letter to councillors con-
cerned the decision to appoint Cr Argento as mayor was
made behind closed doors and not in open council.
He did not wish to comment further when contacted
by The Star, saying, “We have a new mayor and deputy
mayor with support from all nine councillors”.
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