Home' The Great Southern Star : January 4th 2017 Contents PAGE 12 - “THE STAR” Wednesday, January 4, 2017
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
“Venus Bay. I’ve been coming
here for 24 years. It’s a nice
What is your favourite beach is South Gippsland?
“Inverloch because it’s safe
for families and there’s always
a really good vibe.”
Beau Van Agtmaal,
“Powlett River because it’s
good fun, has easy access and
hardly anyone goes there.”
“Inverloch because it’s a safe beach,
and the people are lovely and friend-
ly. It’s a really special spot.”
IF THERE’s any time you’re glad your community is serviced
by a first class health service, it’s when you need it – and espe-
cially in an emergency.
The emergency department at Wonthaggi Hospital has faced
staffing challenges in years gone by, but with dedicated emergency
doctors, nurses and ward clerks now on duty, the community can
rest assured it has the support of a 24 hour, seven day a week service
covering a massive area, from Phillip Island to Grantville, and all
the way to Welshpool in the east.
While waiting for treatment is a part of seeking emergency care,
cases are processed on the basis of priority and those with minor
ailments are generally only too happy to wait should a cardiac case
or similar present.
Bass Coast Health, which oversees the emergency department,
has applied to the State Government for $10 million to rebuld the
department and relocate it to the front of the hospital.
This is a project the government cannot overlook.
The record for the number of patients seen at the emergency
department in 24 hours has been broken twice in the past week.
First it was 99, then it was 101.
While the closure of medical clinics over the Christmas and New
Year holiday periods would have contributed to those figures, the
fact is the resident population of Bass Coast and South Gippsland
is growing, and at this time of the year, the region is swamped by
Typically the more tourists an area receives, the more people
discover the area and the more they move here, and the cycle
Wonthaggi Hospital needs a bigger emergency department
to meet demand. There is no doubt about it and with a funding
announcing due from the State Government any day, the case in
favour cannot be overlooked.
It’s a matter of health, for you, and your family and friends.
Emergency upgrade is vital
to our region’s health
REGARDING the Bass Coast
Shire Council meeting at Cowes
on December 14, 2016, we have
greatly enjoyed our first two
years as residents of Phillip Is-
land and were delighted to have
the opportunity to attend this
council meeting – and we were
well satisfied by the experience.
As with other residents who at-
tended the meeting, we were eager
to see more positive directions for
the Island, as part of the overall
shire. We were impressed by the
conduct of the meeting and the de-
It was obvious some other visi-
tors at the meeting were disappointed
council decided not to proceed imme-
diately with some proposals, includ-
ing aspects of the Cultural Centre and
the pool. From our perspective, these
decisions were responsibly taken, as
financial foundations for much of the
work require further clarification.
It would have been easy for the
council to follow the recent global
trends towards popularist policy
design and decision making, and to
accede to the demands of resident
In these financially volatile
times, it is most important to move
forward within the current financial
capabilities of any organisation,
which is what the council appears to
have done. Clearly, the door is still
open to proposals but all decisions
need to be wisely considered.
We came away from the meet-
ing, understanding more about the
workings of the council and what
the new councillors appear to offer.
We also realised this council
appears to be well led and adopts
a responsible decision making ap-
proach, based upon sound business
and financial management, all of
which is essential in managing the
multi-million dollar enterprise that
is the Bass Coast Shire Council.
At a time when there is dissatis-
faction with governments in many
parts of the world, council has an
opportunity to showcase a style of
local government that reflects an
administration that demonstrates
the transparency, communication,
connection with community and
accountability that is both possible
and essential in any vibrant society
in the 21st
A good start, so far. We will fol-
low progress with great anticipation
Peter and Honey Spence,
AS THE weather warms up,
many of us will be looking to
cool off in the water.
Whether it’s a pool, creek, river,
beach or even the garden hose, I
urge everyone to remember the
safety message from Swimming
Victoria, to ‘Play it Safe by the
Water’ this summer.
Our surf life savers do an amaz-
ing job, but need your help, so
please listen to their advice, always
swim between the flags when pres-
ent, never swim alone and perhaps
most importantly, never swim in-
Alcohol contributes to at least
20 percent of all adult drowning
deaths each year. However, it is
suspected the overall figure is likely
to be higher as alcohol is not tested
for in all drowning deaths. Swim-
ming and alcohol just don’t mix.
There’s a lot to enjoy through-
out Gippsland over the summer,
please enjoy it responsibly. For
more information visit https://www.
Gippsland South MLA.
READING our local papers,
and hearing feedback from
many community members, I
believe the early performance
of our new Bass Coast Council
augurs well for our community
in this new year, and beyond.
Already our councillors have
demonstrated they are genuinely
listening to the community and
are working in the best interests
of the whole community by lead-
ing, rather than by following the
For example, we see the great
result achieved with the successful
relocation of the life saving patrol
tower at Inverloch’s surf beach.
Whereas the previous council
appeared to adopt an adversarial
approach to the tower situation, our
new councillors immediately turned
that position on its head.
They swiftly engaged with the
surf club, council officers, and the
minister, to produce a very timely
and satisfactory outcome. And only
just in the nick of time for the sum-
Visitors, both local and from
around the world, will enjoy their
beach holiday in added safety as the
great team of life savers and volun-
teers keep a watchful eye over the
water precinct from the relocated
For another example, we have
the recent decision by councillors to
pause and reconsider the merit and
feasibility of committing almost $1
million of ratepayers’ money into
design drawings for the Cowes Cul-
Rather than blithely waving
through the recommendations from
council’s senior officers, our new
councillors pointed out significant
deficiencies in the report such as:
• important information about
the amount of borrowings associ-
ated with the project had not been
disclosed to the community;
• important financial informa-
tion about grant funding and other
conditions had not been fully dis-
closed to council; and
• the Federal Government did not
accept the figures claimed in coun-
cil’s business case and thus rejected
council’s application for funding.
In hitting the pause button on
part of this $18 million combined
project, our councillors have dem-
onstrated prudent and proper man-
agement of ratepayer monies.
Our community, like all others,
has competing needs and wants.
But just as our individual fami-
lies must live within their financial
means and determine appropriate
priorities for spending and borrow-
ing, so too must our community
family. Our new councillors under-
But it seems to me the CEO
and perhaps some of the senior of-
ficers at council are not accustomed
to these higher standards of fiscal
rigour, and they have some way to
go in order to step up to the more
disciplined approach being applied
by the new councillors.
With the CEO on $330,000
and his senior officers averaging
$150,000, let’s hope they can catch
the newly elected Bass Coast
Shire Council for its decision
on December 14 not to spend
$800,000 on detailed drawings
for the cultural centre revitali-
It was a responsible decision
as council cannot at this time be
spending on non essential items.
I, like many others, would like
a revitalised cultural centre but un-
fortunately council’s weak financial
position did not help our applica-
tion for funding for the project.
The Auditor General’s report
shows despite the previous council
stating what a good job it has done,
the reality is very different. Our
council has been underperforming.
Rates for the 2017-2018 bud-
get are being capped at two per-
cent, thus increasing rate revenue
by $867,201, however employee
costs, according to the budget, will
increase by $915,000 to nearly
$50,000 more than the extra rate
Bass Coast Shire Council obvi-
ously cannot afford any additional
expenditure until the financial posi-
tion is improved.
WONTHAGGI North Pri-
mary School farewelled its
graduating Grade Six students
in a presentation ceremony
The ceremony was held at the Won-
thaggi Arts Centre.
Jasmine Scales was congratulated for
receiving the overall academic award.
Subject awards were presented to
Bethany Reitsma and Rosie Carter for
English, Amy Britt for the arts, Jarvis
Atkinson for science, Niamh Mur-
ray and Matthew Dean for maths, and
Leah Zappa for physical education.
Harry Adams received the citizen-
ship award, while Saphora Palmayre,
Matilda Peters, Zoe Bilson and Casey
Frazer received awards for personal
Wonthaggi Rotary Club president
Graeme Sprague was the sponsor rep-
The staff and the students’ families
were proud to celebrate the achieve-
ments of the entire graduating class.
Congratulations: Wonthaggi Rotary Club president Graeme Sprague (back, far left) and Wonthaggi
North Primary School principal Andrew Strickland (back, far right) presented awards to graduating Grade
Six students, back from left, Bethany Reitsma, Amy Britt, Harry Adams, Jarvis Atkinson, Niamh Murray
and Matthew Dean, and front from left, Rosie Carter, Saphora Palmayre, Leah Zappa, Matilda Peters, Zoe
Bilson, Jasmine Scales and Casey Frazer.
RECENT terror attacks in
Germany have touched South
At least 12 people were killed
and around 50 injured after a truck
ploughed into crowds attending Christ-
mas markets in Berlin.
Jill Carmody from Leongatha Trav-
el and Cruise was in Berlin 12 months
ago specifically to visit the Christmas
She said it was “horrific” to hear of
the alleged attack on the city.
“It is so sad for the victims and their
families and everyone else who has
been directly or indirectly affected by
this heinous act,” she said.
“I am devastated for the people of
Ms Carmody said the people of
Germany put a lot of effort into their
Christmas markets, which attract visi-
tors from all around the world.
“During our time in Berlin we
saw many of the workers call in to
the Christmas markets, some of them
had fine dining restaurants where they
would gather for their evening meal
and enjoy a drink with their friends be-
fore going home in the evening,” she
“Our prayers and thoughts are with
them as they face the inevitable results
of this crime, which included burying
their relatives and friends when they
should be preparing to celebrate on
Christmas Eve, which is part of their
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