THERE’S no obvious string to pull together Phillip Island’s stand-alone claims, the subterfuge over South Gippsland’s rates and the scourge of the drug Ice.
But all three should not be allowed to pass this week without comment.
1. We can all understand Phillip Island’s frustration with the Bass Coast Shire Council but the fact is that the Island missed its chance to take control of the council at the last election and it won’t be until 2016 rolls around that they’ll get that chance again.
As it stands though, they don’t need to go to the very costly option of seceding from the mainland before they’ve at least tried to shore up the votes they potentially have on council already.
The first thing they should do is insist on a meeting with their own local representatives; the Deputy Mayor Cr Kimberley Brown (McHaffie Ward), Cr Phil Wright (Churchill Ward), and Cr Andrew Phillips (Thompson Ward). If they can impress on those three that they need to vote as a block, they only have to get one other councillor to go with them and San Remo resident Cr Bradley Drew (Anderson Ward) is the obvious one to target.
Although his ward covers North Wonthaggi, it also encroaches on to the Island and he could be expected to sympathise with the Island resident’s needs.
If these councillors, especially the three Islanders aren’t representing Island residents, you’d want to be asking “if not, why not?!”
2. On the issue of the South Gippsland Shire Council budget, now is not the time to be complacent. Your rates could be going up by as much as 10 per cent this year and you only have until May 28 to challenge it.
The shire council does not seem to get it that average people are finding it tough to make ends meet and costs, like rates, simply cannot keep going up and up. Shire staff wages and built in EBA increases have gone beyond reality for a rural area and an increase of $918,000 in wages for basically the same number of people is not sustainable.
3. On the issue of Ice, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times is entitled to some of the credit for being the first media outlet in the State to take up the call-to-action by Gippsland Chief Magistrate, Clive Allsop, on ‘the Ice Epidemic’ which has now yielded $34 million in State funding to put more people and programs out on the streets. Well done Mr Allsop and well done us… and we’re not leaving it rest there!