Bass MP Ken Smith was presented with a petition containing thousands of signatures from Phillip Island ratepayers who are calling for their island to break away from Bass Coast. Stand Alone Phillip Island campaigners who delivered the petition to the MP’s office included Robyn Dixon, Phil Becker, Trevor Ware, Stephen Fullarton, Gwen McRae, Greg Price and Rod Spottiswood. G132114
PHILLIP Island’s Stand Alone campaign takes a major step forward this week after its petition is expected to be tabled in State Parliament.
Members of the group presented Bass MP Ken Smith with the bundle, containing a final tally of 8600 signatures, last Thursday.
But Mr Smith put a dampener on the occasion by telling the group he does not support the concept of Phillip Island breaking away and re-forming its own shire.
“I think it will be a very difficult thing to get up,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s about whether the island could afford to have its own council or not – whether they could afford the rates they’d pay to stand alone.”
As discussions continued in the MP’s Wonthaggi office, Stand Alone member Stephen Fullarton presented an alternative argument.
“Given that Phillip Island contributes such a huge percentage of the rate revenue, don’t you think it’s more a case of ‘can Bass Coast survive without us?’” he asked.
“Because of the costs involved, I don’t the island could afford it and I don’t think Bass Coast could afford it,” Mr Smith replied
“There would be further amalgamations that would have to take place which would probably involve South Gippsland (Shire) as well.”
Mr Smith said he believes neither his government, nor the opposition, is keen on expanding on Victoria’s 79 municipal districts.
He also pointed out that Phillip Island is already represented by the majority (four out of seven) of Bass Coast councillors.
“You’ve still got four people who are meant to be talking on behalf of the island,” Mr Smith told the group.
“If they think there should be more money going into Phillip Island, they’re the ones that make the decision.
“You elected them.
“You should be more careful of the people you elect.”
Speaking after he was presented with the petition, Mr Smith said people who signed Stand Alone’s petition “should have been made aware of what it is going to cost them”.
“Should they stand alone, people will probably find it will cost a lot more – probably double the rates they’ve got now,” Mr Smith said.
He said any decision based around a review would be up to Local Government Minister Tim Bull, who is, according to Mr Smith, aware of the Stand Alone campaign.
Mr Bull’s office is yet to return phone calls from the Sentinel-Times.
Stand Alone Phillip Island is now preparing for what is expected to be a massive public rally in Cowes on June 8.
‘Standalone’ or just standing up for more?
REGARDLESS of what you think about the relative merits of Phillip Island’s ‘Stand-alone’ campaign, Island residents might already be winning.
That’s the view of one of the leaders of the campaign, local real estate agent Greg Price, who claims the Bass Coast Shire has developed a more visible presence on the Island since the initiative was launched.
And there’s also the matter of the council’s about face over the island’s aspirational aquatic centre, although there’s a $5 million gap between commitment and completion.
“We’ve seen a renewed level of interest from them over here since Stand-alone stated,” Mr Price said last week.
“I hope that’s reflected in their budget decisions.
“And what we have done has been of interest to other areas, like Grantville and Inverloch, who’ve also been missing out.
“If that forces the shire to take a different look at what they are doing at budget time, so be it, but something has definitely got to change.”
Mr Price was speaking after the presentation of a petition signed by 8600 people calling for the de-amalgamation of Phillip Island from Bass Coast Shire and a review of Local Government boundaries in the region.
Mr Price still sees merit in the de-merger but also in having a Local Government review.
“No one on the island is happy with what has happened here since amalgamation and people are just fed up.
“Whether a review shows that we should include San Remo and the end of the peninsula to Anderson in it as well, it’s a consideration but we’re just not being well served under the present arrangements.”
What about the administration cost of running a small municipality?
“I don’t accept that there’s only one way to run an administration. Do you think they’re doing it the right way over there at the moment? Personally I don’t.
“We believe something has got to change and with a State Election coming up, at least we’ve got a chance of getting a hearing.
“Whatever way you look at it, Phillip Island has been getting the rough-end of the stick up until now.”