06I refer to the article in The Age newspaper titled ‘Disgruntled Phillip Islanders seek to be an island unto themselves’, dated April 19.
If this is the calibre of the debate from the ‘Stand Alone’ lobby on this important issue, God help us if these people get control of Phillip Island.
Apart from the lack of sophistication of their public comments, I am more concerned about the confused nature of what the ‘Stand Aloners’ are actually standing for.
With reference to the three main points of contention outlined in The Age article:
1. The Stand Aloners are claiming that the Island contributes 47 per cent of the rate revenue “but gets very little in return”. If they are referring to capital expenditure, I would like to know what data they are basing their assumption on; none has been provided.
2. The former “tip” (landfill) is just one of the many ill-considered and environmentally disastrous decisions made by the ‘Good Old’ former Phillip Island Shire – Other disasters created by the former Phillip Island Shire include permitting wholesale of vegetation removal and the creation of totally inappropriate coastal subdivisions with no road, stormwater, pedestrian or other infrastructure – the current Bass Coast Shire will be paying for this mess for decades to come.
The landfill operations saw the dumping of garbage into the environmentally sensitive Rhyll wetlands, with the potential for leachate entering the wetlands flowing into Western Port; the same bay in which the Port of Hastings is located – the port that some of the Stand Aloners want to stop being redeveloped due to environmental concerns!
Even more ludicrous is the fact that it was the former Phillip Island Shire that failed to make alternative arrangements or extend the life of the landfill and instead sold the site off to the State Government! (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources/Phillip Island Nature Park)
As I understand, the transfer of the land was affected by the interim Commissioners, prior to amalgamation.
Thankfully, the environmentally disastrous landfilling operations were shut down by the Nature Park (not the current Bass Coast Shire) with transfer operations ceasing in 2013, so that the site could be finally be rehabilitated.
Perhaps if there were some unity on the Island, we could actually get a decision regarding a new transfer station…
3. With regard to hospitals; Funding for hospitals is the responsibility of the State Government, not local council. The statement: “Drivers beware. No hospital on the island. Drive carefully” implies that there should be a sophisticated ICU/emergency surgery facility on the Island. This suggestion is just ridiculous. Any serious case of road trauma would result in Paramedic first response and an immediate airlift to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
The reason that there is no funding for a hospital on the Island is that there is simply no way that a local (micro) hospital would be sustainable for the tiny population/demand of the Island.
A basic bush hospital may have been acceptable 50 years ago, however based on today’s high medical standards and the litigious nature of modern society, even basic 24 hour emergency care is an unaffordable fantasy.
When I reported to the “old” Cowes hospital seeking basic after hours assistance, I was left waiting in the street for ages.
When the hospital door finally opened, I was promptly redirected to Wonthaggi and then Dandenong. I doubt anything would change today.
With no prospect of 24 hour emergency care, it would be a complete waste of millions of dollars of valuable taxpayers’ money for the State Government to finance a Cowes hospital.
Even the local paramedics, operating on the very front line of health care, endorse the upgrade of the Wonthaggi Hospital to a sub-regional level over a new facility in Cowes as a better outcome for the greater community.
The concept that the Bass Coast Shire Council is somehow responsible for the closure of the Cowes hospital and that a demerger will magically finance its reopening demonstrates that the Stand Aloners have a complete lack of understanding of the role of local and State Government.
Based on the evidence, I cannot see how standing alone will actually achieve the stated goals.
This raises the question of whether the defunct councillors and would-be king-makers leading Stand Alone actually want to achieve positive change for the Island or are they just longing for the ‘Good Old Days’ when they used to ‘run the show’.
If the Stand Aloners want a municipal review, they can fund an independent investigation, present facts with accuracy then use the political process to achieve their change.
I do not want my valuable rate or tax money being incinerated on reviewing a populist demerger that any rational mind can already see will be unsustainable and unable to achieve the stated goals.
Robbie J Viglietti, Cowes.