editors letterPEOPLE in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones they say and that old adage could easily apply to Bass Coast Councillors Clare Le Serve and Neil Rankine, neither of them a stranger to the political process.
Both Cr Le Serve and Cr Rankine have criticised local member for Bass Ken Smith in recent weeks for not doing enough for the area over his time in office.
It’s an easy remark to make but not so easy to prove.
And it’s come back to bite the councillors on the butt after Mr Smith fired a broadside back at the council, with whom he’s had a testy relationship over the years.
It can’t have helped that the local shire was snubbed with the recent announcement about a review for Phillip Island.
It should be said from the outset that Cr Le Serve is standing as an independent in Bass while Cr Rankine has previously stood, unsuccessfully, as a Greens candidate in the local State seat, so both have an axe to grind.
But, on the face it at least, they appear to have an argument.
While Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan has been running around making one funding announcement after another in recent weeks, it’s been deathly silence from Mr Smith and his man Brian Paynter, apart from the unknown amount to pay for the island review.
By comparison, Peter Ryan has been kicking goals with both feet for his electorate.
In the past week alone he has handed out over $1.6 million for Korumburra’s Karmai Community Children’s Centre, towards a $5.3m project, $1.3 million for the rail trail bridges and $1.6 million towards a $50 million Toora milk factory development set to create 45 jobs.
What has Bass got from Ken?
Mr Smith says there have been many major announcements along the way and while he would have liked to see the Wonthaggi education precinct, Wonthaggi sub-regional hospital and major redevelopment of the Penguin Parade attraction funded on his watch, he predicts these will be the subject of election promises.
But, the Bass Coast Council is not blameless, he says.
Mr Smith claims the shire has dropped the ball on advocating for grants and projects for its community, and he lays much of the blame for that at the feet of former shire CEO Allan Bawden, together with a lack of effort by the shire’s own grants department.
“Pretty much everything they’ve asked for they’ve got. The fact is they haven’t asked for enough,” Mr Smith said.
The poor relationship between Mr Smith and the Bass Coast Shire goes back a long way and if there’s one outcome we’d like to see out of the November 29 election, it’s a better working relationship between the new MP and council.
And the challenge is there too for Bass Coast to emulate the efforts of South Gippsland’s highly-valued grants officer, Penni Ellicott, and her team, and work harder for funding for Bass Coast.