Michael-Giles_monoBy Michael Giles

Good on the Wonthaggi Coasters, the under 14 girls basketball team which won the Victorian Country Championships at Shepparton recently.
It was a great effort, all the more meritorious as they come from a town with the worst indoor sports facilities in the state.
Last Saturday night, when Wonthaggi Power played Leongatha in the football and netball at Leongatha, the netball matches were played in the magnificent, dual-court SG Splash Centre.
Wonthaggi has a bigger population and should have a bigger facility for its families than Leongatha but it is sadly lacking.
Just down the road at Korumburra, they’ve also got an excellent dual-court stadium which joins with Poowong and Leongatha to host a major basketball tournament each year.
Even the little town of Yarram has two basketball stadiums, including the dual-court Walpole Centre at the secondary college.
But Wonthaggi, a town that is 30 times larger than Poowong, does not have a dedicated sports stadium with the basketball association having to bounce around between single-court, undersized facilities at the Wonthaggi North school, YMCA centre, Webb’s shed and the Dudley campus.
In these days when obesity levels are on the rise among children, especially in country areas, the inability of the Bass Coast Shire and the State Government to get its act together and provide decent sports facilities in Wonthaggi is verging on criminal neglect.
Certainly the shire and the Wonthaggi Secondary College has pitched for a new education and cultural precinct in the town which would have seen the development of new indoor sports facilities.
But this has been going on for years and years. How much longer does the town have to wait while generations of kids pass through?
It all comes back to the fact that the Bass Coast Shire is not generating enough money from rates, $8 million less than comparable shires, and spending $4 million more than its neighbours on staff wages, to be in a position to even find the matching money needed to attract the State grants.
Jumping rates up 30 per cent in a year will never wash with the public so the shire council must cut back and cut back hard, starting with its top-heavy bureaucratic structure, for us to get anywhere with these much-needed projects.
Or, more drastic measures like amalgamating with the higher-rating South Gippsland Shire, might have to be seriously considered.

Support Anzac Day

The community is urged to come out and support their local Anzac Day observances this Saturday, recognising the centenary of this important event in Australia’s history.
It may seem remote from us today, but almost 10 per cent of the population of Australia enlisted to fight in the First World War which is why almost everyone will have a close relative who served or paid the ultimate price.
Remembering their sacrifice and what it means to be an Australian, as symbolised by the Anzacs, is something in which we should all be participating.