The crisis at Bass Coast Shire Council has clearly escalated to the point where management felt the need to call an emergency meeting with the Premier recently.
Otherwise, why would a Premier, who also has a Minister for Local Government, waste his precious time on a council with virtually zero achievements, unless he wished to eye-ball the CEO who recently trousered a jaw-dropping pay-rise to $330,000 per annum.
It’s highly likely Premier Andrews personally dropped in to see for himself why the local economy in Wonthaggi and surrounding towns is struggling and in need of urgent state government intervention.
There is also a well-resourced, popular and determined Stand Alone movement on Phillip Island seeking to cut ties with the Wonthaggi-centric Bass Coast Shire Council due to years of neglect and indifference.
Plus in the last month, a populist petition against rate increases has emerged from a groundswell of business leaders and ratepayers in Inverloch and spread across the shire.
Along with PIPA, this group will call the council to account at November’s elections.
That’s the crisis in a nutshell and that’s why the Premier devoted much of his day to this basket case council.
Why were no representatives of PIPA invited to the council’s meeting with the Premier to discuss future directions for the shire?
The answer is simple if you understand this council’s anti-island mindset.
Bass Coast Shire Council’s survival strategy is to exclude, ignore and marginalise PIPA at all costs, especially in this election year. Breaking News: It’s not going to work.
But we were there regardless. The elephant in the meeting room at Wonthaggi last Friday was Phillip Island, or more to the point, the pile of money siphoned from this Island’s successful tourism economy to prop up Bass Coast Shire.
Council’s budget is built on the bedrock of rate revenue from Phillip Island, so any change to the status quo will require a new way forward for Bass Coast, or its dismemberment, something Premier Andrews and his Local Government Minister will be required to contemplate, no matter how inconvenient.
It’s critical that the Premier and his ministers get involved, but they must also hear the full story from this community… not just the council’s lame excuses for inaction.
So next time there’s a so-called PR photo opportunity, spare us yet another selfie with the latest rookie mayor. Let’s have one of our fabulous life-savers tossing a life jacket to this sinking council. Then again… why would they bother?
Jason Cameron, Rhyll, Phillip Island.