By Michael Giles
IT’S time for the Mayor Cr Pam Rothfield, former local MP Alan Brown, existing Member for Bass Brian Paynter or someone acceptable as a mediator to both the board of The Wonthaggi Club and the committee of the Wonthaggi Golf Club to step in.
To give him his due, Mr Paynter has offered to do just that.
The two parties appear to have reached an intractable impasse after the decision taken last Sunday by the golf club, reportedly on a vote of 48:44, to reject the overtures from The Wonthaggi Club for a 50-year lease of all of the club’s facilities, including control of the golf club’s 138 acre site.
Apparently the members of the golf club who voted against the proposal feared losing control of the club “for a peppercorn rental of $1 a year” and what that might mean in the future.
They were put out that it appeared to be a one-sided, take it or leave it offer from The Wonthaggi Club, and they didn’t want to play that way.
Never mind that The Wonthaggi Club has already sunk $700,000 to $800,000 worth of improvements into the golf club, plus reportedly millions in operating support since it took over the short-term lease, to keep the golf club afloat.
Or that the golf club has failed to come up with a counter offer itself for the merger that all members say they support.
Having seen the golf club reject what was actually an exciting opportunity, The Wonthaggi Club is believed to be prepared to walk away from the whole arrangement now and to invest the funds they are accumulating into another venture.
They already have a contingency plan for doing just that.
But hopefully they didn’t decide to go that way at their board meeting last night, because looking to expand their existing footprint and some of the other options we have heard could actually be more fraught.
A massive opportunity to create jobs and a generational change in sporting and social facilities in the town could be lost and the golf club would be back in the same precarious financial position that threatened to send it broke five years ago.
The frustrating thing is that the board of the club and the committee of the golf club agree on one important thing – they both want what’s best for the community of Wonthaggi and district.
But simply for the sake of egos and politics, they can’t sit down together in one room, with an expert company lawyer who’d eat such an agreement for breakfast, and sort it out once and for all.
For goodness sake, how hard could it be? If they sorted out BHP’s merger with Billiton 15 years ago, they could nut this one out.
Hell, they could do it on the front nine!
Joining the huge opportunity presented by the 138-acre, centrally located sports and entertainment precinct at the golf club with the lucrative, well-managed operation of The Wonthaggi Club long enough (50 years in this case) to unlock major investment in a country club, accommodation, reception centre, and the development of golf and other sports facilities IS “what’s best for Wonthaggi” in this case.
The venue could end up being Wonthaggi’s biggest employer and visitor drawcard.
And it’s up to the people charged with the responsibility to represent the community and the members of these organisations to make it happen, or step aside for someone who can.
Don’t let this opportunity be lost on your watch!