I read with great interest the article ‘Battle Royal Looms for South Gippsland’ (Sentinel-Times, January 22, p3), as we ratepayers all need to keep a close eye on the outcome.
There is no point in whinging about the outcome later! The ‘stakeholders’ which were quoted, all make valid arguments from their particular point of view.
With the current thinking, the South Gippsland Shire Council sure has a problem on their hands and will be lucky if they make anyone happy.
After careful scrutiny of the various ‘stakeholder’ positions, the ‘takeout’ for me is there is not one single mention of the ‘elephant in the room’.
In business parlance, this elephant is termed “Growing the Pie”.
Trying to figure out a new way to divvy up the present rate revenue pie is not the answer. In this case, the solution can come from expanding the rates base rapidly – more permanent residents initially.
Such an achievement will see the council with more funds to play with. Not that simple, of course! By increasing the population of the shire, there are more people to service, thus more expenditure.
Countering that problem is the fact new businesses will follow the people. That equates to more jobs becoming available and fewer (if any), empty shops.
The current rate of growth, whilst good, isn’t getting the job done!
Thinking outside the square – what might happen if the council sets an aspirational target of doubling the population of the shire, in say five years? The people are there; in Melbourne; hankering to get the hell out of there.
With proper promotion, it shouldn’t be too difficult to ‘sell’ the South Gippsland Shire as being a great place to live.
The question is can we cut enough red and green tape to implement such a transformation in a short timeframe.
It’s a way to get the shire on Spring Street’s radar and get funding for both old and new projects. On balance, too many people is a better problem to have than not enough people. Towns everywhere die through a lack of population!
Managing the new problems generated should not be beyond the capability of the council!
In any case, if the promotion was to fail, the expenditure would still have a useful outcome through increased tourist visitation as a result of the shire having been put under the noses of the ‘Melbourneites’ (and what the people see will be seen by government bods as well).
Initially the jobs are not here – a hurdle, but not an unsolvable one. Within a single generation, the jobs will be here – as has happened elsewhere.
History tells us businesses come after the people, not the other way around, as some councillors appear to think, judging by the individual views/aspirations they had published in The Star recently.
Most espoused admirable wishes with smallish ventures, but clearly lack vision when it comes to anything really big, like understanding how a strategy for a rapid population growth might be developed and achieved.
My perception (based solely on their published comments), is there might be exceptions in Cr Andrew McEwen, Cr Jim Fawcett and Cr Rosemary Cousin.
As I have stated previously, I know virtually nothing about any of the councillors, so I have no axe to grind and no intention to offend any of them.
Nothing really new about what I am suggesting – similar transformations have been achieved elsewhere. There is a difference right now though – in the fact that Spring Street is hunting, with a heightened degree of urgency, for a solution to relieve the over-population problem in Melbourne.
A smart council ought to be doing whatever we can to help them out!
These thoughts are my own and are based almost entirely on what is published in the local newspapers and underscored by personal experiences.
Both papers do a great job and have a penchant for telling it like it is!
John McCombe, Leongatha.