Sentinel Times, Managaing Director, Michael Giles

WHY is it that all the residential streets in Inverloch are sealed, with kerb and channelling and tidy nature strips where Phillip Island’s are not?
Why is it that Inverloch’s expansion appears to be well-planned, contained and with a better quality of housing while Phillip Island is a dog’s breakfast?
Why is it that the jewel in the local tourism crown, the place that generates the jobs and much of the region’s economic prosperity, Phillip Island, is so poorly presented, poorly maintained and poorly resourced?
In the Inverloch versus Phillip Island comparison its because Inverloch was a key focus of the old Woorayl Shire prior to amalgamation and the good planning established under that regime has stood the town in good stead to the point now where it is the most desirable place along the south coast to live.
Phillip Island? Not so much!
Do get me wrong. Phillip has it all over Inverloch when it comes to great ocean views, glorious beaches and economic strength from attractions and visitor numbers.
It’s just that the Island has been a victim of bad timing in that shire amalgamations happened just at the time when the Island was approaching a major growth spurt and the local shire council was ready to swing into action with a huge residential street scheme program and other improvements to meet the challenges of growth.
Getting your street sealed then would have cost each home owner under 415,000, now it’s well in excess of $30,000 to $40,000 per block, beyond many on fixed incomes without some lateral thinking.
All that was put on hold by amalgamations and the period of administration that followed and since then the Island has become the cash cow for the ‘Shire of Wonthaggi’ (Bass Coast), out of sight and out of mind where funding for projects is concerned but also with the shire not raising sufficient rate revenue to match government grants, or wasting money on an unsustainably large and highly-paid bureaucracy.
The result is that growth, development and visitor numbers have raced well ahead of infrastructure and maintenance on the Island and many serious problems have arisen, not the least of which are untreated coastal erosion, wildlife deaths and crazy traffic congestion.
Even on a winter’s weekend, traffic on Phillip Island Road past the string of settlements on the Island’s surf side; Surf Beach, Sunderland Bay and the like, was near bumper-to-bumper as visitors made their way home after a glorious couple of days.
Gathering dust on a shire shelf somewhere is an old proposal for a service road down that slow-moving strip, with some exits on to the highway closed off, while access and egress is much safer and better controlled.
Let’s have a look at that plan again.
Certainly, successive State Governments have been at fault too, with their citycentric attitudes, both sides of politics that is. Daniel Andrews needs to be given plenty of credit for the redevelopment of the penguin parade, health hub and junior campus announcements in recent times but the Island needs more, a lot more, if it is to handle the pressure of visitor numbers and growth.
Not just a few sweet treats heading up to an election but an overall growth plan that takes a short, medium and long-term view of what’s needed on the Island.
And the organisation that should be providing the leadership on this is the Bass Coast Shire Council.
In fact, the needs of the Island should be the shire’s number one priority plan for funding and advocacy.