Food for thought for prospective councillors for South Gippsland Shire (SGS).

Whilst council is running its community leadership course, others in our community, being well qualified, may wish to put their hands up for the jobs.

The council-run course apparently indoctrinates attendees in how the administration wants you to think. However, administration’s ideologies and our community’s needs and requirements can be very different!

Council’s new Community Engagement Policy, prepared by bureaucracy on the basis of what they are happy doing, had little, if any, community input!

Pathetic Satisfaction Survey results confirm our community expects much better engagement, rather than arrogant contempt for ratepayers!
Any analysis of the SGS would conclude, “We can do better”! To this end, the new council should start by putting together a nine-point plan for implementation in its first six months, followed by a review of the outcomes, before moving on with a revised nine-point plan.

Possible initial nine-point plan:
1. Revise the Community Engagement Policy to one that, a) genuinely welcomes and considers community input in decision making priorities; and b) promptly, proactively and informally releases their information sought by FOI applications, in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the recently released report titled, ‘The State of Freedom of Information in Victoria’ – Five years in review 2014 to 2019, as published by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) website.

2. Invite community input for discussion at wide-ranging traditional public community meetings on developing the “Community Vision”.

3. Change the… culture in the administration from ‘process’ to one of outcomes; doing more with less.

4. Draft a budget that prudently has a zero-rate increase – achieved by not replacing staff who leave, given the current staff turn-over in excess of 10 per cent each year. Those wage savings total more than a zero-rate change would cost!

5. Create a council that looks to create carefully planned and controlled growth in SGS. Without controlled growth we cannot provide the jobs and minimum number of permanent residents to viably achieve these important services, including (as explained by Health Minister Greg Hunt) a fee-free, fully staffed 24-hour emergency facility at Leongatha hospital, Myki ticketing on buses between Melbourne and Yarram, bus service to The Prom, etc…

6. Ensure the caravan park management cessation is finalised and a competent and reliable monitoring system is in place for the leases.

7. Commit to the Agnes Falls viewing platform construction ASAP.

8. Establish planning sessions with Parks Victoria, South Gippsland Water Board and community representatives to facilitate a water supply from Foster to Yanakie and Waratah Bay.

9. Review all land development applications, discussing with applicants how SGS can facilitate progress of approved applications to finality.

Roger F. Aldons, Foster North.