My name is David Liebelt, and I am nominating for a council position in the Coastal Prom Ward.

I am married to Darlene and have four children and eight grandchildren.

I have been a resident of Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower for 21 years. Starting as many do as a holiday house owner. My wife Darlene and I purchased the Venus Bay General Store in 2007 and ran this for the next 7 years. Since then, I have been a restauranteur and am now a manager at the local Foodworks in Inverloch.

Over the years I have been involved in the Venus Bay Pippie Reference Group where we assessed the impact of pippie hunting and the sustainability of the mollusc. We implemented education programs and signage in various languages, we employed university research to study the molluscs movement and life cycle.

As a member of the local business association, I worked on having domestic rubbish collection introduced to Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower. Success here removed the onerous task for the elderly of getting their rubbish taken to the local transfer station. It also, I believe significantly reduced the dumping of rubbish at the beaches and in our parks. The

Business Association strongly supported Friends of Venus Bay in the quest to “Save our Reserves”. We rejoiced at the council meeting we attended that voted in our favour.

I was a committee member of the Bald Hills Wind Farm Funds allocation that distributed $25,000 per annum to not for profit local organisations.

As owner of the Venus Bay General Store, we were a major sponsor and supporter of the Venus Bay Surf Life Saving Club. This extraordinary group of people save lives every year and provide a safer beach for all who visit.

I feel strongly about sustainable development; whilst welcoming tourism and population growth it must occur with respect to the environment and the existing community values.

The Coastal Ward features many small communities that can be adversely affected by short term decisions based on profit. I will consult with all these communities to ensure that their views are heard clearly. Whilst I am against the creation of sealed footpaths, kerb and channelling in towns like Venus Bay and Sandy Point; I strongly support the development of walking/bike paths linking various community resources and beaches. Gravel road maintenance needs to be improved as does roadside drainage across the shire.

I will strive to maintain the amenity and culture of our small towns.

Support for the local businesses will be a priority, they employ the majority of our children, sponsor our sporting clubs and support local charities.
COVID-19 has placed even further demands and stresses on these businesses and I will work towards removing the obstacles and red tape that inhibits them achieving their potential.

I have a Bachelor of Economics and Diploma Applied Finance and Investment. I have been self-employed for over 20 years, I understand budgetary constraints; cost/benefit analysis and opportunity cost.

I will maintain a close eye on the council’s budget with a view to minimising waste and duplication. Debt is nothing to be feared. Debt enables growth if it is managed prudently.

I do not believe that this current administration has managed the budget favourably for all constituents.

I feel that the period of under administration has not been at all beneficial to the South Gippsland community. A number of points can be made here but I would like to focus on just one for now.

Under the current administrators we have seen the ability of community members to be heard eroded substantially. This is not sound from a democratic viewpoint. I will push strongly for the re-introduction of public presentations at council which was abolished by the administrators.

I believe this new council should show leadership. My university studies in climatology and coastal geomorphology clearly support the need for urgent action on climate change by every level of government. We must acknowledge the climate emergency we are facing.

The council can show leadership in supporting environmentally sustainable practices in agriculture; business and tourism.

What I hope to bring to the table is a good ear. I have built strong relationships with many differing groups because of my ability to listen and have empathy. I pride myself on honesty and collaboration with all community members. We may not agree at times, but let’s talk.

My job will be to represent you and your views. Not mine.

David Liebelt, Venus Bay.