Toppling a minister

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IF you’re unhappy with decisions made by the state planning minister, try to get him sacked through the ballot box. At least that’s the thinking of Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill.

Cr Gill has outlined a plan to seek public funding for an assault on Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s seat of Richmond at the November state election.

“I’m not too familiar with crowdfunding, but I’ll find someone who knows the technical parts of setting up an online way of raising money to make sure he’s not re-elected,” Cr Gill told The Times.

He said trying to influence the outcome of elections on the peninsula was pointless as all three seats – Nepean (Martin Dixon – who is retiring at the next election), Mornington (David Morris) and Hastings (Neale Burgess) – are firmly held by Liberals, and most likely to stay that way.

Attacking the seat held by the Labor government’s planning minister would be a far more effective lobbying tool.

Cr Gill stresses that he is acting as a private citizen and not a councillor, although the shire has also voiced dissatisfaction at the planning minister’s decisions, mainly to do with building heights and densities and changes to green wedge planning provisions.

Emails from the shire carry the following statement: “Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is very concerned about recent state government changes that may drastically affect the peninsula. For more information, please visit our website at www.mornpen.vic.gov.au or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mornpenshire.”

“There’s the ability on the peninsula [of people] to fund something like this,” Cr Gill said.

“We need to show the government it can’t take safe seats for granted and there’s enough time before the November election to get something started. I won’t be asking the shire to join in, although it’s already advocating against what [Mr Wynne is] doing. I think Richmond is likely to fall to the Greens anyway.”

Cr Gill said $200 million promised to Frankston in recent elections “shows the advantages of living in a marginal electorate”.

Frankston is held for the Labor Party by Paul Edbrooke with a less than one per cent margin.

The three peninsula MPs are comfortable, with margins on a two-party preferred basis of 25 per cent for David Morris, and more than 15 per cent each for Mr Burgess and Mr Dixon.

“We don’t get any commitments like Frankston because the peninsula is comprised of three safe Liberal seats so we need to find other ways. Because we’re in a safe seat we need to do something about this and look outside the square.”

Cr Gill first raised his idea for pressuring the government through Mr Wynne at a meeting of Western Port and Peninsula Protection Council on Sunday 13 January saying that he believed Mr Wynne was “interfering with proper and orderly planning policy and long-term planning principles without public consultation under the guise of fixing short term problems”.

“With this attitude developers will be allowed to continue to exploit loopholes that allow inappropriate developments on the peninsula,” Cr Gill said.

The “present and future dangers” to the peninsula followed the government’s decision to include it in the Metropolitan Planning Zone “thus forcing city planning regulations onto the local planning scheme in a policy decision to increase population density”.

“Governments should be listening to the views of local people, not just the top end of town,” Cr Gill said.

Cr Gill said Mornington Peninsula Shire “opposes much of the damaging changes being made by Mr Wynne”, had its own housing and settlement strategy and “is attempting to get rid of planning scheme loopholes that are currently allowing over-development on the peninsula”.

“Those that come to the peninsula [to live] should not bring suburbia with them or expect us to change the peninsula for them.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 29 January 2018

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