Lobby group spreads influence


Steering committee: Ex-Frankston mayor Christine Richards is among leaders of the Committee for Greater Frankston. Picture: Gary Sissons

RATEPAYERS’ money will go to a lobby group pushing for more federal and state funding for Frankston.

A 5-1 majority of councillors at the 14 May public council meeting agreed council should join the Committee for Greater Frankston, a self-described “visionary politically independent think tank that advocates to all levels of government for a better deal for the Frankston region”.

The committee will receive $10,000 from council each year.

Committee for Greater Frankston membership is split into three tiers according to its website: ‘Corporate Sapphire ($3000), ‘Corporate Gold ($7000) and ‘Corporate Diamond’ ($10,000).

Schools can pay $2000 a year and individuals $1000.

The group is headed by president Fred Harrison, CEO of Ritchies food and liquor stores, committee CEO Ginevra Hosking, granddaughter of Frankston’s first mayor Perc Hosking who founded Hoskings Jewellers, and vice-president Christine Richards, a former Frankston councillor and mayor.

Cr Quinn McCormack was the sole voice of concern about council signing up as a Committee for Greater Frankston member.

“I don’t think council should have a seat on the Committee for Greater Frankston’s table and I don’t think we should be contributing financially to what is in effect a lobby group which has by definition the intention of influencing decisions made by a government,” Cr McCormack said at the meeting.

“We are indeed a local government.

“The committee is set up to influence legislators and officials.

“If we were to be a member of this group there’s a concern around our independence and the Committee for Greater Frankston’s independence.”

Council CEO Dennis Hovenden will “sit at the table” at the committee on council’s behalf.

A council officers’ report tabled at the meeting noted councils elsewhere across Victoria — including Melbourne City Council and Greater Geelong Council — have signed up to join such lobby groups in their regions.

The Committee for Greater Frankston has advocated for the duplication of Lathams Road in Carrum Downs and the electrification of the Frankston line to Baxter and Langwarrin.

State and federal funding respectively has been pledged in the past months for both major transport infrastructure projects.

Cr Kris Bolam praised the lobby group at the council meeting.

“They’re doing great work. They’re very professional. They’re very influential,” he said. “So $10,000 in the scheme of things is really quite a good investment for what we’ll be getting out of it.”

Cr Bolam said council will not be duty bound to agree with all of the Committee for Greater Frankston’s views and objectives, noting council has a different point of view on any Port of Hastings development.

The committee wants to push ahead with a second major container port for the Melbourne region at Hastings while a narrow majority of councillors voted late last year to no longer support the port project amid environmental concerns about impacts on Western Port Bay.

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking said the group is “thrilled” at council’s decision to sign up as a member.

“Annual subscriptions go towards research into what improvements can best benefit the wider community,” she said.

“We research and publish dossiers and background documents, issue media releases, email news to members and maintain a website.”

Crs Bolam, Sandra Mayer, Lillian O’Connor, Steve Toms and the mayor Cr Colin Hampton voted for council to join the Committee for Greater Frankston.

Cr Quinn McCormack voted against membership.

Cr Glenn Aitken was not in the council chamber at the time of the vote.

Crs Brian Cunial and Michael O’Reilly were not at the meeting.

Ms Hosking said the committee has 42 corporate and community members.

Frankston Council owned Peninsula Leisure, manager of the Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre (PARC), is listed among the members on the group’s website.

Peninsula Leisure CEO Tim Gledhill said the company is a ‘Corporate Gold’ member.

“Our organisational values and passion for the region align, and we will continue to support organisations, such as the committee, who advocate to ensure Frankston realises its social and economic potential”.

Mr Hovenden confirmed councillors did not vote on Peninsula Leisure’s membership of the committee.

“Council did not make a decision for Peninsula Leisure to join.

“While wholly owned by council, Peninsula Leisure is a fully independent company and makes its own decisions with regards to matters such as this.”

Councillors decided to review the $10,000 membership each year.

First published in the Frankston Times – 21 May 2018

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