The coming year is likely to see the state and federal governments pay more attention to the Mornington Peninsula.
The Labor state government has won one of the peninsula’s “safe” Liberal seats and the shire’s new mayor, Cr David Gill, wants to make sure there is no weakening of land use regulations, especially in the green wedge zone.
A federal election is due by May, and while the Liberals will want to win back support, Labor will want to build on the sentiments that saw Chris Brayne take Nepean.
Ironically, Cr Gill and shire CEO John Baker were last Friday meeting with the failed Liberal candidate Russell Joseph, who had been aligned with the shire on several issues.
“The ALP guy [Chris Brayne] should have been in touch with us by now,” Cr Gill told The News last Thursday.
The shire is continuing its against the imposition by the state of the same planning regulations as apply to Melbourne suburbs and a new business-backed advocacy group will be launched early next year.
The group will work in a similar way to that of the high profile Committee for Greater Frankston.
Former Liberal MP for Dunkley, Bruce Billson, said a “foundation group” meeting at the Woodman Estate conference centre, Moorooduc, two weeks ago had seen “a positive sentiment to explore what can be done” through an advocacy group.
The list of issues to be tackled by a Committee for the Mornington Peninsula included economic sustainability, transport and “local livelihoods”, or the provision of jobs on the peninsula.
“It will be similar to the Frankston committee and those running in Greater Dandenong and Geelong,” Mr Billson said.
He said the peninsula committee had already received offers of “seed money” to cover establishment costs.
While the shire campaigns against planning regulations it has also attracted the attention of state government departments by erecting a “temporary” safety fence around The Pillars at Mt Martha, something the government had previously ignored.
“As the local council, we are determined to protect our townships from inappropriate development that is inconsistent with the low-scale development character of our shire,” Cr Gill said.
But also brewing on the sidelines, or at least the shire’s northern boundary, is neighbouring Frankston Council’s push for the electrification of the railway to Baxter.
This proposal was advocated throughout the state election campaign by the Committee for Greater Frankston and the council.
Cr Gill, before he was mayor, wasted no time in demanding that the shire be included in any discussions of planning as Baxter, the notional end of the line, was part of the shire.
He says the infrastructure required around an end-of-the-line station at Baxter “will take up all the green wedge between Baxter and Somerville”.
“There’s no room at Frankston, so that’s why they want to push [the electrified line] out.”
Cr Gill was also scathing in regard to Frankston appropriating the peninsula’s name, especially for its Peninsula Aquatic and Recreation Centre, or PARC.
Late last week Frankston issued a news release looking for volunteers with “a passion for Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula” to work at its tourism information centre.
Cr Gill’s response: “I will arrange the annexation of the Frankston Ward of the Mornington Peninsula Shire”.