The new canaries in the coal mine
I have been visiting Fairhaven on and off for over 25 years now.
I have always enjoyed the walking, the beautiful bushland and beaches, and fresh sea air.
In the past, I have delighted in spotting albatross, ocean gulls, superb blue wrens, wattle birds, rosellas and parrots – all bringing flashes of colour or movement to the aspect.
So I am distressed and concerned to note that more recently, the opportunities to see such birds have significantly diminished.
This is a wake-up call to everyone, to remind people that even in our beautiful neck of the woods, nature is being impacted by global climate change. Please take action everyone.
Yellow Gums need protecting
Surf Coast Shire is currently considering ignoring a December 2017 regulation to protect Bellarine Yellow Gums in Spring Creek and in so minimalising the cost to developers at the expense of the environment.
The new Department of Environment 2017 regulations replace the 2013 regulations and are aimed to protect this vulnerable species by encouraging developers to rethink tree removal.
This regulation was gazetted in 2017 after extensive community consultation.
But our council is recommending that the new law is ignored by calling it “transitional”, thus allowing the developers to go ahead at minimal expense to them, but great expense to the community and the environment.
The transitional arrangement is underhanded, selfish and flies in the face of what our community has fought for all these years.
It is important that our councillors individually put their opinion forward and let us know where they stand.
Also, I call for a public meeting to hear their opinions and allow the community to voice their concerns. Council has an obligation to follow the law and in this case protect the environment.
Please contact your local councilors and let them know your concerns.
Line in the sand
It is greatly concerning that the Surf Coast Shire refuses to acknowledge its 2009 promise of a comprehensive impact study for the greater Torquay community.
A group of concerned greater Torquay residents/groups have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to try and work out what is the plan for the future of greater Torquay, other than rampant development, and how did our council let this happen? And what can we do as a community?
In 2009, Cr Hodge moved a motion seconded by Cr McKiterick, and which Cr Coker voted for, which was in response to the development of Spring Creek and to assure local residents that there would be “sustainable growth” and all efforts to appraise the upcoming developments of Spring Creek and Armstrong Creek would be taken!
In part, 5.2 of the motion read that it would analyse the implications of Armstrong Creek and the Geelong Ring Road to identify and assess the impacts on the social/economic/environment and culture of Torquay/Jan Juc and Bellbrae.
This was a promise that the community expected to be executed, as the 2009 resolution was the basis for the Sustainable Futures Plan 2040, which we view as a seriously flawed document/legislation, and null and void, so there is no real plan for our future!
What we have found out is there was a context report done, which did not meet the brief, and did not follow the 2009 resolution. In fact, the report spruiks how great growth will be for Torquay.
No real mention of where do we get out water from, what industries will replace a declining surf and tourist industry, sea level rise, what affect will Armstrong Creek’s residents have on the greater Torquay’s businesses, beaches, and culture/lifestyle etc.
The shire has made it very clear that they do not want to do the impact study promised in 2009, and will not do the impact study for the community, but will do an impact study just for the shire’s services and facilities.
Where is the duty of care from our locally elected councillors working on our behalf?
How can we trust politicians when there is such blatant hypocrisy and empty rhetoric, when we the community suffer the consequences of their political ambitions?
This is unacceptable, as there is no real plan for the future, which has led to the creation of The Greater Torquay Alliance Community Group, which is made up of likeminded community groups and individuals who want a clear plan for the future, challenges the current developer/shire plans, and will fight to get the impact study done that was promised to us, so we can restart a meaningful planning process that assesses social/economic/environment/lifestyle issues.
For those of you who share our concerns, we’ll be starting up a “Line in the sand” campaign so that the community at large can participate and be a part of the solution in working towards a community-driven impact study.
Funding for schools
Contrary to the schools funding scaremongering being peddled around by the Australian Education Union, the Turnbull Government will deliver record funding to Corangamite public schools that is fully funded, transparent and truly needs-based.
There are no funding cuts. Simply, the Turnbull Government is growing funding for Corangamite public schools from $40.1 million this year, to $48.8 million in four years’ time and then to $63.1 million in 2027.
In fact, Oberon Primary School will see their allocated funding grow from $2,476 per student this year to $2,646 next year and keeps growing to $3,894 in 2027. Only the Australian Education Union and the Labor Party would see this record and growing funding as a cut.
Our funding growth means there’s no reason why Oberon Primary School and other public schools in Corangamite won’t be able to continue to support teachers and new or existing initiatives, such as specialists or targeted intervention programs.
Further to this, following a recent review into how to ensure our record and growing investment in schools is used as effectively as possible, we will work with the states and territories and school systems to ensure schools and teachers are armed with the most effective and evidence-based methods and reforms to help deliver better outcomes for Australian students.
We now have a clear plan to build a stronger school system and to ensure schools, teachers and parents, including those in Corangamite have the tools and capabilities to ensure Australian students reach their full potential.
Our clear plan stands in stark contrast to Labor who can’t say exactly how much they’d fund Oberon Primary School, Belmont High School, Barwon Heads Primary School or any other school around Geelong, Colac and the Surf Coast. Their schools funding policy is based on what deals they can do rather than students’ actual learning needs.
Senator Simon Birmingham
Minister for Education and Training
A roaring do
I was delighted to attend the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation & Geelong Combined Emergency Services “Roaring 20’s Blue Ribbon Ball” recently at Rydges Geelong.
Now in its 11th year, the event’s theme this year saw hundreds of people dressed up to the nines or rather roaring 20’s – which really was a sight to see.
Prizes were awarded for the best-dressed male and female and I’m relieved to say that was allowed and not dumbed-down as the best dressed what, I don’t honestly know.
I hope the organisers didn’t have to get Daniel Andrews to sign off on allowing those words ‘male’ and ‘female’ to be used.
Joining me in celebrating our dedicated emergency services personnel, whilst raising much-needed funds for medical equipment for Barwon Health, were Shadow Minster for Emergency Services, Brad Battin, Member for South Barwon Andrew Katos and Liberal Candidates for Bellarine and Geelong; Brian McKiterick and Freya Fidge.
Ian Cover, a last-minute call up MC filled in and as always did a great job in keeping us entertained with his razor-sharp wit together with a few interesting Geelong stories.
It was also terrific to see Peter Hitchener OAM there chatting and mingling with everyone and generously allowing many photos throughout the night. As we know Peter is the Patron of the Barwon Health Foundation and Geelong Hospital Appeal.
We were treated to a surprise Chicago themed ensemble performing songs from the hit musical, they were fabulous and the very cool Code One Rock Band provided us with many opportunities to take to the dance floor.
This event relies on numerous committed volunteers, a lot like our emergency services and it takes many months of planning with everyone pitching in, so I take this opportunity to acknowledge them all, together with the generous supporters who donated prizes and goods for the silent auction and ‘lively’ live auction that night.
However, the real hero of the night and the reason for its success is due in no small part to the work put in by Leading Senior Constable Andy Brittain, who works extremely hard every year to ensure that this event is a sell-out as it was again this year.
It’s no surprise he was named the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Policemen of the year in 2017.
My sincere congratulations to Andy and all those involved in making this event so successful – and whose efforts saw over $10,000 raised for emergency medical equipment for Barwon Health.
Member for Western Victoria