Category Archives: Local Issues

Seawinds Annual Golf Charity Cup – February 27th 2017

Seawinds Annual Golf Charity Cup Entry Form

Seawinds Community Hub is a not for profit, volunteer staffed centre set up to provide a welcoming open house and support to individuals, families and community groups on the southern Morningotn Peninsula.
To continue to expand and increase services to the community, Seawinds needs a high level of funding and your participation in this golf day is just one way to help while enjoying th ecompany and the competition.
We invite you to call in to Seawinds and see for yourself the daily vital support functions and welcoming enviroment.

Holiday Time Campaign Launch

 

On Saturday 17 December the ‘ Holiday Time Campaign’ was  formally launched by  Councillor Antonella Celi of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, along with the Member for Nepean the Hon. Martin Dixon MP and Mathew McQuinn of the Mornington Peninsula Shire.

Supporting the initiative were the Rosebud CFA, Mornington SES, Surf Live Saving Victoria (Rosebud and  McCrae), Local Area Commander,  Inspector Nigel McGuirewhite and members from the State Highway Patrol.  

The foundation ‘Little Blue Dinosaur’  started the campaign after tragically losing their four year old son, Tom McLaughlin, when he stepped onto the road whilst on holiday at the beach.

The aim of the ‘Holiday Time’ campaign is to prevent this from happening again. This is done by the placement of colourful road safety banners and signs at key tourist hot spots and thoroughfares to appeal to drivers and pedestrians alike to ‘Slow Down, Kids Around’ and to ‘Hold My Hand’.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire will be the first shire within Victoria where the campaign has been used  on such a large scale.  The campaign  is designed  to raise awareness with 168 signs and five overpass banners.

The shire will be giving away free wristbands and bumper stickers for children and families, which  will be available  from the Rosebud Shire Office and the Rosebud Foreshore camping office.  The Shire was  successful in obtaining a TAC Community Road Safety Grant to implement this project.

holiday-time

Powerline Grant To Reduce Bushfire Risk

Groundline Australia has been awarded a grant to develop a new method for replacing bare-wire powerlines under the Andrews Labor Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety program.

The project aims to develop a conductor to replace bare-wire powerlines that will reduce the risk of bushfires and potentially enable a safer alternative technology for use across the state’s electricity network.

The work will be done in collaboration between the Bendigo engineering firm, manufacturer Amokabel, Swinburne University and electricity retailer United Energy.

The Labor Government is providing $291,000 to Groundline Australia to kick start the project.

There is approximately 90,000km of mostly bare-wire high voltage electrical lines across Victoria that this innovation could be applied to, significantly reducing the risk of bushfires.

The ability to fit a treated conductor onto existing infrastructure with minimal impact on the current installation methods will improve efficiency, reduce costs and put Victoria at the forefront of innovation.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“We’re putting people first by reducing the risk of bushfires that start from powerlines.”

“This means that our bare-wire powerlines can be replaced sooner to improve  safety and reduce overall costs.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards

“I’m thrilled to see local engineering firm Groundline Australia focusing on next-generation innovation to help keep Victorians safe.”

Coastal Management and Funding

We love our coastal environment and in fact, that is why we love living here on the Mornington Peninsula.

Increasingly however we are seeing challenges related to keeping our public coastal spaces pristine and readily available for visitors.

Early last year I addressed this issue in my submission to the Central Coastal Board and you can view and download my submission at this link.

Further to the following publication of the Central Regional Coastal Plan, there has been much community debate about the future management and funding of our coastal assets.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have also been considering the amalgamation of some coastal foreshore management committees which in principle I support, conditional on commensurate funding streams being made available.

Needless to say, we are in the midst of this discussion as the Government seeks public feedback to proposed amendments to the Coastal Management Act and replacing it with a new Act.  It is my understanding that the Government are still accepting submissions.

Earlier this year I requested participation in the Parliamentary Internship program so that we could do some further local research on this topic.

Our intern was Ellen Gray and her detailed report is excellent and in fact was awarded the prize for ‘Most Outstanding Parliamentary Internship Report’ and was awarded to Ellen at Parliament house on 24th August 2016.

You are welcome to view and download Ellen’s report at this link and suffice to say I and my office team are extremely proud of Ellen for such a great job done.

Her report focuses specifically on management and funding, on the basis that if the Coast is not funded, it will not be managed.

You are welcome to contact me at any time should you wish to discuss or share ideas on any aspect of this issue.

Award for Coastal Management and Funding Report
Ellen and Martin celebrating her award

 

Skyrail and ALP budget bungling

The ALP paired with a responsible budget are like oil and water, they never mix and the Victorian ALP continue to raise their own bar of incompetence with the rolling out of Skyrail.

The recent debacle surrounding the expanded Port of Melbourne Lease is a case in point and demonstrates how ALP budget spin collides with the real world to produce these crazy sort of outcomes.

Prior to the last State election there was bipartisan support for leasing the Port of Melbourne and to provide a much needed boost to Government coffers for various road and rail projects.

Estimates of the lease ranged from $6 Billion to $8 Billion with the Liberal plan being to tie the sale into the development of the new Port of Hastings, which was previously Labor policy.

The ALP budget gurus decided however that for $5 Billion – $6 Billion they could remove 50 Level Crossings – a laudable plan, except for one thing – the numbers didn’t add up.

The cost for removing 50 Level crossings was always going to be closer to $8 Billion, or even $10 Billion.

This left a massive shortfall in the ALP Budget, and to fix it they then concocted their plan to extend the lease to 50 years + 20 years to try and squeak more bucks out of  the deal by locking out any other port development.

So, what is the link to Skyrail and the ALP’s inability to manage the State’s budget?

Simple, once the opposition threatened to block the ALP’s ridiculous lease and 70 year lock out proposal, effectively denying the Government of a few billion dollars, we immediately see rolled out an alternative (cheaper) level crossing removal program, otherwise known as Skyrail.

Skyrail is a cheaper, nastier, noisier, uglier and unwanted solution to another underfunded budget problem that the ALP created all by themselves.

This ‘alternative’ was kept secret  until a farcical public consultation process was rolled out as soon as Labor realised their 70 year lock out lease proposal would never get through the Parliament.

The ALP again, (remember Desal, Myki etc) have under-budgeted the real cost of Level Crossing removals and in a desperate panic to keep the project on track, foisted Skyrail upon an unsuspecting community to try and fix their own budget bungle.

This is ALP economic incompetence on a grand scale, with Melbourne now stuck with this ugly, noisy 19th Century monstrosity for decades to come.

Skyrail - the mother of all ALP Budget Bungles
Skyrail – the view from your backyard?

Noise from the Freeway – there is hope

acoustic-noise-barrier-scheme
Simple diagram explaining noise attenuation barriers
Background

Over recent years we have had an increasing number of complaints in relation to noise from the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.

The escalation in complaints seems to have coincided with the increase in traffic numbers since the opening of Peninsula Link.

Consequently there has also been a couple of new community groups formed to help put pressure on the Government to fund some long term noise attenuation measures along the length of the freeway.

Over recent weeks we have also launched a major local campaign to ensure we make some noise on this matter, and it is brought to the attention of the Minister.

Our Freeway Noise Petition

This campaign involves an online petition, which you can sign here, as well as speeches in Parliament to which the Minister has since responded.

Correspondence recently received from Minister Donnellan is encouraging as we have now been informed that noise attenuation work on the Mornington Peninsula freeway has been prioritised.

You can download a copy of Minister Donnellans letter at this link where he says, “VicRoads has undertaken a traffic noise modelling exercise along the Mornington
Peninsula Freeway} and the results confirm that there are sections that meet the above
criteria . Accordingly, it will be prioritised for future funding along with other eligible
metropolitan freeway sites.”

Next Steps

Moving forward, we need the help of the community to ensure that letters and emails are sent to Mr Donnellan to impress on him the urgency to get something done and to elevate these sections on the priority list.

You may contact Mr Donnellan as per the contact details below:

As a second step it would be helpful if you could write to Minister Donnellan, either via email;

 luke.donnellan@minstaff.vic.gov.au

Or by regular mail to ensure that he understands the scope and scale of this problem, and in both cases I encourage you to CC me into any correspondence.

Hon Luke Donnellan, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Level 22, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Jetty Road Overpass being ignored by Government

IMG_1012-2-ps
Meeting with teachers, parents and students at the end of the Freeway. Note the overpass ramp in the background – all we need is the overpass!

Last year I conducted a petition in the local areas to ask for the Jetty Road overpass to be completed, connecting the Mornington Peninsula Freeway to the Arterial Road by crossing over the Jetty Road Intersection.

This intersection has become increasingly dangerous since the completion of Peninsula Link and the subsequent increase in traffic flows.

The petition gathered over 1200 signatures in a few weeks and I have since raised the issue in Parliament and with the Roads Minister Luke Donnellan.

In the most recent correspondence from the Minister dated 30th May 2016 (download here), Mr Donnellan suggests that funding is not a priority due to the ‘historical safety record’ at this intersection however I am sure like me, you would prefer to see a solution before there was any such serious or tragic incident.

As you can see, if we are to ever get this overpass constructed then I will need your help and the best thing you can do is to write or email direct to the Minister and ask him, before there is a serious accident, to:

  1. Undertake an immediate full costing of the overpass/grade separation at the Jetty Rd end of the freeway
  2. Commit funds to the design of this overpass from within the current budget
  3. Commit funds to the construction of this overpass in next year’s budget

The Ministers contact details are as follows, and you are welcome to CC me into any correspondence you send.

Email: luke.donnellan@minstaff.vic.gov.au

Mail: Hon Luke Donnellan, Minister for roads and Road Safety, Level 22, 1 Spring St Melbourne Vic 3000

Letter from Minister Donnellan to Martin Dixon MP

Jetty Road Overpass Petition

Joe Buffone ex CFA Chief Officer (resigned today) – Interview with Tom Elliot

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Mr Joe Buffone, the latest and most significant casualty in the Premiers war on the CFA
 

Link to Audio File: http://www.3aw.com.au/news/former-cfa-chief-fire-officer-says-hes-absolutely-gutted-over-his-resignation-20160630-gpvkje.html

Transcript – MELBOURNE RADIO 3AW 693

THURSDAY 30 JUNE 2016, 3.10pm

Issues: His resignation as CFA Chief Officer

ELLIOTT

Joe I have in front of me a press release from the new Emergency Services Minister, James Merlino, he claims that you resigned because of an argument over money and seniority.  Is that correct?

JOE BUFFONE

That is absolutely incorrect Tom.

I just want to make a couple of things fairly clear but before I do that Tom, could I just first of all acknowledge the fantastic work that the volunteers, the career staff and the support staff that they do in making Victoria safer.  I just want to acknowledge that.

The next thing I want to touch on Tom is that my position has been very clear about the EBA and the potential impact on the role, on my legislative role, or not so much my role anymore, and the role of the Chief Fire Officer and how that is discharged.

I’ve made that clear in the Commission.  I’ve made that clear in public, I formally wrote to the Minister and I formally wrote to the new Chair, so the new Minister and the new Chair, outlining my concerns.

Well basically when they first came online.  So that’s been my absolute focus.  My commitment has been about doing my job, being apolitical, unbiased and discharging my duties.

Now what has been released Tom, is concerning to me.  And it is concerning because I submitted my resignation because I got to the position where it was untenable for me to continue in my role where I had a different of where I would be going and discharging my role.

So I made that very, very clear.

I had discussions with the new CEO.  I had discussion with the new Chair.  I had discussions with the Emergency Management Commissioner and they were all encouraging me to stay.  So much so that that was continuing.

I wasn’t’ staying and then they continually made offers of what could encourage me to stay on.

Now I want to make a couple of things really clear Tom around how this has been betrayed.

The first thing is, my position about equal standing is not about status.

If you go to the Royal Commission, or if you go to Fire Services Review, it makes it very, very clear that the role of the Chief Officer needs to have the right standing within the organisation.

Now I was being asked to continue in a very, very difficult environment where I still have very strong, a very strong position and I also have legal advice that the facts that they are putting around the current EBA did not remedy my concerns.

Now I haven’t had any formal replies to any of my formal correspondence and therefore I made a decision that it was untenable.

ELLIOTT

So you put your concerns about the EBA in writing to James Merlino, new ES Minister and you received no formal response from him?

JOE BUFFONE

That’s correct.

And also to the new Chair.

ELLIOTT

I find that astonishing.

You were until a few hours ago, the senior CFA firefighter.  You put your concerns about the EBA to the Minister and the Minister does not get back to you?

JOE BUFFONE

That’s correct.

Um, in addition to that Tom I do want to clarify that point about the status.

And then at the end of the day this is not about money because I have walked away from a job that I love.

I’ve walked away from a career that I have dedicated my life to and I have walked away even from my notice period, so this is not about money Tom.  This is about wanting to be able to discharge my legislative role and being able to look after everybody in the CFA and Victoria.

ELLIOTT

Well let’s just focus on that.  Because one of the big issues I’ve had with the EBA *

Is that the CFA ACT * says that the  Chief Fire Officer has complete discretion to deploy assets and personnel as he or she sees fit.

And yet the EBA says that no you don’t have that discretion you have to consult and agree with the UFU.

Was that one of the big sticking points for you?

JOE BUFFONE

That’s correct.  That’s one of the sticking point.

The other one is that the Act clearly says that the Parliament recognises that the Authority is first and foremost a volunteer based organisation, in which volunteer officers and members are supported by employees in a fully integrated manner.

I’ve also got a whole range of others which are around order and control all CFA so the order and control all CFA and brigades, groups, officers and members.  The practice requires a permanent and volunteer brigade.

All the apparatus, the control and direction of brigade, the purpose of the preventing,  extinguishing or restricting the spread of fire throughout Victoria and taking any reasonable measures for the protection of life and property.

Now all the advice, and bear in mind Tom, this is not just I sought best possible advice to come to this position and there is nothing to give me the confidence that it’s going to remedy it so therefore I have no option but to resign.

ELLIOTT

You felt you had no option to resign.  Lucinda Nolan resigned.  The former board was sacked.  Jane Garrett resigned.

Why do you think the Government is being so pig-headed about this when so when senior people like yourself feel they have no choice but to resign?

JOE BUFFONE

Tom I wish I actually understood that and I wish that I could actually answer it.  I can’t answer that.

ELLIOTT

Does the UFU have some sort of secret power over the government that the rest of don’t know about?

JOE BUFFONE

Oh Tom, that’s not a question for me to answer I’m sorry.

ELLIOTT

You do sound emotional, you say that you love the job, it’s not about the money.  How are you feeling right now?  *

JOE BUFFONE

Tom to be honest I feel absolutely guttered at the moment, I have walked away from a job that I love.  I’ve walked away from an organisation that is incredible and it is hurting at the moment.  The organisation is hurting.

And that’s why, yes I do sound a little bit emotional but I’m actually level headed.  I’m actually OK, I’ve thought very, very carefully about this.  This is not an emotional reaction.

I’m also hurt that the is an attempt to discredit me when in actual fact I have discharged my duties in a professional manner.

I’ve brought on a new board, I’ve brought on a new Chair, I brought on a new CEO and in that period I have been absolutely committed to making sure that the organisation remains stable and I had do it the best interests in the people of Victoria and people of CFA.  That is both career and volunteers.

So yes I’m guttered.

ELLIOTT

Until a few hours ago you were the Chief firefighter of the CFA.  What does your resignation mean for all those volunteers out there?  Do you think they might resign on mass as well?

JOE BUFFONE

OH Tom, I would not be asking them to do that.  I would want everybody in the CFA to keep doing the work that they do.  That’s been my consistent message.  Focus on our common purpose and common purpose is about service to the community.  That’s what CFA is about.

CFA is the community Tom.  Some of those volunteers are generations of serving the community.  If you go into some rural areas they will tell you I do not volunteer because it’s a hobby I volunteer because it is a duty to protect my community.

ELLIOTT

OK, I know the new temporary Chief Officer has been appointed.  Steven Warrington [sp?]

Do you think it will be possible to find a permanent replacement for you, given what’s happened?

JOE BUFFONE

Ah look, I think that’s for the individual to work through what’s needed.   I was seeking to get information and advice and comfort that the remedies that were being looked at would mitigate any of those concerns.  I couldn’t get that comfort, that’s the reason for my resignation.

ELLIOTT

What message would you like to give to Premier Daniel Andrews, right now?

JOE BUFFONE

Oh, to be honest, I probably not want to comment on that at the moment.  I’m focussed on just trying to do the right thing.

I will continue to do that and I prefer not to comment on that.

ELLIOTT

Would you like to say something to James Merlino who has attempted to besmirch you via a press release?

JOE BUFFONE

No, I don’t want to do that either.  I’m focussed on doing the right thing.

ELLIOTT

What are you going to do now?

JOE BUFFONE

Um, I’ve just got to get focussed on the next couple of days and then I’ll just have consider what my future holds but I have, I have nothing immediately planned.

Extract From Parliamentary Debates – Mornington Peninsula Freeway sound barriers

June 2016 public meeting in Safety Beach to protest against the increase in noise being suffered by residents

HANSARD – ADJOURNMENT – Wednesday, 22 June 2016

 

Mr DIXON (Nepean) — The matter I wish to raise is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety.

The action I seek is for the minister to make the Mornington Peninsula Freeway sound walls in the section between Safety Beach and Rosebud a funding priority.

This is probably the only urban freeway in Victoria that has no sound walls — it has houses right up to it on both sides in just about all of the places, but it has no sound walls at all.

As members can imagine, like any part of Victoria, the population is increasing, but in our area it has increased incredibly.

Peninsula Link has added to the freeway traffic, not only in terms of people commuting but also in terms of people visiting the area.

More people are living there, so there are more people in the houses that used to be holiday houses, they are living there permanently close to the freeway.

On the hours that traffic runs, residents tell me that it is quite busy up until midnight and that the traffic starts again at 5 or 5.30 in the morning.

Recently the section at Safety Beach was resurfaced, and some bright spark in VicRoads decided to put the roughest possible surface on it. The noise levels have gone through the roof on that section. Even though it is the newest surface it is incredibly noisy.

In relation to the Dromana to Rosebud section, after work by me and the community over the last number of years, we have already had VicRoads come out and test it. Most of the sections of that part of the freeway are above the acceptable noise level and should have sound walls. Instead of putting the walls up, VicRoads decided to trial, in a number of sections, different road surfaces which were quieter.

That has cut the noise down, but VicRoads engineers have told me off the record that that really only makes a 5 per cent to, at best, 20 per cent difference in terms of a reduction in sound. For some reason the monitoring of it is over three years, which I think is just a stalling tactic. I would have thought one year would be the most — you are looking at a whole year’s traffic.

The section from Safety Beach to Dromana, as I said, has just been resurfaced. I recognise the fact that VicRoads is going to rectify that mistake later this year. I also recognise the fact that VicRoads is going to work with the community and do the sound monitoring in that section. But obviously those two sections of freeway adjoin each other, therefore the decibel levels in one area are going to be the same in the other.

It is very, very important that VicRoads get on with that testing, because the case, I think, is already established and this matter is making life hell for those residents.

They think they are being treated differently from all other residents in Victoria who live anywhere near a freeway.

I think this is an urgent matter, a very important matter for the amenity and peaceful life of those people who live near the freeway — a growing number of them — and I ask the minister to make the testing and then the funding of the sound walls a priority.

FWC sidelined experienced commissioner for fireys’ case

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The Fair Work Commission has defended its decision to sideline a commissioner who usually hears cases involving firefighters and ­allocate the dispute between Victoria’s Country Fire Authority and the firefighters union to a former left-wing unionist, who is ­accused of bias.

The handling of the case by ­Julius Roe, former national president of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, infuriated the CFA’s now-disbanded board and chief executive Lucinda Nolan, who quit after refusing to accept his ­recommendations.

CFA volunteers fear the recommendations give the United Firefighters Union of Australia an effective veto over operational ­decisions.

Responding to questions from The Australian to commission president Iain Ross, an FWC spokeswoman confirmed Nick Wilson, an industrial centrist who since being appointed commissioner in 2013 has issued dozens of decisions and orders relating to disputes involving the UFUA, was not allocated the case, in preference for Mr Roe.

Industrial cases are allocated by a “panel system’’ in which ­commissioners are attached to ­industry-specific panels. When the CFA application was lodged last October, Mr Wilson was the only Melbourne-based member of the government services panel that covers firefighting services with extensive experience in firefighter cases, the FWC confirmed.

The CFA, having failed to reach agreement with the union following protracted negoti­ations, applied for the FWC to ­appoint a commissioner to oversee a conciliated resolution to the dispute. Instead of calling on Mr Wilson, the head of the government services panel, FWC vice-president Joseph Catanzariti went outside his own panel and referred the dispute to Mr Roe.

Mr Roe is a member of the services and mining panel that looks after disputes across a wide range of industries, but not firefighting. He has extensive previous experience in firefighters’ cases between July 2010 — shortly after he was appointed by then workplace relations minister Julia Gillard — until late 2013.

Pressed to explain its case allocation, the FWC said: “In contentious matters it is generally appropriate to have conciliation and arbitration proceedings conducted by different members. The CFA matters were referred to Commissioner Roe for conciliation as he had extensive experience in dealing with Victorian fire services matters and the allocation of the matters to Commissioner Roe would leave Commissioner Wilson available to deal with any arbitral appli­cations made in relation to the dispute. No party objected to Commissioner Roe dealing with the … application.’’

Despite CFA anger at the outcome of the conciliation overseen by Mr Roe, there appears no prospect of an arbitral application.

UFU Victoria secretary Peter Marshall and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have backed the recommendations and the government dumped the CFA board after it made its opposition clear.

Mr Andrews’s insistence that the CFA accept Mr Roe’s recommendations prompted former emergency services minister Jane Garrett to resign from cabinet.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy publicly accused Mr Roe of bias and said his recommen­dations could have been written by the UFU. Mr Roe had defended his fairness and independence.

Within industrial relations circles, there is growing consternation about perceived political interference in the workings of the FWC and the decision to sideline Mr Wilson, a Harvard-­educated former Fair Work ombudsman. Malcolm Turnbull has promised to legislate to protect volunteer organisations if his government is re-elected. Within the CFA, there is a push to establish an independent inquiry into how the entire case was handled.