Sensible discussion sought on borough

By | January 28, 2016

THE recent talk around possible amalgamations of local government municipalities in our region is creating some interesting debate.

The debate comes after questions querying the viability of the Borough of Queenscliffe were raised at a recent public meeting in Point Lonsdale organised by Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins.

South Barwon MP Andrew Katos said discussion about the Borough of Queenscliffe was also needed in the review of electoral boundaries.

“It’s just not logical to have a municipality of this size,” Mr Katos said.

“The borough is very reliant on other councils for services and it is time to have some sensible discussion around this issue.” Although this sentiment is likely to evoke some discontent with the borough’s constituents, Queenscliffe Council was formed as a result of the Kennett era amalgamations and is an anomaly when compared to the other 78 municipalities that make up Victorian Local Government Areas.

Historically, there has been much discussion about the viability of the Borough’s long-term future and economic and governance sustainability, but the Member for Bellarine and Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, is having none of it.

“The residents of Queenscliffe have never, and do not support being amalgamated into a Bellarine shire,” Ms Neville said.

“Both myself and the Minister for Local Government made it clear at the meeting that there was no intention to amalgamate the Borough of Queenscliffe nor establish a Bellarine Shire.

“This would cause unnecessary division among the community and my role is to continue to ensure that the residents of Bellarine have a voice in the state government, and that the City of Greater Geelong focuses greater investment in the communities in Bellarine.”

Absorbing the borough into the conglomerate that is the City of Greater Geelong has been raised again recently but is unlikely to gain much support.

The city is becoming an urban behemoth. With its primary focus on providing infrastructure to support massive residential growth and all the services that come with it, some residents in the rural areas and townships of the Bellarine already feel that they are second cousins to the resource hungry City of Geelong.

Separating the Bellarine from Geelong and amalgamating it with the Borough of Queenscliffe, which already has the administrative and governance infrastructure in place, has also been a point of much debate over the years.

Those advocating for a newly created Queenscliffe and Greater Bellarine council say that it would better represent the regional areas and townships than a city-centric administration.

There have also been discussions in the past from Surf Coast councillors who have suggested that to better balance electoral and geographical representation, any newly created Bellarine entity should be delineated by the Barwon River.

This would effectively encompass Ocean Grove and leave Barwon Heads, Breamlea and the areas of Connewarre south of Barwon Heads Road to Lower Dunned Road to be encompassed by the Surf Coast Shire.