SAVING East Beach and protecting prime agricultural land were among the major Port Fairy issues put before Moyne Shire Council candidates at a community forum in the town on Tuesday night.
Eight of the nine councillors running in the election, excluding councillor Bernie Harris, put their case before local ratepayers during the two hour-long gathering at St Pat’s Hall.
Outgoing Moyne mayor Jim Doukas kept his words brief at the forum, addressing the audience only once.
“I’ve been on council for approximately 10 years, I take everything into consideration and I don’t play favourites — all I can promise you is that you will all get represented,” Cr Doukas told the crowd.
Debut candidates Kelvin Goodall of Mortlake, Port Fairy’s Ralph Leutton and Koroit’s Anthony Keane also made their case at the forum.
But the fight to save East Beach was a major topic for Port Fairy candidates.
Councillor Mick Wolfe levelled criticism at the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) over the erosion of the popular tourist beach.
Moyne Shire is still in the process of trying to save the rapidly eroding dunes before the onset of the busy summer period.
Cr Wolfe accused the state government of continuously looking to fund studies rather than addressing the problem.
“DSE are the problem, that’s why nothing is happening. It’s not the councils fault,” Cr Wolfe said.
“I say to the public — I’ll be the first one to pick up a shovel and get some work done.”
Cr James Purcell said any further erosion of East Beach, particularly at the site of the old tip, would “destroy the reputation of this town”.
Making his own case for re-election, Cr Purcell spruiked his background as an accountant and the strong financial position of council.
“I think that is what I mainly have to offer to council and I think this council is now in a very strong financial position,” Cr Purcell said. “I think we have some of the lowest rates in Victoria.”
Mortlake first-time candidate Kelvin Goodall made his pitch, saying council needed to show better communication with homeowners when it came to heritage issues.
“Most of our towns and villages have important heritage that’s been neglected,” Mr Goodall said.
“The heritage that was done in Mortlake was less than good. They (council) did not consult fully with the people. It is an issue that is endemic with council. There needs to be more listening.”
Seeking re-election, Cr Jill Parker said she would take a stand against the urbanisation of prime agricultural land.
“I am very, very against the loss of agricultural land,” Cr Parker said.
“We seem to be a bit topsy at the moment, we just keep growing.”
There was also anger at poor roads across the council area.
Cr Purcell conceded council was limited in its ability to maintain its massive road network.
“We can’t get it done alone. I don’t think we’ve been given our share out of the state government to upgrade our road network,” he said.