WHOEVER wins a seat at the Moyne Shire Council table later this month will have to dive headlong into the prickly issue of commercial horse training on Killarney beach.
The outgoing council unanimously agreed that at the end of the caretaker period the new council will inform the community of its plan to ban horse training from a section of Killarney beach and invite feedback on that proposal.
The decision came as the issue attracted the attention of former Greens senator and leader Bob Brown, who said locals and the endangered hooded plover “deserve a fair go” in the face of “out-of-control enthusiasm” from the region’s racing industry.
Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group (BCRAG) spokesman Bill Yates made a presentation to Moyne Shire Council on Tuesday night, lamenting how long it was taking to get action on the matter, which he first raised with the shire almost a year ago.
“The community is angry and frustrated and can’t understand why it’s taken so long,” Mr Yates said.
He said BCRAG had attended numerous meetings with Moyne Shire, Parks Victoria, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and was under the impression those “meetings were the community consultation process”.
But Moyne Shire chief executive David Madden said wider public comment had to be sought as per general local law.
He also explained the lengthy process the shire had to undertake, which involved trying to reach a solution with DELWP and Parks Victoria, which control sections of the beach.
Mayor Colin Ryan reiterated that it was council’s “intention to have horses removed (from the beach) by December 1”.
“There are no stronger advocates for no horses on Killarney Beach than myself and this council,” Cr Ryan said.
Cr Mick Wolfe noted Tuesday night’s vote was “not the decision on whether we will ban racehorses from the beach – it’s the necessary legal requirement that we have to go through” before that stage.
“Everyone is looking in the same direction – no one is being selfish or stubborn about it,” Cr Wolfe said.
Cr Ralph Leutton said it was important that people took advantage of the consultation process to have their say.
- You can read Bob Brown’s comments on page 10.