Ode to Noel Mugavin
My trip to Warrnambool was made complete,
When I saw Noel Mugavin crossing Banyan Street,
He was a Royboy whose boots weren't fleet,
Unlike The Flea with skills replete,
He'd drop the ball and trip over his feet,
But my heart grew light and skipped a beat,
When I saw Noel Mugavin crossing Banyan Street.
Michael Mance, Lower Templestowe
Damage done to city reputation
We now have a divided council where the CEO has been sacked but the mayor does not know why. He is now effectively no more than a minority leader while Cr Neoh seems to have become the majority leader. This is no way to run a council.
This majority have incurred a massive debt in our names which they will only be able to cover by raising the rates or cutting services to the public. If staff morale was poor before this, imagine what it must be like now. They don't know who is running the place or who is caring for their welfare.
Another issue, not discussed much so far, is the damage done to our city's reputation. This is not merely a matter of feeling bad about ourselves, or feeling that we have been publicly embarrassed (though, of course, we have); reputational damage has other costs, including incalculable monetary costs.
Imagine how difficult it will be for us to employ a high quality, experienced CEO and how much more that might cost. Our major service providers are likely to cost their doubts about the stability of this council into their tenders for contract work. Currently we need a new director of city infrastructure and up to six manager-level positions remain substantively vacant. How attractive will those positions be looking right now and how much more difficult will it be to attract talented staff? Why? To take our minds of the forthcoming Victorian Ombudsman's report? I hope not!
Jim Burke, Warrnambool
Turner Drive worries continuing
Ratepayers of the Turner Estate in North Warrnambool are becoming increasingly angry because of the lack of response from both VicRoads and the Warrnambool City Council about the dangerous entry and exit off Mortlake Road.
Many attempts have been made to bring our concerns to VicRoads and the council and the only response so far is that the intersection of 159 Mortlake Road is "earmarked", whatever "earmarked" means.
Cars turning right in Turner Drive are breaking the law by crossing the unbroken white line, all this on the brow of a hill. Also with the new estate being planned to exit via Leo Francis Drive, a very narrow road, an extra 200 car movements a day are predicted.
Is VicRoads and WCC not prepared to admit they have made mistakes? In years to come if the estate goes ahead as planned, the question will be asked who is responsible for the dangerous entry and exit to the housing estate at 159 Mortlake Road.
Julian and Sandra Mugavin, Brian and Margaret McMahon, Warrnambool
Smelter a vital asset
With reference to your correspondents' letters of recent days on the future of the Portland aluminium smelter, we are indebted to all of them for the wake-up call. Portland could close next year and at a point in time when, given a more supportive stance by state and federal authorities, it could be on the way to contributing substantially to the stability of the power grid as well as the competitiveness of aluminium production.
The result will hang in the balance until it is clear that Australia is a rewarding home for investment in energy and industrial development. The Trimet Group in Essen, Germany has in operation a commercial-scale trial
program using the heat exchanger principle to enable smelter pots to function under
conditions of variable power supply. This technology holds the promise of
operating aluminium smelters advantageously on power grids supplied by variable
wind and solar sources.
If further developmental work on a project like this were to be undertaken under ARENA or CEFC auspices, it would signal to global investors that Australia will be there. The observation by Roma Britnell, MP, that it is vital to ensure renewable energy generated in the Portland area can be fed into the grid to be used by everyone is true indeed.
John Gare, Kew East
'Reforms will offer world class fire services'
I'd like to take the opportunity to respond to the recent Warrnambool Standard article, 'Reform 'destroys' CFA' (July 1, 2020).
As Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I know that volunteers are the lifeblood of our community. I've had the privilege of meeting thousands of dedicated firefighters in my role, and each and every one has an unwavering commitment to community safety and the people they serve. They do an incredible job every day, and we're extremely thankful for that.
As our population grows and instances of fire increases across homes, businesses and commercial properties, we need to make sure populated areas have the fastest fire response times possible. Our firefighters currently operate under systems and structures that have not changed since the 1950s. Our fire reforms will give them - and the Victorian community - the world class fire services they deserve.
With the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria, we're creating a modern fire service, bringing all paid firefighters across the state into one organisation.
Change can be difficult and as our reforms take effect, I know that there have been concerns in some sections of the community. There has been some speculation that volunteers will not continue to be called out in FRV districts and I want to give my full assurance that volunteer firefighters will absolutely continue to play a central role in the day to day provision of fire prevention and suppression activities in the 38 integrated fire station areas.
For the majority of volunteers, nothing will change under FRV - our reforms impact on the 38 integrated brigades and the remaining 1200 will continue as they always have.
As a strengthened volunteer firefighting CFA, they'll continue to provide a valuable service to their communities, including vital day to day support as well as surge capacity for campaign or other major fire events. Their local knowledge is imperative to community safety and they will continue to provide their skills and expertise alongside FRV career firefighters. Our legislation also enshrines in law the ongoing role of volunteer firefighters and the requirements of the CFA to continue to support, train and retain volunteers.
We've recently backed that in with a $126 million-dollar investment for the CFA to go towards critical training and equipment, and we will continue to invest in our volunteers to ensure the CFA has the funding necessary to remain a strong and sustainable agency.
We have not undertaken these reforms lightly. Between February and March 2020, 54 engagement workshops were held with more than 1330 volunteers, with all volunteers at integrated stations invited. We will continue to engage and support our volunteer firefighters in the days, weeks and months ahead.
As Minister, my priority is to ensure that the community has the best fire services it can possibly have. To support both FRV and CFA to be the best organisations they can possibly be. The Andrews Labor government backs each and every one of our firefighters - we always will.
Lisa Neville, State Police and Emergency Services Minister
'Process to sack CEO wrong'
It is with regret that I feel compelled to write a letter referencing the recent sacking of the Warrnambool CEO Peter Schneider. As background I was the chief commissioner of Warrnambool City with two other commissioners during local government restructure in Victoria 1994 to 1996. Some may say that is 24 years ago. The role of local government has not changed and neither has the imperative to have an effective, cohesive council with the councillors (the policy makers), the management and staff working together to provide the facilities and services to the rate payers and community.
Warrnambool - the city - provides many services to people in adjoining municipalities. Local government restructure was not a process that was the preferred system by many as the commissioners were selected by state government not elected by local.
I recognise and respect that opinion however the government of the time under Premier Jeff Kennett considered the process necessary to create efficiencies by reducing the number of municipalities from 210 to 79 and appoint commissioners to identify further efficiencies and to better manage the municipalities for the benefit of the local constituents.
As a family we selected Warrnambool as a city to relocate. Why? Because it was vibrant, progressive, supported and encouraged opportunity and had a local government that was well managed by councillors who had a vision, had experience across many sectors including successful businesses and had a positive relationship with council management and staff and made decisions in the best interest of Warrnambool.
Warrnambool as a city at the time of restructure was well managed but the restructure process did identify efficiencies and researched opportunities and implemented recommendations in a timely manner. A positive example is Midfield - at that time it had had initial discussions with council staff about expanding the abattoirs.
We listened to their proposal, identified the opportunity, followed due process, made the decision to support the development and the rest is obvious and history. This outcome occurred quickly because we worked with staff, respected their input and progressed the project.
Warrnambool is a wonderful city but I consider the process to sack the CEO was wrong. Irrespective of the reasons for this decision every person deserves respect and I consider the councillors have erred in their process and embarrassed the majority of the people they represent. Warrnambool deserves better.
A cohesive team of councillors and staff with mutual trust and respect for one another, who know and understand their role is the only way to move forward I cannot envisage this as a possibility with the current councillors. I think council elections later this year will not have the outcome the ratepayers want or deserve.
Carole Reid, Port Fairy
Please note: The Standard prefers letters to be less than 250 words. Preference is given to shorter contributions. Letters must include the author's name, address and contact phone number for verification purposes. Letters are published at standard.net.au and in print.