Council Beat – May 7 2024

COUNCILLORS took the opportunity to credit a range of successful events in the region and thank community volunteers who made them possible at the first Wellington Shire Council ordinary meeting of the month on Tuesday, May 7.

As Mayor Ian Bye invited councillors acknowledgments, three hands shot up.

Spotlight on Stratford

NORTHERN Ward councillor Carmel Ripper began highlighting three events that took place in Stratford in the last month.

First, Cr Ripper recognised Stratford’s inaugural Candlelight Vigil, which coincided with National Domestic Violence Remembrance Day last week.

She said it was a “solemn evening” attended by 30 people – a pleasing number for the town’s first observance. Cr Ripper also recognised the larger Candlelight Vigil held in Sale at the clock tower, which drew a substantial crowd of at least 200 people.

Additionally, the councillor participated in the Walk and Talk for the Black Dog Institute organised by Stratford local, Cal Coleman last Saturday. It was the third year the event was held, raising money for the Black Dog Institute and the work they do around mental health awareness. Cr Ripper noted the supportive and joyful atmosphere of the day, with hundreds of participants taking part.

Cr Ripper said at drink stations throughout the walk, “There was so much talk and kindness given to everyone who was walking … the whole atmosphere of the day was an absolute joy be part of.”

Lastly, Cr Ripper acknowledged the Stratford on the Avon Shakespeare Festival, having attended its opening night on April 18 with Mayor Ian Bye and Coastal Ward councillor, Marcus McKenzie.

May the fourth be with you

COASTAL Ward Councillor Gayle Maher acknowledged the community of Yaram, specifically the Rotary Club of Yarram.

The councillor was impressed by the Rotary Club of Yarram’s initiative called “Yarram Says No to Family Violence”, which she said facilitates conversations around domestic violence.

“That is something that is certainly needed within our communities.”

Following this, Cr Maher said there will be English language dialogue sessions for people in the community who want to improve their English. Rotary also intends to play international movies over a six-week period, which Cr Maher said would progress cultural promotion and make visitors to Yarram, like backpackers, feel more at home.

Cr Maher noted Star Wars Day celebrations held at the Regent Theatre, where a screening of the films was held. May 4 is unofficially Star Wars Day, partly because of the famous Jedi phrase, “May the force be with you”. The pun goes, “May the fourth be with you”.

Promising Anzac Day crowds

NORTHERN Ward Councillor John Tatterson commended the efforts of local RSLs and volunteers following Anzac Day services held across the region.

The councillor noted that numbers across local services were promising, having attended Stratford and Heyfield services himself.

“From my observation, the importance and the understanding and the community engagement with Anzac Day has continued to grow over the last 10 years, and it’s certainly great that we (councillors) have been able to be involved.”

To conclude, Cr Tatterson thanked other councillors who attended Anzac Day services, where they laid wreaths on council’s behalf.

Mayor presents scarf to Cr Maher

ROUNDING out the acknowledgements, Mayor Bye recounted four events he had attended recently.

Cr Bye recognised the Siemens Renewable Energy event on Tuesday, April 23. Before recounting the event, Cr Bye gave a brief history lesson about Siemens. This company has been active in Australia for 150 years. Werner von Siemens, who gave his name to the renewable energy company, was a key stakeholder in developing the nation’s communication revolution as “cable fever” reached Australia in the 1870s.

At this time, the Adelaide to Darwin Overland telegraph project was built, and Siemens provided 36,000 porcelain insulators for the 2700-kilometre telegraph line. The project would have cost $104 million in today’s money, Cr Bye said.

Cr Bye said Siemens Energy announced at the event last month that they will enter into a Memorium of Understanding (MOU) with the local business Marathon Industries, with future renewable energy projects in the Wellington region on the horizon.

“We definitely welcome bigger companies such as Siemens to come forward and state, out to the public, they want to get involved with businesses and helping with developing some important infrastructure here in Wellington,” Cr Bye said.

Unfolding a scarf he was gifted at the event, Cr Bye proceeded to present it to Cr Maher.

“Its not just any scarf. It’s a scarf that portrays the history of Siemens,” he said.

The artwork on the scarf was created by Indigenous youth from Sunbury Aboriginal Corporation.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye presented Deputy Mayor Gayle Maher with a scarf commemorating renewable energy company Seimens’ 150th anniversary. Photo: Erika Allen

Cr Bye acknowledged the Small Bore Rifle Club based in Sale, specifically noting the club’s junior talent.

The small club of 35 members has two first-ranked juniors in Australia. Specifically noting the performance of 14-year-old Darcee Young, who placed eighth among Australia’s best female shooters, Cr Bye mused that an Olympic career may be on the youngster’s horizon.

Thirdly, Cr Bye presented Arthur Skipitaris with the award for Local Government Pro Awards for Excellence in the Innovative Management category. The award was jointly awarded to the Wellington Shire and East Gippsland Shire and recognises the collaboration and achievements of both councils in the Datacentre and ICT Consolidation – Shared Services Project.

Finally, Cr Bye acknowledged the Anzac Weekend Airshow in the Middle of Everywhere, noting its record-breaking attendance following its successful inaugural year in 2022. This year, crowds surpassed 14,000 people, 2000 more than two years ago.

Cr Bye thanked the RAAF Roulettes, Department of Defence, Paul Benet Airshows, West Sale Airport tenants and operators, and local exhibitors CFA and SES.

He also thanked the 80-plus volunteers who gave their time to make the event possible.

“We look forward to 2026, which will be the next Airshow, and we’ll have that bigger and better,” Cr Bye said.

Code of Conduct amended

COUNCILLORS moved to approve revisions to the 2021-2014 Councillor Code of Conduct relating to strengthening its zero-tolerance stance on child abuse.

Section 14 ‘Interacting with children’ was amended and stipulated that councillors:

Maintain the highest standards of professional conduct in their attitude, behaviour and interactions with children and young people;

Support and maintain council’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people including through any decision they participate in as a councillor; and,

Take all reasonable steps to protect children and young people from harm, including complying with council’s obligations under state and federal child protection legislation.

The revised Councillor Code of Conduct, containing highlighted revisions for review, will be finalised upon approval and released to the public via council’s website. This policy framework ensures council’s compliance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 and Victorian Child Safe Standards.

Timber!

WELLINGTON Shire Council’s draft budget for Capital Works in 2024/25 allocates $585,000 to the maintenance of parks, open spaces and streetscapes, which the Natural Environment and Parks Unit oversees. This unit manages public spaces, including parks, waste management, and around 70,000 urban trees within the shire.

On Tuesday, council received a report to Schedule of Rates for Rural Tree Management 2024-2026, extending over a two-year term with potential extensions at council’s discretion. The proposal encompasses services from various providers, including ASAP Tree Services, Batt Brothers Vegetation Management, Benson Group Contractors, ENSPEC, Flemings Tree Services, Regal Tree Services, and Roots 2 Leaves.

No online comments were submitted, and there was no gallery.

The first ordinary council meeting for May ended after 38 minutes.

The next ordinary council meeting will be held on May 21 at 5pm in the Wellington Room at the Port of Sale Library.