WELLINGTON Shire’s finalisation of the 2024/25 Budget was the most significant event at June’s first council meeting for 2024, with Northern Ward Councillor John Tatterson stifling his feelings for the most part despite previous disagreements.

The Thursday, May 16 public submissions response to the draft had no impact.

Three councillors were away: Central Ward’s Cr Scott Rosetti and Coastal Ward Cr’s Gayle Maher, while Northern Ward’s Cr Carmel Ripper appeared virtually.

Budget response

THE first to speak on the budget was Coastal Ward Cr Garry Stephens, who, in a nearly 10-minute speech, described the budget as “responsible”.

“Our main goal for the 2024/25 (budget) year is to balance our core service while preserving our finances for the long term,” the Coastal Ward councillor said.

“We’ve experienced 14 emergency events of floods and bushfires between March 2021 and February 2024. These emergency events have resulted in an estimated $12 million of damage to the infrastructure, including roads, drains and bridges.”

The only opposition to the budget proposal was Cr Tatterson, who was given another opportunity to clarify his opposition.

“My role in voting against the current budget is the reduction in the Urban Paths Plan from the 2023/24 projection of $1 million down to $500,000 in the 2024/25 budget,” he said.

“The urban paths plan is something that I see as critically important… it won’t be achieved with this reduction of expenditure”.

The Urban Paths Plan is a council initiative to build more concrete footpaths in the region’s residential areas.

“Wellington Shire is following a national trend of increasing (numbers of) overweight and obesity in the population. Urban paths (to) walk and cycle help with that obesity crisis. In a social field, the presence of walkers and cyclists is an area that contributes to social well being and a sense of place,” Cr Tatterson said.

“As Cr Stephens mentioned, $68.5 million worth of capital works and the need to reduce our Urban Paths Plan by $500,000 is a disappointing result as it is one of the key things I was advocating for during my election four years ago.”

Cr Crossley was the next to speak, directly addressing Cr Tatterson for much of her speech.

She argued that funding for the Urban Paths Plan was likely to increase in the future.

“It would be irresponsible if we all decided on a pet project to protest and rejected the budget,” she said.

“I’m sure that in the future another council will be able to increase that (Urban Paths Plan) budget, but to meet the (current) constraints… due to a whole range of circumstances outside of our control means we need to tighten our belt in some areas where we may not wish to.”

Cr Stephens spoke again and echoed the same message.

“I understand that Cr Tatterson is passionate about the footpaths program, and I understand what he is saying,” he said.

“We allocated additional money to the paths program last year, and this year, we’ve reduced it, but I hope that council will be able to increase it to a higher level in next year’s budget.”

Boisdale’s new parking lot

COUNCIL approved a proposal to investigate turning Boisdale’s service road on the Valencia Creek side of Boisdale next to the stables and opposite the hall, to extend the road while turning some unused land into a parking lot.

The property owners have allowed the land, which is currently private farmland, to be transformed.


CENTRAL Ward Cr Jill Wood praised the progress of Sale’s roundabout near Bunnings on Desailly and Macarthur Street (construction costs $550,000), which aims to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow to the Gippsland Centre car park.

The project will include the replacement of existing drainage, footpaths and crossings.

Cr Wood then spoke about her experiences last week at the Sale Tennis Club as part of a trophy presentation for the winners of a doubles competition, the Seniors National Ranking Tournament.

She said she was astounded by the court’s quality.

“I know council has put a lot of money into helping them, but we have a world-class facility there,” she said.

Cr Crossley praised various activities in the region last week relating to Aboriginal culture and recognition.

Coastal Ward Cr Marcus McKenzie spoke about Yarram’s candlelight vigil 2024 against gender-based violence and recited a speech by the Yarram Neighbourhood House Manager, Cathy Cook.

Mayor Ian Bye said he went to the Gippsland Food and Fibre Awards – the first one since COVID-19.

“It recognises different businesses and farms in the Gippsland area that have made great achievements,” he said.

“There were 10 awards given out, and six of those winners were Wellington-based businesses, which was a big achievement.”