IN THE aftermath of the Yarra and Darebin councils’ rebranding of Australia Day, I listened to a highly paid federal MP talking across the airwaves. ‘Councils should stick to roads, rates and rubbish’ he declared. I smiled as I set the cruise control the morning after our historic Grantville council meeting.
As the councillor for Leadbeater Ward I clocked up tens of thousands of kilometres. Now, even with two other councillors to share the challenge, I seem to be spending more and more time on the roads that join the Western Port Ward townships. As well as providing a daily audit of our road network, time behind the wheel allows me to reflect on the council, the people of Bass Coast and how we can achieve our aspirations.
Some journeys are longer than others. In my second term as a councillor I can look back on the Bass Valley Children’s Centre as the achievement of council staff working with a dedicated community to create a brighter future for our children. The board of the Bass Valley Children’s Centre has been working toward this for five years and there is a class of four year olds already enrolled for 2018.
My first term (2012-16) included 12 months as mayor. With only one councillor returned, we learned a lot in a short period of time. Appointing a new CEO is one of the most challenging things a council can do. The flow on from that was organisational and cultural change that continues to this day as we achieve greater efficiencies.
By the time I got to Sale I was tired but a quick coffee propelled me into two days of networking, briefings and discussions that covered a number of areas that are vital to Bass Coast.
Good news items on that agenda included the imminent completion of the Lance Creek roundabout and funding for a roundabout on the Phillip Island Road. Construction will start in mid to late 2018. Preparation work for traffic lights at the notoriously dangerous intersection of McKenzie and Korrumburra roads has also started.
And then there was rubbish. Another of the many achievements of the last council was the successful negotiation of a new 10-year waste contract that gives the shire a way to reduce landfill. Ultimately we will be able to save large amounts of money by extending the life of our current landfill cell.
The most frequent comment that I hear about our new bin system is that it means an end to backyard composting. It doesn’t. I applaud people who have been composting, or feeding a few chooks in the backyard. There’s no reason to stop. The new kitchen caddy and organic waste bin, which will be collected weekly, complement such actions and will further reduce the need to fill great big holes with rubbish.
Our organic waste can be completely broken down to fine compost in 12 weeks at Dutson Downs. The folks here were very impressed to hear the Bass Coast was on board and I had an amazing tour of the soil and organic recycling facility that treats and recycles liquid and solid waste. It’s the first of its kind in Victoria and this is where all our putrescible waste will end up once the new system starts up.
Dutson Downs accepts and treats EPA prescribed and non-prescribed wastes, most of which become compost. This includes tannery wastes, industrial, car, truck and machinery wash waters, content from grease traps in commercial kitchens, milk and food wastes, poultry manure and green waste and other organics.
It produces the REVIVE Recycled Compost which is already benefiting the local agricultural industry. Soil improvement tests at Gippsland Water’s Dutson Downs property are showing great promise. And the place doesn’t stink like I thought it would. It’s no worse than a bad day on a dairy farm.
I cast a farewell glance at the 90 windrows that cross the 8500-hectare site and the giant machines that churn and turn the compost. Then it was back on the road again.