New group steps into action
TO AN outsider, the South Gippsland Action Group may appear to be a bunch of troublemakers, determined to cause a stir in the local council.
But according to president Steve Finlay, the group’s aim is to work with South Gippsland Shire Council’s councillors to achieve good outcomes for the community.
He said the group had some “passionate” members, who are frustrated by council, who may give people the wrong impression of the group.
“We want to provide positive input into council decisions,” he said.
Mr Finlay said 90 percent of people have a complaint, but only 10 percent of people do something about it.
“We want to know what people think, we want individuals to have input,” he said.
Mr Finlay said the group was formed after last year’s local government elections in November. He said he was surprised with the interest shown in the election by the community and wanted to keep that enthusiasm going.
“The group covers the whole shire. We have members from all three wards and we don’t just want to just be about council matters,” he said.
“However at the moment, we are sticking to council matters, because we are frustrated.”
When the group first formed, Mr Finlay said its aim was to work with the new councillors.
“We think the administration runs the councillors and they don’t have time to do all the things they are expected to do,” he said.
“They have a very demanding job.”
The group is focused on issues it sees as important, including council transparency, rates, caravan parks and council services.
“Our biggest issue is getting a straight answer from council’s administration. It is very hard to get information from them,” Mr Finlay said.
“Any questions we ask are diverted or we are given non-answers.”
The group is advocating for the council to relinquish its leases of the Yanakie and Port Welshpool caravan parks, to “save ratepayers a lot of money”.
Mr Finlay said because the parks are on crown land, any profit made running them has to go back into the parks.
“They (council) spends millions of ratepayer dollars on the parks, however we never see a return from the investment,” he said.
The group is also interested in non council related matters, including the return of the rail and extending the Great Southern Rail Trail.
Mr Finlay said as president, it is his job to ensure all communication between the group, council and the community is collaborative.
“We are determined to press on and make a change,” he said.
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