18 July 2016

Page 5

NEWS DESK Brekky’s up CHILDREN from disadvantaged families will face a brighter and healthier start to the day after 255 more schools in Victoria were added to the School Breakfast Clubs program across the state. Deputy Premier James Merlino visited Frankston Primary School last Thursday to announce the expansion of the $13.7 million state government program in partnership with welfare food agency Foodbank. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it sets our children up to concentrate, learn and be at their best but unfortunately not all kids are able to start the day with breakfast at home,� Mr Merlino said. Labor Frankston MP Paul Edbrooke, a former teacher, said Nepean Special School, Frankston, Frankston Heights, Karingal and Kinglsey Park primary schools in Frankston will start School Breakfast Clubs in term three.

Picture: Makala Peter, Wildlife Cruises

Meals for needy

Whales breaking records WHALE watchers are recording the “busiest season on record� as sightings pour in from Western Port and Port Phillip. “The 2016 whale season has turned into a record breaker around our bays. We’ve just had our busiest weekend of sightings ever,� said Dolphin Research Institute, research officer David Donnelly said on Wednesday. “Winter in our bays and surrounding coastal waters has become something of a busy time for keen whale watchers. Large whales are now so regular in our waters that sightings have become an expectation rather than a novelty.� Mr Donnelly said although “hunted to the edge of extinction during the industrial whaling era, humpback and southern right whales are making a come-

back, though the latter still has a long way to go� He said the east coast population of humpback whales is expected to reach 26,000 animals this season “which is close to the estimated pre-whaling numbers�. “The news is not so great for the slow to reproduce southern right whale, with their southeast Australian numbers estimated to be between just 224 and 251 individuals.� Mr Donnelly said up to 16 whales were sighted in the preceding weekend, bringing the number to 56 since 16 June 16. This time last year there had been 33 validated sightings. “Whether this is a case of more whales, more people looking or a bit of both is yet to be determined but one thing’s for sure, whales never fail to

attract the attention of the public,� he said. Mr Donnelly said reports had also been made of vessels approaching too close to migrating whales. State whale watching regulations limit boats to being no closer than 200 metres. Jet skis and other smaller craft were limited to 300 metres. The Two Bays Whale Project is a citizen science project being run by the Dolphin Research Institute and Wildlife Coast Cruises for the public to report whale sightings and contribute images to a centralised database. The data is used to compare sighting rates, monitor changes in behaviour and give an overall understanding of trends in numbers of visiting animals. Log your whale sightings at dolphinresearch.org. au

FRANKSTON Council has stepped in to offer meals to the needy and disadvantaged in the wake of the closure of City Life’s cafe at Shannon St Mall until Wintringham arrives to pick up the meals service as part of a state government program. Monday night hot meals are available at Frankston North Community Centre, Monday evenings, 4.30-6pm. Wednesday evening meals are dished up at Seaford Community Centre, 5-6pm and takeaway lunches are available Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-3pm. Sandwiches can be collected at Community Support Frankston, 35 Beach St and laundry vouchers are also available. Hotdogs and hot drinks are also served up on Friday nights at the Frankston Train Station carpark on Friday nights, 7-9pm by Lifegate.

Social media comments ‘unacceptable’ Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au A CLOSED meeting between councillors last month was not aimed at restricting councillors’ freedom of speech according to Frankston mayor Cr James Dooley. The mayor told The Times a mid-week meeting between councillors called at short notice last month mainly focused on discussions around how councillors can best communicate on online social media sites such as Facebook without bringing council into disrepute (‘Hidden agenda for secret council meeting’, The Times 20/6/16). The Special Meeting was not listed on council’s website and no agenda was released to the public before the meeting.

Cr Dooley said the mayor and CEO are officially the spokespeople of council and while councillors are free to express personal opinions they must make this clear especially when commenting about council policies or “operational matters� online. “It can be inferred they’re speaking on behalf of council [online],� Cr Dooley said. “Short sentences are used and things can be taken out of context.� He noted federal and state laws and the Local Government Act have not kept up with the rapid rise of online discourse and its potential legal ramifications. “We decided to look at what other councils do and ask ourselves ‘how do we deal with this?’,� Cr Dooley said. At last month’s public council meeting Cr

Brian Cunial pushed for the council decision from last month’s Special Meeting to be publicly released “in the interests of transparency and clarity�. Councillors at the Special Meeting noted “recent media comments (including social media) are unacceptable and damaging to council and may warrant further discussions when all councillors have the opportunity to be present�. A council officer’s report tabled at the meeting was not released. Crs Darrel Taylor, Suzette Tayler, Michael O’Reilly and Rebekah Spelman did not attend the meeting. At last month’s council meeting Cr Glenn Aitken and Cr Taylor clashed when debating how councillors should publicly communicate. “I’ve got no problem with any councillor

speaking to the press ‌ councillors are entitled to,â€? Cr Aitken said. “I do have a very real problem with councillors misinforming the community via the media. I don’t think that it’s responsible or acceptable for councillors to issue, make or utter comments that are then carried into the public arena to distort what the actual truth is.â€? Cr Dooley, chairing the meeting, suspended standing orders with councillors’ agreement to discuss the matter further. Cr Taylor accused Cr Aitken of being “hypocriticalâ€? and said there is one rule for some councillors that is not enforced for others. Frankston councillors, and some family members, have taken to Facebook in recent weeks to publicly comment on council matters amid online arguments.

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18 July 2016