Mornington News 24 November 2020

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Urgent bid to change 150-year protocol ANTHONY Marsh (pictured) this week seemed destined to make an early impression as a councillor by proposing that Mornington Peninsula Shire drop the prayer that has preceded meetings since the start of local government on the peninsula. Scrapping the prayer is not new to local government, with Mount Alexander Shire Council dispensing with it in 2013 and Kerang in 2016, but Cr Marsh’s decision to introduce the subject as urgent business at Monday’s council meeting was likely to be challenged. A prayer has been part of council meetings since local government was established on the peninsula with the formation of the Shire of Mornington nearly 150 years ago. In an email to other councillors, Cr Marsh acknowledged he ran the risk of “being controversial in my first 48 hours in the role” [as a councillor] but saw the new council’s first meeting as the “most appropriate time” to advocate dropping the prayer. He said introducing the subject as “urgent business” was the only way of getting it on the agenda at short notice. “I assure you that I will not make a habit of raising items of urgent business in place of a notice of motion in order to short circuit the fiveday requirement, but I deem it appropriate in this instance,” Cr Marsh said. He said it was worth noting that the “vast majority of us” had opted not to take the Oath when being sworn in as councillors. The latest Census shows 70 per cent of the shire’s 167,636 (estimated) residents class themselves as being Christian.

The next largest group those with no religion or secular beliefs (21.4%), non-disclosed religious affiliation (4.5%), Buddhism (2.1%), Hindu (1.7%) and Islam (1.4%). Cr Hugh Fraser said the move by Cr Marsh “looks like the strength and discipline of the new faction on council is being tested”. When contacted by the Peninsula Atheists in the lead-up to the 2012 council elections Cr Fraser said he was against removing the prayer from council meetings. In his email to councillors Cr Marsh said he respected the freedom for people to practice religion but saying a prayer before council meetings was not in the “interests of inclusivity”. Dropping the prayer would acknowledge that councillors “represent a broad and diverse community”. “Additionally, as this is a recommendation to alter the meeting procedure to be more inclusive, it is reasonable to consider this matter immediately rather than defer it.” Keith Platt

Ferracini Xmas

Busy bees: South Mornington Pre-School’s Natasha Beimers and students are laying the ground work for a pollination garden for blue-banded bees. Image: Supplied

Welcome mat rolls out for bees SOUTH Mornington Pre-School will use $4219 from the state government to build a pollination garden for blue-banded bees. Education leader Natasha Beimers said the pre-school was one of 113 schools and youth organisations to receive a Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity grant. Ms Beimers said blue-banded bees used to visit the pre-school “many years ago”. “One of our educators remembers the children’s fascination with the little bees, especially their striking colours and the interesting ways they would move their bodies – buzz pollination – to encourage flowers to release pollen.” Although the bees haven’t visited the preschool for some time that may soon change. “A

big part of the curriculum is around the importance of biodiversity and conservation, with the kinder having one of the longest running bush kinder programs on the peninsula,” Ms Beimers said. The pre-school will work with the nearby men’s shed and native nursery to improve biodiversity within the outdoor space. This will better support native wildlife, including the bees, possums, tawny frogmouths and birds and insects. “By using the grant to improve our biodiversity, we hope to support our local flora and fauna and, in the process, instill in our students a love of the environment,” Ms Beimers said. Details of the pre-school’s 2021 enrolment and programs at


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24 November 2020


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