29 January 2019

Page 7

NEWS DESK

Drownings ‘at higher rate than normal’ Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au THE Mornington Peninsula has featured in many of the 20 drownings since the start of summer, which also saw deaths at Phillip Island, Gippsland, the Grampians and Brighton Beach. The most recent drowning occurred at Bushrangers Bay, near Cape Schanck, when a young musician was swimming with a friend, Tuesday 22 January. They got into trouble about 5pm. Police and emergency services found the man in the water about 6.30pm and attempted to resuscitate him, but he died at the scene. His female friend was able to swim back to shore. Life Savings Victoria spokesperson Blair Morton said the man, in his 20s, was the 20th person to drown in Victoria since December 1 last year, reflecting a much higher rate than average. Nationally, the number of drownings this summer is also higher than previous years. From 1 July 2018-22 January this year there have been 38 drownings in Victoria – up 13 on the five-year average and up 15 than the 10-year average. Mr Morton said many of the deaths were entirely avoidable: “Fifteen of the 38 were along the coast and 15 were at inland waterways while the remainder were at home or elsewhere,” he said. “Some involved children drowning in baths or ponds. “Our message is that people should

be prepared for their visits to the water. They should swim between the flags when at the beach, or be vigilant around rivers and streams.” He advised those heading to the beach to visit the beachsafe.org.au website to check conditions and the times lifesavers are on duty. On 19 November, a man drowned at St Andrews beach. He was found unconscious in the water near Paradise Drive, 8.15am, police said. On Christmas Eve, a woman lost her husband and adult son when they drowned at the Colonnades beach on Phillip Island. The 45 and 20 year old could not be revived when pulled from the water. The family’s 11-year-old son managed to swim to shore and suffered only minor injuries. On Christmas Day, a 64-year old diver drowned off the rocks at Cape Schanck. On Boxing Day, a New Zealand tourist drowned while swimming at Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians and then, on New Year’s Day, a man drowned while swimming at Paynesville. The 45-year-old Bairnsdale man was with his wife and family in the water off Sunset Drive at 4.50pm when he was seen to be in difficulty. Despite rescue attempts he died at the scene. A man was pulled from the water at Brighton Beach, Monday 21 January. He could not be revived. “Over the past 10 years there have been five drownings in Victoria either on Christmas Day or Boxing Day,”

Charges for former council manager Brodie Cowburn brodie@mpnews.com.au VICTORIA’S premier anti-corruption commission has laid 79 charges, including obtaining property by deception, making false documents, using false documents and misconduct in public office, against a former Frankston Council manager. The charges were laid on 14 January after an IBAC investigation into whether “improper procurement practices were used to obtain Frankston City Council funds.”

A supplier of services to council, an owner of an electrical company, was on 7 January charged with 78 similar offences. The investigation was opened after Frankston Council self reported suspicions of a possible breach. An IBAC statement said that “under mandatory notification requirements that came into effect in 2016, all heads of Victorian public sector departments and agencies, including council CEOs, must by law notify IBAC of any matter they suspect, on reasonable grounds, involves corrupt conduct.” The charges are expected to be heard

at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 30 January. Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden said “approximately 12 months ago council officers identified possible breaches in process involving a former council manager. “Once aware, council immediately reported the possible breach to IBAC and has since been assisting with the investigation. “As the matter is now before the court, council will be making no further comment, other than to say the manager in question is no longer an employee of Frankston City Council.”

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