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Fire risks are clad in secrecy Keith Platt keith@mpnews.com.au SECRECY surrounds the location and identities of nine Mornington Peninsula buildings with combustible aluminium cladding. In keeping with its long held policy, Mornington Peninsula Shire last week avoided identifying the buildings uncovered in a state-wide audit by the Victorian Building Authority. Instead of agreeing to call on its own staff to report on the progress of making the buildings safe, councillors at the year’s first Planning Services Committee meeting (27 January) agreed to the mayor telling the state government that its building surveyour, not the shire’s, should be responsible for ordering buildings to be repaired or even evacuated. The decision to overthrow Cr David Gill’s notice of motion calling for a progress report on making the nine buildings safe, followed warnings about legal liability from the shire’s municipal building surveyor manager, David Kotsiakos. Mr Kotsiakos said acting on directions from the state building surveyour posed “a major risk to our municipal building surveyor”. “If the [VBA-appointed] panel of experts incorrectly direct our municipal building surveyor to issue emergency orders to evacuate a building, the legal responsibility and risk to council is potentially the shire’s and not the state government,” he said in a report to council. Setting up the shire’s own review of cladding on buildings “would potentially cost millions of dollars in staff resourcing and possible legal damDECKING T/Pine 70x22 KD ACQ ........................... $2.70mt T/Pine 90x22 KD ACQ ........................... $3.50mt Merbau 70x19 Random ........................ $5.25mt Merbau 90x19 Random ........................ $6.50mt Merbau 140x22 Random .................... $13.25mt Spotted Gum 86x19 .............................. $7.50mt Spotted Gum 135x19........................... $13.95mt

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ages,” Mr Kotsiakos stated. He suggested that instead of a councillors waiting for a report in February, as suggested by Cr Gill, “the mayor write to the Planning Minister [Richard Wynne] raising concerns with the current VBA cladding audit process and that the state building surveyor should be responsible for issuing all notices or orders and not our municipal building surveyor”. Cr Gill told The News that writing to the state government “means we won’t find out anything”. “I just wanted to know if buildings identified with aluminium cladding on the peninsula have been fixed. But this information is, under the relevant act, seen as being confidential.” Cr Gill said there were many single storey buildings on the peninsula with aluminium cladding that did not fit into the three classes specified in the VBA’s audit. Since early 2019, the shire has been wary of making any statements regarding combustible cladding. Despite several emails from The News seeking confirmation that such buildings existed on the peninsula, the closest response, in March 2019 was the following from former chief operating officer Niall McDonagh: “The shire continues to work with the Victorian Building Authority as they investigate the cladding matter across the state. The Shire has not entered into any agreements in relation to cladding matters. If further information is required, it is suggested that contact be made with the VBA.” The shire had not responded by Sunday to a further email sent last Thursday (28 January). Continued Page 8

Pictures: Gary Sissons

Balancing act on A-Day THIRTEEN young skaters competed in a skateboard competition on Australia Day. These included four in the under-12s, eight in the under-18s and lone girl Holly. Jemison Watkins reports that a skater identified only as Ed won the under-18s with “two solid, trick filled runs that made use of the whole park”. “It was extremely close between first and second, but Ed pulled through with his consistency and skill. “Holly competed with huge enthusiasm, mak-

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ing full use of the park in both her runs. She was especially brave being in a competition full of boys.” He said Rex Wheeler “fully shone” in the trick section after starting with a “stylish front smith down the rail, then a kickflip back 50-50 on the kicker to box, before shutting it down with a clean back smith down the rail”. A plaque acknowledging Sorrento Rotary Club’s contribution to the skate park was unveiled before the contest.

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S/Bevel 42x15 ...................................... $1.10mt S/Bevel 67x15 ...................................... $1.45mt S/Bevel 67x18 ...................................... $1.50mt L/ Tongue 67x18 ................................... $1.50mt L/ Tongue 92x18 ................................... $2.20mt L/ Tongue 140x18 ................................. $3.25mt B/nose 67x18 ....................................... $1.50mt B/nose 92x18 ....................................... $2.20mt

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Southern Peninsula News 3 February 2021

PAGE 5

Profile for Mornington Peninsula News Group

Southern Peninsula News 2 February 2021  

Southern Peninsula News 2 February 2021

Southern Peninsula News 2 February 2021  

Southern Peninsula News 2 February 2021

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