Now I am back

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By Cr Dick Gross AM

Paul Keating got one thing really wrong. When he observed that “a soufflé never rises twice” he was correct about the particular soufflé he referred to (Andrew Peacock). He was dead wrong, however, about Jesus, Robert Menzies, John Howard and many others who have come back from the dead – political or otherwise. I love Paul Keating but thank goodness I was the exception to his immutable rule based on the short, single life of a soufflé.

After serving for a dozen years on the Port Phillip Council, I was in the wilderness for 8 years for two elections I lost. For a while, it looked like Keating was going to be right about me. Very sad face. But at the recent elections I was returned as a Councillor and speaking of an important ingredient of soufflé, Paul Keating got a little bit of googy egg on his face.

I have been elected as a representative of Canal Ward which embraces the south east of Port Phillip from Elwood to East St Kilda. Like the other newly expanded wards, Canal combines suburbs that are quite different to each other. Brighton Road is a significant barrier in Canal Ward and most of the residents in Balaclava and East St Kilda don’t really relate to Elwood Canal. So the name, is not really appropriate for the areas covered. That is something we might need to change in the future.

I am so excited and grateful to be back. I’m luvin’ it.

My story has been painted by some as a tale of redemption. We love such salvation stories for they can be inspirational. I feel though, that I don’t want my story to be about redemption yet.  For there are many challenges to face in office before I will feel redeemed. In Elwood the main challenge is two fold – how do we mitigate the flooding from the Canal (especially with sea levels rising) and make the place greener. Fortunately, these aims are compatible for a green corridor will absorb and slow moving water and make the place safer, lovelier and more bio diverse.  Unfortunately, Council does not control the main assets – Melbourne Water, Bayside Council and Parks Victoria do. So I won’t feel redeemed unless we can work with these institutions to make life greener and safer in Elwood.

I also won’t feel redeemed if we cannot make Carlisle St work better. Whilst it is a hugely successful retail strip, there are complicated problems there and the place has been neglected by Council for too long. Carlisle St needs some love.

And what about the issue that triggered my time in the wilderness – the St Kilda Triangle?? Well in the time I have been out past Councils have totally buggered up this issue. It is still a mess after a decade and millions of your dollars have been squandered. The State government has been cowardly for years. Now we have inherited a disaster. The only plan is a $350 million vision with no support and no one lined up to pay for it.  The whole debacle just keeps rolling on.

The Triangle is not in my Ward so I will not be primarily responsible for it. Perhaps this good for my both mental health and the community. Because of the vandalism of past Councils, no quick and easy solution is apparent to me. Whilst Councillors come and go, some things, like the Triangle, never change.

Now I am back, I am looking forward to a challenging four years is this wonderful tempestuous city. I cannot wait.

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