A SHAKE-up of the state opposition’s shadow cabinet has seen Mornington MP David Morris take on the role of local government spokesperson.
Mr Morris’s new role is in addition to being the opposition’s spokesperson for finance and cabinet secretary.
Hastings MP Neale Burgess remains opposition spokesperson for small and medium sized enterprises.
Nepean MP Martin Dixon – a former education minister and the third Liberal Party MP on the Mornington Peninsula – has announced his retirement at the next election and holds no shadow cabinet position.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the Liberal Nationals coalition would over the next 14 months “give Victorians a real choice at the next election between more of the same or a better future”.
“Victorians will have a clear choice at the next election. A choice between a team focused on ideas and policies that will focus on jobs and protecting the way we live, or a government more focused on themselves’ and rorting the taxpayer,” Mr Guy said.
Mr Morris, a councillor and shire president of the former Shire of Mornington, said knew “better than most” the strengths and weaknesses of local government.
“At its best, local government builds a sense of community and provides basic but important services and does them well. At its worst, local government is a magnet for empire builders who think they’ve been elected to the United Nations.
“I believe if local government councillors want to play with federal political issues they should run for federal parliament and leave community issues to those that are genuinely passionate about their community.”
Mr Morris said the state opposition was “working on a plan to manage Victoria’s population growth of over 100,000 people every year”.
“It’s a plan that will grow jobs around the state, including an ambitious construction and infrastructure program that will improve the connectivity between cities and towns to help decentralise our population.”
He said local government “has an exciting and important role to play” in the decentralisation of population.
Mr Morris has opposed the Labor government’s planning changes which he says could see “buildings of up to 11 metres and potentially three storeys” constructed [on the peninsula] without a permit” and would “undoubtedly destroy forever the intrinsic coastal character of our towns and villages”.
He said changes to the general residential zone were in conflict with the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement, which was released in 2014 to great fanfare during the term of the Liberal-Nationals state government.
“The planning statement sought to recognise, maintain and enhance the special character of the peninsula, and maintain and enhance the character of our towns and villages. The recent changes clearly are in conflict with that state policy,” Mr Morris said.
Mr Morris, who played a big role in having the Mornington Planning scheme adopted, has previously told The News he would work with the shire in opposing the changes brought in by the Labor government.