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Community urged to sign SGW petition, write letters

• Foster Chamber of Commerce members with the Stop Relocation of South Gippsland Water petition, now ready for signature throughout the Corner Inlet district. Local people are also asked to write letters to Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville, too.

THE Corner Inlet community is being urged to sign a petition to the Victorian Government to retain South Gippsland Water’s head office in Foster.

Local people are also asked to write personal letters to Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville to let the Minister know their views on SGW’s plans to move to Leongatha or Wonthaggi.

The petition has been prepared by Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien, and copies are now available to sign in Foster shops and businesses, and at post offices throughout the Corner Inlet district.

Letters to the Minister may either be emailed to lisa.neville@parliament.vic.gov.au or posted to The Honourable Lisa Neville, Victorian Minister for Water, Level 17/ 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne Victoria 3002.

The petition is entitled Stop Relocation of South Gippsland Water and is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. 

Its preamble reads, “The Petition of residents in the State of Victoria draws to the attention of the House the concerns of the Corner Inlet community regarding the proposal of South Gippsland Water to relocate its corporate office from Foster.”

It continues, “The petitioners are concerned at the economic impact this will cause to Foster and district and the impost of a greenfield office construction on all South Gippsland Water customers.”

The preamble concludes with, “The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Assembly urges the Andrews Labor Government to immediately stop any such relocation and ensure South Gippsland Water remains in Foster.”

Foster Chamber of Commerce president Phil Rerden said that he and all of the chamber members were, “exceptionally happy that our local MP Danny O’Brien has been able to raise this issue in Parliament.

“We are glad to help circulate the petition and are also happy to assist anyone wanting to write to the Minister,” he said.

“I am very thankful for the support and unity the Corner Inlet community has shown on this issue and encourage everyone to get behind this campaign to keep the water board here.”

Mr Rerden requested that district residents sign the petition as soon as they can, ideally within the next week or so, in order for the completed forms to be gathered together and returned quickly to Mr O’Brien’s electorate office in Sale.

Mr O’Brien will then table the petition at coming sittings of Parliament.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien has asked Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville to intervene in South Gippsland Water’s plan to relocate from Foster.

Mr O’Brien raised the issue in State Parliament last week calling on the Minister to ask South Gippsland Water to halt its plans to build new offices in Leongatha or Wonthaggi.

O’Brien takes SGW plan to Parliament

This follows on from a community meeting last week and concerns raised by the Foster Chamber of Commerce. 

“I don’t believe there is justification for the move of South Gippsland Water from Foster, a decision which would have a significant impact on the business community in Foster as well as the Corporation’s own employees,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The reasons put forward for the move are not sufficient justification to my mind and I’ve made that clear to South Gippsland Water.

“Before any final decision is taken, I’ve now asked the Minister to intervene and ensure there is greater consultation and more attention put towards renovating or reconstructing on the existing site on Pioneer Street in Foster,” he said.

“To take 50 staff out of a small town like Foster would have a significant impact and hurt the local economy.

“I am not convinced by the argument that the Corporation’s needs to be closer to the bulk of its customers in the western end of the region given that few ever physically attend the corporate office.

“While I understand that there are some internal synergies to be achieved by co-locating head office with major depots, I’m not convinced of the arguments,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“I’m also concerned that construction of new offices on a new green-field site would have a significant impact on water bills for all South Gippsland Water customers.”

Mr O’Brien raised the matter during the adjournment debate in Parliament and the Minster has 30 days to formally respond.

During his speech in Parliament, Mr O’Brien said, “the Foster Chamber of Commerce is also very concerned about this, quite naturally, and the wider community, I think is just starting to realise what is planned.

“Back in the 1990s when the South Gippsland Water corporation was established, at the same time as council amalgamations, it was generally accepted that the South Gippsland Shire head office would be in Leongatha and in compensation the water board would be in Foster,” he told Parliament.“I think it has always been good that a regional state government authority is sited in a small country town like Foster, and it would be anti-decentralisation to move it to one of the bigger towns, so I ask the Minister to intervene to make sure that the jobs are kept in Foster and the community there is not disadvantaged.”

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