Geoff Ellis

“I believe in leading by example. My wife and I live in an off-grid home that has an 8.4 energy rating. We have a dog and two cats. I am a founder member of the South Coast Inclusion Network, our regional LGBTIQ reference group. I run a free community newspaper that keeps locals informed while encouraging emerging and established writers and promoting local businesses and community groups. I am President of Artspace Wonthaggi and also the Bass Coast Artists Society. I am the editor of the Western Port Wardupdate. Ask me anything at

Questions 1 thru 15 are from BCRRA and 16 thru 34 are collated from the community questions received. Candidates were asked to respond to all 34

  1. Why do you believe the community should vote for you?
    Continuity and stability. Four years on council means I understand the inner workings. I care about our people and can amplify the voice of people with a disability, people who are doing it tough and business that are on the edge.
  2. What are your strengths in working with people?
    Communication – as a professional writer I am trained to listen, identify what matters and create a narrative/action plan for success. My union background taught me how to negotiate positive outcomes. I maintain the highest standards of integrity and politeness.
  3. If elected, how will you demonstrate that you stand at the front of the community rather than standing beside the bureaucracy?
    I walk with the people of Bass Coast. I have proven that over the last four years and will keep at it.
  4. What considerations, inclusions or deletions will you take when forming your new Council Plan?
    Start fresh. We ask everyone what they value, what they aspire to and what needs to improve, such as Governance framework, and the Council Plan will be honed from that information. Feedback from the community drives that process.
  5. How will you demonstrate that you remain focused on financial discipline at Council
    Through continuous auditing by independent, qualified personnel that the people of Bass Coast can be assured by. I will continue to follow up questions from the people and Ratepayer groups.
  6. Is Council’s 4 year Strategic Resource Plan together with the 10 year financial plan appropriate to meet the future needs of The Bass Coast Shire Council and its Ratepayers?
    These need to be rewritten. Our world and community needs have changed and there will be an emphasis on economic recovery and belt tightening, given the high rate of unemployment, casualization of the work force and COVID19 impact.
  7. Will you be prepared to challenge the system (council officers and fellow councillors) to keep your constituents well informed
    This is two questions. Challenge the system -Yes. Inform constituents – I started a regular newsletter so they know what Clare, Bruce and I are doing and spend long hours answering emails and we are accessible via facebook 24/7
  8. Will you take action to investigate the 10 year Waste Contract details in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor? Will you review the contract model settings and make findings publicly available?
    I ran against it in 2016. Have been working with BCRRA to obtain details that aren’t currently public. Yes I will.
  9. Will you support continued live streaming of open Council Meetings and availability of a publicly available video archive?
    I tried to get a motion up to enshrine Live Streaming – which is obviously a success – and it was defeated. I proposed LS in 2016 and it is essential.
  10. Will you take action to review the Governance Rules Policy in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor including community consultation?
  11. Will you take action to Review the Media Engagement Policy in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor including community consultation?
    I publish my own Newsletters and a community magazine as well as writing for two media outlets. I am constantly testing the media policy and have a few amendments ready for when we review it. All our policies need a regular review date. This should include the Media Engagement Policy, ideally within 12 months.
  12. If elected, what commitment will you make to improve Council engagement with the wider community and build community engagement with your local ward?
    Western Port Ward Councillors have the strongest communication ethic. We have our own community newsletter, we have formed a strong partnership where at least one of us have always attended every community meeting we have been invited to. We have worked closely with Ratepayer groups across our ward that covers 60% of the Shire. We have eleven Community Asset Committees (Sect 86 committees) which we fully support. We also answer our phones or get back to you promptly. We answer every email. We can always find room for improvement and to work within COVID19 I want each councillor to have a blog linked to their contact details on the BCSC website so they can report back to the community in real time.
  13. How will you ensure that the CEO and officers genuinely and respectfully answer all public questions with a sincere response that address the core of each question?
    The Mayor controls this. I will continue to advise and suggest and point out ways we could do things differently.
  14. Do you believe that keeping any increases to rates, fees and charges within the State Government Rate Cap or below the CPI increase is paramount for Council?
  15. Would you be in favour of regular virtual community connection sessions in lieu of the previous model used by Council?
    Totally support. We need to get back to doing this ASAP. We have the technology and the expertise to make this happen.
  16. Why are you standing as a Councillor?
    Continuity and stability. Four years on council means I understand the inner workings. I care about our people and can amplify the voice of people with a disability, people who are doing it tough and business that are on the edge.
  17. Do you live in the ward you seek to represent, and why should we vote for you?
    I live on the edge of the ward in Harmers Haven. Literally on the other side of the fence and this means I am less likely to have a conflict of interest considering new developments. I have lived in Krowera and Wattle Bank during my term. Western Port covers 60% of the shire and consists of dozens of small towns. As long as I continue to travel across the ward to keep in touch and listen to the voices of all those communities I fell I will have earned the opportunity of a second innings.
  18. Council recently commenced Live Streaming meetings (for a trial period). They also recently adopted policies defining Council engagement with social and other media. How do you feel about these?
    I proposed live streaming in 2016. I tried to get a motion up to enshrine it. I have TWO facebook pages. Western Port Ward Councillors distribute our own, councillor written Newsletter. I publish a community magazine. I want councillors to each have a blog. I am deeply committed to a continuing conversation with the people of Bass Coast
  19. How would you improve Council engagement with the wider community and build community engagement with your local ward?
    We run our own newsletter. We attend every community meeting we are invited to, we support our Community Asset Committees. We answer our phones and return emails. As per 18 – blogs for real time Q and APublic Transparency and good Governance are at the core of BCRRA’s purpose.
  20. Council has recently adopted new policies covering Governance Rules and Public Transparency.
    These were rushed in due to a state government mandated deadline.
  21. Do you feel there is a need to review these policies, and if so when should this be done? YES.
  22. What role do you feel community consultation has in reviewing these policies?
    It will be the basis of everything we do, especially in this area. It’s Governance 101, we serve the people.
  23. What measures would you put in place to demonstrate honesty and transparency in your decisions and spending of ratepayers’ money?
    Every major decision has to go to an open agenda. Every large tender, open agenda. I am open to suggestions. We have set a high bar for ethics and need to raise the bar for transparency.
  24. Do you think ‘The Fair Go’ rate cap is better or worse than limiting rate rises to CPI?
    Our rates can come down. Our new CEO has implemented a continuous improvement regime that constantly reviews services and process. Increased efficiency means lower costs and lower rates. We are not well served by the other levels of government. We are not getting our fair share of grants.
  25. Bass Coast Shire has budgeted for a significant amount of Capital Works in the coming years. How do you feel about the level of borrowing necessary to deliver these?
    I am comfortable with the level of borrowing under the very low interest rate available now and given the state of the economy we need to have a building lead recovery, similar to the way we clawed back from the Great Depression
  26. What is your opinion of Council’s current financial position? And of the outlook projected in the Long Term Financial Plan?
    Comfortable with the projections. Given the situation we are in glad that we are keeping our people in paid employment and using State money to employ more.
  27. What is your opinion of the 10-year waste contract agreed by the last Council late in 2016?
    I campaigned against it in 2016 then found out that we couldn’t alter it. Trying to help the BCRRA get to the bottom of what was promised. The actual service is great, reduced landfill especially but the application of the contract is less than optimal.
  28. And what do you think of the (uncapped) charge for waste services being separate to the general rate charge?
    Large parts of our shire don’t even get a collection service. Private enterprise has to take up the slack. We should use a more constrained fiscal model to deliver the service.
  29. What is important for you about township boundaries and character within the shire?
    We all live here because we love the place. Beaches, rolling hills, lush farmland, surf – you know why this place is special. That’s why I demand that town ship boundaries remain as they are.
  30. What is your feeling about the condition of council owned roads and footpaths and bike paths?
    There is a six week inspection cycle, we react to complaint in a timely manner and we have updated our management plans to ensure they improve. As Western Port Ward Councillors Clare, Bruce and I are constantly monitoring the condition of our roads and pushing for improving. Our lives depend on good roads.
  31. What are your views on the level of importance of art, culture, and indigenous recognition in the Council framework?
    ESSENTIAL. We need a regional gallery, need to showcase the Robert Smith Collection, build art and culture networks across the shire and promote our artists and writer. We need to walk with our Traditional Owners and First peoples along the path of self determination and reconciliation.
  32. Statistically, one in four Bass Coast Residences has a dog. How do you feel about existing restrictions in place? What, if anything would you change?
    I love my dog. And our cats. We need to encourage desexing and responsible ownership. We need more fenced dog off lead areas.
  33. What would you like to see BCSC do to address Climate Change?
    Lead by example, encourage and support the efforts of our farmers. Sustainability applies to the economy as well as the environment.
  34. How do you rank the importance of tourism against local amenity?
    Tourism is a huge chunk of our economy but places like Kilcunda are often overwhelmed by weekend visitors. 50% of our ratepayers are not residents. Ranking? People are entitled to quiet enjoyment of their homes. As are the critters who make their homes in the places tourists want to visit. I rank environmental preservation highest, local amenity next and attracting visitors below that.

Questions 35 thru 88 are ALL community questions exactly as we received them.
Candidates were given the option to reply to as many or as few as they wished.
(Questions 16 – 34 above were collated from these)

  1. What topics or subjects do you consider very important for the Councillor Induction Training workshop?
    How to work together effectively while retaining individual agendas for the people they represent
  2. Do you live in the ward to which you seek to be elected?
    No. But Western Port is huge and I am as close to all the towns as when I lived in Wattle Bank and Krowera, which are in the Ward. Western Port runs right up to the South Gippsland Highway.
  3. I would like to know what you are standing for.
    Integrity. Continuity. Fairness and a better deal for ratepayers given the economic down turn.
  4. I would like to know who will stand up for the local people of this area
    Your councillors   
  5. On what matters are you standing for council?
    Township boundaries. Economic recovery. accountability for our rates, Work with the State Government for major roads and grants
  6. What is your number 1 priority for the council?
    Covid recovery plan
  7. Are you now, or have you ever been, affiliated to a political party? If so, which one?
    I vote according to the merits of each item.
  8. Will your loyally be to the Ratepayers first and foremost as it is the Ratepayers who will be voting for you to represent them?
    It’s Residents and ratepayers who vote and I represent them.
  9. Given the current inadequate four days notice for publication of the detail of items for decision at council meetings, would you vote to extend this to one week extra (as per the previous council)?
    We used to give more notice. We should give as much notice as possible.
  10. How will you focus on building community engagement?
    As a Western Port Councillor we have a good history of communication. We can always improve.
  11. If elected, will you work closely with the various Ratepayers and Residents associations, including attending their meetings (face-to-face or online)?
    Yes. Have done for four years.
  12. What capability and experience do you have to manage the CEO in order to bring improved transparency, financial discipline, and genuine community engagement to Bass Coast Shire?
    Experience. Audit committee functions.
  13. Will you support all council meetings being fully open to all ratepayers and video cast all council meetings?
  14. Will you support the continuance of live streaming of Council Meetings?
    Yes. I put a motion to enshrine this and it got knocked back
  15. Being an Elder of the LGBTIQ community – what do you intend to do to you show your support to us [reminding everyone that we make up approx 15% of the community?
    Keep doing what I have done for four years, fly the flag, celebrate inclusion, walk in the Pride March and support Rainbow Accreditation of venues and accommodation across the shire.
  16. Are you prepared to join in with and work with a local LGBTIQ group and help suggest and work through ideas and processes?
    I am proudly a founder member of that group, SCIN. I was part of the training for inclusive practice with two of our largest organisations in Bass Coast
  17. How will you demonstrate transparency in your decisions and spending of rate payers’ money?
    Include it as a fundamental of ‘Governance’ in the four year plan which must be rewritten ASAP.
  18. What measures would you put in place to ensure transparency to the ratepayers of council decisions
  19. Will you take action to review the Governance Rules Policy before mid term of your councillor period and set a review period of 4 years and seek public comment?
  20. Will you truly promote and conduct an open and honest council
  21. What is your measure of Performance for the CEO and Mayor of council at this time?
    As per the CEO employment matters committee.
  22. Do you support maximum CPI increase in rates each year, including waste charges?
    No. They could be less than CPI
  23. The Strategic Resource Financial Plan and the Budget are extremely important to Ratepayers and the operations of Council. What concerns have you with the current finances of council?
  24. What steps and actions will you take to ensure Councils Capital Works Projects listed in the budget are achieved during the budget year and is councils Investments in the best interest of ratepayers?
    Scrutiny and inquisition of the CWP are inherent in our governance structure. Ditto investment.
  25. Are there any plans to extend the cycle path networks in the Bass Coast area?
    YES. It’s the aspirational pathways plan.
  26. Do you believe that P.I is getting a fair share of council services
    We can always do more
  27. Do you support all Phillip Island beaches being dog friendly, on lead, all year round, and the 3 off lead beaches being off lead all year round?
    Need to look at individual situations
  28. Do you support giving responsible dog owners more opportunities to walk their on-leash dogs on Bass Coast beaches? Do you support having designated off-leash beach areas in each locality?
    As per above, generally yes
  29. Do you support the duplication of the bridge from San Remo?
  30. Do you support the introduction of more off lead beaches on the island?
    As per 61
  31. Is there a focus on improving art & culture and indigenous recognition?
  32. Question: Will you assist Phillip Island residents and business owners by doing everything you can to ensure there is an appropriate increase in rubbish collection (both red and yellow bins) during peak holiday seasons?
    Preamble: Phillip Island has an unacceptable problem with excessive rubbish during major tourist season as a small red bin, and large yellow bin pickup once/fortnight is far less than required for such an increase in population with excess rubbish demands during the festive season. Please note, this will not increase the amount of rubbish collected, it will just save residents trying to store rubbish or being required to pick up rubbish dumped around the island.
  33. What emphasis will be put on maintaining the roads in the council? In particular the streets in residential towns
    We have a strategy that ensures regular maintenance and upgrade. I will make sure it targets the right places.
  34. What is your policy regarding dogs and dog friendly areas, especially relating to beaches?
    As per the other questions on this topic.
  35. Why have you been against some of the developments that have been put forward, namely the United service station in Inverloch which would have without question resulted in cheaper fuel which would have ultimately been of benefit to the large number of retirees in the area?
    Same as Mahers Landing. Outside the parameters of the planning scheme.
  36. Would you support adding more / adding to playground areas?
    Of course.
  37. Do you believe that Business is getting full support of council
    We can always do more.
  38. How do you propose that Council promotes community connections to facilitate the interaction of individuals and groups and to provide role models for healthy, active, and positive living?
    We do this. We support community groups offering this type of expertise.  PICAL or the local community Asset Committee. Many community groups out there that promote community connections but that are also supported by the council.
  39. How should Council support programs to counsel the community in general and individuals on mental health problems and the abuse of drugs and alcohol?
    We support and are represented on many working groups with agencies in these areas.
  40. What would be your attitude to the coordinated development of the arts (particularly music, art, and dance), in the Shire?
    I am President of two local groups and have liaised with art groups across the shire. I am building a collective “art voice’ across the shire to ensure opportunities such as the CCC and the Arts Precinct are fully exploited and galleries,  venues and out door areas are promoted in a co-ordinated fashion.
  41. What do you propose to do about the erosion along Silverleaves foreshore area?
  42. What will you do to reduce carbon emissions in Bass Coast?
  43. Will you support (or possibly increase) the current council targets and community aspirations for greenhouse gas emission reductions?
  44. What are the principles that guide you to ensure that the environment of Phillip Island and the entire Bass Coast Shire is adequately protected from industrial and residential development?
  45. The Albert Ruttle wetlands is a 22 acre community reserve in Inverloch, which has been enjoyed by residents for more than 25 years. Via a planning loophole it is now in private ownership as two housing blocks. What action would you take to ensure the council applies the development plan overlay and returns this unique wetland to the community as a public reserve?
  46. What is your priority on protecting local ratepayers’ and residents’ rights first and tourism second?
  47. Will you ensure local By-Laws are applied to tourists in the same way they are applied to local residents?
  48. Will you promote infrastructure needs e.g. footpaths etc. ahead of infrastructure for tourism.
  49. What is your vision for Tourism development?
  50. How will you reduce increasing urbanisation on Phillip Island?
    Retain town boundaries and work with locals to ensure amenity is ensured through planning scheme amendments.
  51. What is your view on the density of housing development on Phillip Island?
    It seems pretty full and we need to control this.
  52. Do you agree that the proposed development at 92 Norsemens Road Coronet Bay is inappropriate in scale for the location and does not meet the requirements of land titled Rural Activity Zone?
    Totally. That’s why they withdrew the application.
  53. Given the more than adequate supply of residential land within the shire, will you hold the town boundaries where they are (or reduce them where they are inappropriate)?
    Retain them. I have been saying that for years.
  54. Will you fight and oppose foreign takeovers of land and environmentally damaging developments?
Phone ContactEmail Address
0403 917

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