Extracted from Mornington Peninsula Leader, Written by Lucy Callander, July 8, 2020 5:25am
Business owners are demanding to know why the Mornington Peninsula has been forced back into lockdown and not given regional status.
Despite being at least 70km from Melbourne, and having no active coronavirus cases, the region was included in the blanket Stage 3 restrictions thrown over metropolitan Melbourne Wednesday night.
By comparison Geelong, which has two active cases and is 79km from the CBD, has avoided the lockdown.
The Green Olive at Red Hill owner Greg O’Donoghue was furious about being forced to close his business again.
“We were booked solid until the end of August and we had school holiday programs running and the first of our birthday parties organised,” Mr O’Donoghue said.
“The cool room is full in readiness. It’s crazy that we will have to lock out gate at 5pm tonight.”
Mr O’Donoghue said he could maintain his business – which offers dine-in tapas and wine, accommodation and cooking classes – serving only Mornington Peninsula customers.
“It would make more sense for us to allow the region to continue to operate with social distancing and limited numbers and close it to the rest of Melbourne.”
Board member Shannon Smit acknowledged the seriousness of the pandemic but said it was “very confusing to industry” on the peninsula that it was included as metropolitan Melbourne but Geelong was not.
Currently Mornington Peninsula business pay twice the rate of payroll tax and more stamp duty on property purchased for business investment than the same business would pay on the Bellarine Peninsula and other regions outside the metropolitan area.
“It costs more to employ people and invest in new business projects here than in competitor locations,” Ms Smit said.
The CfMP is surveying residents about the issue and early results revealed of the 125 responses, 92 per cent supported a push for the Mornington Peninsula to become regional.
Mornington Peninsula Shire council has also been pushing for the area to be reclassified.
Cr David Gill said the Green Wedge was being threatened by Melbourne’s suburban planning scheme.
“What suits suburban planning is slowly ruining our much admired coastal and hinterland villages and making it more difficult for farmers to survive on the land,” he said.
Federal Health Minister and Flinders MP Greg Hunt said the classification of the area was a State Government responsibility.
He said he understood the “deep disappointment and hardship” being suffered by those under lockdown and pledged the Commonwealth Government would continue to support all Victorians through the course of the virus.
Keep up to date on the subject of regionalisation of the Mornington Peninsula from the Committee For Mornington Peninsula website.