Apollo Bay petition calls for shire move

A PETITION to remove Apollo Bay from the Colac Otway Shire has attracted support from the town’s business owners and residents.

Apollo Bay business owner Paul McFarlane says he’s “fed up” with the Colac Otway Shire Council and he initiated the petition which has attracted about 700 signatures.

Mr McFarlane’s petition asks Victoria’s Local Government Minister to investigate the possibility of moving Apollo Bay into the Surf Coast Shire or recreating the Otway Shire and centring it on Apollo Bay.

“This won’t formally make the decision but it will open discussions and talks if the minister is willing to go down that line,” Mr McFarlane said.

“This is to get the minister to open discussions and dialogue as to whether we can achieve anything.”

Mr McFarlane said Apollo Bay’s priorities centred on tourism and that clashed with other Colac Otway Shire towns including Colac where farming was the primary industry.

He said his personal experiences with the council had led to the petition.

“From a personal point of view they’ve been riding me pretty hard as a business person and I thought they should have been a little bit more forthcoming to try and work with business,” Mr McFarlane said.

“That’s probably what really spurred me on to do it but then you talk to everyone else and it doesn’t matter whether you’re Joe Blogs that owns a house, whether you’ve got a business or who you are, you just seem to have trouble with the shire.

“I’ve got about 700 signatures which are predominately residents of Apollo Bay.”

Mr McFarlane said Apollo Bay needed more attention from its council representatives.

“We want to get the minister to have a look at the problems this town is facing,” he said.

“All we ask is for the shire to understand and assist or let us go to where we are better served.”

Council chief Sue Wilkinson said Apollo Bay was an integral part of the shire.

“Apollo Bay is an important part of the Colac Otway Shire, and council is committed to working with the community to recognise its vision for the coastal town,” she said.

“Local government boundaries are decided by the Local Government Minister, and we respect people’s rights to approach the minister about issues that are important to them.”

Ms Wilkinson said the council was open to discussing Mr McFarlane’s petition.

“Council has not received a copy of Mr McFarlane’s petition, however we are happy to discuss it with him,” she said.

“We had great attendance at council’s recent community conversation in Apollo Bay.

“Our CEO, councillors and staff are in Apollo Bay regularly and welcome feedback from the community on council matters.”

Share your views on Mr McFarlane’s petition by writing a letter to the editor.

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