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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15689

Mr BILLSON (9:14 PM) —I report that community spirit and volunteerism is alive and well in Mornington, the place where I am fortunate enough to live. They are at their best when there is a marriage between personal interests and hobbies and the selfless community support and service to others displayed by so many leading members of the Mornington community. On the weekend and in recent weeks, we have celebrated two examples of this.

On Sunday I was pleased to join the 2nd Mornington Sea Scout Group in celebrating its 50th anniversary—50 years during which the group has developed young people in their seamanship, an understanding of the characteristics of personal growth and team work, and in learning new skills; 50 years of providing that support to the local community. It all started back in May 1953 when some very persuasive leading member of the scouts community got on to the ANZ Bank, at a benevolent time perhaps, to provide the first hut on the beach for the sea scout group. It was obviously in need of expansion a few years later and development was started on the new scout hall that can now be seen at Scout Beach, Mornington.

Blair Williams, the group leader, and Libby Vagg, President of the 2nd Mornington Sea Scouts Group, outlined to those gathered on Sunday the vision ahead for the group, which included addressing the cost of scouting. The group has not been spared from the implications of the public liability crisis that is now being resolved progressively by governments. The speakers cheerfully shared with the group that numbers participating in the group's activities are increasing, but the cost of scouting is still an issue to be addressed—and that is a challenge for not only this group but many others as they battle to raise the funds needed to support their activities.

Looking ahead, the group is discussing a kitchen renovation project in trying to get some hot water into the building—it is probably one of the rare public buildings around that does not have hot water—so that it can provide shower facilities and a second toilet for many of the women and girls who participate in the program. An extension to incorporate these improvements and an area to store its trailers are all part of the vision the group has for its development. The ANZ are back on board though. I was delighted that Paul Groves, the Mornington branch manager of the ANZ, turned up for the 50th birthday celebrations and, as an anniversary gift, provided $1,000 as a start for a building account, as those dedicated individuals seek to expand the services available through their activities on the beach at Mornington. So the Rovers, Venturers, Scouts and Cub-scouts and Joeys are all thriving and going very well. That is just one example of some of the exciting community-spirited and community-minded activities going on in the Dunkley community.

A second one, though, is probably more known for its appeal to the visitor community and I emphasise that, if you want to recharge your batteries in Greater Melbourne, come down to the Mornington Peninsula. One of the great things on offer is the Mornington heritage rail, which now boasts a `run-around loop'. I did not quite know what a run-around loop was—I knew it was not Run-around Suebut a run-around loop is actually very important because it enables the locomotive to operate in both directions from the front of each train travelling between the Mornington and Moorooduc stations that are part of that heritage rail.

The official opening was sensational. It was performed by Kevin Burt, President of the Mornington Peninsula Rail Preservation Society. A jazz band was playing against the backdrop of a steaming locomotive engine. There was the feeling of yesteryear and it had an eye to the region's future tourism appeal. Local state MP Robin Cooper quite deservedly praised the railway committee of management, its members and volunteers for their vision and dedication in transforming the railway into a leading heritage tourist attraction before cutting the ceremonial ribbon—and the band kept playing. Tony Sheer, President of Mornington Peninsula Tourism, was there. He said that the run-around loop was symbolic of how the heritage rail in particular and tourism in general on the peninsula was heading in the right direction. Local Mornington Shire councillor and council delegate to the committee of management, Josephine Smith, provided the glamour for this yesteryear occasion. She was enthusiastic about the heritage railway's future and assured the Mornington Railway Preservation Society of her ongoing work and commitment.

With the support of the federal government and with rail track from the spur line of HMAS Cerberus, with the local shire providing assistance with ballast—which is the rocks and stuff that keep the track in place and make sure that it dries out—and with the assistance of local civil engineering construction companies and a dedicated band of volunteers, the railway preservation society has transformed a dilapidated rail asset into a real feature of tourism on the Mornington Peninsula. I commend them all, including Howard Girdler, whose vision has been driving this project for many years. To anybody with a bit of an interest in very big trains who would like to dedicate some time and energy to the Mornington Peninsula Rail Preservation Society, your energies would be well received, as new marketing initiatives, locomotive restoration and further fundraising lies ahead. (Time expired)