An era in Mornington Peninsula history is about to end. David Gibb has announced he will not contest the 22 October council election for his place in Seawinds ward, the area he has represented for nearly 20 years.
He told the annual general meeting of the Rosebud Over 50s Club last Thursday (25 August 2016) that it was time for him to retire, having been first elected to Kangerong ward in 1997, then to the new Rosebud ward and, finally, taking a seat as one of the three Seawinds ward councillors in 2012.
As councillor for these wards, David Douglas Valentine Gibb, BSc, beef farmer residing at the family estate ̔Sussex Farm’ in Gibb Road, Dromana, has brought a down-to-earthiness approach to the council chamber.
His original election to Kangerong ward – he prefers the old Yorkshire term Riding to describe the area he represents – originally stretched from Strachans Road, Mornington, to Chinaman’s Creek in West Rosebud.
Then, when ward boundaries were redrawn in 2000, he won the newly created Rosebud ward, encompassing Rosebud and McCrae.
A major change occurred before the 2012 council poll, in response to the community alarm created in 2008 when six of the 11 single-member wards were uncontested. Rosebud was one of them.
This prompted an investigation by the Victorian Electoral Commission, which viewed 2008 as a serious failure of local democracy. Reacting to his walkover victory, Cr Gibb remarked jocularly that an election was unnecessary since clearly his ratepayers felt he was doing a good job.
The VEC heard submissions from the community, after which it reduced the shire to six wards, of which Seawinds and Briars each have three councillors and Nepean has two. The other three, Red Hill, Watson and Cerberus, each have one councillor.
During the VEC review all 11 councillors and the shire fought strenuously against any change. Cr Gibb’s submission to the VEC dated 16 August 2011 stated in part: “… [M]y experience for both myself and the workings of council, would lead me to seriously question whether I would stand for council again under multi member wards.”
He described as “hell” his experience in a two-person ward between 1997 and 2000. “ We had opposed each other in the campaign and then we were expected to work harmoniously together,” he wrote. (Cr Gibb’s underlining.)
A fervent traditionalist, he recommended applying pioneering families’ names to the wards/ridings to “keep our history alive”. He added: “Any new names should not have too many syllables either or they risk being shortened in everyday use.”
Cr Gibb served twice as mayor, for the year March 1999 to March 2000 and in 2010. He was also inaugural deputy mayor in 2008 and 2009.
His most prominent position was as chair of the Mornington Peninsula Regional Waste Management Group, (“Peninsula Zero Waste”) from 1999 to 2014, when it was subsumed by the metropolitan waste management group.
The then environment minister appointed Cr Gibb as a skills-based director of the newly formed Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) on 1 August 2014.
Waste management remains a Gibb passion, evidenced recently by his successful move to keep the Rye landfill open while awaiting what he asserts is the imminent arrival of Alternative Waste Technology. This technology has been imminent for the best part of a decade.
His last chance to secure a major new landfill in the peninsula was kiboshed when the EPA refused to allow the mined-out Pioneer quarry site on Arthurs Seat to be used as a rubbish dump.
While a fierce defender of green wedge land, which comprises some 70% of the peninsula, Cr Gibb’s most prominent and controversial role was to advocate relentlessly for the proposed Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre, which he insisted must be built on a “gateway” site on the Rosebud foreshore.
After a decade-long campaign the battle was lost when the Napthine government withdrew consent for use of foreshore land for the non-coastal dependent facility. The SPA still awaits a permanent home.
Cr Gibb has served in many roles during his two decades as a councillor, many of them centred on activities on the Village Green in Rosebud and the Rosebud Memorial Hall.
He has been delegate to significant bodies such as the Interface Councils group, comprising the 10 councils that fringe Melbourne that have at least 70 per cent of their land zoned rural or conservation, and the Municipal Association of Victoria Melbourne 2030 Reference Group.
Cr Gibb runs beef cattle at Sussex Farm. He is married with two daughters. He majored in biochemistry and genetics in his science degree, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
In his no doubt eagerly anticipated leisurely retirement he will be able to pursue his extensive private interests, which include history and travel.
Cr Gibb has many interests. He is a member of a number of groups including The National Trust (Victoria), Dromana & District Historical Society, Dunns Creek Landcare, Victorian Planning & Environmental Law Association, Planning Institute of Australia and Urban Development Institute of Australia (Victoria).
In May 2012 he was awarded a Fellowship of the environmental law group and last October was inducted into The Old Peninsula School Association Hall of Fame, in the category of Community or Public Service.
(Much of this information is to be found on the shire website.)