100 VOTES BOWLED OVER, POSSIBLY

Cr Antonella Celi went in to bat for the Rosebud Bowls Club at the 12 September council meeting. She played an innings that was a mixture of Adam Gilchrist, David Warner and Mitchell Johnson – sixes and fours all around the ground as well as some sharp singles.

Cr Celi moved to amend the Rosebud structure plan (“We’re looking at the heart of Rosebud”) to ensure the 100-member bowls club would not be moved off its foreshore site against its will.

bc-bowls-picI wanted provision for extensive consultation to happen between the Rosebud Bowls Club and also the council officers to really find out whether [the club] wanted to be moved from that address in Rosebud,” she said.

Having quickly seen off the openers, she boldly abandoned her crease. “In talking to the members of the bowls club the overall response from them was they didn’t want to move, they preferred not to move from that precinct in Rosebud,” she said.

I’m making that concerted effort on behalf of the Rosebud Bowls Club, go to bat for them, because they really want to stay there, they want the provision of a bowls club to stay there in the structure plan.

It’s been an ongoing concern for the last couple of years; their voices have not been heard, they’ve been unable to establish their business plan to actually grow the club because there’s been some serious speculation that they were going to be moving, so therefore membership was dropping off and the club was unable to just get back on track with their membership.

I just cannot see sense in moving an activated space away from the Rosebud heart when we’re wanting to activate it for community use. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Her case completed, with the same thought eloquently and passionately repeated five, perhaps six, times, Cr Celi thanked her colleagues.

Then spoke her retiring Seawinds ward colleague and (might one say?) mentor, David Gibb, taking the negative. The Rosebud foreshore was his ancestral fiefdom; nothing came or went from it without his say-so, including the bowls club, now so stoutly defended by Cr Celi.

The bowls club is not left in the lurch,” he asserted in what Bandicoot thought was a slightly reproving tone. “The West Rosebud Bowls club welcomes a union, a merger, offering a change of name, to the West Rosebud Bowls Club, to be inclusive, membership fees to be reduced to match the two clubs, a clearing-out of space to have the honours boards of both locations.

It’s a win-win environment – two clubs paying two lots of green fees … an exciting opportunity…” And more of the same.

It was a speech Cr Gibb had made many times during his long, heroic campaign to get the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre – his Rosebud “Wow!” factor – built on the foreshore. Among the obstacles to his grand dream was the Rosebud Bowls Club. It was, alas, in the way.

Then, the iceberg to his Titanic: the state government’s law on coastal development sent his dream diving to Davy Jones.

Cr Celi, as mover of the motion, then closed the debate. A brisk south-westerly was in her spinnaker.

(Bandicoot apologises to any who are getting confused by the bowls-cricket-maritime metaphors.)

Her oratory was scintillating. “I’ve always said and I’ll always say it; people are not just cattle that you just prod around by the will of politics if they don’t want to move,” she thundered, Churchill-like.

They do not want to move from this bowls facility!

It is not about throwing out the whole structure plan [as Cr Gibb had claimed]. We bring the community with us, we don’t just shunt them out of the way. We can have a really good placemaking opportunity right in the heart of Rosebud.”

As she finished, Bandicoot’s memory retrieval system was interrogating the overloaded marsupial cerebellum ten to the dozen, possibly faster. There was a smell of singed synapses. Then up it flashed – after the memory bank short-circuit was repaired – Cr Celi had, without admitting it and possibly without knowing it, executed a dramatic about-face, a spectacular U-turn.

(But not a backflip, Dear Reader: backflips result in the flipper facing the same direction as before the leap.)

Then it materialised, the slightly blackened memory dating back years. There was Cr Celi, on joining the council in 2010, attached to the Gibb-Shaw faction, joining the dominant Rusted-Ons who had run the shire for the best part of a decade.

She had, as a Rustie, voted over and over again to have the bowls club tossed off the foreshore!

Cr Celi had had an epiphany, a flash of inspiration, in the shadow of the coming council poll. This fervent plea for the bowls club was her expression of it.

Or perhaps not: it could have been a case of “Never stand between a councillor and 100 apparently low-hanging votes.”

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