People and Places
Visionary committee thinks big for Peninsula

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Ideas matter. Putting them into practice matters more. They say give a busy person something to do and it gets done. Fast. I am sitting at a table in the boardroom of one of Mornington’s ‘make it happen’ spaces with a group of very busy people. The brains trust here is expansive — business, information and technology understanding, consulting expertise, public policy and strategic communication capabilities. Education innovators and small business supporters — a Mornington Peninsula think tank that springs from a pervading passion for the region and the people who work and live here. 

Home-turf trouble-shooters. 

The Committee For Mornington Peninsula began to take shape mid-2018. Why? Because a group of like-minded individuals realised that the Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong were receiving resources and the Mornington Peninsula wasn’t. Because the same gang of six and their members agreed that leaving all decision-making processes up to government wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Because C4MP members want to see real change across a wide range of social, business and environmental platforms to ensure a secure future for all Mornington Peninsula residents and generations to come. 

Inaugural C4MP president and former Dunkley federal Liberal MP and small business minister Bruce Billson, pictured, explains: “Small regions need big ideas and need to feel supported. C4MP is looking for common ground, looking to collaborate and be constructive. So far we have around 40 members and are looking to expand that up to 90 by the end of the next financial year. We are dedicated to finding solutions on how to support business, keep young people on the Peninsula and look after our environmental health. What about career paths, economic opportunities for returning from work mums, travel options across the Peninsula and disability and sustainability issues? It’s time to see how we can do things better. First and foremost we need to secure a ‘regional’ designation to access the benefits enjoyed by similar communities like Geelong. Accessing government funding and program support for local students needing to live elsewhere and regional development grant programs to support employment generation is vital.”

Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board executive chairwoman and C4MP secretary Tracey Cooper says: “We know what success looks like and can see it happening here. Securing regional designation is of community-wide significance and of particular interest to the Mornington Peninsula business community. Currently, Mornington Peninsula employers liable for payroll tax pay at twice the rate of a business in Geelong, which has direct implications for the cost of doing business here. Stamp duty on property transactions is set to be reduced by the State Government for regional areas including Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula but not here, making it more expensive to invest. We need to look into how we can do things differently in education and  transport arenas too.”

C4MP treasurer and founder of SMART Business Solutions and locally-based BITE small business innovation and accelerator conference Shannon Smit adds: “At the moment we are too urban for some things and not regional enough for other benefits. Where are all the services we need to keep business growing and our kids here? Often they leave the Peninsula and don’t come back. We need to develop options. How can we provide our community with the resources it needs to thrive? C4MP has identified five strategic pillars that we think need to be addressed.”

The five pillars of this future-first group’s mantra include: securing regional designation and accessible benefits; availability of suitably-zoned land to support sustainable investment; improving transport linkage and services that improve economic activity /employment; enhancing access to training and education for Peninsula-based careers; and nurturing a more business friendly environment. 

Marine biologist and Searoad Ferries chief executive Matt McDonald, Mal’s Hart Marine owner Mal Hart, and Next Gen leader and Sealite Pty Ltd chief executive Chris Procter round out the committee’s numbers.

I could go on about all the great things C4MP is looking to do to ensure our region is more sustainable and economically viable and a more enjoyable place in which to work, live and grow our families. Its first workshop, held at Blue Mini Café, highlighted the shared passion for the Peninsula, and the March 23 launch at the Mornington Racing Club with about 190 people in attendance was a glaring green light that all systems are go as far as coming together to make our seaside destination great. But the one thing that has stayed with me after chatting with these movers and shakers is that we as a community need to move forward with confidence, and actions speak louder than words. Plain and simple.

If you’d like to become a member of C4MP and help make a change, log on to to find out more or email


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