Several months ago, Chris Herbert, former boss at the desal plant, announced to all the world through the Sentinel-Times, that his job was done, and the construction of the great Victorian Desalination Project was complete. Just like George W Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’, Herbert was loose with the truth. Months later, the construction of the desal pipeline is also complete. Or is it?
The pasture has not been adequately reinstated, the shelter-belts have not been replanted, drain repairs are not complete. A faceless senior (presumably driven by financial concerns) has given the order to remove all temporary fencing by the end of September, thus indicating completion of the project. On Friday, September 27, the pipeline project manager agreed with me that reinstatement is not yet complete and that certain fencing should not be removed. An agronomist, representing the project (based upon an inspection last Monday) also advised that the fence should remain. Considerable earthwork is yet to be done but the soil is too soft to support the machinery required to do that job – we have had a bit of rain. It is common sense that the fence should remain in place until the ground dries out sufficiently and that work is complete. We received advice at 4pm Friday that the fences will be removed on Monday. We shall instruct our cattle not to enter the area under reinstatement. If, we sign a waiver stating that we want their temporary fence to remain and that we will assume all liability, it can stay as our permanent fence.
We don’t want their fence, we want our paddock repaired and returned to us. The reinstatement area is currently protected by adequate fencing and is under repair. Why would that work be jeopardised by the authority which is in charge of reinstatement? The answer seems to be that one part of their partnership doesn’t trust another, so they are duck-shoving it our way. Well, we don’t trust them either. Can anyone trust these guys?
Corporate and government bullying has been the way this project has operated since the day six years ago when the landowners were evicted from their farms at the desal plant site. The citizens of Bass Coast were promised a grand Cultural Centre in Wonthaggi in lieu of unpaid desal rates. What has happened to that promise? Fast broadband connection to the internet was also made available to the people of Wonthaggi via the optic fibre connection put in the ground with the pipeline. Or was it? We are still waiting for the fat lady to sing, and no, the desal project is not yet complete.
Peter Brown, Glen Forbes