So, Port Of Hastings Development Authority CEO, Mike Lean, has rejected Cr Neil Rankine, Mayor of Bass Coast, plus a professional environmental council employee as members of his ‘Porticipation’ community consultation groups for Dennis Napthine’s “this will be Shanghai in 20 years” gigantic container port project (‘Port snub’, Sentinel Times, page 1, January 18).
Without meaning to denigrate the credentials of the applicants who were successful, one has to wonder why those who are paid to represent our community and in Neil Rankine’s case, who spend countless hours doing so on a voluntary basis and whose CV features an impeccable environmental background, were rejected on such spurious grounds as Mr Lean’s board wanting to hear from “community members, the person in the street”.
Well, Mr Lean, clearly either you, your well paid “community engagement” staff, your board, or perhaps all three, don’t read the local papers, including the Western Port Times (published under your nose in Hastings, see edition of week commencing January 14, with yet another letter from me).
This was originally published in Bass Coast papers back in October and as a “community member” who asked a lot of questions in that letter, I am still awaiting a response.
Many of my fellow community members, such as Mr Bernie McComb, Mr Maurice Schinkel and Ms Patsy Hunt have been equally, if not even more vocal in local media expressing their opposition to ‘W’(H)astings as myself.
(Once more, my deliberate typo, ‘cos if you do what you plan to do, Western Port will be ‘W’asted).
Even more relevant is your failure to recall the less than rapturous reception you received with your “3000 ships, 9 million containers per annum”, presentation at Cr Phil Wright’s Community Plus meeting back in December.
Not to mention the many local paper articles where not only the above fine community members were quoted, but also your good self.
Yes, I know, not ‘good form’ to read your own press!
So perhaps we’ll have to settle for ‘selective memory’ instead.
In a backhanded kind of way, I’m pleased you have yet to answer any of my questions, because the week before last, the Minister for Major Events and Tourism, Ms Louise Asher, had a press release printed in most major local papers around the bay.
The headline around here was ‘Tourism creates 5000 local jobs’, and went on to state that on a percentage basis at a massive 40 per cent, Phillip Island and Bass Coast has the highest dependency on tourism-based jobs for its economic welfare as compared to the whole state.
We won’t even mention how much towns like Tooradin and Koo Wee Rup rely on Bass Coast ‘passing trade’ for their livelihoods.
So now, yet another three questions arise, with the one about compensation for Bass Coast residents and business owners, plus another asking ‘why no testing at Tooradin’, which remain unanswered from last October.
1. If your monstrosity goes ahead and wipes out those 5000 jobs, not to mention the myriad of tourism based, hardworking, small businesses providing those jobs, what are you going to do to compensate those employees and business owners? (Please don’t insult them by offering a job shifting containers at ‘W’astings – it’s such a long drive from Cowes).
In addition, perhaps you should have a chat to your boss, Ports Minister, David Hodgett. Our local papers have published his response to community members’ concerns about ‘W’astings.
A large ‘dredge bucket’ of the above centred on all the physical testing you will be undertaking – jack-up barge tests, rail and road studies etc.
Back in December, Bass Coast Shire Council voted to ask you and the State Government (aka ‘key stakeholders’) to assist in funding an independent, (I stress ‘independent’, study on the economic impact of ‘W’astings on Bass Coast and especially Phillip Island.
I’m sure you will agree that we can safely assume that, given we voted them in, our councillors’ resolution was passed on behalf of the entire Bass Coast community.
2. Given the potential loss of 5000 tourism jobs, surely out of your $110 million, you can afford to fund such a study?
And what a great opportunity to involve “community members, the person in the street”!
I’d be more than happy to contribute to that process, as no doubt would many of my good and true ‘letters to the editor’ friends above.
3. Given your propensity for fancy Powerpoint slides, what about an aerial photo of Western Port at a dead low tide, so we can see just how much you will have to dredge to fit your 3000 per annum, 60,000 tonne monsters into the bay?
Your aerial shot at high tide looks lovely but, well, let’s be practical about this, it does not truly show the real situation.
In the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times cover article you did perhaps unintentionally answer one vital question that I’m sure is crucial to those who live and work up in the north end of our beloved Western Port, and that is, your statement that “80 out of the 110 boreholes” the jack-up barges are drilling will be conducted adjacent to the proposed terminal location off Long Point/Hastings.
Meaning you have no intention of testing what increased incoming tidal flows from your “all ports have to dredge” spin will do to the vast area of low tide mud banks in the top end of the Bay; from Yaringa, right around to Lang Lang and therefore cannot forecast any possible impacts on them.
This includes the two Marine National Parks at Watson’s Inlet and the French Island National Park at the top of the bay, covering some of the most important recreational fishing and Ramsar international migratory bird roosting and feeding sites in the whole bay.
Not to mention the fact that Tooradin already has minor flooding problems with high winter king tides with big south-west gales behind them.
If your Long Point dredging causes faster tidal flows and damages those mud banks south of Tooradin and Warneet, the impact on these locations, especially Tooradin, could be catastrophic, as they act as a natural barrier to the problems already being experienced in this location.
I’ll leave the good folk of the northern end of the bay to follow through on those questions, however, going on my experience so far, they may have to wait a considerable time before they have any valid answers.
Oh, and I guess with 60 years holidaying around and fishing Western Port and with some of San Remo’s old fishing families as my initial mentors, plus a career long involvement in a successful family owned business (former exporter to boot), maybe even I would qualify for a berth within your community consultations.
Equally, perhaps that life long experience is why I am so opposed to ‘W’astings and would not even think of applying.
Yet again, over to you to respond by whatever means you deem suitable.
Kevin Chambers, The Gurdies.