Letter to Bass MP Ken Smith via the editor in response to ‘Our hospitals are safe’.
Thank you for your most reassuring Letter concerning what you claim your Coalition Government has done for health care in Bass Coast which appeared in the Sentinel-Times, April 15.
Unfortunately Ken, we have seen this type of ‘PR spin’ from your government in the past, especially in relation to the environmental and economic disaster your government plans to foist on Bass Coast in the form of the Port of Hastings Development.
As far as I am aware, as our local member, we ‘Bass Coasters’ have yet to learn of your views on the Hastings problem.
With the state election just over six months away, it is incumbent on you and your replacement candidate, Mr Brian Paynter, to advise us of the above, perhaps via these pages.
This is because, in terms of ‘safety’ for the Bass Coast/Phillip Island ecotourism based economy, sadly, thus far your government falls off a Nobbies cliff on this one.
Y’see, back in January your colleague The Hon Louise Asher, Minister for Tourism and Major Projects, was ‘spinning’ in the local papers about the benefits to the Victorian economy of regional tourism and I quote; “The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to ensuring that regional Victoria continues to share in the benefits of tourism growth across Victoria,” with no region more dependent on tourism (one third of all jobs) than Bass Coast/Phillip Island.
Even more relevant is your recent personal endorsement of the new Destination Phillip Island Strategic Tourism Plan which quotes at length all the tourism related statistics and reasons why Hastings should not be built, for example: “Recognition of the Cowes Esplanade as an iconic north facing waterfront precinct and the need to ensure development is appropriate for the area.”
So perhaps you will advise us if you consider noisy container ships four times higher than the San Remo Bridge and twice as long as the MCG, sitting in the shipping anchorage off Cowes is “appropriate development”.
So taking all this in, I decided to write to Ms Asher and ask her why your government would build such a “tourism and recreational fishing wrecker” as the Port of Hastings Development.
In a ‘handball’ Gary Ablett Jnr would be proud of she flicked it to the Ports Minister David Hodgett.
He eventually wrote to me and his letter essentially stated that the Port would be built no matter what and anyone worried about Bass Coast tourism can go jump off the same Nobbies cliff.
I’d be happy to e-mail you copies of these letters on request.
OK, he “softened” a bit when he came down here to “open” the new Rhyll and Cowes boat ramp/jetty pontoon.
The former replaced the one that was washed away in a storm (Liberal Party climate change ‘non-policy’ anyone? The storm surges are only going to get worse).
The latter won’t be usable ‘cos the monster container ships your government plans to bring into Western Port will be anchoring off the Anderson Road ramp.
There are no real guarantees yet the same fate won’t befall the Rhyll pontoon/ramp either.
So whilst your government’s record may or may not be better than the Opposition’s on health care, at least Daniel Andrews and his party have committed to not build the new container port at ‘W’astings.
Feel free to respond via these pages or to me personally. I’m sure you could track me down if you tried and I can only hope for a more prompt response than the last time I met you over another community issue in this electorate.
The group I was part of was promised all sorts of actions, but despite our follow ups, we never heard as much as a ‘penguin peep’ back from you. That was two years ago and we ended up fixing the problem on our own, (with some generous assistance from sources other than your government).
One last thing, if you do respond on Wastings, spare us the “jobs for Bass electorate” spin because a: containerised shipping and the attendant transport and distribution roles all rely heavily on automation these days and b: if someone working in a café in Cowes loses their job ‘cos the tourists have stopped coming, you don’t really expect them to drive two hours to Hastings do you?
Kevin Chambers, The Gurdies.