Dear Ken (Smith, Bass MP),
Okay, I get it. In the past you have slammed Labor’s health and public transport policies in local print media and when I asked you to at least inform your Bass constituents about yours and your successor, Brian Paynter’s position on the Hastings Port Development, all that transpired was a personal attack on my integrity by Port of Hastings CEO, Mr Mike Lean.
So I guess I’m ‘pushing the proverbial uphill’ in my quest to get a response from you or Mr Paynter.
Er… sorry Ken, Mr Lean is not our local MLA and judging by his comments concerning the dredging required to turn Hastings into a humongous container port and in doing so wreck Western Port forever, for this, many Bass electors, myself included of course, are very, very grateful.
How could we ever have anyone who asserts that other than dredging for turning basins and the like, Western Port “has not been dredged” and furthermore, hand-over-heart state “our channels are naturally deep” (Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser, June 25).
Oh dear, seems I need to lend him my Western Port chart after all, for anyone who knows anything at all about our bay knows it has been dredged from Sandy Point on the mainland up to the steel wharves at Hastings.
I know my last letter suggested you and Mr Paynter ‘surprise me’ with a response on ‘W’astings, but I was hoping for a pleasant one, not the unpleasant one foisted on me by Mr Lean.
Then we get to this week’s local media and the article attributed to you sprouting about your government’s Coastcare grants and I quote you from the above: “Victorians value their natural assets, particularly our coastline and that’s why the Napthine Government is investing in Coastcare to deliver positive environmental outcomes through practical local action”.
And again: “Coastcare grants provide funding to support important projects to help protect and enhance Victoria’s beaches and coastal waterways”; plus, (The Napthine Govt) “gives Coastcare grants to encourage practical local action to protect and enhance our coasts and marine environment”.
As the old steak knife ads used to say “yet there is more”, with quotes also in recent local media attributed to Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Victorian Tourism Minister, Louise Asher
“The jobs of over 929,000 Australians are linked to tourism and for every dollar spent on tourism, it generates an additional 90 cents across our economy. That is more than what is generated from mining and resources, education and retail,” Mr Robb said.
“Australia is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the demand from the emerging middle classes of Asia who are seeking clean, green food produce, wine and natural landscape tourism experiences – which Victoria is renowned for. It is vitally important we grow our tourism and hospitality workforce to meet this demand,” Mr Robb said.
Ms Asher said the plan was an important part of supporting regional Victorian tourism.
“Phillip Island and the Mornington Peninsula are among the top destinations for both domestic and international visitors to Victoria, and the Tourism Employment Plan will help build a sustainable tourism and hospitality workforce for the region’s future,” Ms Asher said.
How very true Ms Asher, with Fergus Cameron, chairman of Destination Phillip Island having previously said that “Phillip Island/Bass Coast is the second most tourism-dependent economy in the country”.
I also refer to a press release on the VR Fish website and a quote from the Napthine Government Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh.
He was quoted as stating that “State Government funding had helped make Victoria the premier fishing destination for local and visiting anglers”.
So Messrs Smith and Paynter, we have all these wonderful words on the importance of tourism and recreational fishing surrounding and out on our beloved Western Port, resulting in a total economic benefit of $ 1.1 billion per annum, with these figures coming from Coalition Government sponsored studies.
But the storied above and allegedly wonderful Napthine Government is also hell-bent on building a gigantic container port at Hastings, which amongst many other factors, will see massive dredging and extensive shipping exclusion zones cause untold damage to the tourism and recreational fishing industries they seem so proud to ‘spin’ about and fund.
Question – if the July 2011 Parks Victoria map of Western Port has at least 40 per cent of the safe, high tide navigable waters marked as ‘Hastings Port Limit’, why is it so marked if not to eventually exclude recreational boating and fishing activities?
Back in May, at a meeting in Loch, I drew Bass Coast electors concerns in person on ‘W’astings, to Deputy Premier Peter Ryan.
He wrote back shortly afterwards and, just like Louise Asher before him, said he’d referred my letter to “build Hastings and stuff Bass Coast” himself, Ports Minister David Hodgett.
Five weeks later and I still have not had an answer.
So, third time lucky, Ken and Brian. If you and Napthine and Co. are true to all your wonderful press release ‘spin’, surely it is time for an answer on the impact Hastings will have on the electorate of Bass.
If we cannot get a valid response this time around to the concerns I have raised, then we must assume that you are unable to defend this electorate against the ravages to our economy and environment that will be the expanded Port of Hastings and are therefore entitled to remember this at the ballot box in November.
Last but not least, and if you two were sincere about sticking up for Bass, I would not have to type this, but ‘responses via third parties do not qualify’.
Kevin Chambers, The Gurdies.