Victoria University’s Dr Hermione Parsons, pictured with PWP chairman Jeff Nottle, received rock star-like applause following her exhaustive presentation to the community on Saturday night.
THE internationally renowned Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has jumped on board the Preserve Western Port (PWP) Action Group’s ongoing campaign to sink the proposed Port of Hastings container expansion.
PWP chairman Jeff Nottle said the society came out and publicly supported the campaign for the first time at a hugely successful community forum at Cowes recently.
“It’s an extraordinary development,” Mr Nottle said.
“They’re an internationally recognised movement and now they have come out publicly to say they are supporting our group and campaign.
“They are saying they will not allow the disturbance or destruction of wildlife around Western Port, including the penguin and whale
Mr Nottle said Sea Shepherd members, including Haans Siver, quartermaster on ‘The Steve Irwin’ vessel, spoke “very passionately” at the forum, held at St Phillip’s Hall, with there being early discussions about organising a flotilla locally in the near future.
Support from Sea Shepherd capped off a monumental evening for PWP, with the forum being the group’s most successful public gathering yet.
“It was an absolutely stunning success,” Mr Nottle continued.
“We had 130 people in the hall and we were packed to the rafters.”
He said special guest speaker Dr Hermione Parsons, Director of the Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics at Victoria University, who gave a detailed presentation analysing points from her paper ‘Build it, but will they come?’, released earlier this year, received a huge ovation following her hour-long speech.
“Hearing the applause after she’d finished, it was like being at a rock concert,” Mr Nottle said.
He said Dr Parsons gave a thorough overview of the land-side logistical issues associated with the container expansion, as well as the associated economic impacts.
Alarming points raised by Dr Parsons, in the papers she co-authored, include:
• When the Port of Hastings reaches capacity of nine million containers (estimated to occur in 2050), this would require 1.5 million B-double trucks, or 50,000 freight trains, carrying 90 containers per train annually
• There would be over 4000 trucks or 140 trains moving across Melbourne’s road and rail network between Melbourne’s industrial West and North, and Hastings, daily.
“The freight logistics industry and the Victorian Government recognise that the current freight rail network cannot cope with this substantial increase in traffic,” the paper states.
Mr Nottle said the forum was so successful that it was difficult to bring proceedings to a close.
“We had wide-ranging questions from the floor and networking between participants carried on long afterwards,” he said.
“PWP also raised hundreds of dollars through donations and sales of merchandise.”
Making the night even more noteworthy was the release of the final report from the week-long scenario planning workshop on Phillip Island, conducted back in July.
Participants pondered alternative futures for Western Port and its surrounds at the workshop, with four unique scenarios unveiled.
As detailed in the new report, results from a follow-up community survey indicated the majority of respondents (54 per cent) liked the ‘Lagom’ scenario best – a future which envisions the Port of Hastings project being ancient history (abandoned in 2015, light rail between Cowes and Dandenong and adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goals by the Victorian Government.
The workshop report is expected to be made available at www.vnpa.org.au later this week.