It’s good to see our new local opposition MP Brian Paynter doing his job in local media and opposing government policy, but sadly facts get in the way on the issue of the combined $46m in Wonthaggi Coalition pre-election promises.
Equally, the speed of his response post the Andrews Government’s first budget is also commendable.
However, the above ignores a few salient points:
* These promises were only made in the dying days of the election campaign. They’d only had four long years to do something about both the hospital and school project and had done precisely nothing.
* With 20 per cent of the Bass electorate voting for candidates opposed to the Liberals ‘Western Port Wrecker’ Hastings Container Port project, forcing Mr Paynter to go to preferences to win the seat (previously held by Ken Smith on first preferences), it is very likely the $46m was only promised due the fact the good people of Bass and Phillip Island were strongly opposed to this project.
This then relates back to Mr Paynter’s post-budget speed in criticising the Andrews Government about these projects.
I spent the better part of last year challenging Mr Paynter and his predecessor Ken Smith to come out with their views on the impact Hastings would have on the electorate’s tourism and recreational fishing economy (several thousand jobs and a combined $1.1b in economic impact for the shire and Phillip Island).
Surely such commanding statistics would have warranted a direct reply from my local member/candidate.
However, the only answers I received was personal attack on my integrity by their pro-port mouthpiece, Mike Lean from the Port of Hastings Development Authority, followed by an email from Brian Paynter suggesting I attend one of the authority’s public information sessions.
I attended the first one ever held in Hastings in October 2013, the content of which became the foundation of my opposition to the project.
By the time of the Paynter email, even he knew how much I knew about the project, so to suggest I attend an information session was a gross insult.
Oh, that he would respond with similar alacrity to the school and hospital matters raised above to a letter sent to him by Preserve Western Port Chairman, Jeff Nottle, dated April 7, 2015.
The letter stated that since 20 per cent of the electorate was opposed to ‘Wastings’, it was incumbent upon him to take these views to the Liberal Party with the intent that the Liberals scrap their plans to ruin Western Port by building the container port at Hastings.
It took him a month to answer the above.
The same happened last October when Mr Paynter told me he would reply to my question about the impact the Liberal generated, vastly increased shipping exclusion zones in Western Port would mean for recreational fishing.
I still have not received an answer for that one.
So Mr Paynter, sir, Liberal MLA for Bass, whilst it’s important for you to ‘oppose’ when you can, how about doing something constructive to ensure that Bass Coast remains, as Fergus Cameron chairman of Destination Phillip Island stated last year, “the second most tourism dependent economy in the country”?
Tell your Liberal mates to scrap ‘Wastings’ forthwith.
The first call should be your boss, Matthew Guy, for as Planning Minister he approved the (in)famous Ventnor subdivision and if Hastings had proceeded, the ‘stunning bay views’ would have been ruined by all those container ships coming in and out of the Port.
Last but not least, by no means am I implying that Mayor Kimberley Brown and Bass Coast Shire Council at large have not constantly advocated to State Governments of all colours to have the Wonthaggi Hospital and school projects funded as a matter of urgency.
More power to their advocacy arm…
Kevin Chambers, The Gurdies.