Thursday, 28 October 2010
Flinders Electorate: Westernport
I want to set out today a plan for the protection of Westernport. I grew up in a household for which Westernport was central. My father, Alan Hunt, was a planning minister during the course of the 1970s. He set in place a way of achieving things which was about the long-term 30- to 50-year protection program for Westernport. What we see now is that that program has been lost. The current state government are not doing the things which need to be done in order to protect Westernport.
It is time for a new Shapiro report. The Shapiro report, which was commissioned in the middle of the seventies, was a long-term program and process aimed at giving Westernport a set of standards, a pathway forward and a 30- to 50-year protection plan. That plan has now been abandoned. It has been effectively let drift by the state government and it is time, no matter who wins the election, for a new Shapiro report phase 2.
The Western Port Seagrass Partnership approached me recently and sought the recommencement of the Shapiro process, which is about imagining, envisioning and doing the work to set out the long-term plan for Westernport. I agree with them and support what they are doing and I will carry it forth as a program. If we are elected in the future at a federal level I will push with every fibre to see that we can have this long-term vision for Westernport.
The Westernport issue translates to smaller questions which have been neglected. I was approached in the last week by the Tooradin Foreshore Committee. The committee has been trying for many years to attract the state government’s attention to the severe erosion problem near the boat ramp. The erosion has caused a landslip perilously close to the pedestrian access to this busy and popular boat ramp. The committee has sought the assistance of both Parks Victoria and the DSC for at least two years and has just been rejected in its application for a grant to fix this problem. Committee members are now in despair as to what to do next. It is extraordinary that a community based committee of management has been utterly kept at arm’s length by the state environment department. It is simply an example of neglect. It is part of a larger problem—the broader neglect of Westernport.
I would also add to this the problem that the historic Lang Lang jetty was allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair that it was removed. It was removed at a time when we were told that there would be a replacement and that replacement has not appeared. So the citizens and residents of Lang Lang, the visitors to Lang Lang and the visitors to the eastern coast of Westernport have not had access. They have had their jetty taken away, they have had it in decline for many years and they have simply been ignored by the state government.
I think it is important to speak up on their behalf. This is not appropriate and it is not reasonable. It is neglect of a basic environmental and social management duty. I would say today as a federal representative but with a local focus that the state environment department in Victoria has failed utterly in its duty to maintain the foreshore of Tooradin, in its duty to maintain a pier for the people of Lang Lang and, more significantly still, in its duty to update and set forth a true, deep and powerful environmental management plan which places the port development in the context of the environmental needs of an entire bay ecosystem and community. It is time for the Shapiro report to be reconsidered, for the original concept of a phase 2 to be honoured and for the work which people such as Brian Cummings and my father started over 35 years ago to be advanced, enhanced and put in practice for the next 35 years.