Monday, 19 October 2009
Flinders Electorate: Mornington Peninsula
This evening I want to address a four-point plan for protecting and enhancing the Mornington Peninsula. The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. It is a UNESCO biosphere, which means that it represents the combination of human activity and an extraordinary environment being conducted in a sustainable way. Against that background, there are three immediate threats to the long-term environmental sustainability of and quality of life on the Mornington Peninsula and a fourth powerful opportunity for improving and enhancing the interrelationship between people, the environment and quality of life. The first of those issues is a direct, clear and absolute opposition to the proposal by the Victorian government for a Crib Point bitumen plant. This bitumen plant was expressly and clearly ruled out by the state Labor government immediately prior to the last election. This was expressly and clearly done in a letter to all Crib Point residents.
What we now see is that the election promise has been broken. A decision was taken by the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, to overturn an independent panel’s view that this plant would not be acceptable. It said that the plant was on the edge of a Ramsar wetland, that the plant would run 24 hours a day, that there would be trucks running in and out of Crib Point and that the plant would lead to the reindustrialisation of a town which has become a residential community. Against that background, the minister, Mr Justin Madden, in express defiance of an absolutely clear election promise, overturned the independent panel’s decision to uphold the promise of the state Labor government in Victoria to block a Crib Point bitumen plant. Instead, what we are seeing is the election promise broken and the independent panel’s recommendations overturned, ignored and debunked. We have seen the absolutely clear and strong will of the people of Crib Point defied—and this I believe is most important. They do not want their town reindustrialised. They do not want trucks—in many cases B-doubles—running through their town on a 24-hour basis. They do not want to experience the effects of odours on a Ramsar wetland, let alone on their own personal quality of life and the health of their children.
So I say today that the first pillar of protection for the Mornington Peninsula is for the state to uphold its promise and to reject the proposal for a bitumen plant at Crib Point, particularly as there is an alternative: the northern port at Hastings. There is near-universal acceptance of that option, so it is not a ‘not in our backyard’ situation. There is another option, an industrial area which does not affect residents, which does not affect the Ramsar wetland and which could easily be done. It would be located between the Esso and BlueScope plants, on reclaimed land. That, however, is not being accepted. It must be accepted, and I put it very clearly to the state that they must accept such an option. If they will not then Minister Garrett should step in and enforce the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which guarantees the protection of Ramsar wetlands.
The second element in the protection of the Mornington Peninsula is in relation to the town of Baxter. Baxter is a lovely town. There are people who live in Baxter because they love the aspect of being not only near to Melbourne but also on the Mornington Peninsula. But they are about to see a large overpass cut right through the heart of the town. That overpass will destroy the amenity of the town. It will destroy the environment and it will cut the town in two forever. There is a simple alternative which is achievable, and that is for the state to insist that the project involve an underpass or tunnel so as not to divide the town. Land has been set aside for the freeway for many decades. Use of that land would allow the underpass to proceed so as not to cut Baxter in half. It could be done in a way which is sensitive to the locals and which does not expose them to excessive noise and heavy traffic. It would not represent a visual blight and would not make an impact on their lives every moment of every day, as would otherwise be the case. So there is a clear, preferable alternative. My view is that the overpass should be rejected. The tunnel or underpass must be mandated. The entire Peninsula Link freeway should come into the Moorooduc Highway just south of Baxter, rather than cutting through the heart of the Mornington Peninsula’s best farmland. Again, there is a clear, preferable alternative. I would not put up such opposition unless there was a clear, preferable alternative.
The third area of protection is in relation to the town of Dromana. Dromana is a seaside town. Its demographic is a mixture of permanent residential and holiday homes. Progressively, more and more people are living there permanently. A proposal for a high-rise has been put forward which is out of character with the sensible work that the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has approved. The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has, again, had its decision overturned by a state panel, so the position here is part of a continuing theme. Our job now is to ensure that this area, which is an environmental service area for Melbourne, is protected.
I call upon the state in all three cases to look to the 100-year future, to look to the next generation, to look to the next century in the decisions that they make, because to make poor-quality decisions will echo through the generations. On each of these three items—the Crib Point bitumen plant, the Baxter overpass and the Dromana high-rise development—there are sensible, lower impact alternatives, and they can all be done in an economically sensible way. Those are three points about protection.
The exciting opportunity is in relation to the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre at Rosebud. We have seen at Hastings the Pelican Park Aquatic Centre. We have seen the way in which an aquatic centre has transformed a waterfront and has transformed the ability of a town not just to exercise but to have a place of which they are proud and which has lifted up the entire town. The same thing is proposed for Rosebud to assist the people of Dromana, McCrae, Rosebud, Rosebud West, Tootgarook, Rye, Blairgowrie and Sorrento, not to mention Boneo. All those towns will benefit from having an aquatic centre. We would have funded this aquatic centre in part under the Regional Partnerships program, which was abolished subsequent to the last election by the incoming Labor government at the federal level.
I hope that funds will be found for what is a project which we would have funded under the Regional Partnerships program. Most importantly, I lend my support to the idea of having an aquatic centre for Rosebud. My personal preference is that it be in some way linked to the area between the highway and the back of the dunes. What we see there is an area which has been largely closed off to the public but which has nevertheless been turned over and used for buildings or previously for an aquatic centre. So it is not pristine land; it is land which has been entirely and completely compromised and disturbed. It must and should be used, in my view, for the best possible community outcome. That community outcome—in one of the oldest demographics in Australia, in the oldest demographic in Victoria—is for an aquatic centre with hydrotherapy for our seniors, with the capacity for sports training for our juniors and with family facilities. This is a project which will transform Rosebud, Rye and Dromana, and it represents the fourth part of the plan to protect and enhance the Mornington Peninsula.
There is much work to be done, but at the end of the day we have to ensure that the Crib Point bitumen plant does not proceed, as was promised by the state government; we have an underpass or tunnel, not an overpass, in Baxter; Dromana is protected from high-rises; and we have the vision of an aquatic centre for Rosebud and the people of the Mornington Peninsula. (Time expired)