Dodging the question

Liberal Party policy puts Bass Coast jobs at risk -Brian Paynter’s response on 1 May 2015 fails to address the concerns of the community.

With the loss of Government in Victoria, the LNP promised to listen to the community and respond to community concerns. Significant community concerns about the adverse impact on the Bass Coast economy, environment and community of the failed container port policy in Westernport are being ignored by the Member for Bass Mr. Brian Paynter MP, stated Jeff Nottle Chairman of the Preserve Westernport Action Group. 

In 2012 -13 tourism contributed $653M to the Phillip Island (Bass Coast Shire) economy, 37.9% of gross regional product, employed 5700 people and provided 38.2% of regional employment. 

Recreational boating adds a further estimated $500PA to the Westernport economy and helps support many businesses in Bass Coast. Non tourist related visitation to the region together with the existing quality of life and the enjoyment of the environment are not included in these monetary assessments. 

The former LNP Government did not prepare a business case for the container port concept and as a result did not clearly identify any possible benefits to the Victorian electorate or for Bass Coast. 

We formally raised our concerns on the ongoing and failed Liberal Party policy with Brian Paynter on 7 April 2015 stated Jeff Nottle. 

“In your electorate 19.9% of voters voted for candidates that totally opposed the Port of Hastings plan. 

As the Member for Bass and Liberal party member we believe you should recognise the concerns and actions of your electorate, protect the Bass Coast economy and the $653M PA contributed by tourism as well as the 5700 jobs that tourism provides to Bass Coast and the Westernport environment. To achieve these goals for the community we believe you should act by taking all the necessary steps to ensure the Liberal Party policy of building a container port at Hastings is abolished. 

We look forward to you ensuring that the Liberal party policy of a container port at Hastings is abolished and that the Bass Coast economy, environment and community are permanently protected from the threats presented by the current policy.” 

Brian Paynter’s response on 1 May 2015 fails to address the concerns of the community. 

“The Coalition is now in opposition in the State of Victoria and future policy positions will be considered closer to the next state election. All members of the Liberal Party will contribute to the formation of these policies at the State Council held twice a year. I will certainly put forward the views of all stakeholder groups during the debate.” 

The current Government has announced that they intend to establish Infrastructure Victoria to make recommendations on the need and location of another container port in Victoria. The Government has also announced that it prefers a location to the west of the existing container port in Port Phillip Bay. 

The only State political party still holding onto the failed policy of industrialising Westernport and building a massive container port is the Liberal Party. No support for this policy has been shown by the logistics and freight forwarding industry with modelling for the port showing an extra 4,200 extra trucks daily would be required to transport the containers across Melbourne. Further, heavy freight trains using the proposed South East Rail Link would have needed to travel from Dandenong through Caulfield, Malvern, Toorak, South Yarra and Flinders St to the Tottenham rail yards 24 hours a day. 

Modelling by the Victoria University Institute of Supply Chain and logistics showed that a container port at Hastings would lead to a 95% increase in container freight costs and a 113% increase in emissions and air quality degradation. These costs were in addition to the $12 Billion of taxpayers’ money the LNP was intending to use to build the port at Hastings. 

Should Infrastructure Victoria recommendations not be implemented by the next election and the Government changes, the Liberal Party may then move to build their failed container port at Hastings. The former LNP Government sought to avoid detailed scrutiny of their policy by the plan to build the port being placed under the Major Transport Project Facilitation Act, as well as signing an agreement with the Federal Environment Minister to pass his Federal environmental assessment powers to the State Planning Minister. 

With no industry, community or electoral support for the container port policy, Brian Paynter needs to stop “Passing the Buck” and take the lead in responding to the concerns of the electorate. 

Media Contact: Jeff Nottle Ph. 0419 158 232