28 July 2015

Page 10

NEWS DESK

Litter cash after call ‘copy Sydney’ THE state government is offering money for a new round of litter prevention projects in an attempt to clean up waterways, canals, drains, rivers and creeks feeding Port Phillip. Environment Minister Lisa Neville announced the third round of Litter Hotspots funding last Thursday. Mornington Peninsula Shire’s waste group (Mornington Peninsula Regional Waste Management Group) won a $7000 grant in the first round in 2013-14 and used it to run events encouraging people to reduce litter at three hotspots at Dromana and Mornington (Mothers Beach and Mills Beach). Ms Neville said the third round would “support local government, businesses and community partnerships to implement a range of litter prevention and clean-up projects to stop litter from entering stormwater drains and impacting the Port Phillip catchment�. “The Litter Hotspots program encourages community action to tackle litter in local areas, preventing it from polluting our waterways, and helping make a cleaner, safer and more appealing environment for us all,� she said. Applications to Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, of which Mornington Peninsula Shire is now a part, close 31 August. The small steps to reduce litter follow strong words about the state of Port Phillip from a scientist published in The News last month (“To preserve Port Phillip, Melbourne should learn from Sydney�, 23/6/15). Professor Tim Flannery, who grew up on Port Phillip and snorkelled between Sandringham and Mornington, wrote that he was shocked when he

returned to Melbourne a few years ago and saw the state of the 2000 square kilometre waterway. “In Sydney, residents would lay down their lives for the harbour. Thirty years ago it was as polluted as Port Phillip is now, but hard work and pride have restored it,â€? he wrote. “The Andrews state government, elected last year, has pledged to get rid of the 50 worst level crossings in the state. What about cleaning up Port Phillip’s 50 worst barrel drains? “Port Phillip’s margins have also been battered by inappropriate development. In Sydney, great swathes of harbour-side natural vegetation have been reserved, inappropriate infrastructure removed, and commercial fishing banned. As a result, fish stocks have recovered spectacularly. “When I moved to Sydney the harbour and Port Phillip were pretty much equally blighted. But the people of Sydney have cared enough to make a difference. Surely Melburnians can, over time, do an equally good job with their waterway? “Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority has done much good. A powerful Port Phillip authority, properly funded and accountable, could deliver the strategic vision required, and the means of delivering it.â€? For more information about Litter Hotspots grants, go to www.mwrrg.vic.gov.au ď Ž The state government is also offering grants to coastal Crown land committees of management to improve fences, boardwalks and stairs. Details: www.delwp.vic.gov.au Mike Hast

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Playing footy Mike Hast mike@mpnews.com.au VICTORIAN politicians are again playing political football with infrastructure – not the abandoned East West Link but the state’s future port needs and the fate of Port Phillip. And the Liberal and Labor “players� in their nice new shiny jumpers with no actual mud on them have been joined by a ring-in from another team – federal environment minister Greg Hunt, who is no doubt wearing his Team Australia jumper and knows the field of play quite well, being a Victorian and living on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne’s vast waterway. The past few weeks have seen claim and counter-claim about what will happen if the Andrews Labor government leases the Port of Melbourne to one of the big shipping companies for 70 years. It hopes to receive $7 billion, which it will use to remove 50 of the state’s worst level crossings over the next eight years as well as building Melbourne Metro, the West Gate Distributor and other transport projects not yet announced. No new container port The state Opposition claims the government will have to give the shipping company a monopoly to get the best price. This means no new container port at either Hastings or on the western shore of Port Phillip, the so-called Bay West option proposed between Werribee and Geelong. The squabble over the two locations has been a long political football game – in the early 2000s, the Labor government proposed expanding the Port of Hastings over 25 years in three stages. It spent a bucket of money on reports and consultants. But something was amiss as the Port of Hastings land use and transport strategy was completed in September 2006, but the government stalled its release until March 2007 and again until December. Labor government ports

minister Tim Pallas finally found time to visit Hastings in August 2009 to explain the plan to stakeholders, but still nothing happened. Labor lost government to the Liberal-Nationals Coalition in 2010. The Coalition picked up the Hastings ball with ports minister Denis Napthine in mid-2013 committing $110 million over four years to do economic and scientific studies. Labor lost interest in Hastings and started promoting Bay West. Why did it spend all that money and time looking at expanding the Port of Hastings? The game entered the fourth quarter last year when the Coalition lost government after just four years in office. The Labor government cut the cash for Port of Hastings planning, devastating the expectations of many. People saw an expanded port as the key to reviving a town doing it tough, especially after job losses and contraction at BlueScope Steel’s plant, the area’s only major industry. Environmentalists were overjoyed as an expanded port would have put at risk Western Port’s unique natural values. Blasting The Heads The Liberal-Nationals Opposition has gone in hard on the Labor government’s plan to lease the Port of Melbourne for 50 years (with the option of a further 20 years). Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and shadow treasurer Michael O’Brien have nails sticking out of their footy boots as they’ve tried to frightened Victorians about the government’s port lease plan. They have claimed the entrance to Port Phillip, The Heads, will have to be blasted to allow larger ships of the future to enter. Southern peninsula Liberal MP Martin Dixon had a crack in the goal square four weeks ago when he said widening and deepening The Heads would make the controversial 2008-09 dredging “pale into insignificance� and ensure “the destruction of Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park�.

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Mornington News 28 July 2015