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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1791

Mr HUNT (9:48 AM) —I rise to ask the state government of Victoria to purchase a piece of land known as ‘the Sisters’ on the edge of Sullivan Cove, in Sorrento, on the Mornington Peninsula. I want to set out three elements. Firstly, there is the land itself. The land was the site of the Collins settlement of 1803. It was the first such settlement in Victoria, and it was 32 years before the founding of Melbourne at Sullivan Bay. It was established under Lieutenant-Governor David Collins, and 458 people set up home on this land, between two headlands known as the Eastern and Western Sisters.

The land now is known as the Sisters property. It comprises approximately three acres. It is waterfront land. It is unique in all of Victoria and, arguably, within Australia. It is largely undeveloped but for a small house. The media reports that it may sell for in the vicinity of $20 million. It is a once-in-a-century chance to secure one of the great open public parks on Port Phillip Bay. I say all of this aware, as well, that the site was used as a parade ground. There are two large olive trees that were likely to have been planted by Lieutenant-Governor Collins himself. There is, reportedly, an Aboriginal midden that appears to have been continuously used for almost 2,000 years prior to European settlement. It is an integral part of the entire Collins settlement.

There is a very strong precedent here that was established by the former federal government. We put in place a process which saved Point Nepean. That meant that there was $50 million of express Commonwealth cash granted to the preservation of Point Nepean and probably about $150 million of forgone revenue by not selling that land. That means a total Commonwealth contribution of up to $200 million for the site at Point Nepean. We are now seeking that for perhaps one of Australia’s great coastal park sites. The Victorian government, which made such noise about Point Nepean, now puts up about one-tenth of precisely that which the previous government gave. This site is outstanding. It is direct coastal land right onto the beach. It is essentially undeveloped. It is unique in, I think, not just Victoria but almost all of Australia. I say to the Victorian government: match that which was done but on one-tenth of the scale, in relation to Point Nepean. Bring the Sisters back into public hands and create one of Australia’s great coastal parks.