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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12575

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (19:49): I rise to address the issue of care, protection and maintenance of Westernport and the associated lands nearby on the Mornington Peninsula. Let me begin with a little bit of history. Westernport during the 1970s was a bay which had terrible environmental challenges; it also had some great environmental glories. In the early 1970s there was the Shapiro report, an extensive three-year environmental study of the ecology of Westernport. It was used then, and has been used ever since, over 35 years, as a key reference for any development in the Westernport region. It has protected the bay and has been a fundamental touchstone and a practical guide.

My view is that the time is right now to update the Shapiro report to help ready Westernport, and all of those who are custodians of Westernport, for the challenges ahead. This is particularly so with the proposal for an expanded and modified Port of Hastings. If the Port of Hastings is planned—whether a decade from now or 15 years from now—to become either Victoria's major port or effectively a co-port, then this is the moment when we need to understand all the environmental risks and challenges.

Let me give some examples. We have had a loss of critical habitat within the seabed of the bay. We have had the flow of chemicals and, in particular, of riverbed soil and sand which has silted up much of the seagrass and mangrove areas. We have lost seagrass and mangrove and therefore we have lost breeding habitat, and that has affected the quality of fish and other marine stock in Westernport. If we can identify the risks and the solutions, then we can really set Westernport up for the next 50 years. There will be expansion of the port over time. My view has always been no to Crib Point and yes to Long Island Point between Bluescope and Esso. That is industrial land. Whether or not you would reclaim it now, it was done over 40 years ago. It is inevitable and desirable that modest port development occurs between these two industrial sites. But not in Crib Point. That is now a community, a town, a residential zone. It should not be reindustrialised. Given that it is inevitable that we will have further industrial development, particularly port related, in Westernport we need this long-term plan—a three-decade or even half-century plan. A new Shapiro report conducted by a genuinely independent academic with support of the highest quality would be a gift from this generation to the next and something that would be utterly sensible and responsible to do.

In the same way that there are custodians of Westernport, such as Jeff Weir from the Dolphin Research Institute and the many coastal protection and care groups, there are also those who do great work in protecting the Mornington Peninsula landscape. The Mornington Peninsula land care groups include: the Balcombe and Moorooduc Landcare Group, the Devilbend Landcare Group, the Dunns Creek Landcare Group, the Main Creek Catchment Landcare Group, the Merricks-Coolart Catchment group, the Manton and Stony Creek Landcare Group, the Pearcedale Landcare Group, the South West Peninsula Landcare Group and the Watsons Creek Catchment Landcare Group. They do a tremendous job. But it is time to develop a full Mornington Peninsula land care network, and that means giving them the support that they need.

In particular, I have approached the state environment minister to see if we can obtain a land care facilitator for the Mornington Peninsula. This would allow the development of a full land care network. It would assist in grants, project management, coordination and developing a long-term land care plan for the Mornington Peninsula. We have those who care for the sea and those who care for the land. They do a great job. In each case, there are opportunities for long-term planning that would allow us to give a gift to the next generation. (Time expired)