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Thursday, 2 December 2004
Page: 156

Mr HUNT (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (12:56 PM) —Earlier this week I addressed the House on a plan for the development and improvement of Hastings and Somerville. I outlined four elements. I wish to give this speech today to focus on a twin to the plan—the progress and development of the Hastings submarine project. The background is that, under the Federation Fund, the Commonwealth allocated to the Western Port Oberon Association HMAS Otama, which is an Oberon class submarine which has now been retired. As part of the grant under the Federation Fund, the Oberon association was given the submarine and $500,000, with a fee of $50,000 deducted for the price of the submarine. The submarine is currently moored off Crib Point and is awaiting a series of development approvals before it can be placed adjacent to the foreshore at Hastings for the benefit of the townspeople of Hastings, the Mornington Peninsula and tourism throughout Victoria.

I want to commend the HMAS Otama project and all those involved. I believe that the very recent appointment of a specialist chair to the Western Port Oberon Association, Mr Kevin Shea, is a defining point in the progress of this submarine and the entire submarine project. It is a project of incredible importance, and I believe that the appointment of Mr Shea—someone who has experience as a former managing director of the Port of Melbourne Authority, who has very good links with the state government and who has admirable corporate as well as maritime experience—is a great step forward. As part of that, I want to congratulate the president of the Oberon association, Mr Max Bryant, and the executive and all the members of the Oberon association for their unstinting commitment to the Hastings submarine project.

This project is critical for Hastings. The independent assessment prepared for the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council by MacroPlan estimated a gross annual benefit to the town of Hastings of approximately $4 million through the placement and development of the submarine project. It is in fact an ideal modern tourism project. It has no impact on the environment, it is a great educational project and it provides icon status to the town of Hastings, which has been through hard times but which is making tremendous strides forward. It is twinned with proposals for marine education, the Coleman statue and a plan to use the waterfront at Hastings in a way which benefits the people of this beautiful area.

The submarine, I think, would be an iconic form of identity for the town of Hastings. It would complement the existing steps forward being taken. In addition to that, it would provide an area of pride and excitement for the primary school kids and people throughout the region. Already, primary school children are very excited about the project. Against that background, I understand that there is a small minority of people who consistently oppose this project. That is disappointing because it is both economically and environmentally sustainable, it grows from the community and it has overwhelming community support. I would respectfully ask those people to enter into dialogue, look at the benefits which it would bring to the community and not place their views in front of the overwhelming support of the community.

The next steps are as follows. Firstly, under the chairmanship of Mr Shea we need to bring together the state, the council, the marina, the yacht club, the fishing club and any other interested parties to work on a common understanding and plan for the foreshore area in Hastings and the way in which the submarine can be involved. Secondly, we must bring together funding. There has already been $500,000 in Commonwealth funding. We look to the state for planning approval but also funding approval. In addition to that, we look for any private contribution on a philanthropic basis. Thirdly, under Kevin Shea, if we can pull together all of the people who have been involved then this project can come to fruition. I commend to the House Kevin Shea's appointment, the Oberon association and the submarine project. (Time expired)