Comings, Goings and Groundings

Time marches on, but don’t be fooled: there is a lot happening, both in the public arena and behind the scenes.

Monday 28 April was the closing date for submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, regarding the forthcoming inquiry into the business case for the CDP. The Committee received 36 written submissions. They propose to hold public hearings in May, and their report is due by 30 June.

Friday 2 May saw the arrival of the third dredge vessel, the Cornelis Zanen. This occasion did not go unnoticed by protestors who rallied in the Yarra, and raised once more the issue of the toxins about to be dug up by this vessel and dumped in our bay. Dioxins and radionuclides, neither of which were tested for in the recent studies, were brought to the attention of the media. A longer news item “Meeting the Coza” is posted on the website. Congratulations to those who braved the cold and dirty waters of the Yarra, in a creative display of opposition.

On Sunday 4 May those same protestors and others gathered at the Sorrento Hotel for an afternoon benefit. Local bands supplied hearty music and the spirit and passion of the event was a boost to the determination of all to keep fighting against the destruction of so much beauty, of amenity and habitat, and the introduction of uncertainty about the health and safety of future bay activities.

Friday 9 May brought a new dimension to the debate, when we woke to the news that a container ship had run aground off McCrae. Coincidence? Naturally, the proponents would have us believe that. But not even Stephen Bradford could dismiss it out of hand:
Mr Bradford said it was quite unusual for ships to run aground in Port Phillip Bay.
"Touch bottom incidents are quite rare. We handle about 3500 ships a year. I think since I've been in the job about three or four years, this is the second or third incident. So it's quite unusual."  ( May 09, 2008 08:28am)
The results of the inquiry by maritime authorities may shed further light, but the fact remains that human or mechanical error will occur again. With a deepened Rip Bank and changed conditions at The Heads, which some critics unequivocally say will increase the dangers to larger vessels, it can only be a matter of time. The soft sands of McCrae are a different matter to the rocky sides of a deepened Great Ship Channel.

The Francoise Gilot, grounded off McCrae

Meanwhile, other interactions continue to chip away at the “all is well” façade, asking questions about the monitoring process, which is nowhere near as all-inclusive and comforting as we are meant to think. Be aware that NO-ONE is presently testing for toxins, or even sampling for other problems in places where the average bystander would logically assume they would be looking. Take no comfort from the monitoring reports currently being waved about. They are not telling us what we need to know.
Keep an eye on it all, and also on the simmering debate about rail freight, and rising costs, and oil prices, and the too rapid population influx into Victoria, and the lack of infrastructure to accommodate it, and… you know the rest. We must maintain the pressure in a range of areas, because they are all linked – and they are all integral to the future health and life of our precious Victorian icon, our own unique Bay. A “liveable Melbourne” with an unliveable bay? We don’t think so!

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