Saving the Bay in Seaford

A sunny Saturday morning in Seaford opposite the beautiful Seaford foreshore – what better place to spread the message that we want our Bay to be protected from destructive practices such as Channel Deepening?

In preparation for the November 25th election, Carrum MP, ALP’s Ms Jenny Lindell letterboxed Seaford inviting constituents to meet her during an hour on the street on Saturday30th September 2006. Several local Blue Wedges members took up the offer as well. As it turned out they seemed to field more of the questions and distribute more information than did Ms Lindell herself – and Blue Wedges didn’t send out invitations!

In a survey recently sent to all MP’s and candidates throughout Victoria Ms Lindell stated that she is in favour of channel deepening, subject to it passing environmental scrutiny. She is not alone in this view - many of her ALP colleagues sent replies which were almost identical to hers and – more significantly – their words all bore an uncanny resemblance to Port of Melbourne (PoMC) promotional literature!! It is unfortunate that our elected or soon to be representatives are more comfortable doing “cut and paste group think” activities rather than independent analysis.

One of the many concerning outcomes of the state government’s Channel Deepening Project would be the dumping of up to 40 million cubic metres of sand, rock and toxic sludge (the latter from the mouth of the Yarra – the extent and toxicity of which we, the public, have so far been prevented from knowing). This waste would be dumped back in the Bay itself. This was the focal message of the Seaford protest – at least 3 million tonnes of toxic sludge resulting from over one hundred years of industrial and agricultural practices, and filled with heavy metals and pesticides could be dredged from the Yarra riverbed and dumped in the Bay near Carrum if the present Channel Deepening plans proceed after the election.

BW members wore protective clothing, goggles and respirators whilst holding specimen jars of Yarra mud. Although amusing on Saturday; sick swimmers, reduced fish stocks, dying seagrass and unpredictable damage to the precariously balanced ecosystem in the Bay are no laughing matter – and all possible environmental outcomes if the project goes ahead.

Blue Wedges spokesperson Jenny Warfe commented: “It is of note that Ms. Lindell is also Chair of the Parliamentary Natural Resources and Environment Committee – so it was certainly worth challenging her to think about the wider implications of the project. The future of the Bay is a State-wide issue, not just a bayside one. Aside from its port related activities, the Bay supports billions of dollars worth of economic activity annually in tourism, recreational and commercial fishing and diving, sailing and their support industries, bayside accommodation and eateries – not to mention its intrinsic value as clean open space and habitat for thousands of species. The Bay is an undervalued economic asset. We need 21st Century thinking to ensure we do not risk its worth, not the fearful, closed and parochial thinking which has offered up Channel Deepening  - digging a deeper hole in the vague hope that it will drive further economic growth and save a few political careers. We expect that candidates around the Bay and further will get similar messages from their constituents as was sent to Ms. Lindell this Saturday.

We have a priceless icon in our front yard – the Bay. Before it is too late, let’s work out how much the economy and we might suffer if we lost it” says Ms. Warfe.


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