Chapter 10



Whilst the focus of the average person looking at the channel deepening project may well be on the waters of Port Phillip and the risks situated there, it is also a fact that there are land-based impacts aplenty. Some of these are to be found in the considerations of the EES and have recommendations from the Independent Panel of 2005 specifically directed at them. However, there are more, and highly significant, impacts in terms of cost and social amenity, which will not be found in the pages of the SEES, since they are conveniently “outside the terms of reference”. That also allows them to be put them outside the costing regime for this already massively costly proposal. In this chapter, both categories of land-based impacts will be mentioned, since, unlike the PoMC, we intend to look squarely at the total reality of the proposal and its ramifications in the Victorian community.

Land-based Impacts within the terms of reference

Port Infrastructure and Interface Works

  • works to approaches
  • berths
  • navigation aids
  • pipeline protection
  1. Sewage
  2. Oil
  3. Gas
  4. Telecommunications
  5. Electricity
  6. Ethane
Of the above services, we are told that some will be protected and others decommissioned. Two matters are of particular concern:

Hobsons Bay Main Sewer

This is a reinforced concrete tunnel of 3.1m external diameter, carrying X% of Melbourne’s daily sewage output. We are told that this sewer is to be protected, rather than shifted. At present, according to the PoMC:

“The cover over the tunnel under the river currently varies from 2m to 2.7m and will be reduced to 1.2m after dredging.”1

However, in another part of the same report2, the following figures are provided:

Declared depth of channel: 13.1m

Declared depth to which dredging will occur: 15.2m
(this refers to Swanson Dock West approach to and over services)

Simple arithmetic leads to the conclusion that a 2.1m depth is to be removed.

The implication, from use of the earlier “cover” figures of 2 to 2.7m, is that the cover will be at best 60cm or at worst the sewer will be uncovered. This perturbing anomaly does not appear to have been picked up, let alone explained by the PoMC in their document. This is yet another disparity which needs to be clarified.

Costs of works

While it would be expected that costs associated with the above works would be significant, not to mention any further costs incurred should any of these services be damaged in the event of being fouled by a vessel, it is notable that such costs are not itemised in any way which allows their true magnitude and nature to be determined.

Letters from all the relevant authorities are to be found in Technical Appendix 5; however, the phrases which occur with regularity and consistency in each are “subject to the design certification” and, more significantly, “subject to the resolution of a commercial agreement”. It would seem that while we are informed that these “service and utility lines are buried in the sediments under the Yarra River…”3, we must also conclude that the pertinent details regarding costs are just as deeply buried.
  • works on batter walls with possible implications for toxicity of material
 Other Infrastructure impacted
  • Non-commercial structures in the Port
  • Operational wharves
  • Ethane pipeline (as above)
  • West Gate Bridge
 Stakeholders impacted
  • Newport Power Station (Ecogen)
  • Other stakeholders mentioned in terms of compensation: commercial fishing industry, abalone industry, dive industry
 Non-Indigenous heritage sites
  • remnant Yarra River banks and bed
  • historic items/places
  • the degaussing range
  • Hobson’s Bay anchorage
  • site visits to relevant Commonwealth places to be carried out and results documented before assessment of project under EPBC Act
 Indigenous heritage sites
  • site investigation to be done
  • documentation of potential Aboriginal Heritage interest in Commonwealth lands to be carried out
Due to time constraints brought about by the ludicrously short time frame allowed for full scrutiny of the multitude of aspects bound up with this project, no space will be devoted in this chapter to elaborating on the issues above. Many references were made by the Panel, and a number of recommendations. Questions need to be asked as to whether all or any of these recommendations were carried through in the spirit in which they were intended. This will be something we will take up in the forthcoming hearings.

Land-based impacts Not Considered to be part of the project

  1. Closure and re-location of the Melbourne Wholesale Markets
  2. Dynon Port Rail Link
  3. Plummer Street bypass in Port Melbourne
  4. Major truck traffic problems in residential streets (Yarraville, Footscray) set to increase even further
Listed above are four major infrastructure projects and one major social impact directly connected with the Channel Deepening Proposal.  They fall outside the “terms of reference”, which effectively gives no concerned persons the right to raise them as matters of concern, let alone have a full and frank discussion of their relevance. We raise them here, nonetheless, in the climate of transparency and community consultation which the State government prides itself upon and which the PoMC touts at every opportunity as being their own professed values.
  • Truck traffic: Since the Port has predicted trade will quadruple over the life of this project, it may be assumed that truck traffic will also increase by a similar factor. For the residents of inner western suburbs, particularly Yarraville and Footscray, this is of MAJOR concern, as other submissions will testify.
  • The Plummer Street Bypass4 will conveniently allay the concerns of residents of Williamstown Rd Port Melbourne, as much of the port traffic will be diverted. it is a happy coincidence that these works, estimated to cost $19.2 million, will be completed at a time suited to dampening resident opposition. The work is clearly related to port expansion, yet these costs will not be presented as such.
  • Melbourne Wholesale Markets: We wonder why, as recently as March 2007 it was necessary for the Department of Primary Industries to commission a report entitled “Melbourne Market Relocation Project: The Case for Change.”  The proposed closure and relocation of the Markets to Epping has met with opposition on the part of many traders. However, it is portrayed in glowing terms as essential for the Markets and for the future growth of the Victorian economy. Again, the estimated $420 million of set-up costs  is carefully not connected in any way to the subject of channel deepening and port expansion. Only on page 14 of the Brookie document do we hear that the Port of Melbourne has a stake in this. The humble claim, last on the listed advantages of the move, that moving the Markets “assists Port development” seems hardly adequate to convey the true significance of this move. And once more, we find none of this substantial cost listed as part of the PoMC’s expansion plans.

The conclusions to be drawn here are simple. Many extra works, no real information, let alone clarity, about their detail, many questions left unanswered, and major related projects hidden from proper scrutiny by the convenient method of declaring them to be outside the box open for debate.

  [1]  Main Report, Page 4-29
  [2]  Main Report, Page 4-7
  [3]  Main Report, Section 4.4, Page 4-28
  [4]  Media Release, Minister for Roads and Ports, 26 February, 2007

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