MAY 2007

Chapter 11


In the 1980s government made a deliberate decision to scale down further deepening of The Rip, and to restrict transits of The Rip by deep draught vessels to the higher part of the tidal cycle. Melbourne is now faced however with a proposal that would reverse that - and which relies purely on arguments surrounding the purported need for larger container vessels carrying larger volumes of cargo to enter the Port of Melbourne.

This contradictory logic is made all the more confusing when juxtaposed with the world's now quite specific knowledge about future global warming, sea level rise and coastal erosion, and our own state government’s stated commitment to fighting the effects of global warming on the “front foot”.

More regular and intense winds will likely contribute to further coastal erosion around the Bay. It is also of note that predicted sea level rise for one decade approximates the predicted increase in tide height (not including sea level rise) which the Bracks government’s channel deepening proposal will deliberately impose on the region during a 26 week program of rock removal at The Rip.

Rather than proactive management by government we can only see that the unpleasant, costly and threatening effects of global warming have been moved forward for Melburnians by ten years.

The EES and then the SEES specifically excluded land based impacts from its parameters. This severely limits the effectiveness of the Environmental assessments of being capable of assessing the reality of the situation. Of course there will be land based impacts - and of course they should be assessed. The negative impacts of more congestion in portside suburbs, as more and more goods are disgorged in the centre of the city must be considered as a direct and largely avoidable impact of this proposal. The likely effects of beachside pollution and risks to human health from the released toxins are ignored or discounted.

As with the EES, there are still data gaps and there are still knowledge gaps.  There are still species in the Bay we know very little about and how they might be affected by the assorted and cumulative effects from the dredging and rock removal processes – and for how long they may be affected. It is still the case that many animals will die as a result of this project - perhaps even some humans.

 We cannot be assured that irreparable damage to Port Phillip Bay will not be the result of a flawed EES and SEES process, and inadequate risk management.  Whilst ever the economic justifications for the project have been commissioned and refined by the Corporation who stands to benefit from the project, and whilstever government provides its support for the project without an objective analysis of the data the channel deepening project will remain a deeply flawed and compromised proposal in the eyes of the Victorian community.

If a proposal to excavate up to 26 million cubic metres of spoil from the land was being assessed today, developers would by law be required to find “off sets”. This requirement should also apply to any damage to our seabed, also a precious publicly owned asset. No such parallel exists. If it did, this proposal would not be able to provide such an off set because of its massive proportions – and the beneficiaries would likely not be interested in paying their way.

The precautionary principle must apply where anything threatens serious or irreparable environmental damage.  Lack of full scientific certainty, as we have so amply seen in this SEES, should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to protect environmental degradation.

We are gambling with our greatest asset – the natural world - merely so we can satisfy a business plan of a Corporation and move some more containers through the Port of Melbourne.

It’s time for a re-think

The Blue Wedges Coalition wishes to be heard on this matter

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Warfe

Blue Wedges Coalition
PO Box 162
VIC 3936

7th May 2007

Previous page: Chapter 10
Next page: View Other Submissions