Here you will find unpublished letters that were sent to the Editors of metropolitan and local papers.

If you have sent a letter to a newspaper and would like to contribute it to this page please send to:


Sent to The Age 24th April 2007

Dear Editor

The ban on cross-examination of witnesses regarding channel-deepening (23/4) is yet another aspect of the charade we are being put through in order to achieve a pre-determined outcome.

This reckless attempt to manipulate the very truth exposes us all to a grave risk of irretrievable damage. Not only to the ecology of life in the Bay, but also to both the economy and the democracy of life around it.

Colin, St Kilda 3182. (Colin also sent a copy to Premer Bracks, Minister Thwaites, Ted Baillieu and local labor member Michael Danby)


Sent to The Age 16th April 2007

Bring back Smith for Bay panel

Those of us who sat through the 3 month Independent Planning Panel’s inquiry into the Environmental Effects Statement on deepening the Port Phillip Bay and Yarra River shipping channels developed great respect for the chair, Rynd Smith, and his panel of experts, who then went on to courageously report the shortcomings and risks to the Bay’s ecology of this extravagant, ill-conceived project (Age, 16/4). For none of them to have been reappointed demonstrates this Government’s determination to push this project through, at the expense of the environment and of the vast mass of commercial and recreational bay users.

This sounds like a repeat of the original appointment of US consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff to undertake the EES over CSIRO, which undertook the landmark $12 million Port Phillip Bay Study in the mid 1990s. The CSIRO study recommended scallop-dredging be stopped in the Bay – it was unlikely to tick off the massively more destructive channel deepening.

Fortunately, the CSIRO study director, Dr Graham Harris, has been employed by the Association of Bayside Municipalities to critique the first and now the supplementary EES and his evidence was heeded by Mr. Smith’s panel.

To restore credibility, Mr. Smith’s team should be reappointed to the S-EES panel.

Jenny, Dromana

Sent to The Age 11th April 2007

How did Ken Davidson manage to write about transport in Melbourne without mentioning freight. There are nearly 2 million containers being moved from the Port now with predictions of over 7 million by 2035. The Bureau of Transport and Economics are saying that 1 in 4 vehicles by 2020 will be freight related. Apples and oranges Ken, Vancouver might do similar freight volumes but the population is around 600,000. It can be a freight hub but cities like Melbourne and Sydney can't do the same without investing billions in supporting infrastructure like tollways and tunnels. Melbourne and Sydney's liveability depends on adopting a national approach to distribution. Brisbane, Darwin and Parkes should become Australia's major distribution hubs and allow Melbourne and Sydney to 'decongest'.

Lynda La Perouse NSW

Sent to The Age, 9th April 2007

It was salutary to see Tracee Hutchinson spelling out the risks posed by deepening the Port Phillip Bay and Yarra shipping channels, (Murky reasons for stirring up the Bay, Opinion, 7/4) while on the same page Ted Trainor mounted a convincing argument that sustainability and social justice require us to consume less.

So why do we persist with this nonsense? Why has our Government allowed $100 million to be spent on further research to convince us that the inevitable risks of channel-deepening can be acceptably managed, when we already need to cut back on our imports for reasons of financial as well as environmental sustainability?

The only reason that makes sense is if the Government is prepared to sacrifice the long-term interests of the environment and environmentalists, fishermen, dive and tourism operators and ordinary beachgoers, who love and value the Bay, to the short-term profits of the largely international shipping industry and its clients.

Jill, Glen Iris.


Sent to The Age 6th April 2007

I have been following the Port Phillip Bay dredging proposal (Editorial 6/4/07)and the Port Botany expansion for a few years now. Both of these mega projects are based on growth in imports at a rate around ten times the population growth of Melbourne and Sydney. No one mentions that Brisbane and Darwin are better placed to take on this growth let alone questions the underlying assumptions. Can we really afford the additional international debt, the huge cost of the projects, the cost of the supporting rail and road infrastructure and the associated congestion costs in our two largest cities? Shouldn't this money be diverted to supporting local manufacturers and farmers. It's 2007, post-Stern Report, and it's about time we examined the carbon emissions associated with transport and distribution and the carbon embedded in the goods we import.

Lynda, La Perouse NSW

Sent to The Herald Sun 4th April 2007

Is the Victorian public aware the Port Of Melbourne Corporation's project to deepen the channel will also bring more trucks to Melbourne, and in particular, to our city roads? The project forecasts that truck numbers on major city roads are expected to double in the next ten years and quadruple by 2030, with double B trucks being replaced by road trains to move massive shipping containers through town.

While congestion and safety on our roads is a major concern already, especially in the wake of the tunnel accident, the PoMC's channel deepening project will have greater impacts than just on the bay! Be alarmed Melburnians!

Pam, Bentleigh

Sent to The Age 21st March 2007

Dear Editor

This day may be remembered as the day when it began to become apparent to most people that the protesters against the Grand Prix were right.

Will it also be the day when the government and opposition confirm their intention to ignore the arguments of the protesters against channel-deepening?

Colin, St. Kilda.


Sent to The Age and Herald-Sun Friday 1st June 2007


Whales off Dromana?

Unheard of, you say.

Think again, tune your TV.

It’s true. Now! Today!


But what of tomorrow

And years after that?

If they deepen the channels

Your hopes could fall flat.


The risks are tremendous

The benefits few –

For a few paltry dollars

You’d forsake such a view??


Did they visit Dromana

To thank and salute

Those many clear-thinkers

Who remain in pursuit


Of short-sighted planners

And political spin?

Think fast, friends, in case

You’re committing a sin.


Not a sin for absolving;

Irreversible, this.

So, for God’s sake, and whales’ sake

Let’s give CD a miss.


Concerned citizen against CD

(Channel Deepening in Port Phillip Bay)

Patsy, Elwood


Sent to The Age 23rd December 2007

Let’s drop the spin being dispensed by the Port of Melbourne Corporation’s PR company. 

Yes, the initial project might have an end date of 2009. No, that’s not the end of it. Regular maintenance dredging will then start, the costs or impacts of which have not been assessed.

Yes PoMC has assessed potential toxicity levels in seafood. No it only tested 3 fish species, and underestimated shellfish contamination and risks to pregnant women, the elderly and children. 

Yes PoMC says toxic sediment human health risks are minor. No, because to the PoMC “minor” means 100 people becoming ill and 10 developing cancer.

Yes the dredging contract might include financial penalties if the project was delayed. No, we cannot confirm this as PoMC will not reveal the terms of that contract.

Yes, PoMC’s PR machine claims around thirty percent of container ships cannot load to capacity. No, PoMC’s own data confirms less than two percent actually needed extra depth to enter or leave the Bay.

Yes, PoMC is the busiest container port. No it not under threat. Treasury commisioned PriceWaterhouse Coopers study predicts a quadrupling of trade by 2035 regardless of whether channels are deepened.

Yes, dredging equipment begins to arrive on 8th January. No, PoMC did not even pay the Federal Court the courtesy of waiting for its decision.

Yes our export markets should be protected. No they are not under threat. Forty per cent of containers leaving Melbourne are empty.  

Yes our exporters are worried. No not because they need deeper water, but because they face higher costs to pay for a project they do not need.

 Yes it’s time to tell PoMC their pet project is just not necessary.  

Barry Robinson



 The Age has not corrected this error to our knowledge- BW Editor

Dear Editor/Edwina,


Wrong wrong! Your article quotes $1.7 billion benefits per annum from the proposed Channel Deepening. Even the PoMC admits that figure is for the entire life of the project – to 2035. So that’s more like $70 million benefits annually – No wonder all bay businesses and bay lovers are appalled at Minister Garrett’s decision and our state government’s ceaseless promotion of this costly, risky project which could poison us and our Bay.

Please correct your error.

Jenny - Dromana 


Sent to The Age Editor 11 January 2008 - not published

Plastic bags vs dredging

Peter Garrett is getting steamed up about plastic bags (The Age 10/1) but seems quite happy to allow the Port of Melbourne Corporation to construct a huge toxic dump in Port Phillip Bay.

On the day of the Blue Wedges Coalition’s Federal Court challenge to Mr. Garrett’s approval of the Channel Deepening Project, which now includes a 5 sq. kms underwater toxic dump, we were amazed to hear the Minister announce he is so terribly concerned about the state of our waterways that he will ban plastic bags.

We commend reducing plastic bag pollution of our waterways, but Mr. Garrett would have been better off taking a closer look at what the Channel Deepening Project NOW entails compared with when it was referred to the Commonwealth in 2002. Then, the referral described a project of one tenth the scale, with no mention of millions of tonnes of toxic spoil.

At Court this week, Mr. Garrett’s Counsel Peter Hanks argued that 2006 amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act allowed the project to change its scale, location and content but still be the same project! That’s like your neighbours getting approval for a one-storey home next door, but building a ten-storey block of flats complete with its own toxic rubbish dump instead.

The EPBC Act is our means of meeting national and international environmental obligations. If the Court agrees with Mr Hanks’s interpretation, PoMC and their dredging partners, Royal Boskalis will be allowed to turn Port Philip Bay into a quarry in the south and a toxic dump in the north – a $1 billion irreversible legacy of destruction.

We can remove plastic bags from the Bay with some effort but there is no way we can repair the Bay once poisoned from dumping 4 million tonnes of toxic sludge in it.  

 Jenny - Dromana


 The Age unpublished week of 7th January 

Channel Deepening Threatens Bayside Suburbs 
Residents around Port Phillip Bay should be alert and alarmed on hearing Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett admit that channel deepening will not only pollute beaches but will cause a permanent rise in the Bay's high tides.
Bayside communities are, for the most part, presently afforded protection from the greater tidal range of Bass Strait (about three times greater than inside Port Phillip) by its narrow entrance and the geographical feature of the Nepean Bank. Last year our organisation asked the State Government about the flow-on effect of damage to The Entrance by dredging in terms of tidal heights, sea level rise, coastal erosion and sand movement in and around the Bay but did not receive a reply.    

The consequences of damage to The Entrance may only be realized during an extreme tidal event or storm surge.  This may prove disastrous for low lying communities, such as at Point Cook and on the Mornington Peninsula.  Developers are now building residences closer to the water level than in the past. In addition we now know that, with the onset of global warming, sea levels will rise at least a meter in the next 50 years.

 We find it untenable that channel deepening should proceed, given the doubts expressed about effects of damage to The Entrance and the consequent likely danger to the environment and Bay side resident communities. Shame on Peter Garrett for destroying our Bay!

 Julianne Bell

Secretary, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.

The Age unpublished, sent 4th April 2008

With the failure of Blue Wedges Federal Court action, the dredging of the Heads is now starting. Also starting this month is the levy on all containers going through the Port of Melbourne to pay for this work. Costs to importers and exporters is $819 million (after deducting the $150 million being paid by the Victorian taxpayer). According to the Port of Melbourne Corporation's website, benefits of $1100 million will flow to importers and exporters, in reduced freight rates as a result of allowing larger, more efficient ships into the Bay. But these benefits won't start until 2017, and will take until 2035 to be fully realised. One doesn't need to be an economist to see that the cost/benefit to importers and exporters - supposedly the main beneficiaries of the channel deepening project - is marginal, and depending upon what discount rate is used, could be negative - ie it will cost more than it yields in freight savings.

Also starting is the investigation by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration into the business case for the project. With PoMC's CEO Stephen Bradford's admission this week (The Age Business Day, 31/3) that growth forecasts in trade through the port for 2008-09 could be revised down from 6% to 3-4%, this analysis using the latest available figures is urgent and essential, as the project is looking more unviable every day. The work now starting at the Heads is irreversible. Rock removed cannot be put back, and tidal changes will alter the landscape of the Bay forever. Dredging should be suspended until the Standing Commitee's review is complete and the case for dredging proved beyond doubt.


Williamstown Vic Australia 


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