Government and Port of Melbourne should stop secrecy and release all information about channel deepening
Media reports yesterday that the government has received two 'confidential' reports that link channel deepening to coastal erosion in the south of Port Phillip Bay and the loss of Portsea front beach are no surprise to locals or others who have been watching the changes in the south of the Bay since the channel deepening project ended, Sue Pennicuik, Greens MP for Southern Metropolitan Region said today.
“Why are these reports confidential?” Ms Pennicuik asked. “Information about the state of Port Phillip Bay belongs to the public, not to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) or to the Port of Melbourne,” she said.
The Port has refused to release the full range of data it has collected on the changed bathymetry in the Bay since channel deepening.
“I have asked for this information through the parliament and through Freedom of Information (FOI) and have not been given access to the range of meaningful data that would allow the parliament and the public to see just what has happened and is happening in the Bay and how much more water is entering and leaving on each tide.
Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister for Planning, Mr Guy. As Mr Guy knows, the previous government set up the Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee under section 151. It has been determined that the committee gave to the minister a 216-page final report in his Christmas stocking on 24 December last year.
I have been refused access to this document under FOI.
Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister for Planning, Mr Guy. The minister recently intervened to introduce new planning controls in the Narrawong area. There are now a number of applications for dwellings coming in under those controls -- nine so far. Some of those applications are certainly small in scale and seem to represent elements of demountable, movable buildings; however, six of them -- from the one applicant on six titles -- are for rather large dwellings on concrete slabs, seemingly not cognisant of the fact that this is an area vulnerable to sea level rise. The planned dwellings are not in the area expected to be affected between now and 2030; they are all in the area where sea level rise and erosion is expected between 2030 and 2070. Will the minister personally sign off on these applications, or will they be handled by some junior public servant under delegation out there in the region?
A state government inquiry and report, recommending new planning rules to deal with sea level rises has stalled, according to the Greens. In question time, the Planning Minister admitted he has not seen the report, initiated by the previous government and due in December last year.
Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister for Planning. The minister's predecessor ticked off a group of people under section 151 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to look at a Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee, which was to develop recommendations for changes to the higher level -- that is, the Victorian planning provisions of the planning scheme. It was to report by December last year. I ask: can the minister tell me if the committee has reported to him, and if so, will the report be released soon?
Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- I will summarise and 'kernelise' the arguments that have been put forward so far. Mr Tee argued that local communities have the right to decide, and Mr O'Brien argued that what should override that would be the necessity to bring to a resolution or to create finality in the decision for this area. It will not surprise you to know that I think they both got it wrong. They would have done better if they had spent their time simply looking at the controls that are being implemented and discussing the merits or otherwise of those.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Last week I attended the Australian Coastal Councils Conference, Speaking Out for Coastal Regions, which was organised by the Australian Coastal Council and the National Sea Change Taskforce.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- An article at www.dredgingtoday.com has come to my attention. I found it very interesting. The website states:
Environment has always been a 'hot' topic for the dredging industry, but when the debate around climate change started to heat up several years ago the dredging industry was in the forefront and ready to act.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change. The 2004 EES (environment effects statement) hearing into the channel-deepening project heard that enlarging the entrance would allow approximately 20 million cubic metres extra water to flow in and out of the bay on every tide, and tide height would increase by approximately 1 centimetre.
Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- I move:
That amendment C118 to the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme be revoked.