HERE we go again! That’s what locals are saying. It seems such a short time ago (2010), since a service case was compiled for a vehicle ferry, the community consulted and the plan rejected by the council of the day.
Just eight years later we’re again talking about a car ferry from Stony Point to Cowes, with a draft business case released for comment last month.
The Phillip Island Conservation Society (PICS) will hold a public meeting in Cowes on Saturday, entitled Ferry Facts and Fantasies.
PICS was formed 50 years ago when a marina was proposed for the environmentally sensitive Rhyll Inlet. Since that time the society has continued to have a voice in any discussion and decision-making about actions or proposals that are a potential threat or could compromise the integrity and future of the Island’s unique natural assets, including Western Port.
In 1967, then Victorian Premier Henry Bolte proposed his grand vision for French Island, which included an international airport, an aluminium smelter, factories, toxic waste plant, housing for 3000 people and Australia's first nuclear power station.
Since then, Phillip Islanders have defended “their bay” against a container port, a ferry terminal, a marina, a canal development, an oil refinery.
Saturday’s meeting on the vehicle ferry will include speakers for and against and time for questions. Confirmed speakers are PICS vice-president Jeff Nottle, Cr Michael Whelan, the chairman of Destination Phillip Island, John Pandazopoulos, and Kate McKenzie from Save Our Beach (SOB). A member of the Earthcheck project team, which worked on the ferry business case, has indicated he will attend.
Usually after PICS public meetings on significant Island proposals a working group is formed. Attendees are invited to consider becoming a member of a group that will enable decisions about lobbying, information gathering, actions, etc.
PICS’ most recent working group, the Preserve Western Port Group, was formed to campaign against a proposed Hastings container port. Its leadership and strong lobbying contributed to the recommendation by Infrastructure Victoria that Western Port should not be the site for Victoria’s second major port.
The public meeting on the ferry proposal will be held at St Philip’s Parish Hall, Thompson Avenue Cowes (opposite the Cultural Centre) at 7.30pm on Saturday March 10.
Come along. There is a lot to talk about.
Anne Davie is president of the Phillip Island Conservation Society.