RECENTLY, two questions have been put to the government by the Sustainable Australia Party about the future of Western Port. These can be read in Some have heard the call and Winter recess – a time to gather our thoughts.
The first question received a ministerial reply that did not answer the question. The supplementary question is awaiting a reply and this could take up to three months.
I imagine the second reply will be much the same as the first, and I hark back to the way successive governments over the last 50 years or so have treated Western Port and its hinterland: somewhere to park a ship or two; industrialise its foreshore; and dig up its sand deposits.
When challenged over such matters, governments fall back to their tried and tested defence of how they value Western Port’s Ramsar wetland and will do all they can to protect it. While this may be so, I believe it’s their way of negating any peaceful and negotiated move by the people to protect the Western Port region.
“Why is it so?” (as the late Professor Julius Sumner Miller would ask) is the burning question, and I think I know the answer: State governments are besotted by Port Phillip Bay and the need to preserve it, no matter the cost, simply to shore up their electoral base.
By comparison, in terms of important parliamentary seats, the Western Port region is low in the pecking order and a seat or two one way or the other doesn’t make much difference when it comes to occupying the government benches – so why worry?
It would seem, then, that until the major parties realise that hiding behind the ‘Ramsar defence’ will ultimately degrade the Western Port region, the people will have to keep fighting and take a united stand to preserve what’s left of Western Port to hand on to future generations. Politicians may not be worried, but the people are.
For example, Monday June 21, 2021, will go down in history as the day Western Port stalwarts came together to discuss its future.
Organised by Victorian National Parks Association and supported by Environment Victoria, representatives of some key groups who have defended Western Port against the never-ending corporate raiders, spoke, via Zoom, about their vision for and the options to ensure Western Port and its region remains an environmental sanctuary for all: flora, fauna and people.
This new group will meet again. They will invite other stakeholders, including the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and shire councillors, to join them in the next round of collaborative discussions.
While Monday may have been the shortest day in the year, MPs take note this group has in its ranks people who have battled on for the last 25 years or so to preserve Western Port.
They have landed and, if needs be, are ready for the Longest Day.