Special Report from Jenny Warfe from the BlueWedges coalition on the Port of Hastings plans – a central plank of the hidden reasons for the East-West truckway – to push freight through the inner northern suburbs.
I went to the Westernport Catchment Committee meeting yesterday 18th October 2013 to hear the PoHDA CEO Mike Lean’s presentation about the proposed Hastings Port expansion. Some of his memorable (predictable ) statements included, according to my notes:
• There are no other options
• Construction phase 2018-2025
• Will serve Victoria’s trade for the next 70,80 to 100 years
• It is fundamental as a gateway for the State
• Australians overwhelmingly want their children to have jobs
• Westernport highway would be upgraded to 6 lanes with dual train track in centre
• Project would also require the metro train tunnel to be built to allow for better movement of passenger trains on the Dandenong line, freeing up space for freight trains
• Shipping lines are now moving to wider container ships and steaming slower [so much for the PoMC’s Channel Deepening rationale that the Heads must be deepened because container ships would always be getting deeper and it was uneconomic for ships to wait for tide assistance]
• Container trade is growing at 5-7% compounding annually
• Planning for a minimum of 9 million containers per annum by 2060, ramping up from 2025
• Victoria is growing at 1500 people per week [it is actually 100,000 per annum at present, 60% of which is elective immigration]
• We are many years from having an outcome in the business case
• Compared with any other Australian port, Hastings has the largest amount of port related zoned land close to a port
• If you put it in a container we will move it
• Aiming for maximum automation at the port, so that flood lighting at night is not required, so that birds won’t be disturbed – might only be a few dozen people on site [so much for jobs then.]
• There will be positive impacts as well
Clearly the plan is predicated on a business as usual scenario, reliant on a doubling of the state’s population and a quadrupling of trade by mid-century and of course abundant fossil fuels to power the juggernaut.
When asked, Mr. Lean denied any knowledge of coal export through Hastings as part of the business case- although acknowledged that he had “read something about it recently.”
There was quite a bit of concern expressed in questions from the meeting and amazement at the numbers of containers, ships, trucks and trains that his “vision” would entail. …..And quite a bit of defensiveness in his replies- perhaps reverting to his former Army Lieutenant Colonel days. Prior to PoHDA, Mr. Lean was responsible for the Williamstown shipyard and the Maritime Business Unit at BAE Systems Australia working on the Air Warfare Destroyer and Landing Helicopter Dock projects.