Tag: shipping

How the Victoria University report misled the public about Port of Hastings

How the Victoria University report misled the public about Port of Hastings

By Brad Lemon

There was a report released by Victoria University recently called 'Build it and they will come?'. The study was conducted under a predefined set of rules, which should have been a clue to everyone that it couldn't be taken seriously. I can only assume that the people who promoted the report as fact either didn't read it carefully, or were motivated to publish a rather sensational story to sell papers.

At the beginning of the report, the good people from Victoria University clearly tell the reader that the way the report was produced was by using the 'pre-mortem analysis' technique. "The pre-mortem technique involves imagining that the project has failed, and inventing a story to explain why..." !!

Here's a screen capture from the report:

Indeed, the authors "encourage your participation in the process".

In other words, they'd like you to help them imagine reasons why the Port of Hastings might fail, and develop scenarios to explain the imagined failure. And we do have vivid imaginations!

I don't think it's right that people use a report of this nature to mislead the public and cause panic that our roads will be congested and ships won't come. If you give the subject just a few minute's thought, the logistics of Melbourne's container traffic are simple and clear:
  • Containers (to carry goods) were invented just after World War 2. Somewhere had to be found to store the containers associated with the Port of Melbourne, and the then empty land to the west of Melbourne was chosen as the most convenient spot. Back then, there was little population in the southeast suburbs.
  • The majority of manufacturing is now done in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne in places like Dandenong. Some container traffic also heads to Gippsland.
  • The Port of Melbourne is being upgraded and will continue to receive and dispatch container traffic into the future to service the north and west of Melbourne.
  • The Port of Hastings will actually help remove congestion from Melbourne's roads, not add to it.
  • Victoria's two Stevedore companies have confirmed (by phone) that they would like to send the larger, more efficient container ships to Hastings now! I encourage you to make your own inquiries.
Long term planning:

The Port of Hastings was planned by Sir Henry Bolte's government in the 1960's. Studies were conducted in the 1970's to ascertain its suitability as a port, and the land was zoned 'Port Related Industry', and has been ever since. We are spoiled with a large area in Hastings which hasn't been overrun with residential buildings and has been reserved for the expansion of the port. The Port of Hastings has been studied and planned for a long time.

I believe this is a case of public opinion being deliberately manipulated by forces unknown. The Victoria University study should be taken at face value - that is: a fictitious story where we all try to imagine that the Port of Hastings has failed, and why that might be. The commentators who reported information contained in the imaginary scenarios appear to have deliberately misled the public, and I can't imagine why that might be. Politics?

Why I believe in the expansion of Port of Hastings

As an environmental activist, you'd think I'd be against the proposal to build a container port at Hastings, but I'm actually all for it. This is my future, and the future for our kids.

It can't be argued that Melbourne needs to build another port in order to stay competitive in a key part of the state's economy; goods trade. This trade drives tens of thousands of jobs, and keeps our economy alive. The basic problem is that Melbourne is a growing city (half a million in last two years), and our sheer population is a challenge. While it would be ideal to preserve every inch of our native environment, we have to make room for basic infrastructure. Sir Henry Bolte planned the Port of Hastings way back in the 1960's. The Ramsar wetland was extensively studied in the 1970's to assess its suitability to host a port. And studies have been ongoing.

We can put a container port at Hastings with very little environmental disturbance, compared with any plan to try to get the next generation of container ships through Port Phillip Heads. The wetland will tolerate the minimal movement of the sediment required to create the berthing areas and swing basin. Ships won't discharge ballast into Western Port Bay, and there will be no coal, bitumen or urea plants associated with the port.

The Port of Hastings expansion is very important to the prosperity of the Mornington Peninsula. Thousands of jobs will be created, in all areas of our local economy. Local business and even mum & dad companies will benefit. The shops that are now standing empty in Hastings will fill. Infrastructure like public transport and telecommunications will improve.

We can't escape the fact that we need a port to cope with Victoria's container goods. If we don't embrace the Port of Hastings, other communities will gladly take this opportunity to give their district a future.

We as a community must now take up the environmental challenge, and ensure that the port being built at Hastings meets the highest environmental standards, and protects the wildlife we adore.

No matter which party wins government, please ensure that Hastings is the site for our container port, as has been planned all along. The future of Victoria depends on it.

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