Policy Statement: Point Peron
Point Peron is a beautiful part of our local coastal environment. My family and I live on its doorstep, and spend a good deal of time there. As a result, we are among the first to admit that parts of the Point would benefit from some TLC. The hardstands and shacks along the approach roads are not the most sightly examples one could hope for. That being said, both provide practical enjoyment for local families, and as such are valuable resources.
For years now (anywhere upwards of twenty), local boat owners have argued that there is a need for additional berths in the Rockingham area. With that in mind, back in 1993, a proposal was floated to build an offshore marina in Mangles Bay. That proposal was rejected by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), who found that it would adversely impact on the local sea grass.
In 2003, the Labor government of Geoff Gallop opened the door to a new proposal which would involve dredging a series of canals at Point Peron, and situating a marina inland. Local MLA Mark McGowan was a leading exponent of the project at that time, as can be seen in correspondence between his office and that of the Planning Minister, Alannah MacTiernan. This proposal, however, was met with a good deal of public concern, with activists giving voice to a range of issues, including:
• the need to rezone land that had been gifted to the State on the understanding
that it would not be used for residential or commercial purposes;
• the suggestion that a large number of houses would need to be built on the site
to fund the later stages which would provide canals and marina facilities;
• fears that the canals would not flush;
• concerns that work would adversely affect local wildlife, including the
little penguins, and a number of species of migratory birds;
• and worries that local rate payers would be left to foot the bill if any one of a
number of potential environmental disasters befell the project.
The potential environmental impact of a canal-based housing estate at Point Peron concerned me from the outset, but I was equally concerned by the moral questions that the proposal raised. The land transfer documents, through which the Federal Government passed the land in question into the care of the State of Western Australia were clear and unambiguous. Lawyers now say that those transfer documents are not legally binding, but I have always believed that the spirit in which the land was granted to future generations was morally binding on us all. I wasn't raised to make liars out of my grandparents or yours, nor would I wish to denigrate the memories of the some of the politicians who made our country and our state the great places they are, politicians like Sir Robert Menzies, who initiated the transfer, Sir David Brand, who signed it on behalf of future generations of Western Australians as yet unborn, and Sir John Gorton who adhered to the transfer's stipulations during successive administrations. Just as two wrongs don't make a right, two lawyers don't negate a moral imperative, and that is what I have always believed we face here - a moral choice to do right by our ancestors and our children. As a result, I have always opposed this proposal.
That is not to say that I take a negative stance. I see plenty of potential for jobs, for sustainable development, and for infrastructure.
I am also strongly supportive of the campaign to establish a Coastal Marine Park at Point Peron, complete with planned walkways, a visitor / education centre, and a coastal museum. Research has shown that environmental tourism is a boom industry, and I would love to see Rockingham climb aboard. The creation of the Park has the potential to boost local employment, and the Park itself would then employ a number of staff into the future. It would provide a local education resource for our schools, a source of tourist investment for our area, and a beautiful haven on our coastline for future generations to enjoy.
For me, it's a no brainer:
• Boating facilities at Wanliss Street
• A Coastal Park on Grade A Reserve land at Point Peron
• Jobs on both sites
• Money from both flowing into our local community
• And a wonderful recourse for our kids, in keeping with original plans for the area
Those are the outcomes I'll be pressing for if elected, and I would urge you to ask any other candidate you are considering voting for where he or she stands on these important points.
I am strongly in favour of the Port Rockingham Marina proposal, which will see 500 berths build adjacent to the City's foreshore. That marina, unlike its canal-based competitor, will feed into existing businesses, and assist the City in its long term development plan. It will provide much needed boating facilities, construction jobs in the short term, and permanent jobs once the marina is up and running. It will also have as close to a neutral environmental impact as it is possible to have, with minimal disruption to sea grass in the area, and almost no impact on local wildlife. The original EPA report on the project was very encouraging in these regards. Unfortunately, work was delayed, and it was believed that some environmental permissions had lapsed. I am pleased to say, however, that the EPA recommended a two year extension to these deadlines back in September, and that it is now hoped that work will commence on the marina within the next twelve to eighteen months.