The Australian Coastal Society has made a strong statement that the Bastion Point breakwater and over-beach road will damage the regional economy. See their Media Release, and also the Campaign Media Release on the latest economic aspects of the development.
Candidate positions revealed in the Mallacoota Mouth, and in the Bairnsdale Advertiser, show grass roots candidates other than Independent MP Craig Ingram are not very supportive of the ‘Option 3b’ breakwater plan. In the Mouth, Labor candidate Greg Cooke says “I believe the alternative option provided by ‘Save Bastion Group’ is a better option”, in spite of the Government’s committing financial support prior to environmental approval. Liberal candidate Sonia Buckley says she “will not be supporting the 3b proposal”, with the the Nationals Tim Bull pledging to “take a very good look at it”. The Coalition has said they will review the project as part of the necessary consents and approvals process.
Mr Ingram has again used the “Its just a boat ramp” line – which he had used at the Panel Inquiry hearings, and declared in the Bairnsdale Advertiser he was the only one of the candidates who had shown leadership on the issue.
After our Campaign brought to East Gippsland Shire Council’s attention the major mistakes in the Buchan Report on Bastion Point economics, the consultants have released a revised report. The consultants have corrected for the $2.8 million annual mistake, which has been labelled by Council as ‘an anomaly’. Read our Media Release on the revised Buchan report, and see the one page Economists at Large response and our 10 point summary of the where the revised Buchan report still doesn’t add up. According to the Council Media Release, Buchan reduced their calculated benefit cost ratio to 1.6 – this is a quarter of that previously advised as it falls from 6.4 to 1.6. It has now been confirmed that the original version of this report, which is so far out in is economic predictions, was used in Council’s grant applications for funding by Regional Development Victoria and Transport Safety Victoria. See the Bairnsdale Advertiser article, and letters. See also Bastion Funding Fails the Tests.
A fiery meeting in East Gippsland Shire Council on 9 November 2010 has exposed how fast-tracking of funding for the Bastion Point harbour development has papered over glaring errors in consultant reports and failed official funding tests. See the report in 12 Nov 2010 Bairnsdale Advertiser. See also our 15 Nov 2010 Media Release.
The Council debate also revealed that despite Council being alerted to an annual $2.8 million calculation mistake in the economic benefit analysis of the development by Buchan Consulting, Council staff had not informed the Minister of the error – which over the 20 year period the study examined, would amount to a $56 million overstatement of the gross benefits of the project.
The Director Development for the Council has waited over a month for a response from Buchan about the error – but has passed on the initial explanation that it is only a one line error and won’t affect the economic analysis. This is untrue on both counts, as the error stems from a table with many rows in error, and it is used integrally in the calculation of the benefit cost analysis of the project.
On the same day that Council officers were made aware of the error, Council applied for funding to Regional Development Victoria (RDV) without correcting the gross exaggeration of the economic benefits. Twelve business days later, Minister Pallas approved the funding. It is reported in ABC online that the funding announcement was made before environmental approval, to shore up Mr Ingram’s position as the local MP who can “get results”.
The election provides all political parties with the opportunity to commit to restoring due process so the community can reach a Win-Win solution, not the impending debacle that is Council’s Bastion Point harbour development.