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Bastion Point 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.