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Breakwater fails the economic test – badly

In its second year of operation East Gippsland Shire Council’s predicted boating and economic boom created by the Bastion Point breakwater has failed to materialise. Mallacoota residents performed boat counts at the old ramp every day in 2010 and at the new development every day during 2016, and rather than the 306% increase to 7,000 launches predicted by Council, there has actually been a 3% decline. In 2010 we counted 2285 commercial and recreational boat launches, whereas in 2016 this declined by 62 to 2223 launches.

During the EES Inquiry, Council pushed the proposition that the breakwater would even out tourism in Mallacoota, and in doing so would help businesses over the low season. Whilst February and March 2016 experienced higher boating numbers than in 2010 with the old ramp, the numbers were lower over April to September and overall for the year.

According to Council’s econBoats Bastion 2010 and 2016omic study by the Buchan Consulting Group, the development was meant to have attracted 7,000 boats every year from its first year of operation (2015). When Council was seeking permission to build, they were very keen to promote the economic credentials of the project, as predicted by Buchan. They predicted that the 7,000 boats would lead to 21 full time jobs in Mallacoota and 6 in the region (this didn’t include dredging and maintenance staff). At the time, Buchan’s methodology was highly contested, as nobody, including Council staff could explain how they arrived at their figures.

With the 2016 boating numbers failing the Buchan predictions badly, and in fact going backwards, it is difficult to see how any of the predicted jobs have been created. It seems the EES Inquiry Panel got it pretty right though, when they said “The economic case for the project is very weak and likely to have a benefit cost ratio well below 1.”

It’s a poor start to a development that Council hyped as being a huge money spinner for Mallacoota.