Day 13 & 14
HOW DO I COUNT THE WAYS THAT CAN DESCRIBE WHAT AN AWFUL AWFUL PROCESS THIS IS
Danny is sorry to combine two days in the one report but Danny has to admit at being a bit overwhelmed by the last two days and is having trouble digesting all the raw heartache and emotion that has been on display as we work through the individual submissions; but unfortunately the vast majority were those affected by the power routes. Danny says ‘unfortunately’ not because their concerns and the impact on them is not substantial and heart wrenching, but because it could give the impression that the power route is the most important aspect of this project.
Danny would be interested to know how they [the Panel administrators] decided on the list of individual submitters to speak at the limited hearing time as there certainly appears to be a heavy bias toward the power issues. Having said that, it seems that all were directly affected by overhead poles/towers being on their specific land so they have to stand up for what’s theirs as we all know what happens when you don’t!
Now Danny feels bad saying this but where did they think the power was going to come from for the desal mega-factory that people in the Bass Coast had been screaming about for 12 months earlier? Perhaps it’s confirmation that many of us don’t engage in the issues unless we are directly affected - Danny equally guilty of this - so will now cease to throw stones.
Day 13 was still in San Remo and it had everything: frozen roadkill produced to show the Inquiry just what a Southern Brown Bandicoot looked like. As everyone tries to put a human face on the issue, this person tried to put the face of Nature - of animals - on display, since they don’t have a voice [at the EES] and people are trying to stand up for them and give them a voice. As one family said at the beginning of the day, how is it possible for us to tell our life story to the Inquiry in 10 minutes so they understand what it means to us? An impossible task - and that really set the tone for the rest of the day.
Many told of just how this process has consumed their lives (Danny understands where they are coming from!) and the stress is causing significant problems. A very elderly lady made the effort to come and put her case to the Inquiry to say how after four generations of farming their property, the overhead power lines would destroy it due to the way it crossed their land. (Danny not feeling very macho these days as he welled up yet again!)
They psychological impact of this entire project was emphasised by Alisa Dent imploring the Inquiry to fully understand how the natural environment is a defining and formative part of the Australian character and lifestyle. Will they get it? John Gemmill and the Bass Coast Boardriders tried to emphasise that simply saying “we’ll monitor it” was not good enough for the project proponents - surfers are not like canaries down the coalmine. Great to see his two young children present their own drawings to the Inquiry to show just how important this issue was to them.
Many other great presentations including Walter from Melbourne that tried to get them to do what his father used to say to him, “assemble the facts and the truth will emerge”.
Day 14 - Thursday 6th November was a very crowded day back at Pakenham since many people came to present their 10 minutes as well as support other presenters, and we were confined to a small room.
It was great to see that Neil Rankine tried yet again to show that the plant wasn’t needed and John Langford from Melbourne University even told the Parliamentary Inquiry into water supply recently that it should be scaled back and staged accordingly. Michael Beasley also tried to get them to listen to the bigger issues about climate change and marine impacts and implore them to protect their future. Were they listening? Who knows as I guess we will have to wait and see when the Inquiry report is given to the Minister on 4th December. Will we see it then? Highly unlikely as its then up to the Minister for Planning as to when he releases it and when he makes his recommendations to other authorities who will make the various decisions required for the plant.
We had theatre, singing and balloons today as everyone tries to get their point across and to get the Inquiry to actually hear what they are saying. Catherine Manning is standing up for her community affected by the substation and power route, however she took the time to say that her children would not thank this generation for putting in a polluting desal plant and “how will we explain it to them?”. (Danny discovered she is running for Council in Cardinia and almost wished she would move into Bass Coast!)
Many again said that the visual assessments and mitigation methods of simply planting some trees were an insult so I think it’s official. Everyone from Tynong to Wonthaggi thinks this is a crock of the proverbial! A few great quotes from the day:
And as Bob Middleton reminded us all of Ernest Callenbach’s quote in Maude Barlow’s recent book Blue Covenant:
The Laws of Ecology
All things are interconnected.
Everything goes somewhere.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Nature bats last.
Never were these words more appropriate that this project.
Well we’ve nearly reached the end of the hearings - tomorrow Friday Day 15 - where the EPA speaks for one hour and the Government’s lawyers speaking for about 4 hours!
Oh the misery of it all.
Danny over and out for tonight but will have a very long one for you to summarise what new ….. the Government has to say.