Western Port ecosystem more important than plans to expand Port of Hastings

The Greens have rejected the government's proposal to abolish the Port of Hastings Corporation and incorporate it into the Port of Melbourne Corporation, under the Ports Integration bill in state parliament this week.

Sue Pennicuik, Greens spokesperson for Ports said. "The Greens have grave concerns about the impact of a larger Port of Hastings on the local environment and on Western Port Bay, which is a Ramsar-listed wetland."

"This is the Year of Biodiversity and our wetlands are havens for biodiversity - we should be protecting and enhancing them. We have already lost too much," she said. "Western Port Bay is a haven for the thousands of water birds that visit it from all around the world every year and a unique tidal mud flat ecosystem that is very precious to Victorians."

"While the Coalition also rejected the Ports Integration Bill, they and the government want to see the Port of Hastings develop full steam ahead into a significant container port," she said. "This is the wrong way to go, we should be looking first at preserving and enhancing the integrity of Western Port for future generations."

"The health and long-term integrity of Western Port is paramount. Any development at Hastings needs to fit in with the long term needs of the ecosystem, not the usual approach of dreaming up a massive development proposal and then trying to 'manage' the environmental damage," she said.

"Western Port has already suffered much damage, in terms of pollution and loss of sea grass and mangroves, due to Port and other activities on its shores," she said. "This level of damage cannot continue into the future and that is the threshold issue that needs to be addressed before any Port expansion plans are entertained."

"The inconvenient truth is most likely that the Port of Hastings should be down scaled, not expanded, in order to preserve the Western Port ecosystem for future generations."

For further comment: Sue Pennicuik – 9530 8399

Amanda Sharp Office of Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik Southern Metropolitan Region

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