Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Garrett Should Reject Channel Deepening in the Bay

Federal Evironment Minister, Peter Garrett, is set to decide on channel deepening in Victoria's Port Phillip Bay this Thursday 20 December. I recently received an email urging people to write to Garrett on the issue, so I did. Here is my my open letter to the minister:
Dear Peter,

I urge you to reject channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay when you make your decision this Thursday 20 December. I urge this decision for two main reasons. The first is the uncertainty as to the environmental impact in terms of the marine ecology ? due both to the removal of rocks at Port Phillip Heads, but also to the disturbance of toxic sediment that will likely damage the health of the Bay in unanticipated ways. If the deepening goes ahead and these risks are realised, there is no prospect of successful remediation that will return the Bay to its current state within the foreseeable future. Like the felling of a tree in an old-growth forest, once the damage is done, it is irreversible ? it would be, in the words of Cormac McCarthy's recent novel, The Road, 'a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again'.

The second main reason for rejecting Bay deepening is that the channel is proposed to be deepened primarily to allow the entry of larger cargo ships, providing for the substantial growth of shipping traffic through the Port of Melbourne. This will necessarily impact on Australia's efforts to prevent dangerous climate change both in terms of the emissions of the shipping itself, and in terms of the promotion of increased consumption and its related carbon emissions.

I have seen nothing from the Victorian State Government connecting and reconciling the issues of channel deepening and climate change. Surely, given our recent participation in the UN climate change talks in Bali, Australia should be showing more than rhetorical leadership in this global emergency. Will the report of Professor Garnaut examine planned increases to shipping levels? If this is not part of the Rudd Government's considerations, on what basis has it been excluded?

In conclusion, I urge you to reject the channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay, and thereby to make a stand for the environment, and for the Australian people in their hope for climate change leadership following the election of the Rudd Government.

Yours sincerely etc.

If you oppose channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay, please write to Peter Garrett as soon as possible before tomorrow's decision.

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