Friday, 27 March 2009

Hansard 2009-03-11 Barwon Heads Bridge Amendment

Preceding the following debate in Parliament, there had been community opposition to a Vic Roads proposal to build two bridges at Barwon Heads instead of replacing the existing bridge with a single bridge.
On 11th March 2009 Ms Colleen Hartland MLC for Western Metropolitan Region moved the following motion:
"That amendment C118 to the Greater Geelong planning scheme be revoked".
Mr Kavanagh's comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Date: 11 March 2009
Page: 1376

Page 1376

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The Barwon Heads bridge definitely needs to be replaced or radically rebuilt.

Two or three weeks ago I inspected the bridge quite carefully from underneath and found there were shards and lumps of rust that used to be big bolts. You only knew what they were because of the position they were in under the bridge. There were rough-hewn logs that looked more like they belonged to a 19th century bridge than even a 20th century one. Although there has been a lot of talk today about how beautiful the bridge is, a lot of the old wooden pylons have been replaced over decades in different styles. There is a hotchpotch of concrete blocks and concrete pipes as well as the wood that supports the bridge.

It seems quite clear to me from discussing the issue with locals, from looking at the petition of around 3500 people and from the very large number of people who attended a rally in January, and also from the decision last night by a large majority of the City of Greater Geelong, that the local community does not support the two-bridge option.

In terms of the merits of the case against the bridge, there is the possibility of damage to the spit through erosion caused by the construction of a second bridge. We do not know for sure because there has not been the environmental study on the area that we would expect, but we do know for certain that parts of the beach would in effect be lost. It would be small parts of the beach, but it is a very beautiful beach and something precious that we should be preserving if possible.

Considering the matter generally there seem to be contradictory principles involved. The first is that government should normally be left to decide issues such as this one. That principle, however, has been mitigated by the fact that the government has changed its mind. The option it is putting forward now was not the option that it put forward before the last election.

Furthermore the coalition has made it clear that the passage of this motion would be an exception rather than a general rule -- that this should be considered to be rare in the future.

More important than that principle, however, is the longstanding principle of my party, the Democratic Labor Party, that wherever possible local people should decide local issues. When you think about it, that is an important principle if we are going to have a genuine democracy, because it is only when local people decide things for themselves that a large number of people actually get what they want. The alternative is tyranny by the majority. Wherever practicable, a decision should be made at the lowest level, whether that is a state government, a local government or a local community, as in this case. As a representative of western Victoria, which includes Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, I feel obliged to respect the wishes of the local population.

Ms Tierney said people tell her to get on with it. We all want to do that, but the question is: what is 'it'? Is 'it' an infrastructure proposal that is environmentally dubious and contrary to the wishes of the local people, or is it something that is likely to be sounder from an environmental point of view and something that complies with what local people want?

I hope the government does get on with it soon and provide the bridge the local people want -- one that will not damage the beaches or the spit at Barwon Heads.

Page 1379

House divided on motion:

Page 1380

Ayes, 21
Kavanagh, Mr
Noes, 19

Motion agreed to.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

"La Cabine"
2nd Floor
1 Yarra Street
Geelong VIC 3220

Ph: 03 5222 1503
Fax: 03 5222 8677


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