The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has called out the lack of detail behind the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to select the Port of Hastings as the construction port for offshore windfarms ahead of Gippsland’s own Barry Beach.
Mr O’Brien said he was extremely disappointed by the decision to select a major port facility outside the Gippsland region, limiting the prospective benefits to our region of the development of offshore wind.
Mr O’Brien took the opportunity to question the Minister for Ports on the reasoning behind this decision during recent a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing.
“I asked the Minister to provide the total capital required to bring Hastings to standard and was told it could not be provided as assessments are still taking place,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This is pretty relevant given a private company is prepared to risk its own capital to develop Barry Beach and provide thousands of local jobs there.
“I sought assurances that the Government had agreements in place with proposed developers to ensure they will utilise Hastings but there are no such commitments in place.
“I asked what the Government is doing to ensure that Victoria gets the benefits of construction activity rather than Bell Bay in Tasmania or Eden in NSW and again no answers were able to be provided. Bell Bay is a shorter steaming time to the site of some of the proposed wind farms than Hastings, bringing into question the commercial attractiveness of Hastings. Barry Beach is dramatically closer than both.
“There is no doubt there are practical challenges for both ports that will require further investment, but the reasoning behind the decision to choose the Port of Hastings over Barry Beach is clear is mud. The Government’s answers have done nothing to clear things up.
“More importantly there is a huge risk that, despite hosting the new offshore wind industry off our coast, Gippsland may end up with just the costs, like transmission lines, and few of the benefits. As our traditional industries are phased out, some by deliberate government policy, we need to capture the benefits of emerging industries like offshore wind, not just cop the negatives.”