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18 June 2019

Adjournment matter – Former Port Fairy landfill site

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, and the action I seek is substantial investment to stop the threat of rubbish from a disused landfill site spilling into the ocean at Port Fairy’s famous East Beach. Minister, this is one of the biggest environmental issues that is being faced in my electorate. The former Port Fairy landfill site in dunes west of the township was closed in 1994, but erosion has caused a continued problem of rubbish from those landfill sites ending up on the beach and in the ocean. A 120-metre rock wall was built in 2014 and is working somewhat, but the Moyne Shire Council says climate change, the rising sea level and increasingly severe sea storms will expose any weakness in the current management approach and could lead to waste spilling onto the beach and into the ocean.

Last week the council voted to spend another $1.5 million on what it calls ‘short-term measures’ to further secure the site. Now the problem is, Minister, millions of dollars are being spent on short-term measures, and I and members of the community fear that short-term measures are not enough to stop rubbish spilling into the ocean. No-one knows what is buried in those dunes; it is a throwback to times when we did not take environmental concerns into consideration, as we do now. Everything was simply dumped into landfill.

In 2015 the then Minister for Environment and Climate Change and member for Bellarine visited and said that no further action would be needed. That is clearly not the case, and there is a responsibility for the state government to step in and provide funding given that one of the areas is a state government site. Funding is needed to address this environmental disaster waiting to happen. The Moyne shire has a plan—one that was conveyed to me ahead of the state election, and I know it was conveyed to the minister or her representatives. The problem is the council does not have the financial capacity to carry out its plan. Minister, you have $500 million sitting in the Sustainability Fund. Rather than propping up your budget bottom line, shouldn’t you be spending this money on projects which improve environmental outcomes? In my mind, stopping unknown rubbish spilling into the ocean and spoiling one of Victoria’s best beaches is the perfect project to spend some of this money on.