Call for Government to release port plan: What are you hiding?

Andrew Mathieson
The Bracks Government is hiding plans to seize control of Geelong’s port until after the election, a community group has warned.
Geelong Community for Good Life’s Sue McLean accused the Government of leaving Geelong in the dark to protect Labor candidate John Eren.
Ms McLean, who sits on a committee which had input into the plan, said it was complete almost two months ago but the Government had refused to release details until after the election.
“This is definitely about protecting John Eren,” she said.
The Government began developing the plan after community opposition to a first draft forced bureaucrats back to the drawing board.
In late 2004 the Independent revealed the plan would give the Government planning control over the port, remove third-party appeal rights and restrict improvement of nearby homes.
Objectors accused the Government of trying to turn the port into a chemical dumping ground by stealth.
Ms McLean had not seen the final report but expected it would still remove residents “democratic right” to have a say on development of the port while allowing the Government to seize homes for expansion projects.
“There is no reason the plan cannot be released before the election,” she said.
“Residents have a right to know so they can make an informed vote at the election.”
Mr Eren, who will move from the Upper House to contest the Lower House seat of Lara at next month’s election, said the plan was “probably not going to be released soon”.
He denied the Government was holding it back to help his campaign.
“It’s not the type of government we are,” he said.
“The world doesn’t stop because there are elections. Whether there were elections this year or not, it would go through the same process.
“It’s out of our hands as local MPs.”
Mr Eren said he did not know enough about the plan to comment on its content.
The port’s manager, Toll Geelong Port, would also not reveal details of the plan.
Manager Lindsay Ward said he had signed a confidentiality agreement.
But he said the strategy had addressed concerns through community consultation and was “taking them into consideration”
A Toll Geelong Port legal representative had earlier told a panel hearing that release of the plan could help the company’s opposition to a proposed retail development near the harbour.

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