Rupert’s Story ~ by Rupert Steiner

We live in Balnarring Beach and have been in Balnarring for more than 40 years, first as holiday makers and from the 90’s as permanent residents. I enjoy the safe beach and snorkel around our reefs to admire the sea life, plants and animals. My partner has been coming down here since the 50’s and, through her, I found out about this paradise.

It is really the whole combination of the still reasonable foreshore and the clean waters of the bay and beaches that are, for me, the thing we need to protect from development and fragmentation by greed and thoughtlessness. This also goes for the hinterland of the peninsula, because if we don’t protect the rural aspect of the large land holdings as such, the whole ecosystem will be affected to its detriment.

I’m an environmentalist and the senseless destruction or diminishment of our still halfway decent environment on the peninsula, has got me on the barricades against the constant pressure from vested interests, Government and private enterprise. It seems every 10 or so years someone has a great idea for getting rich quickly, of course always at the greatest cost to the environment of our beautiful Westernport Bay and peninsula.

I live here and as our house is very near sea level, my greatest concern is the lack of action on Climate Change. If we keep living and acting the way our politicians seem to expect us to, Climate Change and sea-level rises will inundate great swathes of our beautiful peninsula and many other coastal regions around Australia and the world in the very near future. I will probably be gone by then, but our children and following generations will inherit a terrible legacy as a result of the inaction of our societies around the globe.

I love nature and I accept the fact that without a clean and healthy environment humanbeings will not prosper for much longer. So, as the old saying goes ‘Think global act local’. If we all did a little, we could save Westernport Bay from the scourge of greedy, corporate rape.

AGL are a large corporation and have unequal power in any of their interactions with our communities. They are not listening to our concerns about the health of our bay and are just paying lip service to their obligations when it comes to the protections of our environment. They keep insisting that they are doing this in the communities’ interest but have not convinced any of us, who really care about our environment, of their genuine accountability to us.

If we want to tackle Climate Change in any real sense, we have to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible around the world. Australia, at present, is the biggest producer of gas, and AGL is telling us that it needs to import gas into Australia at any cost, but the cost is carried mainly by the environment and the people around their insane proposal.

The proposed import facility would be only the first stage of such industrialisation of our foreshores and would be followed by a stampede of others intending to make money off the back of our environment. It would set a precedent for other harebrained schemes for our pristine environment in Westernport Bay.

My message to the politicians is:

Stop this insanity now and show some leadership on reining in the corporate pirates of the environment. Say no and no for good not just for another 10 years.