Shaun’s story

I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life in Crib Point. My parents still live in the same house and so I return every couple of months or so to visit them.

Its low profile and low-key atmosphere are attributes that I’ve always valued and are what drove my parents here decades ago in the first place. It has enjoyed this low-profile status after much of the heavy industry left in the 1980’s. Since that time its environmental assets, bushland, wetlands, tourism and its portion of Westernport Bay have all enjoyed a gradual recovery as it continues to transition away from its industrial past.

Our wetlands are home to the world’s southernmost mangroves, which are a major tourist attraction, employing many across the Mornington Peninsula both directly and indirectly. This project threatens the wellbeing of this delicate ecosystem, and those industries that rely on its prosperity. These include the world-renowned Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks on nearby Phillip Island, board walking, birdwatching, whale watching, farming and fishing, which are major employers and tourism drivers in the wider Westernport Bay region.

I attribute my deep curiosity and knowledge of the natural world to being able to explore this wonderful area every weekend as a youth. I have been studying the biological world for a decade now and have a deep appreciation for its complexities.

It wasn’t until many years after having left Crib Point for Melbourne that I realized how utterly unique the place is. A coastal town with a country flavour that has remnants of an industrial past, but also has extraordinary recreation and further tourism potential given its wetlands and surrounding Woolley’s Beach Reserve and associated boardwalk and bushland.

I have really grown to appreciate it, and whenever I get the chance to tell someone about the hidden gem I grew up in, I jump at it. I mean there are birds that spend part of their life cycle between Westernport Bay and far eastern Siberia in Russia, it’s extraordinary! There are now regularly whales and dolphins in the area, this has steadily increased since I was living there. When I was younger, I used to sit on Woolley’s Beach and just enjoy the peace and tranquility, the amazing birdlife, the fishing boats, and of course would also have a swim in summer. I would stare at French Island and dream about going there one day and exploring its secrets.

But with this proposal comes a hulking 290-meter-long, 50-meter-wide, 17 story high obstruction in the form of a FSRU – what a way to drive a hammer through one of Crib Point’s most important assets. Crib Point has a unique mix of attributes and a low-key atmosphere that residents highly value.

Our lifestyles, the reason why we all moved here will be gone along with the peace and tranquility.

Having grown up within earshot of the old fire station in Crib Point, I am well accustomed to the sense of anxiety and dread whenever the fire-alarm goes off. The Crib Point, Bittern, Stony Point, Hastings area is extremely bushfire prone, it has experienced major fires recently, and every summer comes anxiety whenever the local fire brigades alarm goes off. I grew up about 2 kilometers from where the Crib Point jetty is now, so this holds a very important place in my heart.

This project will contribute to a worsening bushfire outlook given its vast emission of greenhouse gases and also increase the risk locally given the volatile nature of gas.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood was when I was about 8 years old and my next door neighbour (who was a firefighter) came and knocked on our front door and warned us there’s a major out of control fire at HMAS Cerberus (naval base). So of course, we packed some essentials, let other locals know and tuned into the local radio station for what to do next.
We then hopped on our roof to see if we could get a glimpse and there, we saw the great Elvis firefighting helicopter fly right over our house near the old fire station in Crib Point. I remember it well; it was so close. It was a very scary time in my life.

It was a lesson in the awesome power of our natural environment if we are not prepared, if we don’t balance our societies needs with the environment’s needs, and when we fail to get it right. That was about 20 years ago and to continue exacerbating bushfire risk is about the most irresponsible action to take at this point.
This project would increase the severity of an already full bushfire season.

My parents now rely on the VicEmergency app to get the latest bushfire info. This is their new normal in summertime and increasingly, as the bushfire season expands, spring and autumn as well. We know when we listen to our firefighters that mitigation in back burning and keeping fire paths clear is only a minor part of the overall fire response. The best response is to maintain our relatively stable and predictable global climate, by not investing in any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

No amount of firefighting helicopters and finances can save a major gas pipeline when a multi-story fire aided by its own wind and lightning weather system is raging along.
Every local politician at least has some serious concerns about the rationale over this project. All four of the councils that are affected, include the City of Casey Council, Cardinia Shire Council, Bass Coast Shire, and the Mornington Peninsula Shire. They all voice concerns of their own regarding the potential impacts and the inadequacy of the EES.

Westernport Bay is such an asset to the Greater Melbourne area and beyond, and to see it compromised will not be acceptable.

The project rationale is inadequate and doesn’t meet the nation’s needs, and given how numerous viable alternatives in the renewable energy sector are ready to meet our country’s needs, this project is unnecessary.

Best put by Australia’s premier climate authority the Climate Council, the world does not need any new fossil fuel infrastructure, the case for investment in new gas infrastructure in Australia is weak at best. We need to create clean jobs and rapidly shift Australia away from fossil fuels. We do not need new gas. It’s time to put the community and the climate first by creating jobs in clean energy.

They have already outlined why investing in gas infrastructure is a terrible idea for a number of reasons. The alternatives are ready to use now. A mix of tidal, offshore and onshore wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, solar on all suitable households and public buildings with a mix of battery storage, pumped hydro-storage, smart grids and revitalising our wetlands and forests to capture some of that carbon.

Diversify the economy; where has the tax revenue from our mining boom, education and tourism booms gone? We are among the biggest exporters of coal, gas and iron ore, why hasn’t the profit been reinvested back into our community making it more resilient, like what Norway has done?

We see ambitious work being done in other states such as South Australia and it’s Tesla Battery, Tasmania with its ‘Battery of the Nation’ proposal, and the ACT with its 100% renewables policy. Where is Victoria’s ambition, aren’t we the most progressive state in Australia?

Is this really where Australia is at in its climate response obligations, is this really where we are happy to situate ourselves on the global platform? A domestic gas reservation policy and greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes are seen as the overarching
solutions.

We need a vision for an inspiring future, and we have the technology, expertise, finances and the plan forward, we can do it.