What Westernport means to me. ~ by Jean Christie

I first became concerned about protecting the environment early in 2013, when I attended an information session given by Environment Victoria. For the first time, I heard about the possibility of farmland, woodlands and coastal areas being dug up and ruined, in order to locate gas for energy. It was also the first time that I heard about renewable energy, and I wondered why there seemed to be so little information available in our media about these two very important matters. I signed up on the spot as a volunteer, and became active in activities such as letterboxing, door- knocking, community calling, and helping with stalls.

I am now active with several environment groups, and have a much better idea of the state of the Australian environment, and the nature and scale of work being undertaken to protect it. And it was through Environment Victoria that I learned about AGL’s plan to use Westernport Bay as the location for a gas processing plant, an undertaking which would involve the destruction of the bay’s wetlands, and the pollution of its water. Needless to say, the destruction would consequently lead to the loss of bird life on the wetlands, and the marine life in the bay. Furthermore, the fuel that would be produced, as a result of this, would exacerbate air pollution, thus adversely affecting the health of residents, and bringing about more climate change.

I do not want any of these things to happen, and so I attended a peaceful protest outside the AGL Annual General Meeting in Melbourne a few years ago. The protest was well attended, including EV supporters, as well as people from the Mornington Peninsula, who had made the long journey into the city. The protestors held banners and signs, to inform the arriving shareholders of AGL’s intentions. Previously, I had been an AGL customer, but I divested from the company, in order to get my power from a company that supplies environmentally friendly energy.

With the possible destruction of the bay, Peninsula residents stand to lose their recreational areas, and their livelihoods. The tens of thousands of tourists who visit from Melbourne, interstate, and overseas, will not travel to see ruined, uninhabited wetlands, or visit beaches that are unsuitable for either swimming or fishing. This gas processing plant would devastate entire communities.

Some years ago, my Japanese friend and I went on the bus tour to see the penguins arrive at sunset. We travelled on a hot day, and stopped at beautiful beaches to paddle or swim. We had an excellent guide, who talked about the indigenous history of the Peninsula, as well as its early white settlement. My friend Akiko was enchanted by the penguins, and amazed to see so many. It was a great trip!

AGL’s project would destroy habitat, fauna, and marine life. It would ruin the Peninsula’s idyllic lifestyle, as well as kill the tourist industry, leaving thousands unemployed. And as a final insult, the gas produced would be more expensive than clean, cheap solar or wind energy.

The gas processing plant spells DISASTER. We cannot allow AGL to proceed with it.

14/6/20