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Wildlife Campaigner: "SEITA preferred Frankston bypass route will severely impact wildife"


Maryland Wilson, President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, stated yesterday that the Southern and Eastern Integrated Transport Authority (SEITA) has failed to adequately address the concerns she raised on behalf of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council or the Coalition of Wildlife Corridors.

Wildlife campaigner says SEITA route for Frankston Bypass will severely impact wildlife

Maryland Wilson, President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, stated yesterday (May 14, 2008) that the Southern and Eastern Integrated Transport Authority (SEITA) has failed to adequately address the concerns for wildlife she raised on behalf of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council or the Coalition of Wildlife Corridors. These concerns were specifically about the threat posed to wildlife and their habitat by the infrastructure and traffic which will be created if the SEITA proposed bypass route goes ahead.

Ms Wilson said that the AWPC's observation as well as discussion with persons well-informed in road-engineering, population and land-use planning, Peninsula Biosphere maintenance, wildlife-ecology and social amenity leaves the AWPC in no doubt that

a) the proposed route will severely impact on scarce habitat for local, regional and State biodiversity
b) SEITA and the government have not seriously examined viable alternatives
c) the Pines draft master plan – part two and part three fail to remedy these problems
d) the Pines draft master plan suggestion of a connection between the parts of the Reserve it will split would only present a very insignificant mitigation of the overall drastic damage
e) the proposed restructuring and popularisation of the reserve inaccurately markets new and additional habitat-stress as habitat and wildlife friendly.

"Even worse", said Ms Wilson, "The proposed route will divide the Peninsula in two, making any hope of interconnecting wildlife corridors from East to West of the Peninsula impossible." "Plans for interconnecting corridors have been on the AWPC website now for over a year," she said.

The Wildlife campaigner explained that it is not acceptable for the government or its chosen contractors to go ahead with a structure which, despite some rhetorically supportive policies in Pines draft master plans, parts two and three, is in practice oppositional to international, Australian, and local practice and science for protecting the needs of wildlife.

She added that people needed to be made aware that, "At the moment Frankston and the Peninsula, although part of an international UNESCO agreement for a biosphere that protects fauna and flora, are facing unacceptable decimation of indigenous animals in all or most areas where they struggle to survive."

"Roads, through habitat fragmentation and isolation, through very high rates of road-kill, and through their spear-heading of suburban expansion, are the drivers of animal deaths and species loss."

President Wilson said that SEITA will only encounter and should only encounter opposition if it fails to use alternative routes to protect any indigenous fauna habitat from being cut off from the rest of the Pines, or indeed where similar fragmentation is threatened for any other habitats.

"Australian fauna is at greater risk than at any other time in history due to climate change, drought, habitat-fragmentation and annihilation. The need for more, not fewer, bio-links to save species and individual animals is critical."

"With regards to the other areas of Frankston and the Peninsula, if SEITA continues with the same lack of awareness as previous road-builders in this country, of the many modern methods for mitigating road-kill, such as bridges, tunnels and overpasses, then it cannot expect and will not deserve support."

Her concluding remark demonstrated that the AWPC has a more sophisticated awareness of economy perhaps than do investors in freeways and the governments which support such massive infrastructure projects:

"The population growth and urban expansion which SEITA and similar industry corporations rely on in Australia for customers and investors is not supported by the incumbent population and will probably become very problematical very soon due to oil depletion."

Maryland Wilson, President of the registered charity, Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc., and spokesman for the Coalition for Wildlife Corridors can be contacted at kangaroo AT peninsula.hotkey.net.au or at 03 59788570, mobile 0417 148 501 The AWPC is located at 247 Flinders Lane Melbourne, Victoria 3000. For further details go to www.awpc.org.au

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Comments

It was sad to see the reception in Parliament on 16 April 2008 of an attempt by Neil Burgess, Member for Hastings, to represent the community's objections to SEITA's option 1. Burgess began to speak on the issue, in a parliament session known as "Matter of Public Importance." He was cut off in mid speech on a point of order. Parliament then allowed the member for Yan Yean, Ms Green, to pass for a Matter of Public Importance: "That this house congratulates the Brumby government for ensuring Victoria is the best place to live, work and raise a family for a million more Victorians."

The Brumby Government is notorious for using every strategy available to stifle opposition to it, both inside and outside of the Parliament.

In the transcript below, the Member for Warrandyte is supporting Burgess, arguing that the Speaker should not have interrupted a speech to take a Point of Order. By doing so, the Speaker allowed time to run out on Burgess's speech and effectively prevented him making the points he wanted to make.
"Neil Burgess, Member for Hastings, Victorian Hansard, MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE, ASSEMBLY Wednesday, 16 April 2008, p.1274.

"Frankston bypass: route Mr BURGESS (Hastings) –

The state government modelling underpinning the need for the Frankston bypass is flawed, and therefore the preferred option chosen by the Southern and Eastern Integrated Transport Authority is also flawed. For the section of the proposed bypass between Baxter and the point where Balnarring Road meets the Moorooduc Highway, SEITA has chosen to promote option 1, the route that follows the existing freeway reserve through the heart of pristine Moorooduc.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I apologise for interrupting the member for Hastings. I thought the list I had was ongoing, but the time for members statements has expired.

Mr R. Smith - On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, there has been a previous ruling that points of order taken against members during members statements should be taken and dealt with at the end of the time set aside for members statements, and I ask the Chair why this was not done on this occasion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I understand the point of order being raised by the member for Warrandyte. However, as Chair I was also concerned about the members statement that was raised in relation to the standing order regarding the impugning of other members. That is why I chose to take a point of order at the same time as asking for the clock to be stopped to ensure that members' time was not taken up in that respect. I agree that normally points of order would not be taken during members statements. However, the member for Warrandyte needs to be aware that there are times when the Chair has to make a decision regarding something that has been raised in the chamber, and that was what I did today.

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE Government: performance The DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The Speaker has accepted a statement from the member for Yan Yean proposing the following matter of public importance for discussion:

'That this house congratulates the Brumby government for ensuring Victoria is the best place to live, work and raise a family for a million more Victorians'."

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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