CREDIT: Jake Dietsch, Mandurah Coastal Times
A developer has claimed the Shire of Murray is putting thousands of jobs on the line, while the Shire president has described the company’s plan as being akin to building “a highway through Kings Park”. The contentious issue came to a head last week when all but one councillor voted to advertise removing a ‘marina’ from a list of suitable uses for Point Grey. Developer Tian An, is moving undeterred with its plans, while more than a hundred turned out to throw their support behind the equally resolute council.
SCORES of locals heralded a move to stop a contentious proposal the Shire of Murray president compared to “building a highway through Kings Park”, while the company behind the project says “a small vocal minority” was drowning out the voice of the majority who are eager for the thousands of jobs it will create.
So high was the public interest, the council meeting that dealt with a motion to remove a marina from a list of suitable uses for Point Grey had to be moved from the council chambers to the Pinjarra Civic Centre, with the centre hitting its 100-person indoor limit and more residents waiting in the foyer.
The council voted for advertising removing a ‘marina’, with only Cr Brenda Beacham voting against the change.
It was the second time the council has voted for the amendment after the WA Planning Commission raised concerns about “procedural fairness to the landowners and to members of the public” after a vote in March that was held behind closed doors.
A report to the council on behalf of the developers claims the marina will draw 52,000 tourists per year, create more than 1000 permanent jobs and nearly 8000 jobs in construction as well as preserving the environment through reserves and monitoring.
Despite the council’s vote, Tian An Australia chief operating officer Hai-Young Lu said the company was continuing with its reports to address the Shire’s concerns.
“While we respect the process, it is disappointing the shire didn’t wait to review the reports which satisfactorily address many of the concerns raised before making their unorthodox decision,” Mr Lu said.
“While the conversation has been largely dominated by a small vocal minority, our survey showed that there is strong support out there from many whose voices are currently not being heard.
“The Shire’s actions last (week), which are backed by no technical supporting evidence, effectively put livelihoods on the line in an environment where thousands of people have lost or may lose their jobs as we enter a recession.”
However, the crowd at last week’s meeting was overwhelmingly behind the Shire.
Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams praised the neighbouring local council’s “courage and leadership” and dismissed the company’s claim it would bring 52,000 visitors to the region, asking: “Will (the 52,000) join the 3 million that come to the Peel region? Will they keep coming back when they can’t catch their fish here?”
The council also received support from numerous environmental and fishing groups and from traditional landowner George Walley, who said the estuary was a “sacred site”.
Cr Beacham spoke against the motion, saying “emotion” was influencing the debate and the change was like “removing a goalpost after a game is started”.
Shire president David Bolt said the vote would make it “clear what our intentions are” and prevent all parties from wasting more time and money.
Cr Bolt said the company was trying to build a “highway for boats” through “internationally recognised wetlands” and compared it to a developer building a highway through Kings Park to develop their land on the other side.
The matter will now head back to the WA Planning Commission and to the EPA. If it wins approval from those bodies it will go out for public feedback. Cr Bolt said he expected an answer from the Commission and EPA within two months.
This article was originally published in the Mandurah Coastal Times on July 1, 2020.