17th December 2021
Since our last update the FCA’s Save Flinders Pier volunteer group has continued its efforts to influence the Victorian Government to change its decision on the planned demolition of the pier’s inner section.
We have won the unanimous support of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council resulting in its agreement to independently examine any studies used by Parks Victoria to justify the demolition. The Mayor has also written directly to Minister Horne explaining the significance of the pier to the Mornington Peninsula and why it should be saved. The FCA wrote to all 128 Members of Parliament; and on 25 July, we wrote directly to the Chairman of Parks Victoria raising concerns about the ethical conduct and behaviour of Parks Victoria, especially allowing the pier to fall into disrepair. We are still waiting for his reply.
The group has continued to draw media attention to the unsafe condition of the pier arising from neglect by Parks Victoria; continued the roll-out of signage across the Mornington Peninsula; produced merchandise and bumper stickers; reviewed a Marine Ecology Impact Assessment prepared by Parks Victoria to justify the pier’s demolition, identifying multiple flaws in the science; and made several FOI requests, some of which are now being delayed by the Victorian Government. Meanwhile, our online petition is expected to reach nearly 40,000 signatures by New Year, with half of those living on the Mornington Peninsula. And the application for Heritage listing remains under review by Heritage Victoria.
Since the last update, we have discovered that Parks Victoria began quietly planning the demolition of the pier’s inner section more than a decade ago but kept it secret from the community, burying the decision in a unreported press release back in 2010. We also now know that 34% of all Victoria’s piers and jetties are in below-average condition. We have learnt that Parks Victoria never intended to consult with stakeholders before the decision to demolish was made, unlike the extensive consultation undertaken for the Altona Pier which is only a ten minute drive from Minister’s Horne’s electoral office. And in meetings held directly with Parks Victoria and the Minister’s Office, the FCA was explicitly told that Parks Victoria didn’t have any money – only for us to discover recently that Parks Victoria recorded a $58m surplus in 2020-21 and received $24m for pier and jetty maintenance from the Department of Transport.
We also lodged an extensive complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman about the conduct of Parks Victoria, supported by nearly 300 pages of artefacts. Our complaint was reviewed and the Ombudsman has left open the door for us to pursue this approach further if our other efforts fail to Save Flinders Pier. In the meantime, the FCA has conducted its own independent assessment and concluded that the structural beams and joists beneath the pier are all the same age. Despite replacement of deck boards on the outer section, no part of the pier’s substructure is any better or worse than the other (with exception to one pile that needs replacing). We have also obtained evidence to show that Parks Victoria knew the condition of all the supporting piles back in 2016, and only four of the ten piles needing repair are actually located in the pier’s inner section which is earmarked for demolition.
As we move into 2022, we hope to conduct advertising in the mainstream newspapers. This will be an expensive initiative but it is very important for all Victorians to understand the Government’s plans to begin demolishing one of the State’s most historic piers and why we need to save it. Please continue, if you can, to help us build our funds for this next stage of what will be a difficult battle against an intransigent Minister, whose own advisors have admitted that they’ve never set foot in Flinders.
Please click on the link to read the FCA’s condition report on the pier.