ANYONE who wishes to see the restoration of Port Welshpool’s iconic Long Jetty is urged to attend a public meeting this Friday.
South Gippsland Shire Coastal-Promontory Ward Councillor Jeanette Harding has called the meeting, to be held at 7.30pm in the old ferry terminal at Port Welshpool, as a “final endeavour” on behalf of the jetty.
The shire council has committed $1 million and the state government $5 million to restore the historic jetty, but that is not enough. Federal government funding is also required, but the federal government is yet to come to the party, despite numerous requests.
“We are still seeking federal government support for this project,” said Cr Harding. She said that Council has been told that a grant application will be considered, but it can be submitted only one more time. A strong show of community support for the jetty would help the application.
The historic wooden jetty was partly destroyed by a fire in June 2003 and for safety reasons it was closed – and it has remained closed ever since, despite numerous pleas from the public for money to be spent on restoring it to at least a standard safe for pedestrians.
Port Welshpool landowner Roger Harvey is one who has long campaigned for the rebuild of the jetty. He was behind last year’s WANTED poster which injected some humour into the campaign for funding. Alongside an image of federal MP Russell Broadbent, the poster read: ‘It’s high noon to rebuild the historic Port Welshpool Long Jetty. The State Government has committed $5,000,000 and the South Gippsland Shire $1,000,000. Now federal funding is needed. We holler for Federal MP Russell Broadbent to bring home the bacon!’
Eye-catching as it was, the poster’s message fell on deaf ears. The federal money did not appear.
Mr Harvey said he was pleased to hear about Friday’s meeting.
“Good on the elected council representatives trying to gee up the local community!” he said.
Mr Harvey expressed concern, however, that after so many years the community is becoming increasingly tired and cynical about the lack of action on the jetty.
“The challenge is to get all the people who have been supporters in the past up for a further effort – and to convince them that it will be worth it. With an election looming, potentially early in the year, the project should become a Coalition election pledge, as it was in 2007 when promised by John Howard. The state and local funding may not survive another 12 months so now is the time for federal funding. It is really that simple.”
Cr Harding said that a petition was circulated during the recent Sea Days Festival in Port Welshpool. It attracted more than 300 signatures, roughly half of them from people from out of the area who have holiday houses or regularly visit Port Welshpool. Many of them indicated interest in a weekend meeting, so they would be able to attend.
“That is why we are holding the meeting on Friday night,” explained Cr Harding. She will chair the meeting, along with shire CEO Tim Tamlin. “But the idea is that everyone has a say,” she said.
Cr Harding said that local politicians have been invited, and the endorsed Labor candidate for McMillan, Chris Buckingham, has already promised he will attend.
“I’m anticipating a big crowd,” she said, urging anyone and everyone who cares about Port Welshpool’s Long Jetty to come along this Friday and show their support.