WASTE FUTURE STREWN WITH DEJA VU

Welcome to the past! Just when the shire was gaining speed on its way to a clean-air clean-technology future, the subject of where to put the peninsula’s rubbish is rearing up again, iceberg-like, in its path.

And who other than Cr David Gibb would contemplate throwing the SS Peninsula hard to starboard, then port, then starboard again, at such a time.

Cr Gibb, rubbish guru extraordinaire, has devoted the best part of 15 years to his credo of keeping peninsula rubbish on the peninsula – and using his experience and expertise to maintain the shire’s independence in matters of waste of all types.

Cr Gibb did suffer a major setback on rubbish when the shire was subsumed into the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group a few years ago and the shire lost its solo rubbish status.

At the 22 August council meeting (this Monday) he will advocate, no doubt passionately, for retention of the Rye landfill, from which 48% of the shire’s greenhouse gases emanate.

Thus – should the motion get up, and Cr Gibb feels he has the numbers, barring a change of mind – a double-iceberg appears before the good ship Peninsula. The visionary shire goal of becoming carbon-neutral will go down as well, or will at least run hard aground.

That won’t trouble any climate change deniers currently sitting as councillors or at large in the community, but it certainly will be a drastic backward step for carbon-neutral projects (solar panels on shire buildings, energy-saving street lighting) that are already approved, already under way.

Cr Gibb is a passionate man who boasts an encyclopaedic knowledge of waste movement around and off the peninsula. But inevitably he suffers from blind spots, as passionate people tend to do. For example, his vision of shire rubbish – if it must leave the peninsula – is that there is no alternative to it making a long, long truck trip at enormous cost to the far north-west of Melbourne.

He appears to remain obdurately blind to landfill opportunities just a dozen or so kilometres to the peninsula’s east, stating in triumphal final argument supporting his 22 August motion: “There are strategic risks, a greater expense and environmental disbenefits when transporting the [shire’s] kerbside municipal waste … across the city to another landfill.”

Cr Gibb’s last foray into keeping peninsula waste on the peninsula was his effort to convert into a tip the abandoned Pioneer quarry on Arthurs Seat. The community – the dis-visionary ignoramuses! – rose up and defeated this move, ably assisted by the Environment Protection Authority.

Perhaps Cr Gibb’s next step backwards will be to revisit this proposal. Surely he will be able to gently persuade the EPA of the error of its ways.

And beyond that? Cr Gibb has one more major defeat to revisit – the loss of his most precious project, the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre, which absolutely positively had to be built on the Rosebud foreshore.

For that dream he had the support of retiring Nepean electorate MP Martin Dixon and federal MP for Flinders Greg Hunt, even though the SPA was not coastal dependent and therefore a prohibited use of foreshore land.

That did not deter Cr Gibb. For years most activity in his then ward of Rosebud went on hold as the shire dodged, ducked and delayed in the forlorn hope that a state government would finally yield to the Gibb pool plan.

Finally, the Napthine government withdrew coastal consent for the SPA. No future government is likely to approve it, against state policy and common sense. Will David Gibb, Quixote-like, take another tilt at this windmill?

The 22 August Gibb motion had the feel of deja vu to it, so Bandicoot went searching. And there it was, in the minutes of a council meeting less than a year ago!

The meeting was held last 14 December. One councillor, Tim Wood, was absent ill. Another councillor was going to have to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Gibb reached for his abacus: he had the numbers.

His resolution was carried but, alas, rescinded a few months later. Ir has taken until now for the Gibb credo – “When at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again” – to get another outing. Let’s hope common sense prevails and this proposal can finally be pronounced dead, buried and cremated.