11 February 2018 Open letter
To the Premier, Hon. Mark McGowan MLA; and
All Cabinet Ministers in the Western Australia Government
cc: The Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Ministers
Dear Premier and Cabinet Ministers,
THE FUTURE OF POINT PERON
A proposal to amend the Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) zoning for Point Peron is currently before the Minister for Planning, so the time has come for the Western Australian government to make its decision about the future of Point Peron.
The decision is essentially about whether to keep Point Peron as public open space and parkland, maintaining its high conservation, recreation and nature-based tourism values, or to allow a large section of it to be privatised, excavated and urbanised in the form of housing and canals.
At present the land at Point Peron is publicly owned, and most of it is zoned “parks and recreation”.
This letter describes three potential scenarios for the future of Point Peron for the Minister for Planning, the Premier / local member of parliament and the Cabinet to contemplate:
– Scenario 1: Cape Peron Coastal Park
– Scenario 2: Canals and private housing (the “Mangles Bay Marina” proposal)
– Scenario 3: Housing only (no canals)
Scenario 1 – CAPE PERON COASTAL PARK
See below image and http://cape-peron-coastal-park.com/
This proposal has been developed in close consultation with the community and local businesses. It is in line with the longstanding planning blueprint for Point Peron including the Stephenson Hepburn Report (1955), the 1964 Commonwealth / State Point Peron land transfer agreement, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ management plan for the area and the “Bush Forever” listing within the regional park.
Point Peron and its environs offer stunning, safe beaches, limestone coastline, sea lions, dolphins, good quality coastal bushland, diverse wildlife and a huge variety of nature-based activities such as snorkelling, diving, walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, fishing and photography.
Cape Peron Coastal Park would meet the strong and ever-growing local and international demand for nature-based tourism destinations close to Australia’s capital cities, and would bring the jobs and enduring economic benefits flowing from this.
 Which states (at 236) that all of Point Peron should be permanently kept as “public open space”
 Which made the transfer of the land from the Commonwealth to the State of WA conditional upon its future use being “restricted to a reserve for recreation and/or park lands”
 In 2000 (site 355)
As Mr McGowan recently acknowledged, “[Tourists] are actually very interested in nature-based tourism” (Sound Telegraph 20 December 2017). Tourism WA chief executive Evan Hall has commented “Tourists do not come to WA to buy an ice-cream and visit Elizabeth Quay – 64 per cent come to see nature”. If we want tourism at Rockingham it is imperative to preserve and protect Point Peron with all its wonderful natural assets.
Cape Peron Coastal Park is the only scenario that stacks up with the Premier’s pre-election statement that he “supports tourism-oriented development [at Point Peron]” (Sound Telegraph 8 March 2017), and with the Tourism Minister Paul Papalia’s statement that he is “avidly promoting Rockingham as a tourist destination” (Sound Telegraph 31 January 2018).
On the other hand, allowing the proposed MRS rezoning and urbanising would destroy this golden opportunity forever. It would squander the wonderful natural asset of Point Peron and “kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.
Support from the State Government for the Cape Peron Coastal Park would be extremely popular and would result in
- A world class coastal park encompassing all of Point Peron, Lake Richmond and Shoalwater Islands Marine Park;
- Immense and enduring economic, social and environment benefits for the region and the State; and
- Public acclaim for acting with integrity, honesty and competence, in the best interests of the community and the State.
What about the suggestion by some that Point Peron public land is currently “degraded” and this justifies selling off a third of it to fund the “fixing up” of the remaining public land?
This question is based on a false premise. The Public Environmental Review report prepared for Landcorp and Cedar Woods acknowledges that the vast majority of the vegetation at Point Peron is in “good” or “very good” condition. This includes the vast majority of the “Bush Forever” land within the proposed canal/housing development site. It is true that there are some areas here and there that require remediation, but that work can be undertaken easily and inexpensively, once the uncertainty and hiatus created by the canal/housing proposal is eliminated.
The suggestion, in essence, that a third of Point Peron be sold off to fund the public management of the other two thirds is completely without merit, and fails to grasp the inherent value of integrating the whole of Point Peron with Lake Richmond and the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park to form a world class nature-based tourist attraction. The suggestion is akin to proposing that a third of Kings Park, or of Rottnest, be sold off to fund the management of the other two thirds.
 Note that 87% of submissions to the WAPC opposed the proposed “urban” rezoning of the land and the Cape Peron Coastal Park proposal has received widespread public acclaim
 See Public Environmental Review Report prepared for the proponents in 2012 by Strategen, at pages 113 – 114 and Figure 49 on page 121
Scenario 2: CANALS AND PRIVATE HOUSING
See below image
This is the “Mangles Bay Marina” proposal that LandCorp and Cedar Woods have been promoting.
It includes a proposed inland marina located within a large canal dug into Point Peron “Bush Forever” regional park land.
Even if the “finger canals” running off the marina-canal are removed from the project design, the development would still be a canal development, with all the problems associated with coastal canal developments of this kind.
This proposal cannot go ahead under the current MRS zoning, so the proponents are trying to get the MRS zoning changed to “Urban”.
No need for a canal-marina at this site has been established. A far more suitable site for a marina has already been approved – in deep water adjacent to the Rockingham Beach foreshore / business precinct
If the government chooses or allows this scenario to occur:
• This would directly contradict Premier McGowan’s own personal statements prior to the March election and since. For example, Mr McGowan stated “I do not support the construction of canals at Point Peron” (Mark McGowan, Leader of the Opposition, Sound Telegraph 8 March 2017). This would seriously compromise the credibility and standing of the Premier in his own electorate and beyond.
• It would contravene the longstanding plan and vision for Point Peron , the philosophy outlined in Towards Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million and State Planning Strategy 2050 and would be in breach of numerous State planning policies including State Planning Policy No. 2 (Environment and Natural Resources), State Planning Policy No. 2.6 (Coastal Planning), State Planning Policy No. 2.8 (Metropolitan Bushland) and State Planning Policy No. 3 (Urban Growth and Settlement).
• It would be an extremely unpopular decision and bring the metropolitan region’s planning processes into disrepute. Note that 87% of submissions to the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) from experts and members of the public opposed this option , and it is deeply unpopular in the community .
• Serious probity and financial integrity questions would demand investigation, including (among other things):
o The appropriation / misappropriation(?) of $250,000 taxpayers’ money from the Metropolitan Region Improvement Fund, for use inconsistent with the statutory purpose of that fund, in order to kick off this canals / housing proposal, despite its incompatibility with the MRS and the existing planning vision for Point Peron ;
o The “WA Inc.” style deal between LandCorp and Cedar Woods that allows them to share the profits from selling off this prime public reserve land, without giving any legally enforceable guarantee they will even build the proposed canal-marina; and
o The grave doubts about the viability of the project, given the extremely high cost of building the canals using the required “wet excavation” method (the excavation would be about 5 times the size of Elizabeth Quay, which cost $440 million to build using the cheaper “dry excavation” method) and the likelihood of massive cost blowouts.
• It would be gross economic mismanagement:
o Loss of billions of dollars of future nature-based tourism income due to destroying for all time the opportunity to develop Point Peron as a world class coastal park (see above). The Premier’s pre-election statement that he “supports tourism-oriented development” at Point Peron , and the Tourism Minister Paul Papalia’s statement that he is “avidly promoting Rockingham as a tourist destination” (Sound Telegraph 31 January 2018) would be seen as hypocritical and insincere if the Government allows this option to proceed.
o Irreversible damage to key commercial and recreational fish nursery in Mangles Bay
o Never-ending cost of maintaining the canals and dealing with canal pollution, at taxpayers’ expense.
o Increased public health bill due to loss of nature-based recreation space and damage to community wellbeing and economy.
• It would be extremely bad for the environment. For example, it would destroy 40 hectares of “Bush Forever”, destroy critically important seagrass fish nursery and penguin feeding grounds, pollute Mangles Bay, cause numerous penguin deaths, increase the risk to nearby Lake Richmond’s rare and threatened species and cause severe and permanent damage to Point Peron’s inherent natural heritage values.
Expert scientific reports explaining these and other adverse environmental impacts are contained in HOPP’s submission to the WAPC dated 13 November 2015, available on the HOPP website:
Scenario 3 – PRIVATE HOUSING ONLY (NO CANALS)
See image below
If the land is re-zoned “Urban” under the MRS, as LandCorp and Cedar Woods are asking, the land may end up simply being sold off for housing, without any canals being built, therefore without any marina.
This is because:
• Cedar Woods and LandCorp are not under any legally enforceable obligation to build the canal-marina that they promised in their marketing materials;
• As explained above, Cedar Woods and LandCorp may not be able to raise the large amount of money required to build the canal-marina;
• Cedar Woods and LandCorp may simply choose not to build the canal-marina so as to maximise their profits.
No need for a housing subdivision on this public reserve land at Point Peron has ever been demonstrated. There is no community support for Point Peron public open space to be sacrificed for a housing estate.
LandCorp and Cedar Woods have always promoted the development on the basis of a canal-marina. They have never tried to justify the taking of this “bush forever” public parkland for just another housing subdivision. Similarly, the WAPC’s MRS amendment report does not demonstrate, or even argue, that there is a need for a housing development at this site.
Also, the stated purpose of the proposed MRS amendment currently before the Minister for Planning is “to facilitate the development of a tourist based marina”. So allowing the land to be privatised and subdivided for housing without building a canal-marina would not meet the core purpose of the proposed MRS amendment.
If the government chooses or allows this scenario to occur:
• It would amount to a big land scam, based on a false pretence – i.e. getting hold of the land on the promise of delivering a canal-marina, but instead maximising profits by just selling it off for housing without delivering the canal-marina.
• It would contravene the longstanding plan and vision for Point Peron and be in breach of numerous State planning policies .
• It would be extremely unpopular and bring the metropolitan region’s planning processes into disrepute.
• For similar reasons to those set out above under the Canals and Private Housing scenario:
o Serious probity and financial integrity questions would demand investigation;
o It would be gross economic mismanagement; and
o It would be extremely bad for the environment.
Call for integrity and common sense
We sincerely hope that you will see the need to avoid the pitfalls of scenarios 2 and 3 above and will grasp the golden opportunity presented by scenario 1.
Now is the time for the Premier and Cabinet to exercise economic competence, integrity and common sense. Now is the time for the Premier and Cabinet to abandon once and for all the proposal to urbanise Point Peron, and to get behind the infinitely superior Cape Peron Coastal Park option.
Hands Off Point Peron Inc.