Letters to the editor

The Esperance Tanker Jetty continues to be a hot topic of discussion amongst the community.
The Esperance Tanker Jetty continues to be a hot topic of discussion amongst the community.

Common sense needed

Having been born with masochistic tendencies I feel, once again, obliged to enter the fray.

When will this sorry saga of the Tanker jetty end?  The thing was built solely as a temporary commercial ship loading facility less than a lifetime ago and has long since ceased its original function. How it can metamorphize  into something of aesthetic beauty and cultural significance in so short a time completely eludes me. If preserving a rotten wooden hulk is the best people can come up with to ensure the future heritage of Esperance then God help our decedents. If the people involved, instead of trying to preserve the un-preservable,  with bits of steel and concrete and string and whatever else comes to hand, for their own gratification, were to turn their efforts to constructing something capable of lasting several generations then there is a chance their grandchildren’s children might give them thanks.  There is little enough built infrastructure in town capable of lasting as it is.

Might I suggest, instead of continually looking inwards, look outwards, at the best of the best, and build something of real heritage value.  The opportunity exists to build Esperance New Town, while still preserving the old, as has been done in countless other places.  Why not start now? before spending millions more on “expert” consultancies

No doubt I will be stoned in the street for such heretical views but common sense must prevail sometime.

Dave Kyle

Jetty Restoration Funds Spent

A review of Esperance Shire Council agenda items, meeting minutes and various reports dating back to 2010 makes interesting reading, particularly many matters dealing with the tanker jetty.

They show various stages of the $43 million Foreshore Protection and Enhancement Project, including the jetty restoration, being priced through tender processes as part of preparing an application for funding. Interestingly, qualified marine engineers who worked on the Busselton Jetty rebuild quoted $8.65 million to restore the Esperance jetty.

This figure makes a mockery of the council's claim following its demolition decision that the two remediation figures provided privately (both less than $6 million) were "neither prudent nor feasible". Furthermore, to restore the jetty according to the reports it would take 27 months, 21 months longer and considerably more expensively than the timeline and quotes provided by Bonacci Enterprises and Davey Hydraulics. (In 1934-35, the jetty was built in less than 15 months.)

The September 30, 2014, Council meeting minutes show that more than $3 million million remained in the project budget. No work had been undertaken to remediate the jetty.

The minutes reported a "contract variation" being awarded to extend the waterfront project from James Street to the town's boat ramp, a section of the foreshore not included in the original scope of works.

About $1 million of the remaining funds were used to pay for the new skate park and playground; the remainder ($9.599 million) apparently on the "contract extension".

When the shire was asked about these funds and specifically the "contract variation" more than 12 months ago, the explanation given was that the remaining unspent funds from the original project (between the jetty and James Street Groyne) had to be returned to the State Government, but the government had a change of heart and the funds returned. (The meeting minutes refer to this.)

At the time the shire claimed the government instructed that the funds were not to be used on the jetty. At the time the $8.65 million jetty restoration figure included in the original scope of works was not known.

This claim is at apparent odds with the State Government providing the shire with $1 million in 2008-09 for jetty maintenance after it was Heritage listed but spent on other works, and the former Regional Development Minister's offer to fund restoration from Royalties for Region, an offer rejected.

Clearly, the unspent funds from the original upgrade work between the jetty and the James Street Groyne, regardless of whether they were for the jetty restoration or not, should have been spent on the jetty. 

Clearly they were not for a "contract variation" for work not included in the original project.

Interestingly, the Council meeting minutes for August 16, 2011, clearly outlines the council's responsibility under the terms of the Jetty Licence Agreement to "at its own expense to keep and maintain the Jetty Structures in a state of good and substantial repair, order and condition at all times".

It is obvious they have failed; and when they had the opportunity to make good their responsibility when funds became available, they failed again.

Richard Grant