Letters to the editor, March 15

"It defies logic that a Local Government Authority would opt to demolish and build a concrete and steel jetty costing at least an extra $2m than a new reconstructed one that would ‘carbon copy’ the original in timber.

A newly reconstructed jetty in timber consolidating all things heritage would by far, surpass any anticipated tourism potential. This has been proven convincingly with all the reconstructions of heritage listed jetties.

There is no justification to claim that to demolish and replace is more cost effective, cheaper maintenance or less whole of life costs, as extensive research has indicated otherwise. Comprehensive consultation with engineers, specialist advisory groups, timber experts and contractors, have all stressed that preserving heritage timber structures is far more feasible and prudent and this move has been further indicated as the Heritage Council’s preferred outcome.

What is more, the Minister for Heritage does not support demolition. The CEO of Outback WA recently visited Esperance and indicated that they were looking for rare and iconic experiences to promote tourism. He quoted Lucky Bay as being a great example.

“While many towns have nice beaches and also kangaroos, it is iconic that you can see a kangaroo on a beach’ he stated on local radio. Our Jetty is rare and iconic and will remain so when reconstructed. The Shire has now received ‘Friend’s’ costings for reconstruction and on the basis of considerable past experience, we know they will now attempt to downgrade the three quotations from engineering companies to reconstruct the jetty. But wait! These are independent quotes, authored by engineers contracting their expertise Australia- wide and extremely familiar with the industry. They are certainly not ‘desktop consultants’ giving a price to satisfy their client. ‘Friends’ have travelled down that path previously and have now meticulously investigated reconstruction to the original detailed design. They wanted proof on the table, they have got it. There is no need for interpretation, and the quotes did not cost $380,000, we wish to advise.

The Shire will use consultants who previously forecast that to replace half the jetty and demolish the outer would cost $11m. For total demolition they also quoted $2.9m. In effect they are now claiming their replacement of the jetty will be $6m and prior demolition of the old structure, an additional $1.5m! If you’re confused by their statements, it is perfectly understandable. It is pertinent to stress that Esperance has the opportunity to showcase the most authentic timber jetty structure in Australia, symbolising cultural significance and displaying the engineering principles of the day (1934). How can we possibly miss this opportunity, as it cannot be recaptured in interpretation?"

David Eltringham.

"It is alarming that the Shire Council is still peddling the myth that they have the approval of 80 per cent of the Esperance people for a replacement jetty. At the secret announcement of new funding, the Shire president claimed "at the end of the day, council have made a decision for the benefit of the community as a whole".

This is clearly not the case. It comes from the 'random' 2000 forms sent out to gauge the community support. Only about 60 per cent of the chosen recipients bothered to reply and about 80 per cent of those approved of the replacement. This totals about 1000 people, a piddling number compared to the 8,000 people who signed a petition instructing the council to repair the existing jetty some four years ago! This information has, sadly, been accepted by our member for O'Connor who said at the same venue "I'm confident there is a strong community consensus" and "There are some people who don't support the project, and maybe never will, but I don't think they represent the majority of the community". Wrong.

They certainly do! Also, it was wrong to make the "public" announcement in secret. You represent all people in your electorate, Mr Wilson, not just the seven councillors. In spite of 15 years of total neglect by a series of councils, our jetty is in a better condition now than the Busselton jetty was when its rebuild commenced. Labor and Liberal government poured about $30 million into it over some years. Our poor old jetty had not only received no help from any state government but they neglected or refused to enforce the Esperance Council's responsibility to "maintain it in a safe and usable condition" although funds were in the budgets to do the necessary work. Its only succour was offered by the Nationals, who came with money for planning and a promise of funds for the remediation. It would have been finished and in use years ago at no cost to the ratepayers if council had accepted that marvellous offer. Instead, we have had years of consultant reports and a ridiculous plan for a steel and concrete toy jetty that even the shire president now admits "was a disaster" although she sang its praises at the time, and who knows how many millions of ratepayer dollars have been carelessly wasted on more and more reports and studies instead of being used to do the right thing? The schism between council and the community can only be cured by council commencing to do the job we pay them for and represent ALL the community."

[Abridged] Merv Andre. 

*Please note the Shire of Esperance refute that the 2016 Save Our Jetty Petition contained 8,000 individual signatures. 

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