In Parliament

Adjournment - Middle Brighton Pier


Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (19:21):

My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Ports and Freight, and the action I seek is for the Minister to commit funding to the long-overdue safety upgrades at the historic Middle Brighton pier.

Middle Brighton pier is a unique feature of Melbourne—a location that sees everincreasing visitation from locals and tourists alike. The pier is used by thousands each day for walking, exercise, fishing and access for sailors. Brighton Rotary Club hosts the Great Australia Day Swim there, which raises funds for those in need, and the 1st/14th Brighton Sea Scouts regularly use the pier.

On Monday, 25 May, the Victorian government forcibly closed the Middle Brighton pier. Hundreds of people watched on as trucks arrived. People were moved off the pier, and cyclone fencing and locked gates were drilled and welded into the historic pier.

The neighbouring Royal Brighton Yacht Club described the closure as reflecting:

…very badly on the maintenance of an important state asset.

Jarringly, the closure took place without any notice, without a confirmed end date, and we still have no guarantee from the Victorian government that it will fund the long-overdue safety upgrades.

Safety of the pier has been a longstanding concern. Parks Victoria previously identified that the middle section of the pier, built in 1938, was in ‘poor condition’.

I understand that Parks Victoria finalised designs for repair in 2017 but the Victorian government refused to allocate funding to complete safety works.

Despite safety concerns being confirmed, last year the minister bizarrely advised Parliament that:

…the Pier has been assessed … as being in good condition and … is suitable for its current use.

And after closing the pier last week, Parks Victoria confirmed that:

Recent engineering assessments revealed significant concerns for the structural capacity of the pier…

Soon after my election to Parliament I formally raised safety at the pier with the government, but it fell on deaf ears. As a new Member of Parliament, it shocked me to see the government spend $50 million on the St Kilda pier—pork-barrelling a Labor marginal electorate—but not one dollar on the safety of the iconic Middle Brighton pier.

Since the closure, hundreds of constituents have expressed their outrage at the government’s decision to simply close the pier instead of providing funding to fix it.

The government must immediately commit funding for upgrades to the pier and provide the community with a time line for these works.

I look forward to the Minister’s response.