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Sarah Henderson, Liberal candidate for Corangamite, met with 60 local residents to hear their case for a heated swimming pool in Apollo Bay. Corangamite is the most marginal seat in the September federal election, currently held by Darren Cheeseman ALP.

?????????????????????????????????????????.Sarah Henderson meets Apollo Bay residents about their new pool
Ms. Henderson spoke with community members in the Senior Citizens Hall about their needs for a heated pool:
” I’m doing my very best to advocate for the really important projects in our region…from what I’ve seen today, the pool is the number one project in Apollo Bay.” If elected, Sarah says she’ll ” bang the drum, bang the table and do the very best I can for projects such as this one.”

The community members at the meeting ranged in age from parents with young children to grandparents. ??????????????????????????????????

They told their stories of the need to have a heated pool for children to learn to swim, for rehabilitation, for hydrotherapy for an aging community, and for visitors too. One resident wants to celebrate her 80th birthday in 5 years time, in Apollo Bay’s heated pool.

For many years, Apollo Bay community has been calling for a heated swimming pool so the treacherous trip through the Otways to Colac, or to Lavers Hill once a week, to access hydrotherapy or swimming lessons for children, wouldn’t be necessary.This recent push for a heated pool started over two years ago with the formation of Apollo Bay Aquatic Centre Inc.

In March this year, after the pool committee presented a self-funded feasibility study and concept plans for the pool, the Colac Otway shire voted unanimously to provide the running costs.  A community fundraising campaign to raise 10% of the capital cost has begun with Bendigo Bank pledging $20,000. Now it’s up to Federal and State funding for the remainder of the capital costs.

Jane Gross, Secretary of the Aquatic Centre committee was pleased with the community’s  response at the meeting, and with Ms. Henderson’s support. Jane Gross at meeting with Sarah Henderson

Jane is feeling hopeful: ” Sarah was happy to come down to meet with us. Darren Cheeseman too was fairly positive when we met  at his office in Waurn Ponds on Wednesday . He noted that Apollo Bay hasn’t had any spending or infrastructure for a very long time.  If we get a federal election promise this September by whoever gets in, we’ll hope to have the pool up and running by2015 “.

A month after the dramatic  Black Saturday fires around Kinglake in 2009,  logging recommenced in the Central Highlands forests at Toolangi.


These tall mountain ash forests are where the devastating Kinglake Black Saturday fires stopped.

Since that time thousands of hectares  have been logged primarily for woodchips. The tall mountain ash forests of Mt. St.Leonards are being stripped, opened up to weedy grass invasion and dried out,  creating a further fire risk.

These forests are home for many endangered species, most notably the leadbeaters possum, Victoria’s state emblem.

VicForests are currently being sued by some community members for logging leadbeater possum habitat. The Appeal will be heard in April.

Locals are outraged at the logging in Toolangi, and have kept up their opposition with public meetings, submissions, requests to state government. Tony Burke Federal Environment Minister has been requested to intervene.

Local resident and avid conservationist Bernie Mace has lived on 140 acres in Toolangi for the last 24 years –  mountain ash country. He remembers as a young child walking at his uncle’s place at Pheasant Creek near Kinglake and seeing the tall mountain ash trees ” … enormous trunks of enormous trees which seemed to go on forever…”

Bernie was enraged when logging recommenced at Toolangi following the Black Saturday fires. Listen to  Bernie Mace

With other locals he continues to fight on to end logging at Toolangi.

The call to add over 6500 hectares of internationally significant heathland at Anglesea to the Great Otway National Park has landed on the desk of Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.

Geelong Environment Council and other nature conservation groups  have written to Tony Burke requesting that the unused 6,480 hectare portion of Alcoa’s Anglesea Coal Mining Lease  be added to the Great Otway National Park giving it protection for all time.

Alcoa’s open-cut brown coal mine at Anglesea is surrounded by botanically unique heathlands .

They are home to many different species such as the critically endangered New Holland mouse,

the rare white-footed dunnart

the white-footed dunnart

and swamp antechinus.

With 79 orchid species it is considered one of the most orchid-rich sites in Australia.

Despite requests to add the unused part of the mining lease to Great Otway National Park, in October last year, the state government re-leased 7,145 hectares of heathland back to Alcoa. The new 50 year lease took effect on 1st February this year.

The lease had been granted to Alcoa in 1961 by the Bolte government. This was to operate the open-cut mine and 150 megawatt power station to power Alcoa’s aluminium smelter 35 kilometres away at Pt Henry.

Only 665 hectares of the lease are planned for the current and future mining of coal. The rest is co-operatively managed between Alcoa, Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment.   Alcoa had sought the second 50 year term of its lease to provide the business certainty required to secure future investment in the Anglesea and Geelong Alcoa operations. However this does not secure the protection of the heathlands.

Earlier this year, Alcoa, which already receives government subsidies, was given a bail-out package of over $40 million. This was to help keep the Point Henry smelter operating in Geelong for at least two years.

Joan Lindros, President of GEC, believes the leased mine site and surrounding heathland could be sold to “the highest bidder”.

Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) also want National Park protection for Anglesea heathlands. Simon Branigan,  VNPA Marine and Coastal Project Officer says that this would give the heathlands “…the highest level of protection…”

Anglesea power station is the smallest coal-fired power station in Victoria. According to Environment Victoria, it could be replaced with cleaner energy sources including renewable and gas.

At the time of this report there has been no comment from Minister Burke’s office.