MORNINGTON Liberal MP David Morris has slammed the previous state government over its “botched” Mornington pier project.
His criticism comes just weeks before Parks Victoria names the successful tenderer for the replacement of the outer, condemned section of the pier.
In May 2012, the state government announced it would spend up to $15 million to replace the outer section with its 125 pylons, which had been closed since August 2010 after a series of storms weakened the structure.
In the Parliament last week, Mr Morris said the project had gone “seriously off the rails” under the Brumby Labor government.
“In 2009, the Brumby government announced it would refurbish the pier and install wave screens,” he said.
“The amount allocated was intended to replace the inner and middle sections of the pier, which had become unstable as a result of harsh sea conditions over an extended period.
“The intention was also to remove rock which had been piled against the inner section of the pier to provide a measure of protection and to replace it with wave screens.”
Mr Morris said the rock had been removed, “leaving the harbour exposed”.
“The two sections of the pier were demolished and work was begun on the replacement structure.
“As we came to expect with any Labor project, this one went seriously off the rails. Not only were insufficient funds allocated to complete the project but it was established that the outer section of the pier, which it had been intended would be retained, was no longer safe and had to be closed.
“In order to meet the budget, the wave screens were dropped and the harbour was left open to the elements.”
“Under the direction of the Coalition government, the new section has been fully protected with wave screens, making a significant difference to safety in the harbour precinct.”
He said designs of the outer section had “met with wide acclaim from the local community”.
When completed, the government will have spent at least $18.5 million on the pier since August 2010.
The town’s iconic, 123-metre long pier is used by two million visitors a year, the second-most visited pier on Port Phillip.
It was closed in April 2010 after a storm damaged pylons and dislodged about 100 large deck planks.
Two more storms in August and September 2010 – with winds of more than 60 knots – further weakened the pier, a form of which has served the town for more than 150 years.
The middle, 53-metre long section replaced in 2010-11 saw old wooden pylons replaced by concrete ones with a three-piece reinforced concrete deck and timber planks on top.
In June 2011, The News reported the outer section was in danger of collapsing after engineers found 20 per cent of wooden pylons had failed or were about to fail and were not supporting the top deck.
About half of the remaining 80 per cent were in “average condition” and the outer section was one big storm away from becoming irreparable damaged. Luckily that storm did not arrive.