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Parks Victoria shows its true colours

05 Feb 2018

By Shane Scanlan

As if to demonstrate once and for all its inability to deliver, Parks Victoria has issued a press release celebrating that it has taken two and a half years to select designs for pontoons it plans to install at Southgate.

Back in 2015, despite unanimous support for a single, independent waterways authority recommended by the Yarra River Use Future Directions Group (LYRUFDG), Parks managed to retain its jurisdiction over the river.

Another committee was established – the 15th such body in 20 years – and $2 million was announced for new pontoons at Southgate.

It took until February 2017 to establish the new committee and until last month to select a pontoon design.

The committee’s three-year tenure is due to expire in July this year, by which time Parks Victoria expects to have installed the new pontoons.

“With designs finalised, and project planning well underway, project completion is anticipated in mid-2018,” its January 24 press release said.

The president of the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association, Jeff Gordon, responded: “The government made the funds available in early 2016 and Parks Victoria promised the industry that a floating landing would be constructed during winter 2017.”

“However, in the usual slow Parks Victoria timescale, we are now finally seeing at least a plan.”

“Surely this sends a red flag to the government on just how slow the bureaucracy at Parks Victoria works.”

“The industry called for an independent management authority for Melbourne’s Lower Yarra and we would like the government to relook at this proposal in light of the slow response.”

Parks Victoria Melbourne division executive director, Chris Hardman, said: “Parks Victoria is working with the Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee and key stakeholders to ensure the proposed floating landing upgrade at Southgate will be delivered to avoid the peak berthing periods.”

Last May, in response to critical questioning about the failure to deliver an independent waterways authority, Mr Hardman said: “What’s the problem we are trying to solve? We need to activate the waterways, get the investment in the waterways and those sorts of things.”

“So we can work together and do that. Or we can lament a recommendation that wasn’t taken up by the government of the day.”

“And, you know what? If it doesn’t work and you’re not satisfied, then re-prosecute the case in the future,” Mr Hardman said.

The January 24 Parks press release said: “Introducing floating landings that meet Disability Discrimination Act compliance standards will improve safety and access for commercial vessels at various tides.”

“The project includes refurbishing the information and ticket booths improving point of sale facilities that will enhance the visitor and tourism experience.”

“To ensure minimal disruption to the industry peak period an extension of the project completion timeline has been supported by the Lower Yarra River Advisory Committee due to specialised contractor availability.”

Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee chair Chris Trotman said:

“The Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee is pleased to see the Southgate Floating Landing Project progress to the project implementation phase. It’s important to ensure the services provided for visitors to Melbourne provide the best and safest experience possible.”

The Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee is also supposed to recommend to government appropriate future governance arrangements for the Lower Yarra.

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