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A fish returns to the water

31 May 2016

A fish returns to the water Image

By Shane Scanlan

Doug Jarvis was always going to struggle as the City of Melbourne’s waterways manager, so Docklands is eternally grateful that he lasted five years.

Essentially a self-employed businessman, used to achieving results, he was like a fish out of water within the bureaucratic local government morass.

A man with talent, vision, passion and energy simply doesn’t fit the bill. Alice was more at home in Wonderland.

Doug achieved many positive outcomes for Docklands through sheer single-mindedness and determination.

That the final, and most significant, deliverable – that of waterways governance reform – eluded him is no disgrace. The reform is well and truly on the agenda and it’s up to us locals to keep relentless pressure on government.

Doug made the right decision to quit and go fishing.  Like a dog with a bone, his bloody-mindedness on this issue could have had serious implications if he didn’t let go.

“It’s affecting my health mate,” was more understatement than admission.

It’s hard to imagine anyone possessed of more dogged determination than Doug.  It’s the same never-say-die drive that saw him complete the two-handed Melbourne to Osaka yacht race across the dark and deep Pacific Ocean and injure himself in any number of dangerous sports and pursuits as a younger man.

It greatly hurt his pride to admit defeat at the hands of the risk managers, buck-passers, seat-warmers and other assorted incompetents who inhabit the public sector.

In a email to old industry contacts announcing his availability, Doug said: “If rewards are commensurate, taming lions, gathering eggs from wild crocodiles or milking venom from taipans would all be considered. However, I have had enough of herding cats!”

Melbourne Passenger Boating Association president Jeff Gordon said Docklands felt empty since Doug left on April 26.

In a letter to Doug from the association, Mr Gordon said: “Before you arrived on the scene the charter boat operators were feeling unsupported in a large space, with the City of Melbourne seemingly unable to understand, let alone attend to our requirements.”

“Parks Victoria had just upped their berthing fees by 400 per cent and we were all in a very combative mood.”

“You took the initiative and from the outset wanted to understand us and to work with us, a big ask, considering what you would have been told on entering the space.”

“Most importantly, we could see that you were a fellow ‘sea crab’ and could understood our particular needs. You were prepared to work with our very individual personalities and we got to know you and trust your judgement.”

“We could also see that you were working behind the scenes to make the ‘land crabs’ understand what we were offering and gradually, like the tide turning from a very low ebb, we could feel a positive change in attitude taking place.”

Doug didn’t have the temperament for the public sector.  He could never understand why facts and logic were not valued.  Conversely, irrational decisions made on the basis of internal political alignments were extremely frustrating.

Docklands came close to losing Doug some years early when the council perversely determined he was conflicted and had to remove himself from anything to do with Marina YE, where he had rented a berth for his boat.

As the ultimate manager of the marina, the pointless day-to-day impracticality of this nearly did his head in.

Above all, Doug is a salesman and a marketer. His advocacy for Docklands will be sorely missed.

Melbourne City Marina is flying.  Big-spending super yachts are heading our way and the superb new marina lounge and office will be a lasting legacy to his efforts.

The “land crabs” are starting to “get” the water and its importance to the future wellbeing of our suburb.  

We are still without our ferry terminal in the south basin of Victoria Harbour.  And we are yet to see scheduled water transport between Federation Square and Docklands.

But we now know what we want and we’ll be vigilant and protective of this space.

So, thanks for striving Doug and be proud of the positive benefits your efforts have yielded for Docklands. We’ll try to not let you down.

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