Columns
10 years on Image

10 years on

Melbourne Water moving to Docklands
Read more >>

Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
Read more >>

Chamber update Image

Chamber update

COVID-19 and the Chamber’s response
Read more >>

Docklander Image

Docklander

Empowering women locally and abroad
Read more >>

Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Conflicting speeds
Read more >>

Chinese

零工经济的灰色区域
Read more >>

Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Five strategies to get through coronavirus (COVID-19)
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

Bring on the lasers
Read more >>

Business Image

Business

New offerings at The District Docklands Market Lane
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Social distancing in apartment blocks is hard to do, but necessary right now
Read more >>

Maritime

Maritime matters
Read more >>

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

Adorable therapy
Read more >>

Precinct Perspectives

A new perspective from Batman’s Hill
Read more >>

SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

A chair’s perspective of vertical living in COVID-19 times
Read more >>

Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios
Read more >>

Sustainability

Sustainability in a pandemic world
Read more >>

The District

Eat your way through our most delicious hot spots
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

We need a clear cladding policy – now!
Read more >>

Abby's Angle  Image

Abby's Angle

Slow down. The panic is coursing through all our veins
Read more >>

Bureaucrats formalise river governance malaise

05 Dec 2018

Bureaucrats formalise river governance malaise Image

By Shane Scanlan

In 2014 hopes were high for the establishment of an independent authority to activate local waterways.

But four years later, those hopes have not only been scuttled, the bureaucratic overlay of intersecting state government organisations and regulations is recommended to be worse.

Docklands News has secured via Freedom of Information the state’s latest report in its effort to rationalise waterways governance – Lower Yarra River: Recommendations on Future Funding, Governance and Strategic Considerations for Management of the Lower Yarra River.

The report documents the conclusions of a three-person committee established in 2016 in response to the government’s rejection of a previous committee’s views, which in 2015 unanimously called for establishment of a local port authority for local waterways.

That committee had industry representation and, in hindsight, was the best opportunity for reform in this area in the past 20 years.

The government’s latest effort winds back the clock as it recommends formalisation of a situation where responsibility for local waterways is shared between Parks Victoria and the City of Melbourne.

But, it doesn’t stop there. This time, the “Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee” has recommended adding two more players into the mix at the highest level – Melbourne Water and “traditional owners”.

The committee recommends that the “Lower Yarra River Management Committee” report to the Parks Victoria (PV) Board.

It further recommends that other stakeholders and river users feed their views into the Lower Yarra River Management Committee but, tellingly, excludes reference to the charter boat industry.

The president of the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association, Jeff Gordon, said the Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee had not contacted his organisation during its two-year study period.

After reading the report, supplied by Docklands News, Mr Gordon said: “It looks like PV has secured its grip over the waterways. It is not prepared to give it up.”

“It is reaching out to the City of Melbourne and Melbourne Water but had failed to even discuss anything with the businesses who use the waterways for their livelihood.”

“I fail to understand why the charter boat industry of Melbourne has not been consulted in any way. My only conclusion is that they want to kill the industry. They don’t want us. We’re obviously in the way.”

Besides governance, the 2016 report made a number of other recommendations which can be summarised as:

A $2 million floating wharf for Southgate (with the cost to be recouped from the industry itself);

20-year leases for boat operators;

Land and funding set aside for back-of-house facilities;

PV to complete a dredging study by October 2015 and the government then fund a dredging program for the river; and

Streamlined approvals process for events.

Some targets have been hit:

The floating wharf at Southgate has been achieved;

20-years leases have not been achieved. Rather, the government is offering 10-year licences which, as Mr Gordon points out, are not recognised by banks and offer no real security of tenure;

Land and funding has “theoretically” been set aside for back-of-house facilities. But Development Victoria is currently assessing five-year tender bids for non-marine recreational use of this government-owned site upstream of the Bolte Bridge;

Funding for dredging has been achieved; and

Event approval processes remain as cumbersome and inaccessible as ever.

Overall, opportunities for commercial activation of the waterways are further away than ever.

A high-performing commercial operator assessing Melbourne as a place to introduce river-commuter ferries would take one look at the governance structure and run 100 miles.

The winners are the bureaucrats who have secured their short-sighted right to hold Melbourne back and put further pressure on its fleet of third-world vessels.

The loser is Docklands, which needs water-based activity to realise its full potential.

Share on Facebook

Stay in touch with Docklands. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Docklands News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.