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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

‘Ground Hog Day’ for boaties

01 Feb 2017

By Shane Scanlan

Charter boat operators feel they are back at “square one” despite government promises to activate local waterways.

Melbourne Passenger Boating Association president Jeff Gordon says it’s been more than a year since the Lower Yarra River Use Future Directions Group (LYRUFDG) recommended the establishment of an independent interim committee charged with bringing an independent authority into existence within two years.

The State Government did not accept this recommendation but, rather, promised to establish a three-person committee to advise Parks Victoria on specific operational aspects.

And, while this fell a long-way short of what was wanted and needed, even this has not been done.

Mr Gordon said it was incredible that in January 2017 no announcement about the advisory committee had been made.

“We understand that Parks intends to appoint one of its own and someone from the City of Melbourne,” he said.

Mr Gordon said a private enterprise appointment had been expected but, without any real influence or purpose, it was difficult to attract a suitable candidate.

“Our hopes for some action to get this local waterway moving towards a single independent authority appear doomed,” he said.

“Everyone is paying lip service to the widely-accepted need to reform governance of the waterways.”

“It is clear what is needed, but bureaucrats seem to have simply buried the concept with the hope that no one will notice or care.”

Water-based businesses have been in steady decline in Docklands over the past decade and point to excessive governance as the primary reason.

Without a single (and sympathetic) decision-making authority, operators say they are facing a death by a thousand cuts. Taxes and charges continue to rise, but suitable tenure and needed facilities are still not present.

It is understood that national and international operators capable of undertaking a commuter water transport service will continue to avoid Melbourne while the current labyrinth of regulatory red-tape remains unreformed.

Melbourne remains a first-world city (some say the most liveable) with a third-world charter fleet and bereft of a regular river commuter system.

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