Columns
10 years on Image

10 years on

Bargain hunters descend on Docklands
Read more >>

Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
Read more >>

Chamber update Image

Chamber update

Bricks and Clicks – David Koch
Read more >>

Docklander Image

Docklander

Helping future generations tackle waste
Read more >>

Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Conflicting speeds
Read more >>

Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Women’s Health Week is here
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

Get rid of it
Read more >>

New Businesses Image

New Businesses

Fear of the dentist? Fear not!
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Refund stamp duty to those affected by flammable cladding
Read more >>

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

A Docklands duo
Read more >>

Precinct Perspectives

A day in the life of Victoria Harbour
Read more >>

SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

Vertical living style
Read more >>

Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios
Read more >>

The District

The District Docklands in 24 hours
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Small print shrinks state cladding fund
Read more >>

What Women Want - With Abby Crawford Image

What Women Want - With Abby Crawford

We have to do better than this
Read more >>

Waterways governance: So close, and yet   ...

03 Sep 2015

Editorial comment by Shane Scanlan

Docklands has come so close to achieving an economic “silver bullet” with waterways governance reform but, sadly, a solution remains as elusive as ever.

As reported on this page, the working party charged with recommending reforms to the State Government has formulated a compromise position that pleases no one.

Great progress has been made and there have been some victories along the way.  Agreement has been reached on the need for an independent waterways authority.  And at least the governance issue was discussed.

But the regulators (Parks Victoria) remain in charge, which, most likely, means that nothing will change.

The regulators need to remain involved but, for the waterways to flourish, decision-making needs to pass to the innovators.

It is the innovators who look at the river see its unrealised potential.  They see tourists, jobs, scheduled water transport, activity, vibrancy and a buzzing sub-set of the local economy.

It’s not the fault of the regulators that they look at the same stretch of water and see only risk, rules to enforce and taxes to collect.  It’s also not surprising that they fail to see themselves as part of the problem.

They don’t actually understand why they have been asked to hand over the reins.

The City of Melbourne is equally at fault and, again, it’s not fair to blame bureaucrats for being wired differently to entrepreneurs.

The council sees the waterways as an operational matter and seems determined to ignore the economic development potential of the river.

The regulators can’t see what’s not there and the business representatives on the Lower Yarra River Use Future Directions Group failed to transfer the vision.

The risk is that the visionaries will give up, pack up and leave during the next (supposedly-interim) period of hybrid administration during which a committee of three will attempt to direct the regulator.  Momentum will be lost and status quo will most likely prevail.

With the right people, the right attitudes and with high-level political patronage, the proposed interim arrangement could work.  But a sunset clause should have been inserted into the document.

The business representatives on the working group did not have the bureaucratic knowledge or experience to counter the legislative arguments put forward in support of the agreed model.

In the interests of consensus, they also accepted the anticipated practical difficulties in moving too quickly to an independent authority.

It would be nice (but probably naive) to think that government representatives were genuinely on a short journey towards an independent waterways model.

The Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, does not have to accept recommendations made by the working party.  

But, without loud dissenting voices, there is no political mileage to be gained from removing the fox from its position in charge of the hen-house.

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.

Docklands is Beautiful