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Businesses seek an activated waterway

16 Apr 2015

Businesses seek an activated waterway Image

The Yarra River Business Association (YRBA) released a position statement last month calling on the State Government to adopt an independent management authority for Melbourne’s waterfront.

The document, entitled Achieving a Sustainable and Activated Waterway, states the position of the YRBA and the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association (MPBA).

The two organisations are represented on the Lower Yarra River Use Future Directions Group, which is charged with recommending changes to waterways governance.

The position statement provides a number of immediate recommendations for the State Government, as part of its push for the implementation of an “independent, purposed-designed waterway management authority”.

The commercial vessels operating on Melbourne’s waterways are currently being regulated by Parks Victoria, which has come under fierce scrutiny from industry stakeholders on a host of governance issues.

The document states that both the YRBA and MPBA “are united in their desire to see a more equitable and transparent governance regime on the Lower Yarra River, in order to revitalise the commercial boating industry and to sustainably activate the waterway.”

However, according to the statement, both organisations believe in the immediate implementation of an independent advisory body, which would work with the regulator to manage the waterway and act as “a conduit between stakeholders.”

“As an interim step, a high level, resourced advisory body, comprising public and private sector interests, working in complement with the waterway regulator should be considered,” the document states.

“The advisory body could oversee the marketing role and related business development opportunities. The body would need to be fully funded and professionally staffed, with it scope and roles clearly defined.”

“The advisory body would create the genesis of what would evolve into the new integrated authority for Melbourne Waterfront.”

The statement’s summary recommends:

A range of lease options be available to approved and accredited businesses;

The granting of berthing and booth leases be subject to an industry determined and regulated accreditation scheme;

An initial capping of berthing leases/operating licences;

Installation of modern, safe berthing infrastructure to service Melbourne’s main passenger boat terminus at Southgate and a water transport hub/terminus in Docklands;

Asset maintenance key performance indicators for the regulator to be included in new berthing contracts;

Removal of inappropriate and inequitable Tour Operator License (TOL) on Yarra River boat operators; and

A cost-effective dispute/mediation process for river operators and the lessor/regulator.

The future directions group is expected to report to the State Government on appropriate governance structures next month.

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