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‘Give us a chance’: river committee

06 Jun 2017

‘Give us a chance’: river committee Image

The Lower Yarra River Management Advisory Committee (LYRMAC) has asked locals to withhold judgement on its success until July next year.

The State Government established the committee in February, having previously rejected a recommendation for an independent local waterways authority.

It is the 15th such committee to be established in the past 20 years.

The committee comprises Parks Victoria board member, Christine Trotman, City of Melbourne director, Linda Weatherson, and private sector representative Jonathon Metcalfe.

The committee was introduced to the local business community at a Docklands Chamber of Commerce event on May 17.

Local business associations were disappointed that the government appointed the committee rather than dismantling the fragmented and bureaucratic waterways governance that is widely believed to the major obstacle to economic activation.

Mr Metcalfe said: “My feeling is that the time to make the judgement on whether we have been effective as a committee is in July 2018.”

“Measure us by results.  I can say that the three of us on the committee are very passionate about making a difference, so we’ll work very hard to knock off as many of these important issues as we possibly can.”

Committee chair Christine Trotman spoke briefly at the start of the session but quickly handed control to Parks Victoria regional director Chris Hardman.

Mr Hardman advised the audience to move on from its disappointment and work closely with both Parks Victoria and the City of Melbourne to achieve better outcomes for the local waterways.

He rejected the idea of an independent waterways authority for the lower Yarra, claiming it would actually lead to greater duplication.

“What will happen is that you have a waterways authority here and upstream you will have a different one.  In the Maribrynong you will have a different one and out in Port Phillip Bay you will have a different one,” he said.

“So, if you want that, you will introduce greater complexity as people move between those areas. Alternatively, we can do the best we can to make this work.  Everyone should get on board and see if we can a good show of this.  If we can, then the problem is solved.”

“What’s the problem we are trying to solve?  We need to activate the waterways, get the investment in the waterways and those sorts of things.”

“So we can work together and do that of we can lament a recommendation that wasn’t taken up by the government of the day.”

“And, you know what?  If it doesn’t work and you’re not satisfied, then re-prosecute the case in the future,” Mr Hardman said.

The president of the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association, Jeff Gordon, said: “The government has recognised that a first class city needs a first class passenger boating industry and has provided $2 million dollars for a new floating landing at Southbank and recognises that the Melbourne passenger boat industry is worth at least $60million per year to the Melbourne economy.”

“The commercial vessels of Melbourne showcase the water and the waterfront of Melbourne to its inhabitants and visitors in a safe and enjoyable way.”

“However the industry will die a death by a thousand cuts if the government continues its cost recovery model with the Tour Operators Licence charging every passenger $2.40 per trip plus extra charges for landings where they pick up and drop off clients.”

Yarra River Business Association (YRBA) executive officer Tim Bracher said: “ We hope that the function was the start of a re-enagement between Parks Victoria and the river community, which has been absent for most of the past decade.”

“ We are looking forward to the long overdue floating berthing pontoon at Southgate and have impressed upon Park Victoria that its construction must not impinge on the key revenue period for river operators”.

“ Parks Victoria’s new CEO Matthew Jackson appears to be cut from a different cloth, so we’re hoping for a much more business friendly environment along the river”.

Mr Jackson will be guest speaker at the next Yarra River business lunch on 16 July at Rivers Edge Events.

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