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New hope for river governance reform

08 Apr 2016

New hope for river governance reform Image

By Shane Scanlan

Local communities are confident that long-overdue reform of how our waterways are governed will be achieved, following a deputation to Environment Minister, Lisa Neville, last month.

Deputation members have reported that Ms Neville has directed departmental staff to pursue the establishment of a single, independent waterways authority.

While no official announcement is expected, it is understood that Ms Neville supports the reform and has asked her bureaucrats to work out the best way to achieve it.

Waterways governance reform has long been an objective of the Yarra River Business Association (YRBA), the Melbourne Passenger Boat Association (MPBA) and the Docklands Chamber of Commerce.

Both the YRBA and the MPBA were represented on the recently-completed Lower Yarra River Use Future Directions Group’s (LYRUFDG) which last year recommended the formation of an interim committee charged with working towards a single, independent waterways authority.

However, in late February, departmental representatives told working group members that Ms Neville had rejected the governance recommendations.

Business members on the LYRUFDG were bitterly disappointed but had taken heart from some yet-to-be-announced funding for badly needed local infrastructure and other sweeteners.

They have been reluctant to publicly comment further on the governance issue for fear of jeopardising the expected infrastructure improvements.

It appears that the Minister had, in fact, not rejected the reform agenda and has now taken a personal interest in achieving appropriate governance.

As a result of the delegation, an event has been organised to consult further with the local community on the governance issue.  

It is on Thursday, April 28 at Berth restaurant, 45 NewQuay Promenade, Docklands, at 5.45pm for a 6pm start.

Limited seats are available and participants must register to attend by emailing the Docklands Chamber of Commerce at admin@docklandscc.com.au

At the time of printing, it was uncertain whether Ms Neville herself would be attending, but delegation members reported that she expressed a desire to attend.

The delegation was led by the Docklands Chamber of Commerce and included Docklands Community Forum and residential representatives.

The group presented Ms Neville with a document outlining its vision for the waterways and views on the current situation, including a series of case studies outlining how the current model is failing the waterways and the community.

This document can be found at:

www.docklandscc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Lisa-Neville-Deputation.pdf.

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