Columns
Residents' Association Image

Residents' Association

Congratulations Martin Foley!
Read more >>

Business in Southbank Image

Business in Southbank

A Wellness Campus for Southbank
Read more >>

St Johns Southgate Image

St Johns Southgate

Baubles and bollards
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Happy with your OC manager? Most are
Read more >>

Montague Community Alliance Image

Montague Community Alliance

It really is the season to be festive!
Read more >>

Metro Tunnel

New cadets start their journey
Read more >>

Federal Politics Image

Federal Politics

Stand together against Jihadist terror
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Now Labor can work with residents
Read more >>

Southbanker Image

Southbanker

Spreading the word from the heartland
Read more >>

Housing Image

Housing

We are leaving an intergenerational time bomb for our children
Read more >>

History Image

History

Workhorses of industry in Southbank
Read more >>

Safety and Security

Merry Christmas from Southbank Police
Read more >>

Yarra River Business Association Image

Yarra River Business Association

Reflecting on the past 20 years
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Authenticity: what does it really mean and how do I get more of it?
Read more >>

Skypad Living Image

Skypad Living

Luv thy NABERS (for apartments)
Read more >>

Southbank Fashion Image

Southbank Fashion

Spring racing in Southbank
Read more >>

Street Smarts Image

Street Smarts

Power Street – Southbank
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

Tram shame
Read more >>

Waterways governance: So close, and yet …

13 Aug 2015

Waterways governance: So close, and yet … Image

Editorial comment, by Shane Scanlan

The Southbank and Docklands communities have 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 page 3, the working party charged with recommending reforms to the State Government has formulated a compromise position that pleases no one.

There have been some victories in the process.  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 in play but, for the waterways to flourish, decision-making authority 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 and see only risk, rules that need enforcing and taxes that need collecting.  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 prevail.

With the right people, the right attitudes and with high-level political patronage, the proposed interim arrangement could work.

But, as an indication of what is more likely, the word “interim” does not appear in the draft report to government (despite being agreed to at the final meeting).

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 outlined 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.

Stay in touch with Southbank. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Southbank Local News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.