Labor silent on Gippsland Lakes Fund’s future
The Melbourne Labor Government has refused to commit funding to the Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund beyond this year, despite acknowledging the program was undertaking important work.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien questioned Environment Minister Lisa Neville during last week’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing on why Melbourne Labor hadn’t funded the program beyond one year.
“This program, set up under the former Coalition Government, has achieved excellent results for the Lakes environment and now its future is in doubt,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Nationals in government had funded the program until June this year and committed to it for another four years, so for Labor to commit funding in its first State Budget for just one year is very disappointing.
“City-centric Labor doesn’t care for regional Victorians and this is just another snub for Gippslanders by Daniel Andrews and Melbourne Labor. Most importantly it's a snub for the Lakes and our local environment."
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull echoed Mr O’Brien’s comments saying Labor’s failure to provide further funding had resulted in resignations of executive members, who had moved on to new jobs, due to the uncertainty.
“In 2012, the Coalition proved $10 million to establish the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee to develop and implement an environmental strategy for the lakes,” Mr Bull said.
“Since then, more than 66 projects are either underway or have already been delivered.
“Some of those projects include $126,000 to monitor the health of the Gippsland Lakes, $120,000 to develop an invasive pest plant and animal strategy, and $200,000 to restore habitat for migratory birds.
“Many of these programs need continuation, particularly in the areas of monitoring and research, to have a longer term benefit and that is why a commitment beyond a year is required.”
Mr Bull said the Gippsland Lakes provided a huge economic benefit to towns such as Paynesville, Metung, Lakes Entrance and Loch Sport.
“Locals and visitors love the Gippsland Lakes and that is why it’s so important we protect and maintain their health so they can be enjoyed for many more years to come and I urge Labor to continue with the Coalition’s foresight and provide ongoing funding to this essential program,” Mr Bull said.