The Nationals Boating Blue infrastructure fund Danny O'Brien City-centric Boat fees Recreational fishing

Labor leaving Gippsland councils up the creek without a paddle

The Andrews Labor Government is again dishing out unfair treatment to rural Victorians, agreeing to fund metropolitan councils’ boat ramps and adjacent car parks maintenance but refusing to commit to doing the same for country councils.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said the Andrews Government was dudding recreational fishers and councils in Gippsland.

Under questioning by Mr O’Brien during a Public Accounts and Estimates (PAEC) hearing, Minister Jaala Pulford said the government would subsidise launching and parking fees at metropolitan councils.

But the Minister would not confirm that rural and regional councils that choose not to charge fees, such as Wellington Shire, will be included.

“I asked the Minister repeatedly at PAEC whether the government would fund the maintenance costs for all councils, including those that cover boating costs from general revenue, but would only say it would be ‘part of a future review’,” said Mr O’Brien.

Metropolitan councils, like Frankston, which has two boat ramps and charges fees to cover maintenance will now be subsidised in full by the Labor Government, while rural councils like Wellington Shire, which has more than 15 ramps and car parks to maintain, will be subject to a review.

“Recreational fishing and boating is a favourite pastime of many people in our community and of course brings tens of thousands of visitors to Gippsland every year.

“We know that South Gippsland Shire charges parking fees at Port Welshpool – the Labor Government needs to come clean and say whether it will also subsidise those costs, as well as the other locations where the Shire covers the costs itself.

“We will have metropolitan councils benefiting while regional councils don’t. It’s time the Andrews Government pulls its head out of the city and treats all Victorians equally.”

Shadow Minister for Fishing and Boating Tim Bull said Regional Victorians were being ignored again by Labor.

“The city-centric Andrews Government is excluding regional and rural councils because they choose to bear the cost of maintaining their boating facilities, to the benefit of Victoria’s fishing and boating community,” Mr Bull said.

“If the Andrews Government is subsidising city councils’ boat ramps and car parks, it should offer the same assistance to rural and regional councils – which often have many more facilities and greater costs.”

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