The Nationals Gippsland South Agnes fall Tourism Agnes Foster Toora Tourists viewing platform cantilevered viewing platform Danny O'Brien question time
South Gippsland tourism: Labor can’t be bothered
The Andrews Labor Government has been slammed for its apathy towards South Gippsland tourism after rejecting support for a new viewing platform at Agnes Falls.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien raised the need for funding for the new viewing platform in Parliament recently but said he was extremely disappointed with the response from the government.
“The Agnes Falls viewing platform out into the gorge at this beautiful location would be a fantastic tourism attraction for the region and should be funded by the state government.
“I raised this matter in Parliament last month and now I have the most pathetic response from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.
“The four sentence response uses two sentences to tell us what we already know and another two to talk about completely different projects that are not related to Agnes Falls at all.
“I’m sure the Friends of Agnes Falls and tourist operators around Foster and Toora will be delighted that a new disabled toilet is going in at Tidal River but that has nothing to do with Agnes Falls.”
Mr O’Brien said he was disappointed South Gippsland Shire had withdrawn the $520,000 it had previously allocated to complete the project but said ultimately it was on Parks Victoria land and should be funded by the state government.
“It would be nice if the Minister actually took the effort to address the question and provided a modicum of support for the hard-working volunteers at Agnes Falls and local tourist operators.
“This is in stark contrast to the $48 million of taxpayer’s money that went to Phillip Island Nature Park. While this is of course a key tourist attraction in our region I don’t think we’re asking for too much when seeking half a million dollars at Agnes Falls.”
Mr O’Brien said he would not give up on funding for this key local project and would continue to advocate to the government.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says he won’t give up on securing funding for the Agnes Falls viewing platform.
A copy of the question and answer follows.
ADJOURNMENT MATTER — Mr O'Brien (Gippsland South) to ask the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change —
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is for the minister to provide funding for the development of a cantilevered viewing platform at Agnes Falls in South Gippsland.
Ms Neville: Can you explain what that is?
Mr D O'BRIEN: I will explain what that is, Minister. This is a project that has been on the books for a number of years now, and it was committed to by the South Gippsland Shire Council up until very recently. Indeed last week the shire decided not to proceed with funding the cantilevered viewing platform, quite rightly, on the basis that it is in fact on Parks Victoria land. So the reason I am raising this with the minister is that she is the minister responsible for Parks Victoria.
Agnes Falls are actually the highest single-span falls in Victoria. They are just north of Toora. It is an absolutely beautiful spot and a real hidden gem. One of the issues with it, though, is the nature of the falls. The river comes down on a bend after the falls, so you cannot get a really good look at the falls themselves. A proposal has been around for a few years now to build a cantilevered viewing platform that literally goes out into the gorge so that you can get a proper view. It will be a fantastic tourism attraction because there will be an element of excitement of literally going out over the gorge. What I am calling for is the government to provide the funding for it. I recognise that Parks Victoria has a limited budget, and if the minister would like me to talk to the Minister for Regional Development or the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events about funding for this project, I am very happy to do that. Indeed when the coalition lost government in 2014 it had been the subject of an application under the old Regional Growth Fund. For whatever reason it did not go ahead.
This would be a fantastic tourism attraction and would add to the benefits of South Gippsland. It would be part of the potential circuit for people heading to Wilsons Promontory. While I am very disappointed that the administrators at South Gippsland shire have decided to withdraw the funding that they had committed-which, for the record, I think was $520 000-the work has all been done. The design work and the engineering have been agreed; therefore it is a project ready to go. I am calling on the government to provide funding to do this project. I think context is important: the government put forward, I think I am right in saying, $49 million to assist Phillip Island Nature Parks in the budget a couple of years ago. This is a fraction of that but would deliver a huge benefit to South Gippsland in tourism numbers, and so I seek the government's support for this important project.
The proposed development of a cantilevered viewing platform at Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve was until recently being fully funded and managed by the South Gippsland Shire Council.
The South Gippsland Shire Council has decided to reprioritise this funding and will not be progressing with the project.
Parks Victoria is currently focussed on creating the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park along the 40-kilometre coastline from San Remo to Inverloch, which will benefit the South Gippsland community, and bring more visitors to the region. It is also delivering the "Changing Places" toilet at Tidal River to support people with high-support accessibility needs, helping them to get out and experience Victoria's great outdoors.
Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change
Minister for Solar Homes