Victorian Labor out to sea on Better Boating community consultation

Hundreds of communities across our state are crying out for better boat ramps and jetties, but with under two years left to deliver on a commitment to upgrade boating infrastructure across the state, the Labor Government is wasting time – and taxpayer funds – on boating projects its own MPs don’t support.

Recreational fishing and boating provide massive social and financial benefits to outer suburban and regional communities in Victoria.

COVID-19 shutdowns and the hit to Victoria’s tourism sector mean that we must do all we can to attract Victorians out to wet a line when restrictions lift – including by providing top-notch boat ramps, jetties and fish cleaning facilities.

The Liberal Nationals are calling on Fishing and Boating Minister Melissa Horne to explain the process that is used to identify, approve, and prioritise projects to be completed under the Better Boating initiative.

Minister Horne and Labor MP Danny Pearson recently gave their full support to construction of a boat ramp on the Maribyrnong River. But in an embarrassing backflip, Mr Pearson has now been caught out in an attempt to torpedo the project and recently submitted a request the boat ramp now “not proceed” (Source: Government letter dated June 1, 2021).

The Minister must detail criteria her department uses to assess priority projects under the Better Boating Fund, like how they would be determined and whether or not this process would be made public. But the Minister has refused to respond.

It follows revelations Victorian Labor has broken its promise to put “every cent” of collected licensing fees back into initiatives designed to improve boating and fishing experiences for all Victorians through the Better Boating Fund.

This year’s State Budget papers show Victorian Labor has committed just 56 per cent of the value of marine licence fees (or $10.962 million) to the Better Boating Fund – leaving more than $8 million worth of marine licence fees seemingly unaccounted for.

Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Fishing and Boating Brad Rowswell

Boaters and fishers need more facilities – they don’t need more wasted time and money.

It’s taken the Labor Government more than half its term in power to finally establish the Better Boating Fund.

This Labor Government is famous for its budget blowouts and project delays. Boaters and fishers deserve better.

If the Andrews Labor Government can’t even effectively consult with members of its own caucus, how can it be trusted to get it right when it comes to consulting the community on something as basic as a single lane boat ramp?

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