MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 4 June 2019 |

Conservation groups are alarmed at plans for a new authority to take control of national parks along the Great Ocean Road.

“A proposed new authority to manage some of the state’s most precious national parks along the Great Ocean Road is an institutional land grab,” says Victorian National Parks Association spokesperson, Phil Ingamells. “While the now famous tourism route needs careful planning and management, roughly 80% of the road that is already protected in national parks is not the problem the new authority should be addressing.”

The Victorian government is proposing legislation to establish a Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority to control all public land along the route and establish a new planning framework across the region. Consultation is currently being run until mid-June, however the community has not been asked to comment on the proposed takeover of national parks.

The new authority would duplicate management expertise that already resides in Parks Victoria. “That’s a waste of resources that would be much better spent on solving the area’s big problem – how to handle the rapidly growing tourism numbers, while protecting the attractions that bring them.”

“Giving the new authority management responsibility for our national parks is institutional overreach. It is a completely unnecessary duplication of park management skills and expertise, and sets a dangerous precedent for park management across the rest of Victoria.”

“Park management can and should improve, but that should be addressed by resourcing Parks Victoria properly, not trying to duplicate its functions,” said Mr Ingamells.

Funding for Parks Victoria, which manages our most precious parks and reserves, currently sits at a tiny 0.4% of the state budget, and hasn’t increased in real terms for decades. An increase to a mere 1% would greatly improve the agency’s capacity to manage our natural heritage, and increase visitor enjoyment of our finest natural areas.

The proposed Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority would take over management responsibility for thousands of hectares of national parks, including marine national parks. The parks affected are:

•          Port Campbell National Park (1,830 hectares)
•          Point Addis Marine National Park (4,600 hectares)
•          Twelve Apostles Marine National Park (7,500 hectares)
•          The Arches Marine Sanctuary (45 hectares)
•          Bay of Islands Coastal Park (950 hectares)
•          Unspecified parts of Great Otway National Park, but including the Otway Lighthouse and camping areas.

“Dedicated planning oversight for private and public land along the road is probably necessary,” says Mr Ingamells, “and co-ordinated management responsibility for about 70 small parks and reserves currently under the care of a great hotch-potch of local committees, councils and government departments is reasonable, but there is no need to undermine management of our great national parks.”

The VNPA has called for the Andrews Government to rule out changing control of national parks.

There is consultation being undertaken over the next two weeks until the 18 June, but the community is not being invited to comment about the takeover of national parks. The consultation process for the Great Ocean Road Action Plan can be found here: engage.vic.gov.au/great-ocean-road

More information on the flawed proposal here.