Introducing new overriding Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority will strip protections and weaken the integrity of the parks estate.
It will put Parks Victoria in a subordinate role, handing crucial guardianship responsibilities under the National Parks Act 1975 to a tourism-focused authority.
It sets a terrible precedent for environmental management across the state.
One of the biggest issues is that new authority won’t be government-funded. It will have to generate income from carparks, campgrounds and other fees – a move that will put pressure on our already vulnerable parks.
Our national parks and their manager Parks Victoria need improved government funding, not a takeover.
There are significant issues with the management of increasing tourism along the road, and the assortment of campgrounds, parking areas, toilet blocks and other small areas of public land. It makes sense for a new agency to simplify and coordinate the road’s problematic facilities.
But it is a shocking territorial leap to snatch management of the national parks along the coastline as well.
The new law would fundamentally change the aim of park management. Instead of primarily protecting our native plants and animals and the landscape it would see managing the national parks as a ‘compromise’ between environmental management and the tourism economy.
Great care needs to be taken to ensure that Victoria’s prized natural areas are protected and to respect the purpose and value of our national parks.