MEDIA RELEASE 10 September 2021 |
Legislation introduced to Victoria’s Parliament this week is not the best way to improve management of the Great Ocean Road.
“Establishing a new Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCPA) basically plonks an expensive and cumbersome level of bureaucracy above current national park management along Victoria’s greatest tourist attraction” says the Victorian National Parks Association’s Phil Ingamells.
“Parks Victoria will now be sub-contracted to manage some of its finest coastal reserves, like Port Campbell and Great Otway National Parks, and Twelve Apostles Marine National Park, and compelled to answer to the authority and direction of this new agency.
Unfortunately, the new agency is unlikely to have the expertise and experience required to manage some of Victoria’s most prized natural areas” says Mr Ingamells
“The great range of the many small council reserves along the road, camp grounds run by committees of management, and toilet blocks that need upgrades, definitely calls for co-ordinated management. However extending that co-ordination and control to the national parks is unnecessary, costly, and potentially leaves them open to development proposals by an agency that will be strongly driven to promote tourism.
“The new Bill is fortunately careful in the way it maintains the important protections offered by Victoria’s National Parks Act 1975, but it doesn’t guarantee the range of skills required to implement those protections” says Mr Ingamells.
“And oddly, given that one of the biggest problems along the Great Ocean Road is the car-clogged tourist road itself, the new authority has not been given oversight or control of the road’s management.” Says Mr Ingamells.
He adds: “Critically, the new authority is set up to be more-or-less self-funding, potentially hoovering up carpark and camping fees to pay for coastal management. However there has been no business case presented to the public as a workable management model for this public authority. Indeed, as far as we understand, the authority is already stretched for funds when its only job so far has been to set itself up!
“There is a far better management model to protect the integrity of the Great Ocean Road and enhance the visitor experience:
- Give a new Great Ocean Road Authority (GORA) clear management control of the many small reserves, camp grounds and other public facilities along the Great Ocean Road.
- Give GORA a planning role for the road itself.
- Leave management of our great national parks and reserves under the expertise of Parks Victoria, but include a Memorandum of Understanding whereby Parks Victoria will routinely consult with GORA on mutually important issues.
- Increase secure funding for Parks Victoria’s national parks and reserves to a level that reflects their considerable benefit to tourism, and recognises the increasing difficulty of managing threats to Victoria’s biodiversity, especially under climate change.”
Areas currently under Parks Victoria control that will be handed to the new authority include all, or large sections of, Port Campbell National Park, Great Otway National Park, Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Point Addis Marine National Park, Twelve Apostles Marine National Park and Arches Marine Sanctuary.