PARK WATCH March 2018 |
The release of the Andrews Government’s final master plan for Point Nepean National Park is welcome, says Chris Smyth.
Are we there yet?
That has been a frequently asked question during the more than 20 years that the Point Nepean saga has been running.
It was asked when the federal government established a reference group that produced a draft master plan in 2002.
It was asked when the federal Coalition government’s planned sell-off of public land was stopped in its tracks in 2003.
It was asked when the federal Labor government returned the Quarantine Station to Victoria in 2009, and the state Labor government produced a draft master plan in 2010.
It was even asked when the Napthine government rejected that draft plan in 2014 in favour of a long-term lease with a developer for a spa retreat and hotel complex that would have been devastating for the park’s environment.
And in 2018 we are now asking it again. Three years after Victorian Labor’s 2014 election commitment to review the Point Nepean lease and return Parks Victoria to managing the entire park, the state government has delivered. In 2015, the developer’s lease was allowed to expire, Parks Victoria is back and, after two years of research and consultation, the Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio launched the park’s final master plan in January 2018.
So, are we close? Let’s hope so.
When releasing the final master plan at a small gathering in front of the Quarantine Station’s disinfecting and shower complex, Minister D’Ambrosio praised the patient work of the community and, especially, the one constant in years of campaigning, Kate Baillieu.
The minister also committed $3.7 million to the master plan’s implementation and new visitor facilities, including the upgrade of the disinfecting complex to become the beating heart of the park’s interpretation. In other commitments:
- a new Point Nepean Advisory Group will be established and report to the Parks Victoria Board,
- a new staff member will be appointed to implement the plan and be based in the park,
- new camping experiences will be installed at the Quarantine Station,
- the Defence Road out to Fort Nepean will be repaired.
Although these commitments are relatively small – the master plan estimates that its full implementation may require $140 million of public and private investment in the coming years – they serve to reaffirm the state government’s support for an integrated national park that protects the area’s natural and cultural heritage, the very thing the community has been urging for more than 20 years.
The government could immediately save at least $2-3 million capital expenditure, and millions on long-term recurrent spending, by scuttling a proposed new jetty in the Ticonderoga Bay Sanctuary Zone, previously established to protect the endangered burrunan dolphin. It will significantly increase boat traffic in the area and distort park management priorities, taking resources away from protecting the park.
Thank you to all of you who supported this community campaign over the years. VNPA will continue to monitor the implementation of the plan, including options for accommodation and new buildings. For more information and to view the final master plan go to: www.parks.vic.gov.au/pointnepeanplan