Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Gippsland lakes sacrificed by city-centric government.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Gippsland lakes sacrificed by city-centric government

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Source: Darren Chester MP

The State Government has been accused of trading the economic and environmental health of Gippsland for green gardens in Melbourne by The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said the decision to allow 10 billion litres of environmental flows from the Thomson River to be diverted to Melbourne would compromise the health of the Gippsland Lakes, which are vital to a $200 million per year tourism industry in East Gippsland.

At the same time, the State Government has failed to guarantee any ongoing funding for the Gippsland Lakes Task Force which is responsible for maintaining the health of the Gippsland Lakes and catchment.

“This week’s release of the Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy confirms our fears that the Brumby Government is prepared to sacrifice the health of local streams and the Gippsland Lakes to keep watering the gardens of Melbourne,” Mr Chester said.

Melbourne Labor Ministers were quick to congratulate themselves when they announced the environmental flows in 2005 but just four years later, the water is being diverted back to Melbourne.

“It is an appalling decision and it reflects Labor’s obsession with Melbourne at the expense of regional communities,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester said the lack of fresh water flow was a major contributing factor to the deteriorating environmental health of the Gippsland Lakes, which has experienced repeated algal blooms over the past decade.

“Maintaining and enhancing water quality throughout the catchment is a vital issue for the tourism industry and local residents to enjoy fishing, boating and swimming in the Gippsland Lakes,” Mr Chester said.

“This year the State Government cut funding for the Gippsland Lakes Taskforce from $2 million to $750,000 and there is no guarantee of any funding beyond next year.

“The Gippsland lakes are critical to the economic prosperity of our region.

“The taskforce has been responsible for reducing the amount of nutrients entering the system by working with landholders to undertake a range of practical environmental measures which

will have long term benefits for the health of our waterways.

“It is just another example of city-based Labor MPs talking a lot about the environment but failing to invest in the practical measures required to protect our natural resources.”

Mr Chester has repeated his calls for $10 million over 3 years to be allocated for practical environmental works and improved monitoring and research programs based on the Gippsland Lakes catchment.