The Great Ocean Road Action Plan was unveiled last week by the Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, and the Minister for Tourism & Major Events John Eren at Lorne.
Major reforms detailed in the Action Plan include:
- stand-alone legislation that recognises and protects the coast, parks and scenic landscapes along the Road as the ‘one integrated and living entity’
- a dedicated (statutory) coast and parks agency with an independent, skills-based board, to manage –and be publicly accountable for – the protection of the environment, sustainable visitation and delivery of government investment
- development of a community vision with a long term outlook and overarching strategic framework plan for the length of the Great Ocean Road
- a better planning approvals process.
The Great Ocean Road Action Plan follows the 26 recommendations made by the Great Ocean Road Taskforce’s independent Co-Chairs – former state transport ministers the Hon Peter Batchelor and the Hon Terry Mulder – who carefully considered the community feedback provided earlier this year in face to face conversations with 780 people, and in 570 survey responses and submissions.
The Co-Chairs examined governance models of a number of places with high visitation around the world and found that no model could be transplanted from another location. Victoria’s response to the challenges facing the Great Ocean Road needed to be customised in response to the unique challenges of the region.
The Co-chairs concluded that:
- The area is so important that it needs, and deserves, special place-based governance arrangements – it has outstanding natural, cultural, and heritage values, and is of immense importance to the State economy.
- The first priority must be to protect the environmental assets and isolated beauty experience that are the attraction for visitors.
The Victorian Government supports all 26 of the Co-Chair recommendations (subject to funding) and proposes to implement the recommendations through 18 actions in five key areas.
A stand-alone Act of Parliament that – for the first time – recognises the landscapes and seascapes along the Great Ocean Road as the one integrated and living entity and makes the management of the region publicly accountable.
The Victorian Government commits to – for the first time – establish a dedicated, statutory parks management authority, the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, to protect and manage the coastal Crown land and marine waters along the Great Ocean Road for the benefit of future generations.
This will not alter the underlying management tenure and conservation objectives of any national parks areas for which the new authority assumes responsibility. The new authority will work closely with Parks Victoria who retain responsibility for broad-acre parks management – including for most of the Great Otway National Park – and who will provide parks management services to the new authority for its field operations to ensure environmental conservation objectives are met.
This is similar to the management model for the Great Barrier Reef where the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service provide field management services to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for the marine and island national parks.
This will simplify the governance of the Great Ocean Road and its landscapes. Currently there are 11 different managers of Crown land operating in different geographical locations.
View the Action Plan, the Co-Chairs Final Report and Community Views Report at www.engage.vic.gov.au.