THE Colac Otway Shire has suggested that a “user-pays” model along the Great Ocean Road is needed to fund important infrastructure, but Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson will not support the introduction of tolls on the road.
At its ordinary council meeting on Thursday, councillors endorsed the shire’s submission to an issues paper prepared by the Great Ocean Road Taskforce.
In its submission, the shire supports the proposed new authority to take on all the responsibilities of managing the Great Ocean Road, but noted that there also needed to be change in how works and infrastructure were funded.
“The council wishes to reiterate a sustainable funding model is critical, which would include a user pay principle which sees visitors contribute to the protection, maintenance and enhancement of the landscape that attracts them to the region.
“The existing funding model is equally as much of a constraint as that of the current poor governance model. Changing the governance model without an agreed funding model will not succeed.”
Explaining the submission, Colac Otway mayor Joe McCracken said local councils were bearing the cost of the visitor economy, such as toilets, waste collection and parking, but the profits from those activities were largely enjoyed by businesses outside the region.
“It is our view that there are too many agencies with responsibilities in the Great Ocean Road region, which is contributing to significant duplication of resources, a lack of co-ordination and a lack of planning that is holding appropriate tourism development back.”
On Sunday, Ms Henderson agreed that local councils had been relied on to pay the infrastructure costs, but said she did not want drivers on the road to be tolled.
“While tolls on the Great Ocean Road must be rejected, major funding for basic tourism infrastructure is desperately required.
“The state government must step up to the plate and deliver the funding in its state budget.”
She said basic tourism infrastructure such as toilet blocks, picnic tables, better signage, walking tracks, boardwalks, lookouts and improved car and bus car parking were critically needed along the Great Ocean Road.
“Any ‘user pays’ approach must be considered with a great deal of care so as not to impact on local communities.”