THE state Opposition hopes its pitch to inject millions into boating infrastructure will make a splash with the Victorian fishing community.
Earlier this month, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced that an elected Liberal-National government would create a Blue Infrastructure Fund, which would be supported by all proceeds of collected boating fees.
The fund would be used to improve better infrastructure and services for water users, such as boat ramps, jetties, navigational lighting, bigger car parks and cleaning tables.
The Liberals say boating users raise significant revenue for the Victorian government through boat registrations and marine licences but not enough of this is being put back, arguing that Labor collected $27.7 million in 2016/17 but only spent $3.23 million (11.6 per cent) on boating infrastructure, compared to a $17 million investment in New South Wales and $15 million in Queensland.
The Liberal Nationals will appoint the Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne (VPCM) to manage marine infrastructure development across the state.
Mr Guy visited the Torquay Angling Club last week to discuss the policy with its members, alongside South Barwon MP Andrew Katos and Liberal candidate for Bellarine Brian McKiterick.
Mr Guy said the rest of the $27.7 million collected but not spent at the moment was “not going anywhere” by going into consolidated revenue.
“Every cent collected from boating infrastructure will then go into that fund (the Blue Infrastructure Fund), so it’s accountable, it’s transparent, everyone knows exactly what the figure is because it’s publicly reported, and that becomes a pool which we can invest into boating facilities.”
Torquay Angling Club commodore Trevor Doolan said such a fund could be used to seal the carpark outside the club at Fishermans Beach at an estimated cost of about half a million dollars, as high winds caused significant dust problems.
“That would be one of our biggest priorities. It not only services us, it also services a lot of the locals who walk dogs here, and so on.”
VRFish has welcomed the announcement, with chair Rob Loats saying the proposal aligned with what the peak body had been requesting for years.
“We constantly hear from fishers who are absolutely disgusted with the state of our boat ramps, and it has become a major priority within our election policy.”