THE state Opposition has made the Great Ocean Road’s governance an election issue, promising to establish a singular authority to manage all Crown land along the road if it wins November’s election.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and South Barwon MP Andrew Katos visited the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery yesterday (Wednesday), and said their party’s Great Ocean Road Authority would expedite issues such as the chocolaterie having to wait up to three years for a sign to be installed.
Chocolaterie owners Ian and Leanne Neeland have been trying for two-and-a-half months to install extra signage on the Great Ocean Road to attract more visitors to the $15 million facility, but say the need to have approval from multiple authorities (and that the road is heritage listed) is slowing the process.
“The fact they can’t get signage underscores exactly why we have to get a single authority for the Great Ocean Road rather than 13 authorities that are hindering business, hindering tourist development, rather than promoting it,” Mr Guy said.
The Great Ocean Road itself and the surrounding land is presently managed by 13 different authorities and debate about how this should change has been going on for some time, with the Opposition calling for the creation of a Great Ocean Road Authority since at least late 2016.
The Labor state government appointed the Great Ocean Road Taskforce in September 2017 to review the governance issues, but its recommendations about what changes should be made are not due until the end of the year.
Mr Guy said the restructuring to form the new authority – which would assume the Great Ocean Road-related responsibilities of all the other agencies – would take place in the Liberal Nationals’ first budget.
Mr Katos said toilet facilities along the Great Ocean Road would also be better as a result.
“No-one wants to take responsibility for anything, and whenever there’s something that needs funding, no-one wants to fund it because everyone says ‘oh, that’s not really our responsibility, it’s theirs’ and you get this merry-go-round of nothing happening.”